Post header
[caption id="attachment_841" align="aligncenter" width="225"] Photo by: Nathan Montanez[/caption]

It started with sports

I started playing soccer at the local YMCA at age 3. My family still has videos of me running around in boots obsessed with kicking, kneeing, or even sometimes throwing the ball in the net. While the other kids were picking up dirt, running towards everything but the ball, or crying cause they didn't want to be there, I somehow found it fun to play even at such a young age. Little did I know, the local YMCA would come back in my life to make a much larger impact on my future. A decade went by with nothing really changing. As a teenager I still revolved my life around sports. Sometimes going from hockey, to baseball, to soccer practice all in one weekend. However, as I entered high school things started to change, as they probably do for most people. We start getting bombarded with questions pertaining to our future. I can remember going into freshmen year and still being asked at family/neighbor/friends parties, "so what's your plan for college? Cause you know you need to be in this extracurricular, captain of this team, get this good grade and that good grade, oh and volunteer at this event...cause the top schools only accept that! Needless to say I conformed...which today if you know me, conforming goes against every fiber in my body. I worked hard to get good grades, I tried my best to win games and be a good captain, and even helped out at other events where I could. I had it good, which I will be the first to admit. Problem is, when I look back, it makes me cringe. Because I was not doing all those things because I wanted to do them, I did them because I "thought" I had to. Luckily, the YMCA would go on to change this attitude and help me maintain a better mentality over the years.

Reflection Time

As I sit here and think back I still cannot remember a specific event that pushed me towards improving my health. Yet, I do know it had something to do with my overall frustration with myself, my surroundings, and the amount of anxiety I experienced when thinking about the purpose of it all. I was tired of being the smallest guy on the team, I was tired of being told I could not do certain things, and I was angry with the world for how reality was sometimes. This is where I was wrong. Up to that point I had fallen into the close-minded trap that it was everyone else's fault except mine. In my head I was small and couldn't gain weight because of my genetics, and there was nothing I could do about it. To me, I was overlooked by coaches, programs, parents, and other players not because of skill, but because of my size. This was a terrible mentality to have and was an excuse that many of us use on ourselves.

NO MORE EXCUSES!

Senior year came around and I realized I would be going off to college the next year, I started learning some valuable lessons.
  1. If you are unhappy with yourself, it is up to you to CHANGE. Nobody else can do it for you.
  2. Everyone defines success differently. It is up to you to choose the path you want to take.
  3. There will always be critics.. get over it already!
I was unhappy with what I saw in the mirror. The grades and sports accolades were not my definition of "success" but they pleased others. I cared way too much about what others thought and chose to try to fit in rather than find myself.

Back where it started

Then one day I walked into the YMCA again with my brother and our friends. This changed it all for me. Slowly but surely we helped each other improve not only our physical selves, but mentally as well. Hashing out our daily actions, goals, and ultimate dreams that we wanted to achieve. Up to that point dreams felt untouchable. Then I started putting up 10lbs, 20lbs, 30lbs...and started to realize that growth was possible. Change was possible. Dreams were attainable. You see the biggest thing that health and fitness does to us has way more to do with our mentality than it does our looks. It gives us self-confidence and the self-awareness to realize that we can achieve anything we put our mind to. It might be hard, it might be tedious, and it might take an extreme amount of time...yet we can still make it happen! Today I have made health and nutrition a staple in my everyday life. It continues to help my personal growth in more ways than I can ever explain. If you are looking to change your lifestyle and chase your dreams feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] or connect with me through my journey @thriveonlife thank you for reading!