Fitness can be your rock

Like a lot of you, I’ve suffered hardships. And if you didn’t suffer hard times, how would you know what good times are? It’s the cycle of life to have ups and downs. What varies from person to person is how these handle hardships.

What’s about to come isn’t a pity party because I’ve already thrown plenty of those and nobody’s ever shown up. I wonder why?

Hopefully after reading this, you’ll see exercise is more than about getting sexy.  Exercise will help you deal with life’s downs and it may even save your life.

My Life Before I Took Exercise Seriously

When I say exercise, I’m not including all the kid stuff like playground and games with family and friends. What’s included is my life from early adulthood onwards.

Not unlike many teenagers and young adults, I let my hair down and partied. This involved lots of alcohol, late nights and chasing girls. What was unusual was the number of illicit drugs I took.  I wasn’t an addict per se but if it was on offer, I never said no.

What did all this drug use do?

It drove some family and friends mad as I developed a king shit attitude and took nothing seriously. I had a bad attitude. If I could go back in time I would slap myself upside the head,  

The ramifications included periods of homelessness, unemployment, and breaking the law to get by. But did I see any of this as my fault?  No, it was always the world’s fault. The world was out to get me. This was the convenient truth I told myself to as I continued down my self-destructive path.

I was lifting but living an unhealthy lifestyle, robbing Peter to pay Paul. Exercise wasn’t a coping mechanism; I saw it has a way to get girls and to not get pushed around.

Then two things happened that changed my life’s path.

  1. My dad died
  2. I dropped out of college much to the disappointment of friends. After my dad died, I didn’t see the point.

My father’s death sent me into a further spiral of late nights, alcohol, and drug use because I wasn’t mature enough to deal with negative feelings. Instead, I drowned and numbed my feelings rather than having to deal with them.

Lucky, I had friends and family pull me out of this funk.

Life After I Moved To The USA

Although I dilly dallied with regular exercise and resistance training for many years, I didn’t take it seriously until I moved to the States and got married in 2001. Because of September 11, immigration had ground to a halt and my legal status was in limbo.  

I arrived and was married using a visitor’s visa. Even though I married an American, I had little legal standing. I couldn’t legally work, earn a living, or drive a car. Not being able to go anywhere when the wife was at work led to some very long days.

My wife tried to do everything by the book but to no avail.

Lucky for me I had endless Walker Texas Ranger reruns to entertain me.

However, all this sitting around and enjoying a life of enforced leisure led some undesirable outcomes. Okay, I’ll just spit it out. I got fat. All the sugar, salt, and fat in my new American diet in combination with little to no exercise led to a bigger tummy.

My wife and I jumped on the Atkins bandwagon and I invested in a pair of adjustable 20-pound dumbbells (which I still have) to reignite my love of bicep curls and a flatter belly.

There was ripping out of routines out of Men’s Magazines and lots of trial and error in the effort to get a routine going. I had no idea what I was doing but at least I was doing something.

And little by little my mood got brighter, and I kept my head above water in my new adopted country.

Exercise is More Than About Fitness

Now I’ll get to the point.  

The purchasing the dumbbells led to a regular fitness routine and led to doing something other than watching cable and reading the occasional book.  I wasn’t sitting around in my own head lamenting my current situation. The positive effect of lifting made me realize exercise was more than just getting sexy.

With still no green card and needing something to lift other than 20-pound dumbbells, I joined the local YMCA. However, I did something that wasn’t entirely legal.

I drove without a driver’s license. But after a year or two of being housebound my wife and I were desperate. Geez, I hope there are no cops reading.

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Being an Australian with the accent with all the trimmings meant I fit right in with all the African-Americans and Hispanics which made up most of the membership base.

Truly I did. Maybe they just wanted to hear me talk. 😊

This hole in the wall gym in a poor part of town had a great sense of community where everyone helped each other, everyone pushed each other and laughed and cried together. Then I realized exercise wasn’t about getting sexy, it’s also community and bringing each other up.

This is one of the reasons why CrossFit succeeded in spite of itself.

Now, when things don’t go my way or I encounter hardships, I don’t turn to things that numb my feelings (drugs), I turn to things that help clear my head and put me in a better state of mind like lifting weights.

Don’t get me wrong, I still dive into the fridge and pantry for comfort but that’s after exercise.

Wrapping Up

Not being the sharpest tool in the shed, it took me a while to realize exercise is not just about fitness. However, when I did, it was easier to cope with life’s trials and tribulations.

Fitness is my rock and if you let it, it will be yours too.


  1. Monica Arredondo

    Your vulnerability and openness are amazing. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself. You’re amazing!!

    • Balance Guy Training

      Thanks Monica. It’s not the easiest thing to do. Trainers and coaches are often seen as fitness robots. Some people forget that we are human too.

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