A Look Back
In the first and second Rebuilt articles I outlined my story of coming back from cancer, recovering, and competing again in the great sport of natural bodybuilding. It was an interesting uphill journey from being sick from chemotherapy to posing onstage in front of hundreds of people.
It was a long road which now seems like a lifetime ago. Traveling to the clinic, getting filled up with chemotherapy, dragging myself back home and feeling sick to my stomach for months seems like it was all a dream sometimes.
I sometimes get wrapped up into what I am currently doing in my present day routine that I have to stop and think about what I really went through. It is very surreal to think about now. I have survived and I am alive and I am thankful for it, but I am scarred.
Obviously I am scarred physically from the procedures performed on me - the cutting and puncturing over nearly a year's time. I am also talking about a scarring of a different kind. I feel like my soul has been scarred, which is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
I know my father and brother feel similarly. I am sure they have there own way of dealing with their scars, of using it to their advantage (my father twice and my brother both had cancer). To me, it is a very real reminder of my life and how it could have ended very quickly at a young age (I was diagnosed at 29).
After I had recovered I stepped (more like ran) right back into the gym and started to train hard again for the upcoming season. Without missing a beat I was back hammering away at the weights envisioning myself back onstage.
In my head I was healthy and strong again like an ox! I was very motivated and promised myself I would not complain about being tired again. I would use my time wisely in the gym: train hard every time, no excuses. I felt I was on the right track.
I was working full time again, healthy, and feeling great. Rebuilt 1 and 2 outlines the outcomes of the contests I had entered. I had learned lessons and found out a lot about myself - my abilities and many things I could not control. Cancer was a lesson in life I will never forget.
One lesson that really stands out is how I coped with life's everyday routines while being sick. I took for granted the ability to do simple things with ease. For example, I do a lot of do-it-yourself things to my car, but I had to go to the shop to get the tires rotated.
I couldn't take just standing there watching this guy do it for me. I thought he was just looking at me shaking his head in my mind. I had to learn that not everyone in society is fully capable of doing things in a speedy manner. Any number of people could be on chemotherapy at any given moment. Anyone could have a disability we are not aware of or a sickness we have never heard of, so I had to rethink my view of society.
I had gone from zero to 200 in three seconds without looking back. All I was doing was looking forward, planning, building, and taking action. It was a good feeling. Unfortunately something was wrong. Something had been missing in this whole recovery process.
I was healthy, my scans were coming back clear, and I was feeling fine, but I wasn't where I wanted to be. I felt like I was suspended in air, I wasn't grounded. I started to fall back into my old routine and way of thinking and became disappointed in myself that I was not a changed man like I wanted to be.
I also felt extremely disconnected from everyone and not appreciating the smaller things in life. I was going down, spiraling out of control into something I was scared to become: depressed. I refused to deal with it and told myself it was just a phase and I would grow out of it naturally. The longer I waited the worse I became. This was becoming a problem in my personal, professional, and not to mention my emotional life.
My Wife Courtney:
Real recovery in my life came to me in the form of another person: my wife Courtney. Once I fell in love with her I started to feel things in life I never had before. I am a creature of observation. I learn through observing others and then try to apply it to my life.
She was (and still is) my true recovery from what I had been going through. I started to watch her and learn from her. She appreciates the little things in life. She has taught me how to relax, to not worry so much, to be happy with what I have and to appreciate my life after cancer. She recommended counseling, she understands things about me that no one else can, and loves me unconditionally. I am such a better person now because of her.
Dealing With A Loss Of Control:
What I found out was that I had never dealt with the mental and emotional strain cancer and chemotherapy had put me through. I was suffering from a kind of post trauma from my experience. I had gone to Afghanistan, fought cancer, and went back into training without a breath.
I had always been good at the physical side of obstacles - go through it without missing a beat. I knew how to set goals, prioritize, work hard, and sacrifice to get the job done. What I did not know was how to deal with something emotionally that I had no control over.
|WHAT'S YOUR GOAL?|
Cancer was something that happened to me and medicine was the only weapon I had against it. Much of it was out of my hands. I needed to stop, take a breath and take stock of things and what was important in my life. Cancer was over and I needed to take care of myself and Courtney showed me how.
I took a break from the hard grueling training and lightened up a little. I wanted to enjoy life a little. There would be plenty of time to hit the heavy weights again, diet and compete, but for now I wanted to relax myself and enjoy my new relationship.
I ended up proposing to her on the anniversary of my diagnosis, February 19th and she became my wife shortly thereafter. I know that if I am ever sick again she will be there by my side every step and I will not worry. She is my little rock.
A Real Comeback
Presently I am training hard again and looking to compete next year for a real comeback. Now things are different. I am much more balanced in my life and enjoy marriage. I plan on being better than ever and promoting the natural, healthy lifestyle of bodybuilding.
I will truly be REBUILT in mind, body, and soul. Recovery in all aspects is so important especially if you are trying to succeed in life or just make a better life for yourself and your family.
Please do not neglect yourself in any situation. If you have gone through or are currently going through a difficult time in your life seek help. Reach out to your family, friends, coworkers, counselors - whoever can help.
How Does This All Relate To Bodybuilding?
If you have read the other Rebuilt articles you can understand. Weight training has always been a large part of my life. It enables me to connect with others in such a way with regards to overcoming obstacles and helping others. I feel my story can give a little hope to some out there going through what I went through.
Success in bodybuilding is not achieved alone. Every successful competitor has help whether it is a wife, training partner, family member, or coach. Keep seeking knowledge, keep asking questions, and have an open mind.
I have compiled a few principles I follow in training and in life to help anyone looking to succeed the old fashioned way: hard work!
1. Clear Your Mind:
Clear your mind before entering the gym and leave the troubles behind. Devote yourself to the physical and mental aspects of the task at hand. Think about pushing yourself to personal bests. The training itself (sets, reps, form, etc.) should be the focus for the moment.
2. Visualize First:
Visualize what the lifts look like and feel like. Mentally picture it in exacting detail. It's easier for the body to accomplish what the mind has already experienced. Dr. Rob Gilbert once said,
Winners visualize the rewards of success."
3. Work Hard In The Gym:
4. Challenge Yourself:
Put enough weight on the bar to insult your pride, but do it safely. You must challenge yourself. Heavy free weights and compound movements is the way to go. Don't wimp out! Gunter Schlierkamp said,
outside your immediate grasp."
|THE FIT SHOW|
5. Modify Your Routine:
Consistently modify and change your routine to suit your goals. Document your workouts and make appropriate adjustments. Gather information, talk to others, and read all you can, but take it all in with a fine-toothed comb. Don't believe everything you hear and see.
Be critical and try everything you can (within reason) with regard to your personal goals.
6. Keep Your Nutrition Sound:
Make sure your nutrition is sound and in line with your goals. Don't cheat yourself especially if you are contest dieting. Educate yourself on the latest facts on nutrition and supplements. Be safe and don't overdo it because nothing will produce results better than real food and hard training.
7. Patience, Consistency, & Persistence:
Finally there are three things I live by when training and dieting: Patience, Consistency, and Persistence. Keep pushing even when you doubt things in the gym or with your diet. You will break through the walls you face. Pay your dues and you will receive.
Those are just a few things I like to think about when training. I hope they help out with whatever goal or goals you are trying to achieve. These can be easily applied to the S.P.O.T. routines in my other articles as well.
Train hard and stay healthy.
Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action."