As a high school student, my focus was completely and totally dedicated to wrestling. Although I was skilled enough to earn a wrestling scholarship at a private university, I realized after my first semester that I wasn’t prepared for the level of dedication, commitment, hard work, and sacrifice that a collegiate wrestling career demanded. It had also occurred to me that my wrestling career would end after graduating in another four years. Why pursue a path, I thought, that was going to end very early in my life when I could be doing something that would establish a long-term career?
So I gave up wrestling and transferred to a less expensive school back home. Still unsure of what my future would hold, I continued my college degree. I studied Business Administration at Vincennes University where I graduated with an Associate Degree. The relationships I built and experiences I had in college were probably more beneficial than the classes themselves. Meeting friends in the gym who had been bodybuilding for a number of years was arguably one of the greatest things to have happened to me in my life. I had no idea what bodybuilding was—as a tough, former collegiate wrestler, I wasn’t interested in wearing a “man thong” and posing in front of a crowd. But the more I learned about bodybuilding, the more I realized that this is what I loved most.
When training for wrestling, I loved the pump I got from lifting weight. I loved the satisfaction of feeling accomplished after a brutal training session. I loved pushing the limits of my body to see how much I could lift and how well my body transformed from weight class to weight class. I never knew that I loved bodybuilding until I found the people to help guide me in the right direction. Had I not taken a leap of faith and quit wrestling, transferred schools, and met the right people, I may never have been a bodybuilder. Yes, there were many times I felt like a quitter, but I knew in my heart that there was something else out there for me.
I eventually moved on to Indiana State University where I pursued an undergraduate program in Physical Therapy. These classes taught me so much about the human body, how it works mechanically and physiologically. My training and approach to diet/nutrition began to improve. I was still, however, a broke, lightweight college student. I was so eager to gain muscle and pack on as much size and weight as possible that I indulged in as many calories from any source of food I could: mass gainer shakes, pizza, burgers, pasta, and burritos were the norm. I didn’t care what it took, I was willing to eat my way to massive gains. My mindset was right (even if it meant waking up at 3:00 am to slam a mass gainer shake and go back to sleep), but the protocol was far off.
Luckily, my friend James, who is now my coach, was around to guide and encourage me. He was always available to answer questions. Once I officially signed up as his client, I knew that all the chips were going "into the pot." I was committed to doing everything by the book and to the best of my ability day in day out. There was no turning back. I said “I will be a bodybuilder” aloud and publicly as much as I could. I knew if I said it, I would have to back it up. Of course, voicing your ambitions means you will find yourself dealing with many doubters. I always thought that the doubters were mostly jealous people who wished they had your drive. I was wrong. From my experience, those closest to you will be your doubters because they are trying to “protect” you from “failure.” I had to be 100% confident in my vision—as outrageous as my goals might have been—in order to stay on track. Ignore the people trying to “protect” you, or doubt you, or “hate on” you. Just know in your heart and in your mind what you want and how you’re going to get it. This is the direct route to success.
Once you’ve said your goals aloud, or maybe you kept it to yourself and began pursuing your dream, follow through. This is the most important part. Everyone has goals, but it’s the ones who never quit when times get tough that succeed. There will be many obstacles from financial problems, to sacrificing time with friends and family, to physical pain/exhaustion/lack of sleep, and the list goes on and on and on. If you are reading this article, it’s very likely that you are much more fortunate than the majority of the people in this world and have more going for you than you realize. The fact that you are able to pursue a dream is not a right, but a privilege. You cannot feel sorry for yourself when hardship comes, otherwise you will never accomplish anything. Set the goal and make it happen. Follow through and never give up. If you believe it, you can achieve it. If you dream it, you can become it.