Bodybuilding: My Story!

Sean Nalewanjy talks about how he got to where he is today and what it takes to become a bodybuilder when you are young.

If there was ever one thing I could change about myself, it was my body. At a mere 125 pounds I felt insecure, weak, and would do just about anything to pack some muscle onto my skinny frame. I would look at other kids and think, "why can't I just feel average?" Forget being strong and muscular, I just wanted to feel like I wasn't a toothpick compared to everyone else. I probably took things too far, and maybe I wasn't as thin as I imagined, but it didn't matter. In my eyes I was nothing. Afraid to show my arms, or take my shirt off, my confidence was down in the dumps.

There were several times when I told myself I would do something about it, but I was never able to stick to any kind of real plan. I lacked knowledge and wasn't sure if what I was doing would be effective. I would usually end up doing pushups every night, and then give up in a week or two. I had no idea what to do as far as eating was concerned, and thought that a couple glasses of milk was all I needed to turn myself into Arnold Schwarzenegger.

A Moment that Changed my Life

But then it happened. One day when I was looking in the mirror, I realized just how unhappy I was with the way I looked. It was that day I decided it was time to change. This time I meant business. No more sitting around whining to myself and complaining about my small frame, it was time to put all the talk aside and get to work. Talking builds no muscles. Although I still had no idea how to approach it, one thing was for sure, I wasn't going to quit. Whether or not I knew what I was doing, the bottom line was that I had made a self-promise. No matter how difficult it was, how long it took, or how many obstacles came my way, I was going to change. I was going to get big, and there was nothing that would stop me. It was there that my journey from point A to point B began.

With no weight training or nutritional knowledge whatsoever, I put together my first routine. I would do 200 push-ups every night, 100 sit-ups and do curls and overhead presses with my brother's 10-pound dumbells. I laugh when I look at that routine now, but when it comes to bodybuilding almost everyone starts on the wrong path. So that was that. Every night I'd go downstairs, throw on a WWF wrestling tape for motivation, and do my 200 push-ups in sets of 20. I stuck with this for a couple weeks, and after that time I noticed something. My chest was starting to get noticeably rounder and my arms were even looking a little bit thicker. After seeing a visual improvement, I knew I was hooked. I got on the web and started looking for articles on gaining muscular size. I then realized that my routine was garbage, and I would have to start training with weights if I wanted serious results.

A Big Upgrade

For Christmas I received a universal weight machine with a seated bench press, lat pull-down, pec deck and leg extension. I also went out and bought a cheap set of plastic, cement-filled york weights to complete my home gym. I decided if I was going to be doing this for the long haul, I better learn how to do it right, or not do it at all. Why on Earth would I want to put in so much time and effort if I wasn't doing things properly? So I read. I read a lot. I spent many hours reading, and I read until there was nothing left to read. And then I read some more.

After filling my head with every possible piece of bodybuilding literature I could get my hands on, I put together my first weightlifting routine. Nothing complicated. Just a basic, sound program focusing on basic lifts with maximal intensity. I would train 3 days per week on a push/pull/leg split. It was really hard at first, but I stuck with it. A lot of times working out would be the last thing I felt like doing. But it didn't matter; I dragged my ass downstairs and lifted. I remembered the promise that I made to myself, and this was all I needed to keep going.

Extra two Cents

With an ectomorph body type and rocket fast metabolism, gaining weight hasn't been the easiest thing for me. I had to train like a madman possessed, and eat until another mouth full of food would cause my stomach to explode. I ate insane amounts of food in order to keep the weight gain coming. I ate whenever I possibly could, and I was never hungry. I ate even when I wasn't hungry. Almost every night I would go to bed with an upset stomach, and wish I hadn't eaten so much. Just one more glass of milk. Just one more bowl of yogurt. Just one more piece of toast. Call me crazy, but this is what I had to do if I wanted real gains. Some call it obsession, I call it dedication. And it worked.

I started gaining weight. After the first few months I'd put on a good 15 pounds and gained an inch on each arm. My hard work and persistency was already paying off. So I pressed on. I kept on training and I kept on eating. Most people would have quit by now, but I wasn't one of them. I refused to be defeated, to give up and go back to the way I was. Workout after workout, week after week, month after month, and I was still training. Sure, I experienced bumps in the road. Inevitably there were obstacles, but I rose above them. When it felt like it was time to pack it in, I dug down deep and kept going. This is what separated me from the rest; I wasn't going to quit no matter how tough it was.

I did the things that I hated doing the most in order to reach my goals. Training when I wanted to sleep, eating when I wanted to rest, going to bed when I wanted to stay awake. This is what separates champions from wannabes. I watched as months went by, and my size continued to improve. I was finally walking around with my head up high. I was proud of myself for what I accomplished. I kept on training and I kept on improving. There was no letting up.


True teen bodybuilders are few and far between. Very rarely do you find those who are able to stay totally committed to something as difficult as bodybuilding. But even to this day, I'm still training, and I'm still improving. It's been 2 and a half years since I started, and I haven't looked back since then. I can truly say that bodybuilding has been the greatest choice I've ever made. It has changed me from the inside out. I am now confident with the way I look. I don't hide behind baggy shirts anymore, nor am I reluctant to take my shirt off. I feel strong, powerful and healthy. My life has completely changed for the better. Words cannot describe the feeling of being in great shape. I now know that I am able to set a goal and reach it.

If you are thinking about bodybuilding or you're just getting started, one piece of advice I can give you is DO NOT QUIT. No matter what happens, don't quit. Bodybuilding will do so much for you, and you will be eternally grateful if you continue. There is nothing like it. It teaches self-discipline, builds character and pushes you to your utmost limits. It makes people respect you, and it doesn't hurt when trying to get girls to notice you! There is just so much you will get in return, I can't even tell you.

So next time you're tempted with that can of coke, just remember that nothing tastes better than being in the best shape of your life. Remember, cowards never get started, and the weak die along the way. Are you one of the destroyers, or the broken?