I used to be fat.
I used to be unhappy.
I used to have essentially zero confidence.
I was embarrassed by my own reflection.
I finally had enough. In a single moment, I was engulfed in a fire of what can really only be summed up as rage. Rage towards myself, towards the decisions I had made, towards the excuses that I had used along the way, towards my own lack of strength. Not physical strength, but strength of will.
I had gone to one of the most physically demanding schools in the nation, and yet I got fatter and fatter every year. I was embarrassed for the school, for it having me as a member of its Corps, because I didn't reflect the values of diligence, strength, and perseverance that they taught me. By the time I graduated, I had maxed out at over 260+lbs. I say + because once I hit 260, I stopped weighing myself, I was ashamed.
Two things happened at graduation that were catalysts for me to completely change my life.
The first, one of my rats - a kid that I had mentored my senior year, which was his freshman year - gave me a set of dogtags. One was his and the other was his father's from when he was a Marine in Vietnam. People work their asses off every day to wear those. To me, they were a tangible symbol of strength and dedication. I still pull strength from them today, over seven years after he gave them to me.
The second - and this is how most people start their transformation - a single picture. There I was, 260+, in my formal uniform. I remember having to get it resized two weeks before graduation - and not in a good way. I saw the pictures a few days after graduation and I couldn't stand to look at them.
The flint had been struck, the fire was lit.
I tried the stupid things at first, I had no idea what I was doing. Hours of cardio on next to no food. I mean it's calories in vs calories out, right? I was an idiot. Over the course of the next few years, I educated myself, I learned from fitness sites and friends of mine in the industry - from personal trainers to power lifters. It became the focus of my life. The better shape I got in, the happier I became and it reflected in everything: I was more productive at work, I could participate in more sports and meet new people, I became more confident and started going after the things I wanted - which made me even happier. Now, it's not rage that fuels the fire, it's passion. Passion for improving myself every day, to learn, to saying no to my own limitations and pushing for one more rep, one more plate on the bar, one last mile.
I am strong.
I am happy.
I am still on fire.