I love looking at before and after photos of people who have lost weight and gained muscle… but I never wanted to do one myself. I was ashamed of the fact that I was at that moment, living in my before. I grew up a stocky kid who was athletic but always on the heavier side. There were times when I got serious about fitness and nutrition and lost weight, but I was really dieting, and even when the results lasted for years, it was as though I was taking a break from my real life as a fat person and my reality was my struggle.
That was my before.
I recently looked at my before pictures from a year ago. My friends and co-workers would argue that I looked fine, that I didn’t really have much to lose, and that they wouldn’t use the term fat to describe me, but at the point when that picture was taken my body was in turmoil. I had a chronic back problem that had worsened throughout my twenties and into my thirties, keeping me just injured enough where I’d work out for 6 months, drop 20 lbs feel great and my back would flare up, and at that moment, at 33, steadily starting to gain weight again… I couldn’t take it anymore.
I had gone to around 9 different doctors, orthopedics, physical therapists, chiropractors, and none spoke to me about my lifestyle because I guess I appeared to be healthy. Since it wasn’t a structural problem they all said I’d be fine in no time. In reality I was living with daily back pain and an even worsening self-confidence. How was I going to get better? It wasn’t until I found a chiropractor that did soft tissue work and gave me corrective exercises for my back that things began to change. I also started to work with Carrie at Organic Fitness; I was so de-conditioned that it made me upset to be so weak! But she helped me realize that I was defeating myself with that mindset and that I needed to start where I was and work up from there.
Rehabbing my back was extremely hard… years of road biking, and leaning over books and papers had really rounded the top of my back to the point where it became visible. I cried, I got really mad, at myself at my wife, I was so upset that this was my life that I took a before picture because I could not bare to live it anymore. And to be honest, I look crazy as hell in that picture! Yeah I have love handles and fat upper arms and too much around my hips, but a year later the one image that really reaches my being… is the look of sadness and rage on my face. That was my before.
I’m breaking the cycle of my befores and afters, and I’m just going to focus on the after, this the final after. My lifestyle is different, yes nutrition (not dieting) is a major part of it, as is my rigorous workout routine at Organic Fitness, but I would not be able to eat well regularly if I were not working towards something. You see every day I practice being who I want to be, because I’m not there but I’m building my path to get there, in everything. So my strength to deal with stress in a healthy way, to continue the good habits I’ve developed comes from that place of anguish inside and the look of that never again face. I had to really reflect on what I was doing everyday that made it easier or harder to reach my goals and who was really responsible for my health and well being. No fad diets, exercise tapes, or bootcamps will help you for long. You have to be the one to dig the weeds out of your own garden. And it’s important not to feel like you have to do that alone, one of the most valuable things I’ve ever done for myself was to find the right coach to help keep me focused.
It’s really hard work, but it’s my work… my life’s work (that’s what that really means) and it actually gets easier everyday. For the first time in my life I don’t worry about gaining back the weight I’ve lost because my mindset is so different. Now all of my pictures are after photos!
If you need help changing your mindset so you can put yourself in a place to succeed, lets have a conversation about it. Don’t let the start be what’s stopping you!
Yours in strength,