IMAGE….

2014-07-12 22.23.57“200 pounds. Ripped. Tattooed. Bench 405, squat 585, deadlift 600. Furocious. Feared. Physically dominant over anyone I encounter…”

This was the expectations. This was the motive. If any of these numbers slipped, I was no longer good enough. I was no longer significant. I might as well end my life.

IMAGE. A detrimental and often disillusioned perception of ourselves in comparison to others. The mirror became my DEEPEST enemy. How do we get to the point where we set that internal bar or standard so high that anything less is gravely unacceptable? How did our exterior all of a sudden begin to define our entire existence? How can these numbers be maintained? How can a person even have any quality in their life compulsively attempting to maintain and battle this urge to be physically superior to all?

The answer is, when a person’s heart and soul are shattered, physical appearance seems to be the only real CONTROL left so once this realization is born, things can spin wildly out of control…QUICKLY. People can hate you, fire you,  break up with you but they cannot stop you from being a physical specimen. The problem is, to answer the next 2 questions is that, these numbers cannot be maintained for a lifetime and there is an extremely low quality of living scrambling to hold onto what we’ve concluded is the “best version of us.”

We grow up and are told we can be anything, do anything we put our brain, heart, and mind to. This is true, TO AN EXTENT. Studies show, some of the most exceptional physical specimens are the most DEEPLY afflicted individuals mentally and emotionally. How do I know? Because I lived it. I STILL live it, every day. I’ve won major weight lifting competitions and have one of the top deadlifts in the state of Pennsylvania but I still found myself…..EMPTY…wanting, needing, CRAVING more. When my addiction was at its worst, so was my body dysmorphic disorder. An obsessive compulsive thought process mixed with an insanely impulsive attitude is a combination of character defects that can strip you of everything you were meant to be spiritually, mentally, professionally, and emotionally. Beware….

I see it every day. Pictures, posts, and videos of lifting, training, and eating habits. Plates of food and advice. When called conceited or self-absorbed the quick lash back defense response is, “I’m inspiring others.” This may be the case for some, but not all…search your soul, question your intentions…

I get agitated and my ego puffs up like a hot air balloon some mornings when I see people self-glorifying but then I realize, that might be what THEY need to stay motivated. They may NEED affirmation from others. I did and STILL DO sometimes but I’ve concluded, it doesn’t matter how many people tell you that you’re great, YOU have to be at PEACE with YOURSELF in EVERY ASPECT OF LIFE to be truly “healthy.”

If we’re completely consumed with our own image, what is happening to our heart and soul? Something always suffers when we neglect certain parts of ourselves. The same goes for people who are all about spiritually or their career. Their health tends to slip. How do we become well-rounded then?

The answer is within YOU. It’s not for me to tell you. I just know my own experience. I know that when I get too obsessed over physical appearance, I become an emotionally and mentally ugly human being that no longer serves others. Exercising is beneficial. Yes. I’ve been a trainer for 5 years and promote exercise and healthy habits. The problem lies when that becomes someone’s center….when the mirror and scale becomes….their GOD.

Those numbers I spoke of at the beginning of this article. 200, 405, 585, 600. Yes, they were very real for me. I hit and even exceeded most of them, at one point. I still could. But in reality, I’m 30 years old. I’m trying to better my life professionally and spiritually. I’m 193lbs, I bench 355, I squat 475, and deadlift 600. You see, those numbers have decreased… I’ve fallen short of my unreasonable expectations. I still have days where I punish myself in the gym because of the unhealthy cyclical pattern of thinking that leads to me looking in the mirror saying, “You’re  failing.” The notion that I’m a pathetic failure….the torture, the isolation, the self-punishing behavior of not feeling good enough for my family, my friends….anyone. Not even MYSELF.

When I take a closer look I see that I’m not failing. I’m growing up. I’m realizing that life has more dimensions and branches to make the tree healthy. If one branch is strong and the others are weak, it’s imbalanced and will tip over…

So, anyone on a lifting or fitness journey, UNDERSTAND one thing. It can be as detrimental as heroin, cocaine, crack, acid, alcohol, and opiates. It can absolutely become a drug. Drugs kill. So, although it’s a huge oxymoron, working out can be very much UNHEALTHY for certain human beings. It can take your soul. Don’t let it do that. Take a day off. Keep your workouts to yourself. Realize that power, strength, and beauty fade. Be beautiful in the way that can NEVER BE taken away…….INSIDE.#BzBe13

Strength and blessings.

Is THIS Freedom?

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“Friends and family, picnics, boats with proud owners, celebrating through the rivers. Fireworks crackle and boom loud enough to make the heart skip a beat. Swimming. Laughing. Loud, upbeat Music. Food. HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERICA! Then, over time, the energy shifts. The whole attitude changes. Drunk driving, fights, accidents, arrests, and overdoses. That transition is occurring as I write these words. FREEDOM. A powerful word. Yes. A true honor and privilege not available to all individuals on this green earth. So, I humbly ask each of you to search your hearts. Think about what “freedom” means to you…..

….Got it? Write it down. Later, after you finish reading this, reflect on that.

So, I was on a boat on the Monogohala River today and everyone around me was enjoying what they felt was their definition of freedom. Me, however, I did a lot of watching and reflecting. I did not watch to judge. I watched to analyze. I came to conclusions galore but only some of you will understand. Those of you that DO will empathize, deeply. It’s all a matter of interpretation and perspective.  Initially, when I boarded the boat with friends, although I’m 3.5 years in recovery, I entertained a detailed fantasy and recollected the feeling of that alcohol traveling down my throat and into my stomach. The slight burn. The repetition. The adrenaline. Glorious. So magically spectacular. The substance being snorted up my nose, circulating so beautifully through my veins. Again, starting off burning, ending in electrifying results. Then, my little glorified journey down memory lane was ABRUPTLY intercepted. “More isn’t enough.” I said to myself. At that moment, I laid in the water on my back, looking up at the sky and trees, feeling the warm sunshine on me, and I smiled. A real, true smile. A moment of clarity. A moment of life better than any I ever experienced high and drunk. The movie reel is always the same with holidays. The book isn’t even worth reading anymore.

I am home now. Currently, I lay on my couch and pet my dog. The booming of fireworks and laughter is replaced with sirens and drunk yelling. Freedom? God bless America. Many say that but few realize that America is in real jeopardy. Brave soldiers fought wars so that people can get obliterated, arrested, and injured? THAT is the reality. THAT is the direction of the human race, not just here in the USA, but in every nation. I am honored to live in this country. I am blessed to be a predecessor of such courageous warriors who fought and some even lost their lives for me to have the ability to freely speak as I am now. What I’m saying is, why is it so accepting to celebrate in such a selfish way? Why is it so socially acceptable to get violently intoxicated? Why is it promoted? Why is it expected, embraced, applauded? What have YOU done for your country? For humanity? Of course, a piece of me wishes freedom had the same meaning it did to me 3.5 years ago. So carefree. So self-serving. But, thankfully, that has all luckily changed.

I am a man. I am a citizen of the incredible country called the United States of America. I am an addict. I am an alcoholic. I am a sinner. I am a son, brother, nephew, cousin, uncle, Godfather, and grandson. I am a speed and strength trainer. I am a weight lifter. I am a musician. I am many things but one thing I am mostly is… grateful. Life has changed and I passionately announce, it’s changed for the better. Anyone out there reluctant to change and battling aggressively with the seemingly undying urge to maintain the common, popular “freedom”, let me tell you this. I have never been more free than I am at THIS moment. You are never truly free until you know yourself, admit your faults, and work on them. You may be feeling cursed and chained but although it may look as though others partaking in popular behavior are having fun and that they are free, in actuality, they are chained souls struggling to achieve normalcy and peace. I drove home from my 4th of July festivities and watched the sun set. The colors never looked so amazingly vibrant in all my life as they did tonight.

In conclusion, remember, freedom may not be what you think it is. It’s definitely not what you thought it was. It may not be popular. It may not be supported. It may not be welcomed but if you continue on a spiritual and personal journey, you will see, every joy, beauty, and that feeling of acceptance and peace are naturally given without drugs and alcohol distorting your reality, Yes, my friends…. that is free.”#BzBe13