I started my fitness journey as a runner on my high school cross-country and distance track teams. My best mile time was 4:50. I was 5'8 and 115 lbs soaking wet, bench pressing an unimpressive 45 lbs when I first started lifting at age 18.
After high school, I discovered strength training. I wanted to do something about my toothpick frame. I definitely made some positive gains, achieving a healthier 150 lb frame. I also didn’t really have any direction. I would work the same body parts out daily with little gain and lots of fatigue. I skipped leg day when I first started because I thought running was enough! I also let my ego get in the way, as I put too much weight onto exercises, compromising my form. Then, along came the injuries! After my recovery, I hit another hurdle…the Penn State Main Campus lifestyle. I sprinted past the freshman 15, and gained 40 pounds in one semester. I did not completely stop working out, but I lifted weights maybe twice a week with no cardio. I took advantage of the buffet style eating with meal points at my dorm cafeteria. I also consumed lots of alcohol and pizza as well. By the time I was 190 pounds, I became scared I would reach 200 pounds. I knew unhealthy eating, excessive drinking, and lack of exercise were my contributing factors. How to solve these problems were the pieces of the puzzle I had yet to solve. I had no personal trainer. I had little to no guidance.
It was time for change. Sure, I was only 20, but my family has a history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes. I lost my Grandfather the year before to complications with diabetes. I saw how diabetes overtook his life, forcing him into painful kidney dialysis, in addition to getting one of his legs amputated. I knew lots of people who lost family members way too early to ailments that are preventable. I focused on going to the gym at least four times a week. I walked on campus instead of taking the bus (even when it was cold, which in State College, PA in January was a guarantee). I did not lose any weight, however, I did not gain any more weight. What could possibly have been wrong? Well, even though I cut out most fried foods and high fat foods, I did not know anything about refined sugars, simple carbohydrates, and empty calories. I would eat a half big bag of Baked Lays, for instance. I would eat fat free salad dressing, yet it had high fructose corn syrup, added onto the cheese, croutons, and other condiments I slapped onto my salads that were keeping me from losing weight. I didn’t have much focus in the gym. I socialized more than I worked out. I figured going was enough.
However, I was going to work at Cedar Point Amusement Park a second summer. I did not want to spend my days off at the lake wearing a shirt in the water. I made a goal to lose 20 pounds over the summer. However, the simple fact that you will lose weight if you burn more calories than you consume in a day, held very true. I did not have a car, so I ran two miles to the gym, did a workout, then ran two miles back to the dorms I stayed at. After that, I worked 12 to 14 hours a day walking around outside. I barely thought of food. I would’ve lost 20 pounds, if I followed a proper plan. I went to the other extreme, and lost 20 pounds in three weeks. Eventually, I lost 50 pounds that summer.
After my weight loss at Cedar Point, I dedicated time every day to learn new exercise routines and proper nutrition. It took me a while to fine tune everything, since I still had no guidance. I eventually eliminated simple carbohydrates, sodas, and fast food from my lifestyle. I also briefly took diet pills, which I HIGHLY RECOMMEND AGAINST taking. Food is truly the best medicine, in my opinion. The diet pills made me dizzy and jittery. The upside was that I only gained 10 pounds of muscle to keep myself around 155 pounds. I have maintained that same weight for the past ten years, except for losing some weight during my lower back injury, which was unrelated to weight lifting, but a direct result of a weak core, bad ergonomics at a job, and terrible posture.
I suffered the lower back injury about six years ago. There were days I could not walk, and I was mentally defeated for a time. However, once I mentally convinced myself I will bounce back from this injury and be in the best shape of my life, I applied myself to rehabilitation and training. The rehabilitation helped me overall. I became stronger than ever, lowered my body fat count to 7%, and began leading friends and other people in workouts. I went from not being able to picking up a pencil at a few points to deadlifting 400 lbs while weighing 155 lbs.
In 2013, I decided I wanted to pursue a personal training career after I was spending most of my free time giving advice to people in regards to health and fitness. It took a couple more months for me to make that jump to get certified. Also, the obesity rates in the United States, and seeing people suffer as I observed people in everyday life, knowing they don’t have to if they had the proper guidance, hit me emotionally. Going into the fitness world seemed like a perfect fit. I already had a passion for fitness, and I know firsthand how it changed my life. It grew my self-confidence, it gave me more energy to take on the physical demands of everyday life, it helped me recover from a major injury, it kept my blood pressure at a perfect level, it helped steer me away from bad habits, it relieved my stress, and it has made me a better person overall. I already know once you experience the benefits of an effective, yet fun fitness routine, combined with a proper diet, you will want to continue with your new, improved lifestyle. Seeing weight loss and body fat loss is a benefit I enjoy making a reality for clients. More recently, I completed my NASM CES (Corrective Exercise Specialist) certification. It showed me the true meaning of “Sports Medicine”. The exercises I learned help to heal people of their injuries. That is just as rewarding to me as seeing weight loss and/or fat loss. In addition, I completed my Precision Nutrition Level 1 course. I have primarily been doing one on one and small group fitness training, primarily to help my clients lose weight and body fat, but more recently I have been teaching HIIT and Boot Camp classes for a business in Crofton, MD and as part of the Parks at Walter Reed Redevelopment project in Washington, DC.
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