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you repeat the lesson until you learn it

By the time I first entered the doors of high school, I had grown into a rather bulky young man. When my freshmen year came to a close, so too went the days of easy gym class. Upon entering the 10th grade, I was forced to choose between taking either a weight training class or aerobics for my physical education credit - I chose weight training.

That first day was a real challenge. To get us warmed up, our teacher had us run an "easy" mile around the indoor track. Suffice it to say, I was the last person in my entire class to finish. That one mile took me over 15 minutes to complete - and that was only the warm up! By the end of class, I was dripping with sweat and wreaked to high heaven.

As hard as that first day was, there was something magical about that class. It fundamentally changed my attitude towards exercise, and that attitude is still with me to this day.

Thanks to that class, I went from about 250lbs to 200lbs in only one semester! I was also running our daily "warm up" mile in 6 minutes 30 seconds. Better yet, I was finally light enough and strong enough to complete my very first pull up - ever!

I was on top of the world, but unfortunately that routine did not last long.

After only being out of school for one year, my weight was already back up to 250lbs. By the time I was 20, my weight had ballooned to over 300lbs. I knew I was in serious trouble, but I honestly did not have a clue what I was supposed to do about it.

You see, psychologically, when you go from being a somewhat "normal" weight to becoming morbidly obese in less than two years, your perception of self becomes unbelievably distorted.

I remember looking at myself in the mirror, and from the neck down I saw absolutely nothing; somehow I had conditioned my mind to believe that as long as my face looked thin, the rest of my body must look thin as well.

I was sorely mistaken...

In case you couldn't tell, I'm the big dude on the right.

It was years before I finally mustered up enough courage to step on a scale and actually weigh myself. When I saw the numbers, I could not believe my eyes. To help me feel better, I would tell myself that the scale must be broken. But it wasn't the scale that was broken, it was me.

I was so convinced that in spite of my sedentary lifestyle, I was still the the same person I was in high school. I was in a state of complete denial, and there was not a single thing anyone could do or say to convince me that I had a problem.

Every now and again I would get inspired by something or someone, and that usually lead to me joining a gym or going for a jog around the block; but the inspiration faded just as quickly as it arrived.

After many failed attempts at losing weight through "popular" weight loss programs, I decided that enough was enough; it was time to go back to square one. The answer was always there, sitting in the back of my mind waiting to be dug up. I remember thinking, "could it really be that simple?" I mean, if I had successfully lost weight in high school through regular exercise and running, would committing to an hour of weight training and running every day possibly work for me again?

And the answer folks, is yes.

 Myself circa January, 2012.

One of the best pieces of knowledge I took away from my entire weight loss experience, was that if you want something to last a life-time, you have to make it a life-long habit. There are no short cuts; no magic pills that will help you achieve your goals.

I also learned that before you can completely change your life for the better, you have to be willing to honestly evaluate, and if necessary, replace or remove all of the people, places, things, actions and ideas that are causing you trouble in your life.

Who you are today is merely a residual image of your past life experiences. In my life, I had created a horribly destructive pattern that was easy to diagnose, but difficult to dismantle. The majority of the people, places, things actions and ideas that were making up my life were incredibly negative and toxic.

My weight, home life, family life, person health, love life, financial life, friendships, career and religious beliefs were all in ruin. When I finally took a step back and honestly evaluated my situation, it had become painfully clear that my life was out of balance. The solution? I had to change everything and everyone around me.

It wasn't easy. I had to burn a lot of (bad) bridges that were getting in my way. I had to end relationships with some of my former (so-called) friends. I also had to end my relationship with a former girlfriend of six years. I knew going into it that removing them from my life was going to be difficult, but I had to keep my eye on what truly mattered most - putting my life back together the way I wanted it to be.

This wasn't the kind of situation where I went to sleep, and when I awoke the next morning a better life was waiting on my doorstep. This was simply the first step in what I knew was going to be a very long process of removing the bad in my life and replacing it with good. After all was said and done, it took me two solid years of working hard every single day before I finally turned my life around.

In those two years, I went from:

  • Horrible girlfriend to incredible wife!
  • 330 lbs to 230 lbs.
  • Financial ruin to financial freedom.
  • Smoker to non-smoker.
  • Toxic relationships to healthy relationships.
  • Hating myself to loving myself.
  • Living for other people to living for myself.

Now, I do not know what your situation is, or where you might be hurting in your life. All I can tell you for sure is that in my experience, holding on to what does not make you happy and does not bring you joy, will only hurt you in the long run.

As hard as it may seem, you are going to have to face your fears and deal with these issues. If your relationships have become stagnant and you are unhappy with certain people in your life, you need to ask yourself, "Is this relationship a benefit or a hindrance to my life?" You have to be honest with yourself and learn to trust your instincts. For far too long I held on to relationships because I foolishly believed that "some day" the person would eventually come around, grow up, or change. Unfortunately for most people, "some day" never arrives.

You have to understand that you cannot control other people, no matter how hard you try. All you can control are the people, places, ideas, experiences and actions that you allow into your life.

Regardless of the situation: if it is hurting you, holding you back, or bringing you down to a level where you don't want to be, then it's time to let that person, place, thing, experience or idea go.

The way I see it, life is a series of tests. And unlike school, in life we are forced to take the test first and then we learn the lesson that was being taught. If we fail to learn it, life doesn't flunk us - we just keep repeating the test over and over again until we finally get it right.

Life is short... you better start learning.

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