Growing up I dealt with intense stress at home and at school. I struggled with obesity and endured years of teasing/bullying because of it. At my heaviest, I was 17 years old and I weighed 305 lbs. At that point, I had been trying to lose weight for 7 years and hadn’t been able to make any real progress. But that year (2000) I was finally able to make some changes in my diet and I lost 80 lbs in 8 months:
2000 – 2014
The things that I learned about persistence and problem solving through the process of weight loss, would come in handy many times over later in life.
In August of 2000 I went off to college at The University of Houston. I majored in Electrical Engineering. Of course, academically, it was tough, but It was just as difficult to navigate the social landscape of college. I never had close friends growing up and understanding friendship/romance would be a huge learning curve for me. Without being fully aware of it, I took the mental skills I learned through struggling with obesity and applied them to this new academic and social challenge. Eventually, I graduated in 2005 with honors in Electrical Engineering.
I began working as an engineer 3 months after graduation. Life was supposed to be better. I bought a new car (with a loan) and I had a girlfriend for the first time in my life (23 years old). However, I hated the work I was doing and after experiencing significant depression and a period of suicidal ideation, I quit.
My life fell apart… At least, that’s what it felt like:
- I surrendered the car for repossession. This, on top of student loans and eventual credit card default – I was $60,000 in debt and receiving regular calls from debt collectors
- The relationship with my girlfriend exploded – Admittedly, I was too emotionally unstable and immature. I still had so much to learn about the dynamics of healthy human relationships
- I was at odds with virtually everyone in my life and eventually found myself alone in a dark apartment in Houston – The electricity had been cut off and I was being evicted for failure to pay rent
It was a massively disorienting time in my life. Many of the ideas I had about a successful life were being completely upended. What was I going to do next? I tried being a personal trainer for a short period of time but I needed more time to generate a client base and a sustainable income. The calls I was receiving from debt collectors made me very aware that I didn’t have time. Briefly, I tried working as an engineer at another major company in Houston. It was terrible. I quit after 3 weeks. The office/computer work was something I couldn’t tolerate any longer. I wanted to do something physically and mentally challenging. I wanted to do something I found meaningful and I needed money as well…
After research and a lot of contemplation, I joined the US Army in August of 2007 with the hopes of becoming a Special Forces Soldier (AKA – Green Beret). I payed off my debts in the same 3 years it took me to get through one of the Military’s most notoriously difficult training pipelines. Eventually, I served as a Special Forces Medic in Afghanistan…
Afghanistan Feb 2011 – Feb 2012
When I left the military in 2012 I began working as a personal trainer with the hopes that I might help others experience the transformation in their bodies that I had experienced as a young man. In the time that I spent working with people on their health I began to realize that much of my own success with weight loss and other difficult challenges, came from learning to take 100% ownership of the problems I faced no matter what they were or how ill equipped I felt.
When I speak my goal is to show my audience how to take personal ownership in every part of life. Specifically, I believe personal ownership is the most important skill to exercise when faced with adversity in life. To learn more about my philosophy on personal ownership and read more detail on my background, download my free book: We Can Be Harder – 3 Skills to Mastering Life’s Most Important Skill.