As a small child I dealt with physical/sexual abuse from a close family friend. As I got older 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 resilience developed through practicing certain problem-solving skills:
Resilience – The ability to engage with complex problems and grow mentally and emotionally stronger as a result; The capacity to acknowledge and engage with difficult truths and maintain mental and emotional stability.
Problem-Solving Skills – Cultivating Personal Responsibility, Creating and Maintaining a Vision, Understanding and Updating My Story
Solve Problems. Build Resilience.