Last week, I got hit with a Facebook memory that made me stop in puzzlement.
Here it is.
This is me, 8 years ago, at the Final Four in Houston, Texas.
I remember this version of myself. At least I thought I did.
I was big and strong. I could deadlift 600+ pounds, and bench 395.
I took up a lot of space, and had 19" arms.
I've always thought of my current self as a shell of this younger, bigger, and stronger version. I always viewed these days as my peak.
Clearly, I've been hopelessly romantic.
Let's be honest. I was chubby. My wife told me not to refer to myself as fat, since I wasn't THAT fat, and it may piss some people off.
She's right, but let's call a spade a spade. I was in terrible condition.
And the craziest part is, I had no idea. In fact, I didn't realize I was that chubby until I got slapped in the face with that Facebook memory.
So, How Did I Get Chubby?
I was a skinny kid, hell bent on reversing that.
Getting bigger and stronger was my mission. And I was very successful.
I went from a 165 lbs bone rack to 230 lbs of lean muscle.
But that wasn't enough. I wanted more.
I pushed my body weight up to 240 lbs, and my strength continued to climb. I wasn't as lean as I once was, but I was in decent shape.
Drunk off big weights and sheer size, I pushed it further, until we arrive at the photo above. A sloppy, unhealthy 255 lbs.
Yeah, I was strong. Strong as hell. But it was at the expense of my physical condition. And let me tell you, that IS NOT a good trade.
How Did I Reverse the Damage?
When I stumbled upon that photo, I posted it to my Twitter and IG as a #ThrowBack, and I've since had a few people ask me how I got myself back into shape.
For reference, here's a more current version of myself:
The answer to those questions is, I don't know, I haven't thought about it. I didn't realize I was in such terrible shape, so I wasn't aware I had revered so much damage.
So I gave it some thought, and came up with some thoughts in hind sight.
Fire Fighting Academy
The photo of chubby Mitch was taken a week before I started fire fighting academy. And let me tell you, there was no room for excessive body weight there.
My training up to that point had consisted mainly of heavy weights for very few reps. I would take a deep breath, move some massive weight around a few times, and put it back down.
Fire academy forced me to do more physically demanding work. Work that required me to sustain effort for longer periods of time, breathe heavy, and basically commanded I be in better physical condition.
The takeaway: Do more physically demanding work. Lift weights, but don't limit yourself to short, heavy sets. Extend the time you spend doing hard work. Things like supersets, higher reps, and classic bodybuilding techniques will exhaust your muscles (and their glycogen stores).
These are all good things.
Clean Bill of Health
Before fire academy, I had high blood pressure and a fast heart rate. I chalked it up to genetics (lol).
But when I returned, I was a lean, muscular, 210 lbs. Smaller than I like to be, but the numbers didn't lie. My blood pressure was normalized, and my heart rate was low.
This made me rethink my Sheer-size-over-everything approach. I realized that, while building muscle and strength is crucial, it should never come at the expense of a lean, healthy body.
The takeaway: you'll always do what you value most. If you value a lean, healthy body, you'll shift your life to match that value. For me, the way I ate and trained transformed completely, in order to line up with my new values.
I'm the Example
I train people to be lean, strong, healthy, and athletic. I've been doing it for 14 years, and thanks to a genuine curiosity and passion for training, I've become quite good at it (this is not a toot of my own horn, this is 100% luck of the draw).
Because of that, I feel a personal responsibility to be the example. There's no room for excessive body fat for the sake of a few extra pounds on the barbell.
Of course, building strength and lean muscle is a crucial aspect of the process. But it should never come at the expense of my (and your) physical condition and health. That is always priority #1.
And if I'm going to take you from where you are now to a leaner, stronger, healthier version, I need to be right there with you.
So without even realizing it, my training clients keep me focused and in check.
The takeaway: Whether you've realized this or not, you're also an example to someone. You may not know who, but trust me, you are. Be whatever you want that example to be.
So, that's it my friend.
A Facebook memory, turned introspection, turned a renewed dedication to my physical condition and example.
I hope you found some useful pieces in here, and as always, if you have questions, never hesitate to shoot me an email.