In the summer going into my eleventh grade of high school, a change began to brew inside me. A change that at the time I wouldn’t have expected to make a profound impact on my life and the way I live it. But the effects of this change have helped me to morph into the person I am currently and will continue to influence the way I live into the future and has helped me find my voice in the world. This change just happened to be getting in shape.
The years prior to my change, I could’ve been described by my peers as a cool dude, one who knew all there was to know about music (mostly of the past) and one who could be very intelligent when it came to certain subjects. But ultimately, there was something missing about me. Due to me being bigger in size, I never really had much confidence, and the lack of it caused me to turn to being more shy and introverted. While I had a great friend group and could make jokes with those around me, I never really wanted to break out of that, I never wanted to make friends with new people because of the shyness that I possessed. One instance that had a profound effect on me during my first years of high school was gym class. Being bigger made playing sports and general exercise tough and I remember being the center of some jokes because of this. I could never run a mile over twelve minutes or do pushups and situps for repetitions, which the other kids could do with ease.
Now I can’t and won’t put the blame for the way I lived on anyone or anything but myself. I allowed myself to live the way I lived, constantly consuming high calorie meals and guzzling down three to four pops a day, while not engaging in any exercise. So when I was at my heaviest of around 160 pounds, I was being nonstop unhealthy. By the middle of my tenth grade, I had no care for my appearance. I allowed my hair to grow and be long, I was covered with acne and was quite chubby, and to top it all off, my school work was slacking because I never really put in a lot of effort into my schooling.
During the final weeks of my tenth grade year, I watched for the first time a movie that would not only come to be my favorite movie of all time and the movie that turned me to a passion of film, but would be the spark of my change, igniting in me a passion that I never had previously. The movie, Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, is one of a lonely man, played by Robert De Niro, and how he lives his life as a taxi driver. One scene in particular involves the main character Travis, getting in shape. When I saw that scene initially, my jaw was to the floor. I felt that I could understand Travis’ struggles of loneliness, as I had felt some of those same emotions that he went through. But just as Travis overcame them, I felt that I too could in a way relate to his struggles and I believed that I could turn my life around for the better.
The plan was to get in shape, sounds simple at first but once I delved into the world of fitness I knew this wasn’t going to be so easy. I started out running. I would run anywhere between one to three times a day almost everyday, or as much as my weak body would allow before I needed to rest. On top of the running, I decided to make it a goal to do push ups everyday. The magic number I started with was fifty a day, doing two sets of twenty and a set of ten, with a break in between each set. By the end of the summer I had managed to lose roughly fifthteen pounds, which at the time was a huge accomplishment for me. Upon returning back to school, I was greeted by the shocks of my peers, and with this came a sweeping wave of confidence. And so for the rest of the year I kept doing what I was doing, but instead of just running, I had taken up lifting weights to gain some muscle and because of my ankle fracture I had suffered weeks before school started, thus not allowing me to be able to run.
Fast forward to February 2017, when I had the idea to go extreme with my workouts. My plan was simple, get in even better shape than I already am in. Up to this point my diet had improved, I supplemented the soda I drank with drinking only water, no longer allowing myself to consume any beverage that was not water, and while I still enjoyed eating higher calorie foods, I learned how to cook, allowing me to eat much healthier meals. But for this new plan, I decided why not go to the extreme, making it a challenge. For the next three and a half months, I would eat the same three meals a day, not allowing any cheat meal or food whatsoever to be consumed, I would drink a gallon of water everyday and would exercise and do push ups everyday, not missing a single day, having a specific schedule for what I was going to workout. Everyone thought I was insane. No one, not even my friends believed that I would go through this. But after the three months were up, I was done, I had proved everyone wrong.
After I posted a picture of my physique on social media, everyone was stunned. I was down at my lowest ever at 130 pounds, I started to see abs developing and muscles growing, and for the first time in my life I could finally feel confident in the way I looked. Even though the pathway getting there was hard, from a lot of people joking about my gallon of water jug to the pasta I ate everyday, I was glad to show and prove everyone wrong, saying that I could finally accomplish something that not many others can say they have accomplished. By the end of the year, my body was like a well oiled machine. The fuel for my body: scrambled eggs and a whole wheat bagel for breakfast, pasta for lunch and anywhere between a half a pound to two pounds of ground beef with mashed potatoes and peas for dinner, allowed me to get the results that I strived for, and its the same meal plan that I follow to this very day. My acne was finally gone after many visits to the dermatologist, the solution to my facial problems while rough was something that I was glad to go through. I finally had confidence and felt I could do whatever I could put my mind to.
Fast forward through my senior year, I had undergone two more of these diet/exercise plans, which I dubbed “boxing training” because prior to 2017 i started boxing as a workout, and ever since then has spiraled into one of my most fond passions in life, as I still box to this very day and if need be I could make a career out of it. I took what I learned throughout my first boxing training and studied to really hone in my physique. By December of 2017 (the ending of my second boxing training) I went even more extreme with things, I had gained over fifthteen pounds in muscle, and I could finally see my six pack (which I worked so hard at that I soon developed an eight pack, an even bigger accomplishment). doing 400 push ups a day, doing them in four sets of 100. To put it nicely, people were shocked, surprised and a little jealous of the way I built up my body. I would have many people, both girls and boys, athletes and non-athletes come up to me and ask me for advice about lifting or nutrition, in which my response was simple: “Just be like me, don’t overcomplicate things, if I could do it, then anyone could do it!”
After I achieved the physique I wanted, I could finally work on things in school. My grades from 11th to 12th grade improved enormously, I went from a B/C student to a straight A student, while still putting in a ton of time into my workouts. Because of this, my senior year will always be remembered as one of the best years of my life. I could live and go about school however I wanted, not having to worry about what people think of me (partly because I was a boxer and many people were scared that I could beat them up) while still being true to myself, not having to conform to what others would want, instead I did my own thing and others followed.
One could view my success as one that may be in fact negative. I will be the first to acknowledge that with my newfound change in body and outlook on life, thoughts of narcissism and being better than others have and still does cross my mind. But I like to view these characteristics in a positive light because ultimately those are partly some of the reasons I underwent these changes, I wanted to finally feel like I could live life however I wanted to, without being judged by anyone. By constantly competing with myself, it allows me to get better and since I worked hard to achieve what I have and get where I am, I deserve to be able to show it off and look at and appreciate the hard work that I have put in.
All in all, these past three years have been so far the defining chapter in my existence. I was able to escape a life of unhealthy and lazy tendencies, finding my voice in a passion that I would have never expected to make such a profound impact of not only my life but the way in which I go about living it. If I never started working out, then I honestly have no idea where I would be right now. I definitely wouldn’t be in the shape that I am currently (physically, emotionally and mentally) and I probably wouldn’t even be pursuing a career as a doctor, but all I know is that I made the right choice.