I would like to briefly share with you a little of my story and how I used exercise to work through the challenges life has brought to me and how you too can also benefit from exercising through the frustration and emotional sometimes physical pain. Eventually it will all workout.
The Early Years
I have always been a very active person when I was younger. I remember my father use to take me bike riding in the streets of Bronx, NY. I could barely reach the pedals on that huge 10 speed bike, but I did my best to keep up. In Junior High I played Softball on the Police Athletic League for about 1 season. I used to play a lot of Sponge ball with my childhood friends. We also did a lot of bike riding, and when I say a lot I mean A LOT!! We would ride all over most of the 5 Boroughs and sometimes even New Jersey just to get a slushy from 7 Eleven. High School I can honestly say Physical Education was my favorite class. Here was when I was introduced to the weight room. Even though I did not know what I was doing I still enjoyed the way my little muscles at the time felt especially when I did curls. A few years after I graduated High School in 1995, I got my Commercial Driver’s License and started driving Ambulettes, School Buses and even did some work with a Moving Company. In March of 1997 my father passed away and that was very hard to accept at the time I coped by just drinking a lot with my friends and burying myself with my work, which was driving for the Ambulette service at the time.
The Military Life
Fast Forwarding to September 2004 I decided to enlist in the Army. Weeks before I was supposed to ship out, I was reading about the requirements to pass the Army physical Fitness Test. It was 55 Pushups, 40 Sit-ups and a 2-mile run in 15:30. So I started working on my pushups and sit-up’s and my run so I would not have no trouble in any areas. I felt ready and I was excited to go until day Zero at Basic Training. It was truly a culture shock when I got off of that bus. It was kind of like one of those scared straight TV shows where all the inmates are surrounding you and are in your face yelling, except they were Drill Sergeants. Before Basic Training, I weighed 155 pounds. After weeks of running, pushups and a lot of eating Army potatoes (which were good by the way) I graduated Basic weighing 195 pounds after 8 weeks! I was really impressed by the results. I looked and felt like a different man. My wife was also very impressed too!
On February 24, 2006 it was my time to deploy to Iraq. I was going to through a vast series of emotions which I have experienced before but never experienced them all at once which was excitement, sadness, anxiousness and fear. I was excited to be going on this new adventure. I was sad because I never been away from my family for such a long time. I was anxious because I did not know what was to come, and I was fearful that I would not come back to my family. A few months went by and we started to get a rhythm going which was go out on our convoy, (which was all night missions) Come back in the morning eat chow sleep for a little and then go to the Gym on the Base which was 24 hours! I Loved working out at my convenience and it helped me keep my mind off of the stress of the missions (which was transporting fuel on roads with Improvised Explosive Devices) and missing my family. So the Gym helped out with that a lot and that’s when I started taking more of an interest in weight training. I started reading Muscle and Fitness Magazines and ordering supplements from GNC. (A lot of Supplements) I started building a workout routine by combining what I read in each of the magazines and tailoring it to my own needs. My favorite exercises were Bicep Curls and Triceps Extensions and my favorite muscles to work out was obviously my Biceps and Triceps. I loved the way I felt after working out my arms. I started reading more about Arnold Schwarzenegger and his workout routines and I mirrored my workouts from his. I found my routine and I did not want to change it.
On June 9, 2006 the unthinkable happened. One of my good friends got killed on a convoy. It was devastating to the Unit and myself especially since we were good friends and were talking the day prior. I felt empty and numb. It felt like a dream and I wanted to wake up, but it wasn’t. I lost all desire to do anything and my morale was low. All the things I enjoyed doing I did not want to do no more I just wanted to just stay in my room which I did for a few days. Eventually I decided that in order for me to get through this I needed to do something instead of just sitting and dwelling on everything that happened I had a lot of things going on in my mind anger, sadness, guilt, rage you name it I probably felt it. So reluctantly I decided that I should go to the Gym. Once I got to the gym I immediately felt like this is where I needed to be. When I started I was just going through the motions doing one of my full body routines. Then I noticed something, that everything that I was feeling all the emotions I was going through had went away. So, I stayed longer, I did more and when I left I felt exhausted but felt better than how I did when I got there. I could not believe I was in there for about 8 hours just working out!!
The Coping Mechanism
So ever since that day I knew that whatever I am going through and feeling that the gym was the place to be, to gain physical strength and well as emotional strength it was my outlet. And the reason I am sharing this is because I know that there is someone out there that may have gone through the same thing or is going through it right now and if this can help in some small way then I am glad I was able to share it. So, what I am saying is that no matter the situation you can get through it, never give up, persevere. It has been years now that I have used the gym and exercise as an outlet. It’s not only helps me stay in shape, but it also helped get through and resolve most of my issues. As I am training I utilize that time during my workout to decompress or think about solutions to any issues that I have or to release some pent-up aggression I may have been feeling. And when I do that I notice that one I don’t really count my repetitions most of the time, so I do a lot more, and two I am in there for a good amount of time. I know there are plenty of other ways to deal with emotional stress or other problems in life so I am not saying that this is the only way, but it is a way to cope. Thanks for reading there will be more to come.