Being fit isn't just about looking good. Being healthy and fit can literally change your life. Don't believe me? Check out my story.
An Abused Skinny- Fat Kid
As a kid I was skinny, but not the "ripped" skinny. I was slim with a belly - meaning zero abs. Not exactly the most promising physique. Luckily I had some athletic ability - enough to be competitive at a relatively high level for sports.
Unfortunately, I never felt confident enough to perform at a high level. My father was both physically and mentally abusive and it completely wore me down. Combined with his abuse, his love and addiction to alcohol took away from any kind of support that I needed from him.
It's not until I had kids of my own that I realized how much my confidence had suffered in those early days. I truly never felt good enough and was always worried that other kids didn't like me. It was a natural reaction to the abuse I received at home. I was constantly searching for love and verification that I mattered.
The Weights Built Me Up
I remember discovering the weight room around age 15. I had been called "skinny" by some fellow teammates in high school and I was determined to get BIG.
The summer between my sophomore and junior year in high school I fell in love with working out.
Hitting the weights made me feel incredibly powerful. I felt invincible as soon as I hit the gym. The problems of the world completely faded into the background.
And boy were there problems...
When I was a sophomore in high school my sister attempted suicide. Fortunately her attempt was unsuccessful, but the scars remained. The shock of that event still brings back a truly sick feeling even to this day.
That event went hand in hand with my parents getting divorced and my father moving out of the house. It was the right decision, but at the time it felt like the world was ending. I had only one place to turn - the gym.
A Savage Emerges
With chaos surrounding me - I attacked the gym like a savage. I lived for fitness. I would run a mile to the gym and train for an hour after school. Before practice I would hit the gym.
Fitness became my lifeline.
Even while I still felt super self-conscious around my friends, I had the gym to remind me that I wasn't a nobody.
Eventually my body started to really change. I added about 25 lbs of muscle prior to my senior year. That took me out of the skinny-fat category pretty quickly.
My confidence soared. Fitness was my trusted ally. My go-to. My true-north.
Each goal that I set in the gym was smashed with pure rage. All my emotions and pains were taken out on the weights. It was therapy.
Athlete to Obese
My life has been full of ups and downs. You probably can relate. I've made countless mistakes and I've paid a heavy price for them. There have been many lessons learned through my many failures over the years.
When I was done with sports in my early twenties I entered another dark period of my life. Business failures and the weight of the world had driven me into depression. Emotional and mental issues that hadn't been addressed from my childhood crept back to the surface.
Suicide was an option I seriously considered.
I felt lost once again. I had gotten away from the habits and routines that kept me sharp and full of positive energy. I had forgotten health and fitness completely. My nutrition was full of emotional eating - which is a nice way of saying I had the local pizza shop on speed dial.
I ate myself sick almost nightly. I kept thinking about ending it all with pills or drugs (or a combination). I forgot how amazing I felt when food was kept healthy and workouts were a part of my day.
Luckily for me - I was reminded by some close friends of how I had influenced them to workout in college. I had been so into health and fitness in those days that I inspired others to do the same.
These reminders of how much I impacted other people drove me to reconsider my place on this earth. It was time to confront my issues head on and create healthy habits once again. No longer could I allow these deep emotional issues to hide away - I had to take responsibility and make things happen. Otherwise it would be an endless cycle of depression which would ultimately result in me ending my own life.
Fitness once again became the rock of my routine. It took some time, but after getting back in the gym I was fortunate enough to connect with some strong mentors who encouraged me to train my mind MORE than my body.
It wasn't enough to just workout. I had to read, study and learn what it takes to be healthy both mentally and physically.
Life started to come together. I lost an incredible amount of weight (75 lbs) and felt like a brand new person.
My love affair with fitness was back on!
This time things were different. My workouts were meant to build me up - not tear me down. I wasn't trying to impress others. The gym was my therapy, but it didn't end there. The study of philosophy, self-improvement, biographies on the greats in history were my exercises outside the gym.
My drive to own my own business now had a purpose and passion behind it.
I wanted to help those who went through the same dark struggles that I had gone through.
The TRUE TRANSFORMATION was born!
Right around the same time I was getting my life back and focusing on healthy habits once again - I was fortunate enough to meet the girl of my dreams.
Had I met her a few years prior - she wouldn't have even bothered with me and she would have been smart to avoid me.
Fortunately for me - I was in a good place mentally and physically when we met.
We dated for a short time and then quickly married after realizing we were meant for each other.
It's crazy to think I would have completely lost out on her (and our 2 kids) had I not gotten back on track with my health and fitness.
It's actually quite scary when I think about it.
Things Change and Stay the Same
Life has gotten way more awesome over the years (and way more busy). I now have two kids and the focus has shifted from being much more selfish to being more self-less. It's an incredible experience (and challenging at the same time).
Fitness has given me the platform to help thousands of men and women around the world truly transform their bodies and minds through health and fitness. I'm honored to have that platform and it's something that I feel incredibly fortunate to have every day.
Health and fitness has also given me the strength to be a better father, husband and friend. It's not easy by any means. In fact, I mess up all the time. But having the discipline to improve and progress has been fueled by my health and fitness habits.
Finally, fitness has given me true confidence. The confidence to do anything. This world is an amazing place, but its mind-blowing if you live life healthy and fit. There's so much more enjoyment to be had if you take care of both your mind and body.
If you need encouragement or if you feel lost on your journey - please...don't hesitate to reach out. We're on this journey together!
About the Author - Josiah Novak
Josiah Novak is a husband, father, founder of the Fit Man Project Podcast, former College Athlete, Blogger, Author, Certified Personal Trainer, Entrepreneur, and Online Health and Fitness Coach.
I'm a husband and father of 2 who stays fit year round and enjoys LIFE 24/7/365 - so I like to write about that.