The moment that changed my life.

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 6.06.01 PMSomething made me think of this tonight, I just had a great day of coaching and then hit the WOD at 8:30 with some amazing people.  I had a tough one tonight, front squats were hard, I was shocked at how heavy they felt. I didn’t even do the second part because my arm was bothering me. James was a good coach, he told me it wasn’t there (referring to the weight) but I refused to scale. I was stubborn and I was mad that he was right. I was down on myself and had two choices, feel sorry for myself or change.


I started thinking that tonight might be special. It was decision time, do I buckle down and fix what I need to fix or do I give up? Here is a great video that talks about these moments in people’s lives.  When I first saw this video I thought back to a moment that changed my life. This one moment was why I joined CrossFit, and I do not think I have ever told this whole story.


I was morbidly obese and working in a job that just destroyed my spirit.  Every day felt the same to me. I would work my shift in the kitchen and spend my nights drinking or gaming. I drank a lot, sometimes as much as five nights a week. I lived with my parents, I didn’t even have a car. My only recreation was mega online role-playing games and my nutrition plan was junk food. I was trying to escape reality via the Internet. I was miserable, I wanted more out of life but I was not willing to do the work to get it. If I am honest, I hated myself. I was not happy and I was afraid to live.


We had a recent hire from the local culinary arts program. He had just graduated and was eager to start his first cooking job. But, he was not a young guy. His company had recently relocated to Mexico and he had gotten federal assistance to go back to school. This guy was in his fifties and was starting his career over working in a kitchen. The odd thing was he did not complain, he was happy to have work. Many people that suffered the same fate as him had lost everything. He was eager to try something new.


His adjustment to the job was rough. The restaurant business is tough and the pace does not slow down. He had a rare wit and I learned, an uncanny ability to read people. He knew a little bit about everything and I enjoyed discussing politics, history, religion, and life. I sought him out for advice and his advice was consistent. He encouraged me to do something more. He pushed go back to school, lose weight, apply for a promotion, take a vacation, ask a woman out, or just live.


He was not the only person that ever encouraged me to lose weight. But, he was the only person, besides my brother, to tell me flat out that I needed to. Hearing that from him was a shock. He knew about obesity, he had a sister with diabetes that was bed bound because of her weight.  Despite this, I was not ready to change.  When you are over 400 pounds you give up. You assume heart disease or diabetes or something will be waiting for you down the road. You just try to forget about the grisly details while you dip french fries in your frosty.


It is weird how things turn out in life.  Terry was generous, funny, caring, kind, and he was my friend. But, none of that mattered when he was diagnosed with throat cancer. He fought it, he worked through the treatments and he was determined to live. When he went on leave for his surgery some people cried. He said to me “what the hell are they crying for? I’m the one with cancer”. 


He came back after the surgery, I knew he would. He was too tough for even cancer. The problem was, it wasn’t enough. The cancer had advanced too far and soon the treatments took him out of work. Before he left he gave me his chef hat and I knew he wouldn’t be back.


I saw him a few times after that. He still made time to see the crew for a drink, the last time he had to get picked up because he couldn’t drive.  On one of those occasions he took me aside to ask me something I had heard before.  He asked me, “what I was doing in that job? Wasting my talent, wasting my time, and wasting my life.” Then he said something else “you are better than this, if you don’t change, you will regret it.” Terry was dying, he did not have much longer to live, but he still took some time to try to help me.


His funeral was full of friends and neighbors, people that loved him. His death hit me hard, I decided that I didn’t want to die. More than that, I realized I wanted to live.


The biggest regret I have is that I never told him how much what he said meant to me. One single comment he made helped me to change my life. From that day on I realized that regret and misery was all that waited for me if I didn’t change. It took a couple of years for me to find CrossFit, and a couple more for me to find happiness.


But after that moment, I started to try.


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