Tell me a little about yourself and your background?
I’m an Engineering Tech for Toyota, but I’ve done a little of everything over the years. I’ve gone from building armor plates for military trucks to making microchips. I’ve interned in a recording studio and co-owned a record label. I also did some background acting for a year. If it’s building things and being creative, I want to do it. I love learning new things and exploring what else is out there.
Fun fact #1: I hung out with Slash from Guns ‘n Roses for Super Bowl XLIII…well, Slash, his wife, his kids and a bunch of other families.
Fun fact #2: I talked to Mos Def while I was interning at the recording studio. He said “You have any ice cream?” and I said “Yup, in the freezer”. A very deep conversation was had and lives were changed forever.
What aspect of fitness do you enjoy the most?
What I love about fitness is that you get out what you put into it. If you stay dedicated and work hard, you’ll be rewarded for it. If you don’t want to work hard, you’ll be rewarded for that too (though you may not like the end results). You are your own sculptor. You can shape your body into anything you want it to look like. No one else can do that for you but you, and there’s a lot beauty and power in that.
There’s so much room to be creative, to be you. You don’t have to be a bodybuilder. You can do cycling, swimming, yoga, and so much more. If you like more than one, you can combine them. No one will stop you, I promise. There are virtually no limits to what you can do except for the limits you put on yourself.
I love prepping like I’m going to compete in bodybuilding, but I don’t actually compete. I just love the challenge that it brings. The discipline and focus it requires during prep really pushes you to see how badly you want it. However, I do obstacle course races. I love the adrenaline kick when I’m bursting though the obstacles and the sense of accomplishment when I cross the finish line.
I still do Bikram yoga from time to time and currently I take a boxing/cardio class for cardio because I hate running (and yet I do obstacle course races). I’ve been looking into CrossFit and powerlifting too, because it’s a new challenge. I’ll let you know how that goes.
How long have you been into fitness?
It really depends on how technical you want to be. I played basketball and wrestled in high school; but if you want to be technical, then you can say I kept the seats warm. I played around with the weights we had in the basement but I wouldn’t really call that lifting weights. I didn’t get into lifting seriously until I went to college and it’s been nonstop ever since.
How did you get into fitness?
My older brother got me into fitness. He started lifting in high school and he used to be all about Muscle and Fitness magazines. One summer, he came home from college and started taking me to the gym. I learned my basic foundation for weight training from him and I took that knowledge with me to college.
What was a turning point for you to take it seriously?
I was an overweight kid. I wasn’t obese, but I was 5’3” and 152 pounds at fifteen years old. I only remember because that was my wrestling weight. It was easy to hide my weight with oversized clothes. I think all overweight kids learned that trick.
My turning point would be when I went to college. It was a chance for me to make a change. I knew I didn’t want to be overweight anymore and if I didn’t do anything about it, then nothing was ever going to change. I would always be that overweight kid with the oversized clothes, admiring stores like Express but knowing I’d never fit their clothes. I’d work out every day and then run up to the twenty first floor where I lived.
How has fitness impacted your life?
Fitness has helped me in so many ways. It’s helped me build a lot of self-confidence and self-love. It’s helped given me the courage to be able to jump into new adventures that I used to always be afraid to try. More importantly though, it’s taught me that this is who I am; these are my strengths and my weakness, and I’m okay with all of them. I can be anything and everything I want to be.
It’s taught me that even though I’m not as tall as other people are, I can still do a lot of the same things they can…and if I can’t, I can find another way around. Because I was shorter and had to work harder, it’s taught me to be humble after I’ve reached my fitness goals; but it has also taught me to have empathy towards those who have just started their own fitness journey.
It’s taught me focus and discipline. If I want something, I’m going to have to work hard for it. I’m going to have to keep my sights on it and push myself, mentally and physically. Other people can help me, but it all comes down to me putting in the work.
What words of advice or encouragement would you like to give to someone who is just starting out or would like to start but doesn’t know where to begin?
Keep your ego at home. Know that it’s okay to not know your way around the gym and not know what every bench or machine is for. There is no shame in that. There’s no shame in asking for help from someone. For every jackass that brushes you off for being a beginner, I promise you there are at least ten people who have no problem showing you and giving you help (but be respectful that they’re working out).
If you can afford to, find a personal trainer. Find one that you can connect to; if you can’t find one with the first try, keep trying. If you can’t afford one, stick to the basics. You don’t need to try fancy exercises, like balancing on one leg on a Bosu ball, curling with one arm and doing lateral raises with the other. Unless you want to be a gym fail Youtube star, just stick to the basics. That is your root, your foundation. From there, you can branch off to other exercises that build more specific, targeted parts of that muscle.
You can do this. I know you can. I know how badly you want it because I’ve been there too. I wanted it too. I was overweight. It made me so insecure. I hated taking pictures. There’s a big gap of no pictures of me from early grade school all the way until college. I just hated the way I looked and felt.
There was no one to blame and no one’s fault. Sometimes it just happens. I grew up in a low-income household and my parents worked all the time. Microwave food was the easiest thing for my parents to buy me and I’m can almost guarantee that’s where the weight gain came from.
I’ve tried a lot of different types of diets and diet pills when I went through trying to lose weight. Some of them worked temporarily before the weight came back. Some of them didn’t work at all. It wasn’t until I learned about calorie counting, nutrition, and being accountable for what I ate that I started to lose weight for good.
I’ve been told how lucky I am to be naturally athletic and in-shape. A lot of people haven’t seen the years and years that I struggled. The hard work I’ve put myself through. I’ve torn my left knee three times and both my rotator cuffs (none of them exercise related). I’ve never let them be the reason to give up. I’ve never let them be my excuse.
When I tell you that you can do this, I’m being honest that I truly believe in you. This blog isn’t for me, this blog is for you. It’s for you to read all the stories of every one that has come through every walk of life and started their fitness journey. They’ve all been there to some degree or other.
We’re all in this together. None of us has to climb that mountain alone. If we grasp each other’s hands and hold on tightly, we can all make it together. I’ll believe in you. You got this.