Six years ago, I was about 5’6” and 120lbs.
A lot has changed since then.
I went from that prototypical skinny kid who was always picked last for basketball games to becoming a strength coach featured at places like Men’s Health, Golf Digest, and Men’s Fitness.
Certain things in my life changed forever… For one, I look better (thank God)! But that’s only one side of my transformation.
Instead of giving you the predictable “fitness makes you look better speech,” I want to share how my dedication to fitness changed my life in ways that have nothing to do with fitness.
The skills I’ve gained in the gym carried over to everything else I’ve done outside of it.
Everyone’s story is different, but as you read this, I invite you to think of your own experiences with fitness. You might just realize how far you’ve come in all areas of your life.
I Built Consistency
When I started my fitness journey, I used the StrongLifts 5×5 system.
The central tenant of the program was working out three times a week with a day of rest in between. At the time, I was teaching English in South Korea so I had to find a gym with the correct equipment AND navigate the transit system to get there.
Nevertheless, I rarely missed a workout.
Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I knew exactly where I would be after work. Rain, heat, snow, wind, and even illness couldn’t stop me. I’d plan my life around fitness — a Monday workout meant no staying out late on Sunday, and a Friday workout meant less craziness afterward.
But that’s really the “secret” to success in life, isn’t it? Picking something, committing to it, and staying consistent until the finish. I’ve noticed people don’t really like hearing that; they want the “quick fix.”
But there’s nothing quick about gaining 20lbs of muscle, losing 10% of your body fat, or going from sedentary to benching 275lbs. It takes time and consistency.
And I owe the gym for developing my belief in consistency and hard work.
I Developed More Control
Fitness showed me the immense control I have over my life (the same control we ALL have over our lives, really).
Sure, there’s a lot about myself I CANNOT change. But there’s a tremendous amount I can.
Around the same time I started my physical transformation, I set out on a journey towards personal development. I wanted to change the parts of me I considered negative and cultivate the positive aspects of my personality and character. I didn’t give into the, “that’s just how I am” mentality. I was seeing my body transform so why couldn’t I transform my self-destructive thoughts and behaviors? I believed I could, and over time things changed.
Now, when confronted with obstacles, I feel far more self-assured that I can develop the skills, habits, etc. to succeed. Sure it takes time, but I learned from fitness that it all starts with us believing that we can do it and putting in the effort to make it happen.
I Revamped My Social Circle
As I changed my body and took control of my own wellbeing, I started to notice that the people around me didn’t have the same ambitions. They were stuck in the same place and showed NO signs of improving in any aspect of their lives.
Think about it: How many people are truly better off than they were a year ago? Most people look the same (or worse).
But remember this powerful fact: You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
Over the years, I started spending more time with people who had a positive influence on my life. Even if they hated lifting weights, they still pushed their lives forward unapologetically and shared my love for personal development.
Surrounding myself with great people became a natural extension of what was already going on physically.
I Started Thinking Long-Term
I notice that a lot of people suffer from a “cram” mentality. They live a life of poor habits and then impatiently demand quick results.
“I need to lose 15lbs in two weeks! How do I do it?!?! Help plz!”
I’ve learned, however, that if you eat the right foods, do the right training program and stay consistent for a year, you’ll get results.
“A YEAR?! I DON’T HAVE A YEAR, ANTHONY!!”
To that I say, the year is going to elapse no matter what…
Suck it up for 12 months and you’ll be exactly where you want to be.
Life is similar. Improving yourself isn’t a series of a-ha moments; it’s a diligent and gradual process of destroying old habits and paradigms, and building new ones. It takes time and humility, but hey, spend the time and you’ll get there.
And if you’ve transformed your body, you will have experienced – firsthand – how powerful that mentality is.
I Developed More Confidence In Myself
I don’t think “looking better” helped me feel more confident.
To this day, I’ve never been in a situation where I felt unconfident and thought, “Oh wait, never mind… I have muscles! Confidence restored!” To me, it seems kind of insecure if I have to rely on my physical appearance to feel at ease.
Instead, I think confidence comes from knowing you’ve conquered a challenge before, or that you can prevail over your fears. That comes from inside. That comes from shattering your comfort zone and thriving in discomfort.
I believe working out helped me learn that lesson.
Look, I know it’s hard to walk into the gym when you’re a complete novice in fear of looking silly; I know it’s hard to admit when you don’t know something and have to ask for help; and I know it’s really embarrassing to ask for a spot when you’re benching only 115lbs.
But doing those things will eventually make you stronger. And THAT’S how you build real confidence, in the weight room and in other areas of life.
by: Anthony Yeung
In life, sometimes the solution to a problem isn’t always obvious. We have to take a step back and weigh all of the options…
Rock climbing much like life, is full of high-pressure obstacles. In order to overcome them you need strategy and resolve. Muscling your way up the wall is not always the most effective way to reach the top. It’s a puzzle. And even the slightest shift in body position or calculation can mean the difference between failure and success.
While climbing requires intense mental focus, it’s also a very physically demanding sport and a full-body workout. To advance, you need to train…hard.
What kind of training?
Many climbers cross train to prepare for the intensity of a climb. Popular types of cross training for climbing include running, yoga, and strength training. In addition to climbing 5-6 days per week for 3 hours each session, I strength train 4-5 days per week for 2 hours per session.
I find the more prepared I am physically, the more confident I feel mentally.
And I believe that’s true for any sport or activity.
When I tell people that rock climbing is a bit of a stress reliever, they don’t believe me. Even though your adrenaline is pumping and your mind is moving fast trying to work out each problem, climbing also helps you escape from day to day stresses. You’re so present in the moment and so focused on every move that the stresses of the day just fade into the background. Not to mention, you get to see some of the most breathtaking views.
Reaching the top
You know the expression “getting over the wall”? When you accomplish something, especially something difficult, you build your confidence. And being able to conquer a rock wall gives you the feeling that you can accomplish anything. It takes guts and focus. So when you do reach the top, you feel empowered to rise above other challenges in your life.
The first climb
Climbing has continued to test my physical and mental stamina. If you’re up for a rewarding and exhilarating challenge, here’s what you should know…
There are two types of climbing:
Bouldering: Unroped climbing. The maximum height you reach will be around 12-15 feet. Your safety in bouldering is the mats you land on. Most rock climbing gyms follow the rule of 1 inch of padding per 1 foot of wall height. For example, a 12-foot tall wall will have 12 inches of padding.
Sport Climbing: Roped climbing where you are tied into a rope and belayed by another person (your belayer) or are on an auto-belay (a machine that acts as a belayer).
This is the Lingo
Hold: A (hand) hold or a (foot) hold is where you place your hands or feet on the wall.
Route: The name for a climb in sport climbing.
Boulder problem: The name for a climb in bouldering.
Belayer: The person who belays you in sport climbing.
Spotter: The person who spots you in bouldering.
This is a good place to start…
Many beginner climbers struggle with knowing the best way to train for climbing because so many of the available resources for climbing training feature advanced training programs. The advice to “climb as much as possible” is vague, but it is accurate. Below are two suggested workouts for beginner climbers.
Warm up on 5 problems (10-15 minutes)
Complete 20 problems in the V0-V1 range (60 minutes)
Finish the workout with light stretching of your choice
*Once you can easily do 20 problems, increase to 25 problems in 75 minutes, then 30 problems in 90 minutes
Warm up on 3 routes (15 minutes)
Complete 12 routes in the 5.8-5.9 range (70 minutes)
Finish the workout with light stretching of your choice
Find a rock climbing gym, and go experience an adrenaline-charged form of fitness!
by: Sierra Coyle
Nate Boyer, former Seattle Seahawks long snapper, ‘never played a snap of football in the first 29 years of his life.’ After serving tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Green Beret, he decided to finally follow his dream… This is Becoming Nate Boyer.
Check out more clips below
by: Nate Boyer
Football still runs heavy through my blood. Even though I haven’t played in 51/2 years, I can still feel the adrenaline building in the locker room, the thrill from rushing on the field, and the inner drive that got louder with the roars of the crowd. I miss the sweat, the push, and the idea that with every play, every yard and every long practice, I got a fraction better at my sport.
Everything I loved, and still love, was gained on that field. And then it all went black…
They say you never forget a life changing moment, even the hours leading up to it. Good or bad, you remember. It was October 16, 2010, an otherwise ordinary day for me as a Rutgers Football defensive tackle. We had an important game against Army Football, and just like the rest of my team, I was well-prepared–-head coach, Greg Schiano, made sure of it.
Coach Schiano was the kind of coach that turned boys into men. He threw you into tough situations just to test you, and you had no choice but to rise above the bar he set…
I had no idea how much his lessons in perseverance would mean to me later.
I remember that day vividly. As far as sports superstitions go, nothing was out of the ordinary. I slept well, ate my usual breakfast, met with coaches and teammates, and dressed in the same uniform I’d worn for the last 3 years. The game was at MetLife Stadium, home of the NY Giants and NY Jets. Excitement built as I waved and spoke into the cameras, broadcasting to the world what they had in store for the game from our team…
The game was close. We were tied with 5 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
My teammate, kicker, San San Te, booted the ball down the field on the kickoff and it landed directly in the hands of Army’s Malcolm Brown. As Malcolm sprinted up the field, hustling past several of my teammates, I zeroed in. It was if I couldn’t see anything else…the momentum, my adrenaline–it felt like this tackle was made for me.
Inches away, I dodged toward him, helmet first, just shy of the target. Bang.
I couldn’t breathe, I could no longer hear the cheers of that same stadium crowd I loved… It was silent. Time moved slowly until everything suddenly went black.
I opened my eyes four days later looking at a bright white hospital room ceiling. All around me were banners, posters, autographed footballs, and ‘get well soon’ notes from people I’d never even met–other college teams, NFL coaches…
The first thought I had was, “wow that must’ve been a good play, people noticed.”
‘Spinal Cord Injury, the C3 and C4 vertebrae, incomplete.’ That was the call that changed the game–my game, and my world. I’d never be able to breathe without a ventilator, eat solid foods, or walk again.
That was the call…5 years ago.
I’ve always had a warrior’s spirit. Even as a kid, I fought against the odds.
I was overweight for a portion of my childhood, and it worked for me until the 8th grade. They told me I’d have to lose a significant amount of weight to make the cut for Pop Warner football. At that point I’d been playing for most of my childhood, and to me nothing else mattered except the game. What did I do? I did what I’d always done; push. I ran 4 miles a day, and cleaned up my diet until I dropped the 20lbs I needed to qualify.
You can’t teach that kind of willpower, it’s something you just have to find in yourself.
The mind-body connection
Today, I realize just how powerful the mind can be over the body. Those same doctors who told me I would be completely dependent on outside help to breathe eat, and move, are stunned by how far I’ve come. Now, I can breathe just fine without a ventilator. I can eat solid foods. I can shrug my shoulders. Without a doubt, I believe I will walk again.
Most people will look at me and think I’ve lost something, and that’s all they’ll see. I see it differently.
To me, it’s a fresh start. It’s an opportunity to inspire people who believe they can’t overcome their mental and physical limitations to achieve a goal, whether that goal is to walk, to run, to drop 50lbs, or to simply become the best version of themselves.
Setting New Goals, Redefining Fitness
It’s crazy to think that my definition of fitness has changed so drastically. I no longer sweat through grueling practices, or charge the field at the opposing team. But I still push my body to its limit. I fight through the challenges for myself and for my new team–everyone who looks to me for inspiration in the face of obstacles.
I am an athlete. I still taste the sweat during practice, I still feel the power of my body driving through a tackle, and I still see the hit. But that same hit that took me down, has also built me up.
I may be looking up, but I’m also looking down, searching for that first step. In therapy, that one step means everything.
by: Eric LeGrand
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