The cycle of obesity is a vicious one, and I was there for my first 20 years of life. Here’s my story!
My name is Blake Underwood, and I am 22 years young. I am finishing my Exercise Science and Philosophy Degrees this year at Lipscomb University in Nashville, I am working to be ACE certified both as a health coach and personal trainer, and I am pursuing a CSCS certification in the near future as well as a Masters in Human Movement.
I have a corgi-pitbull mix, her name is Holly, and she is the best good girl out there. Instead of explaining how I can get you to where you want to be, I’ll tell you why I am who I am.
My family moved around a lot
I grew up with a poor attitude and outlook on life. My family moved around a lot. We moved a total of 8 times before I was 18 years old, (grand total of 17 if you count the moves from apartment to house, and house to apartment in the same city) and I went to 3 different high schools in 4 years.
I would play tennis when my mom took me to practice, but otherwise, I would play video games with my (almost always new) friends, and consume as much pizza, Mountain Dew, and Doritos as I could get my hands on.
I buried myself in my self-loathing by eating and being inactive.
How to Fight Obesity
I hated myself because I was fat and lazy, and when I hated myself, I ate. The cycle of obesity is a vicious one, and I was there for my first 20 years of life. I started to go to a personal trainer at my local gym, he showed me how to lift weights, and I enjoyed it. A lot. There was a strong man deep inside me who was trying to scrape and claw his way out of the hole I chose to dig for him.
My obesity, along with an onslaught of other issues that I won’t go into, led to my battles with depression and anxiety, not knowing how to deal with the internal issues I had going on. The problem was, I didn’t know how to pull myself out of the hole I was in.
I chose an incorrect one
Out of all the healthy choices I could have made, I chose an incorrect one: I put my self-worth in the gym. I gained some muscle and I lost 59 pounds (245-186) in a year, and I looked good! Girls began to notice me!
I realized that guys even began to treat me better, making friends was easier and I felt more motivated to be social and to smile wide and bright. I had done a lot of work on my physical body, but I had done nothing about my mental, emotional, or spiritual states. Seeing these positive changes happening around me was great, but this was a direct result of changing how my body looked, not because I accepted or loved myself or my own personal identity. I was pursuing a great body, but nothing else.
People still thought of me as the nice guy
I began to realize that people still thought of me as the “nice guy,” the person they could (and would) walk over and use as a doormat. In reality, nothing had changed, I was a skinnier version of the still-depressed-and-lost Blake. The cycle began anew, because of this I fell back into my old habits and I gained everything back. Everything plus 2 pounds.
I was disgusted with myself. I slipped into an even deeper depression, I was so far down the rabbit hole that I didn’t think I would be able to get out. Showering became a task, my academics slowed down to a screaming halt, and I got to the point that some people know all too well: I contemplated suicide.
I was scared
I wasn’t aware a human being could get so low. I experienced a feeling of utter hopelessness and pain, leaving me to think that there was no end in sight. It feels like the pain will last forever, and seems the way to end this feeling is to end your own life, which at the time seems like a relief.
Existing is painful, let alone putting on a smile and letting the world know “I’m fine, no need to worry about me.” Talking to anyone about it seems scary because you feel like a burden, the voices in your head say “You’re being dramatic, talking to somebody isn’t going to help anyway.
You’re just scared to do it. You’re weak, useless, and even if you had the courage to do it, nobody would miss you. In fact, the world would be a better place if you weren’t here, you would be doing everybody a favour because all you do it hurt the people around you. They say you’re a great guy, they say that merely knowing you has changed their lives for the better, but they’re lying to you.
In fact, when anybody compliments you, when you think they’re trying to make you feel better about yourself, they don’t mean it. Just do it you spineless piece of shit.” All with a smile on my face, going to class, being in Greek Life, and living what were supposed to be the best years of my life.
I had to do something
I then realized that I had to do something about my mental health, emotional cognition, and my spiritual well-being, otherwise I would be uncertain of my future. Uncertain not in my career, not in my family, not in my budget, but whether I would still be alive in a couple weeks. I decided to take action, but this time was different.
I NEEDED to take action. Not in a month, not in 5 minutes, but at that moment; otherwise there was no way I would ever stop the cycle I knew so much about. I started doing cardio again.
Find somebody you kind of trust
**If anybody reading this is struggling with thoughts of suicide, reading that last paragraph might have been a trigger for you (and you don’t even know me! Exciting!). If you were triggered, that’s your mind telling you that you need to talk to somebody. Please do it. Please do something for yourself, you deserve to live your life with happiness and passion.
All you have to do is find somebody you kind of trust (I know trust is hard), and say “Hey, sometimes I get sad and have thoughts that I don’t like having. I’d like to talk about it sometime if you’re willing to listen.” If he or she doesn’t want to listen, forget you ever knew that person find somebody else; he or she isn’t your friend anyway. I know its easier said than done, but I promise you, this is not a burden that you should bear on your own.
It sounds cliche and I know the word “church” can be weighted, but there are people there are nice and who want to help. Take advantage of the communities around you, whether that’s at a church, mosque, or temple, a support group, your friends, or a therapist. It hurts, I know. But you need to DO something about it, because you are worth doing something about it.
Gaining self awareness
You won’t be a better person because you carried this by yourself, you’ll be a better person when you manifest your thoughts into words and realize what you’re actually saying to yourself. You deserve to live a life full of passion and happiness. You will be stronger during the times you need to be strong. It will help you get your head out of the all-too-familiar fog and you’ll be able to see your thoughts for what they are: thoughts. Your thoughts are not your identity. Sometimes you can’t choose your thoughts, but you can always choose your identity. Suicide Hotline # 1-800-273-8255**
“The Biggest Loser”
Another first day of being a bouncy, blubbery boy on top of the elliptical. To give you some perspective, “The Biggest Loser” was a reality TV show that would have contestants lose an obscene amount of weight, sometimes 100’s of pounds in a season for ONE PERSON, through crash dieting and living a lifestyle that most consider unsustainable (I have my opinions about the show, but I cannot deny the fact that it changed people’s lives for the better). Yet, some people on the show didn’t get the bigger picture, they gained it all back and then some….
I realized I was that person. I was the guy that lost all the weight and then gained it all back plus some, the guy that everybody looked at and said “Aw…poor fella.” The thought that people felt sorry for me…had an attitude of pity toward me…it still makes me furious. As cheesy as it sounds, this time the weight loss was personal.
While I would do cardio, I would listen to people who had been in the same position that I was, whether they were ever overweight or not. Anybody who battled with depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues, anybody who had a positive outlook on life, anybody who had experience that I could gain insight from, I listened to them. I can say with confidence that if the internet was not here, I wouldn’t be. Its such a powerful resource that can be used for the good. I was all in.
I began to grow as a human being
As I began to grow as a human being, doing cardio became easier. Eating well became easier. I began to enjoy pushing my boundaries and expand what I thought was possible. It didn’t take as much willpower for me to not order takeout and eat to the point of nausea when I felt down. It didn’t take as much willpower for me to get off the couch, take a damn shower, and make myself presentable.
Sometimes I give in. Life gets hard
Mustering up the willpower to do what I knew I should have been doing in the first place became easier. To this day I still listen to motivational and positive messages from people who have been to the dark places that I have been, not because I feel like I need to, but because I want to. It’s the better way to live.
I won’t lie to you, most of the time it’s hard to be positive and walk the good path. Sometimes I get the temptation to slip back into the dark places because it’s what I’ve known for most of my life. Sometimes I give in. Life gets hard; I get it. My lifeline, by the literal term, are the beliefs that I hold onto. Am I done? Hell no. And that is what makes me different from 95% of the trainers out there.
I’ll admit that I make mistakes. I’ll admit that I feel sad sometimes. I’ll admit that I am a real human being; I like eating wings and watching Netflix now and then. I love wings. I’ll admit that it’s OK to slip up, your world should not need to come to a screeching halt when you do. I want you to feel comfortable enough with me to tell me when you miss the mark of perfection because everybody does whether they tell you or not.
Tell me when you aren’t as consistent as you want to be, because I wish that I had somebody like that in my life when I needed a push when I was down. On the other side of the same coin, I will not accept a half-ass attitude. There’s a fine line between loving yourself and being lenient with your work ethic.
I hope my story has inspired you
If I can help you reach your goals, not merely in the fitness realm but in other areas of your life, it would be an honor and a privilege for me to do so. I hope my story has inspired you, whether you choose to hire me or not, to make a better life for yourself.
The thing I will leave you with is this:
- YOU are the person to make decisions for your life.
- YOU are the one who takes action.
- YOU are the driving force in everything that you do.
- YOU can make your life how you want it to be.
- YOU Manifest your Focus and DO. Don’t listen to other people’s negativity, make the right decisions for YOU.
Nobody else knows the real you or experienced what you have been through. Nobody can tell you what your needs, wants, or desires are; you are a beautiful and powerful human being. I don’t say that willy-nilly, I now believe it with everything in me.
One thing that you will learn about me, if you choose me, is that I don’t lie to cover my reputation, I don’t sugar-coat, I say what I mean and I mean what I say, but more than that I do what I believe.
I will be turning 23 at the end of this year, and I know some of you may look down on me because of that. I know that I am young, I know you may see me as a child, but you should know that my work ethic can run circles around yours. Let me prove to you that numbers are merely numbers: age and the number on your scale.
Hope to see you soon.
With Love and God bless,
-I will be a man who leads his own, but follows the One who spoke the universe, the One who gave the most, and the one who lives in me.-