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I was working out at the YMCA in my hometown of Greensburg, PA. I’d train at about 8pm after I did my homework and messed around at home for a while after school. I had a blast, learned about the weights and exercises and thought I could see myself growing in the mirror every time I stepped into the gym. At about 14 years old I knew a little bit about training- train, have fun, go home. So simple, so easy. I didn’t realize it at the time, but those nights spent benching and playing basketball and curling and doing sprints really sparked a fire within myself. I can remember doing pec flyes with maybe 125 on the stack and some older guy saying “damn boy, you are strong… Taking care of your body I see. Don’t forget to take care of your mind too.” As does the majority of information when you are a teenager- in one ear and out the other. Looking back, he couldn’t have been more correct.
Through the years, I was on and off with training, never took it too seriously, but kept it a priority. College rolled around and I started to get more serious with my training. I’d go every day, schedule my workouts, plan around them, make time get the cardio in etc. I grew. I concentrated on training and supplements mainly (didn’t forget food, but didn’t pay attention too much). PT in the am with ROTC, a few muscle milks, off to thermodynamics class with Prof. Donnie, pak, pump, cuts and nitro and into the University of Pittsburgh’s gym. Day in and day out I’d make it a priority to hit the gym and train. I thought training was the key. The high and mighty all conquering force to forge my new body shape and size. Boy was I wrong.
My first bodybuilding competition was March 30th 2013 in Pittsburgh. Weight and cardio training helped me get in top condition and the calorie restricted diet and the hours spent cooking and meal prepping helped me incinerate fat in placed I barely knew I had. I was in the best physical shape and condition in my life. The “V”, the Christmas tree, 6 pack, Clydesdale horseshoe triceps, swept quads and (almost) blocked gutes. The results of the competition didn’t matter to me. I entered the open and the novice classes and posed my ass off. Crunched every muscle I had and displayed every physical aspect of the body I created over the prior 16 weeks. The night was over just as fast as it came. Starting at 226lbs and ending at around 193 lbs made the celebratory feast that much sweeter.
Looking back, it was not the training, not the diet, not the physical shape I was in that I am proud of, it was my ability to develop my body and my true interest in the sport of bodybuilding with my mind. My mind was what I was actually investing in and evolving with every rep and every meal. My mind is what made me who I am. The physical attributes and outcome were just part of the results. The mind is absolutely the most important resource the players have in the game of iron. I call bodybuilding the game of iron because not matter how much stronger you get, there is always more weight – it is like the iron is ALWAYS teasing me… want to squat 550? Cool, come back when you want 600. Want to deadlift 6 plates each side? There’s still room for 7 on the bar hero… Haha, just makes me laugh and continue to come back for more. Anyway, I invested in my mind without really noticing it. Experiences grow the mind and the mind grows the body. The “older guy” said, take care of your mind. Cherish its ability to overcome and destroy anything in its tracks. The growth of one’s body is all well and good, but the growth of one’s mind is EARNED. You can’t just “become” a metal jedi of some sorts; you have to experience hardships and take the fall sometimes to grow. Rise up and define yourself. I did, and I am still growing faster every day. Are you?