“No man has the right to be an amateur in the matter of physical training. It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” -Socrates, from Xenophon’s Memorabilia
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” -Mike Tyson
In 2013, I was punched in the face. A couple times.
I grew up in a rough neighborhood. First Elizabeth, N.J and then Newark, N.J. Being so close to N.Y.C post 9/11, you get used to fights as a child wearing a turban. People fear things they don’t understand, so it becomes easier to find scapegoats.
But this was different. The first punch broke my nose. The blood rushed out. After that, I put my guard up and shielded my face as best as I could for the barrage of punches. People brag all the time on how they’d react, or fight back. You don’t realize how disabling a punch to the nose is, until the impact. They ran, I laughed back to my dorm. The police kept asking if I had taken any drugs because I couldn’t stop laughing the entire time. My luck, huh?
There comes a point when you hit rock bottom, and this was mine. I hated my major, my GPA was shit, and I was broke and out of shape. Now, I just had my nose deviated. Breathing was a bitch because of my deviated septum, so I decided to take a gap year and figure out what I wanted to do.
The first challenge was mental discipline, so I took the drastic approach of joining the military. (I could give you the whole speech about being patriotic and serving my country, sure. But pushing myself through military training was proving to myself that I could surpass the previous mental and physical hurdles I had barred myself with, as well as showing my younger siblings that you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to.)
I returned from military training around June 2015, and started lifting weights around August 2015. It wasn’t easy; the first few days, you want to quit. You walk in and you’re the smallest runt in the room. The pretty girls are running on the treadmills, the big dudes are grunting heavily on the weights. I had absolutely zero clue what the fuck I was doing.
My first teacher was my stepfather, and he was brutal. Of that, I’m thankful. I screwed up, more than you can imagine, but he would take me again the next day. I had no idea about healthy eating, or macronutrients, but I was a voracious reader.
From Fall 2015 to Spring 2016, I commuted to college from home. I woke up every morning by 4:30 A.M and in the gym at 5 A.M. Finished up at 6 A.M, showered by 7 A.M, and in class by 8 A.M. It was my fucking obsession. I was determined to be better. Because when you hit rock bottom, you can’t go anywhere but up.
And rock bottom for you can mean something different. Reasons to hit the gym:
- You haven’t done as well as you wanted in a class.
- Argument with a loved one.
- The guy/girl you like isn’t talking to you.
- Someone says something negative about you, without even knowing you fully.
- There was a party, and you don’t want to go.
- You realize that once the glamour fades away, you’re left with yourself. What kind of person do you want to be, mentally and physically?
- Getting all your aggression out in a focused manner so you don’t beat the shit out of someone.
In 2.5 years, I’m certainly not the most muscular that I could be. In my mind, I should’ve achieved more. There’s obviously days where I don’t feel like training, but there’s no damn day where I feel like losing who I’ve become.
I barely drink. I don’t smoke. There’s no drama in my life. My life is pretty simple and straightforward. There’s school and the gym. Everything else is secondary. Once I put on my headphones, there’s no place I’d rather be.
“Life is a gym membership with a really complicated cancellation policy.” -Rudy Francisco.
Honestly, getting punched in the face wasn’t too bad.