Why I decided to transform
When I was young, I had problems dealing with emotions and staying focused. I bottled everything up, got into trouble frequently, and didn't know how to deal with it. I was angry and did anything I could to cover the pain. I had few friends because I was introverted and used marijuana and alcohol to deal with my emotions.
As I got older, I got into more trouble and bounced between parents. When I moved in with my father, he had a small weight set and I started doing curls and bench press. I thought people would leave me alone if I got bigger, but it didn't take long before I was one of the biggest guys in school and people wanted to fight in eighth grade.
At age 17, I benched 360 pounds and squatted 513 pounds until my knee gave out. I went to a doctor who wanted to open me up, which I didn't allow, so I quit squatting and focused on upper body exercises. I started drinking more and got a DUI at age 18. I moved out of my father's house, dropped out of high school, and it got worse.
I drank often and didn't know how to deal with my emotions. I went to bars before I was 21 years old, smoked pot, and did meth. I started selling drugs to pay for my habit and fell into addiction. I was arrested several times with drugs, guns, and money. In 1994, the courts had enough and wouldn't let me bail out.
I went to prison and entered an alternative incarceration program that was in a boot camp style. It took me nearly a year to graduate from a six-month program, but I learned about cognitive restructuring and how to change my thought processes. The boot camp program saved my life. Instead of running and gunning in the drug lifestyle, it taught me to use different ideas and change my core beliefs. I finally fought for my life in my own head.
When I was released from prison, I ran into old friends and started using meth again. After a year, I went into inpatient on my own and was released from treatment after 44 days to start my life again. Everything was going good. I stayed clean, joined a bench press team, enjoyed a few relationships, was a volunteer soccer coach for five years, and worked as a girls middle school soccer coach. Eventually, I told myself it was OK to drink because I went to prison for drugs, not alcohol. I quit lifting, worked full time and then some, but drank on weekends.
My marriage eventually fell apart, I got divorced, and my weight ballooned up to 265 pounds. Then I got drunk and was pulled over for DUI again. The next day police came over and said I caused an accident. I couldn't believe it and still don't know if I do. The witness said I didn't, but the timelines were close. After fighting it for a year and starting another relationship, I took a plea bargain for a suspended sentence and spent a couple of months in jail.
When I was released, my new lady made me a drink when I got home and I started again. Even three years hanging over my head didn't stop me. I didn't fit in anywhere and didn't know how to stop the cycle. I cursed God for my life and eventually got a third DUI. The court gave me three years plus 19 months for the new charges.
I went back to prison at age 39. There were only two options: go back to the way I was and fight or submit to God. I had never submitted to anyone or anything, but I started attending church services and bible studies in prison. Then I started to hit the weights. As I tried to learn how to give up control of my life to God, I started to read books and workout magazines. I had a bad shoulder, but didn't care. I did the pro workouts and hurt my shoulder so bad I ate Ibuprofen and Tylenol like candy.
While I attended church and Bible study 4-6 days per week, I also got workout advice from an officer who taught me it's not the amount of weight you lift, but how you lift it. I started doing light weight with slow reps and focused on the muscle I was working. I worked out three days per week to let my body rest with two days of HIIT cardio and ate as good as possible. I discovered that concentrating on your muscle helps you work without destroying it. You can grow muscle and cut fat simultaneously and heal injuries by listening to the pain. I continued to grow closer to God and to set up a routine that I could use on the outside.
When I was released from prison, my wife had moved on (we divorced when I was inside), but God blessed me with a storage unit and part of a vending machine route I had before I went to prison. I moved into the only Christ-based recovery house in Albany, Oregon, that is open to people directly from prison. I went to church, worked out at the YMCA, and built my route up. I heard about a new gym called T's Strength Studio in Albany, and started going there. I talked with the owner (Tony), and we were on the same page with Christ and working out. Most of the CDs by the stereo were Christian and the gym was hardcore. He worked everything out with me and helped me financially.
While in prison, the head pastor of a church called The Shift came to meet us, so I started attending The Shift and talked with him and other pastors. I was headed in the right direction and peace came over my heart. I continued to attend Bible studies and church 3-4 days per week, alcohol and drug treatment a few days per week, worked some, and volunteered. The Shift was different. Several people were tatted, everyone was laid back, and nobody judged my past.
I also helped out at the recovery house I lived in (God Gear Inc.). Sometimes I went to Corvallis, Oregon, to work out with a close friend at Downing's Gym. After a month of working out, Tony mentioned bodybuilding competitions and I laughed initially, but he finally convinced me to try a competition at age 44.
I competed at the 2013 Oregon Ironman in novice middleweight and 50 and under masters. I took fourth place in novice and sixth place in masters. For my first show, and without consistent preparation, I was happy with the result. It was the leanest I've ever been and I loved the environment. I will be back next year.
How I accomplished my goals
I never gave up. I lifted in the rain with chains, looked at magazines that floated around, read books, listened, and tried new methods. I couldn't stand to look how I used to, which fueled me to drive on.
I didn't let excuses cross my lips. If my shoulder hurt, I worked legs. If my back hurt, I did leg press instead of squats. If my knee hurt, I worked upper body. Nothing stopped me from the end goal. Through it all, I prayed for strength.
What aspect challenged me the most
Dieting is the most challenging and important aspect. I didn't eat enough at first and it cost me. I wanted immediate results and went through the motions without failure as an option. I don't compete with others; I compete with myself and what I did yesterday. I've had injuries that didn't start from lifting, but impacted my training.
My future fitness plans
I'm constantly learning about the human body and how it reacts. I plan to compete again next year when I build more mass in my legs, traps, and lats. I will practice posing too. I want to become a certified trainer to help people the right way.
Suggestions for aspiring transformers
- Never give up or surrender.
- When you feel like giving up, pray for strength to finish.
- Take before photos to look at when you want to cheat your diet.
- Don't just push weight; feel it.
- Use common sense and read a lot.
- Find what works for you, not someone else.
How Bodybuilding.com helped me reach my goals
I use BodySpace to track my progress. As I got closer to my show, I used the countdown and calendar to track my progress. I read many articles for new ideas to modify workouts. I'm on a muscle-building diet and use Jim Stoppani's Shortcut To Size. The videos with nutrition with supplement stacks are great help.
Rodney's Top 5 Gym Tracks
- "Bring Me Down" by Pillar
- "Holding On" by Pillar
- "Inhuman" by Thousand Foot Krutch
- "Falls Apart" by Thousand Foot Krutch
- "My Own Enemy" by Thousand Foot Krutch