Continued from Part 3
I received a text message from my friend, Shawn.
Shawn is the the friend who hugged me the day after my crash when I completely broke down.
Shawn said he talked to his client and they would be willing to hire me at their company.
It was an office furniture warehouse and delivery job.
While I was thrilled to know that I wasn’t going to starve, going from the gym to the warehouse was tough. The days were long and the work was laborious.
Worse than the job was my mindset.
I was crippled. I was living with some pretty huge secrets and I was petrified of messing up again. I was paralyzed with this fear.
This is important info, because none of my soon to be made decisions make any sense without it.
I quit this job after a few weeks. I made up some excuse about needing time to do insurance paperwork. This was a bullshit excuse which allowed me to revert back into fetal position. I wasn’t ready to proceed yet.
I’m going to skim over the next several months because quite honestly, it would be a boring read.
I was the poster boy for ‘floundering.’ I did just enough to stay alive, and even that’s debatable.
A brief overview of the next year includes me teaching a few bootcamps at the park each week, smoking a lot of weed, and wasting a lot of time doing nothing.
The weed was an escape. One that didn’t impair my ability to teach a few bootcamps.
The lack of forward movement was another expression of a fearful young man. Too afraid to take control, to make decisions or to act on anything.
This next year wasn’t all bad though. I did manage to get very lean and book my first photo shoot. I also started my first Facebook group where I would lay out my training plans and answer people’s questions. I had no idea this was a preview for my distant future, but the universe is funny that way.
You can only flounder for so long before something comes along and shakes you out of it.
This time, finally, it was something positive.
I ran out of money.
I was flat broke, so I applied for a personal trainer position at the YMCA on the west side of Ottawa.
I met with a guy named Ryan who was an incredible human being.
He was laid back, funny and welcomed me to the team with open arms. The only problem was, this gym wasn’t known for selling much personal training, so a full time position was unlikely. They did need someone to work the front desk in the morning though.
This was actually a relief. I needed some certainty in my life. While the pay was low, it was enough to cover my bills. The gym felt like home.
This gym is closed now, but a large part of my heart is still there.
Not just because of this very timely job, but because I began to experience a transformation.
I was a svelte 210 lbs, and I was looking to re-build some lost muscle, and then build some more.
I began to get close with a one of the greatest guys I’ve ever known. His name is Matt, and he was one of Shawns best friends.
Matt is, to this day, the happiest person I know. He also likes powerlifting, he’s a sports psychologist, and he’s a brilliant mind. He was also looking for a training partner, so we linked up.
If you know me, you know that training with weights means a lot to me. To me it transcends fitness, physical strength and the ability to lift stuff up and put it down.
It spills over to all areas of your life. It builds character and perseverance. It builds patience, grit and determination. It’s like slapping on armor so you can bravely face everything life has to throw your way.
One of the biggest reasons I have this belief is because of the year I spent working and training with Matt at this YMCA.
I had already been lifting weights for about 8 years up to this point, but it never carried meaning the way it did after this period of time.
Matt is all smiles, but he doesn’t play around in the weight room. You may have heard me tell stories of heavy sets of squats for up to 25 reps, doing deadlifts for as many reps as possible. Or, my proudest moment in the weight room, deadlifting 600 lbs for 3 reps.
Almost all of my weight room war stories took place during this time training with Matt.
Each morning I would fill up a thermos with green tea, grab some beef and potatoes from the crock pot, throw on my coat and toque (this is a beanie for my American friends) and walk to work at 4 a.m.
The gym opened at 5 and the walk took about 1 hr. It was also winter in Canada which means ridiculously cold temperatures. I really dreaded these walks, but I would grow to miss them years later.
After my shift, I would take my last swig of green tea, take a caffeine pill, and Matt and I would go to work on the weights.
I went from 210 lbs to 245 lbs during this year. Most of that was old muscle I had reclaimed, but the last 10 lbs was brand new.
Matt pushed me, coached me, and even used some of his Jedi mind tricks on me. Because of all this, I experienced a very trans-formative year.
I was still broke. I had no plan. I wasn’t creating any opportunities. But I was setting the table.
For the first time in a long time I was building something instead of tearing it all down.
This new muscle and strength was representative of a new set of armor. I hadn’t pulled myself out of the hole yet, but I was preparing to. I didn’t realize it, but I was putting the pieces of the puzzle together.
I was creating something to hang my hat on. I created a little bit of confidence. Like hammering a spike into a wall, it gave me something to put my foot on as I prepared to climb.
Looking back, there’s a clear pattern as I climb my way out of this hole. For every two steps I took forward, I took one step back.
These backwards steps served a crucial purpose in hindsight. At the time I was frustrated with my place in life, and these steps back were like gasoline on the fire.
One of these backwards steps came in the form of help from my parents.
By this time my parents knew everything. They could see me trying, and struggling. I was working, making barely more than minimum wage, and showing no signs of breaking out of this pattern.
They suggested I move home to regroup.
Shit. I’m in my mid 20’s, and I’m moving back home. It’s all because of some terrible decisions that I just couldn’t recover from.
It turned my stomach to admit it, but they were right. I wasn’t able to get any traction or create any progress.
I packed up my apartment, threw away my old furniture, and moved home.
This felt like a punch in the gut.
I’m forever grateful that my parents allowed me to do it, but it was devastating to my barely-reconstructed self esteem.
I didn’t know it at the time, but this move back home was one of the best decisions I ever made.
It set the table for some of the most trans-formative periods in my entire life.
There were still more mistakes to be made along the way. Despite these mistakes, I was heading straight into one of the most powerful experiences of my life.
Things were about to move very fast. The sun was starting to peer through a small opening in the clouds.
I was about to go on a series of adventures that would change me forever. Some of these adventures I could barely endure. Others provided me more joy than I had experienced in years.
All of them changed me forever.
Continued in Part 5
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