Healthy Living Y Stories YMCA Health and Fitness

From bullied to bodybuilding: how Adam turned his life around

Personal trainer Adam working out in the weight room

Adam’s life-long journey towards healthy living started when he got fed up with the high school bullies who picked on him because of his weight. After losing over 100 pounds, Adam went on to become a provincially qualified bodybuilder and a YMCA personal trainer who helps others gain the confidence he worked so hard to build himself. Here’s his Y Story:

Ever since I was a kid, my weight’s been an issue. I spent a lot of time in front of the TV, and would always eat more food than my mom dished out. I started high school weighing 240 pounds, and would only wear really baggy clothes that covered up my body because other kids had started bullying me. I remember faking a smile a lot, trying not to show how much the name-calling and jokes bothered me, but I always felt like others were pointing, staring, and judging me for my weight. While my confidence plummeted, my weight kept going up.

I finally decided this wasn’t how I wanted to live my life. I started walking to and from school, but I was so out of shape that those walks were the most tiring 25 minutes of my day. I stayed motivated by thinking about how confident active, healthy people appeared to be, and promising myself that I would be that self-assured too one day. Eventually, I was able to walk longer and longer, so I started riding my bike; when that became easy for me, I started running. By the time I graduated from high school, I was down to 135 pounds.

The next chapter in my fitness journey started when running came to feel like a chore. Even though I didn’t really know what I was supposed to do in a gym, I got a membership. I learned the basics by watching other members, and by doing a ton of my own research. I would look around the gym and see people moving huge amounts of weight, and I wanted to be able to do that too. After about a year, I got into bodybuilding: I thought it would be so cool if I could one day get up on stage and show everyone that no matter where you start, anything’s possible.

I didn’t have a coach, like most people who compete; I designed my diet and exercise regime all on my own. After 20 weeks of sticking to a strict diet and challenging workout routine, I found myself on the night before the competition, unable to sleep because I was so excited and nervous. Throughout those weeks and during the show itself, I felt like I was competing more against myself, testing my willpower and commitment to my goals. I’ve never felt so accomplished in my whole life as I did when I finished that first competition.

Today, I’m still training hard and eating healthy so I can compete again in a show in 2017. But more importantly, I’m overwhelmed by the amount of confidence I’ve gained throughout this process, especially compared to how down on myself I was in high school. I’m no longer afraid to be myself, and I know I can do anything if I set my mind to it.

I also put all of these experiences to good use by training others who want to change their lifestyle, just like I did. I think I’m a good role model for people who have had similar struggles with their weight and self-esteem; I know what they’re going through because I’ve gone through it too, and I can share the strategies I used to get where I am today. One of the people I work with started training with me with hardly any confidence at all. When we started, I had to work hard to convince her that she had it in her to finish the routine we’d designed. But just ten weeks later, she didn’t need me there anymore; she started telling me, “I’ve got this!” Nothing’s more satisfying to me than helping others gain that sense of confidence, because I know exactly how good it feels.