HOW DID I GET HERE?
That is the best way I can describe how I let what happened to me in 2009. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, I was a certified personal trainer with a nice list of academic credentials to go with it. However, by the early 2000’s I allowed a variety of broken relationships (business and personal) and ignorance of business management, to be the beginning of what would become a long-term depression.
The more I focused on my perceived problems and defeats, the more negative I became. I started to have a bad attitude with my work. That showed to be costly in a variety of ways. As the self-pity party continued, the more apathetic I became. I had concluded that it was everyone else’s attitude that was the reason for my current condition. Funny how we can have a tendency to look at ourselves with rose colored glasses, yet judge everyone else like the sternest of judges; especially when we are hurting. As a result of the poor attitude, this “trainer” stopped working out, caring about what he ate, and buried himself in trying to become a “fitness entrepreneur”.
I decided to leave the personal training industry and go into more of a fitness administration endeavor. This led into a few endeavors in marketing and event management. Though I did work long and hard, it was done with the poorest of attitudes and the lack of business success was the result. To make matters worse, I gained over 100lbs during this time frame. Concentrating on trying to make money and food were diversions from dealing with issues I did not want to deal with. With each “defeat”, the more depressed I became.
The lowest of points came when I perceived to have lost the respect of my peers and the influence I used to have on the public as a, “fitness” professional. They never outright told me that but I could see it in their body language. For me, I internalized it as, “Wow, Gary really let himself go. That is sad.” I remember asking myself, “Would you trust a fat ‘fitness’ professional?” As I got deeper into the depression, I would eat more to deal with it. To make a long story short, having a combination of stress, lack of rest, poor eating habits/food choices, and little to no physical activity for several years finally cost me my greatest asset; my health.
IT IS ALWAYS DARKEST BEFORE…
In a little over 2 years, I had a complete lifestyle change. I readjusted the way I ate, exercise schedule, along with my stress management habits. It took a near fatal event to shake me up enough to make my health a priority. In the process of making these adjustments, I ended up losing over 100 lbs.
In January and February of 2009, I had 2 severe diverticulitis flares in a 2-week time span. To explain exactly what that means, diverticulitis is an infection of pockets that are formed in the gastrointestinal g.i. or digestive track. This usually occurs due to the overindulgence of processed foods. That condition is known as diverticulosis. The inflammation of those pockets is diverticulitis.
The infection I possessed had turned into perforations in the colon. It was quite severe. In terms of degree of severity, let us say I was very close to being sent into emergency surgery and wearing a colostomy bag for the rest of life. That was, “the wake-up call”. I knew right then and there, if I didn’t make a change, I was not going to be around much longer. I was 34 when this occurred.
For the first 3-6 months, I could not do much physically, but I had a massive overhaul of my nutrition. At first I was on a liquid diet, then soft foods, and eventually progressed to a sensible, realistic diet. I completely dropped fried foods, table salt, caffeine, and processed sweets. You would be amazed how fast you can drop those things if they are pain contributors.
After the 6 months, I started walking on treadmill and at times, used the weight machines between 2-3 times a week. After the first year, my gut had almost completely healed and I decided to step up my exercise regimen. I began to jog around February 2010 and increased intensity on the weight machines. Also at this time, I started adding minor core exercises. That was scary at first.
In May 2010, that is when something “clicked”. It’s hard to describe but that was the time I decided it was time for a complete overhaul and recapture the life I neglected for over a decade. May 16, 2010 is when I filmed the first ever “Sweat Is Free” video on YouTube . SIF is a video log of me tracking my fitness progress. I was either going to be a laughing stock or I was going to achieve results. No middle ground.
As part of that declaration, I began to tweak my diet further. I began consuming mostly organic foods. I also started high intensity interval training or (HITT) workouts.
I did this type of workout from May to December 2010 for 5-6 days a week. The workouts lasted between 20-40 minutes per session.
During this timeframe, I guess this is when I started to become known for running stadiums.
I tried it for the first time in 13 years back at my alma matre, the University of Oklahoma. It took me a month to recover from the first run. However, I didn’t quit. Making a long story short, I got better at it and the stadium run remains one of weekly workouts.
In reference to progress, I started 2010 at 252lbs. In May 2010, my waist and other areas were measured for the first time in years. My waist measured at 39". By the end the year I weighed in at 198 lbs and had 32.5" waist.
I weighed 199 lbs, meaning I lost 101 lbs in the middle of December 2010. I did this on purpose. I live primarily in the Southern part of the country most of the year. I wanted to show the South/Midwestern area of the country you CAN stay on track during the holidays regardless of the potential food temptations associated in this region. Accomplishing my goal in the South was very important to me. It is now a testament to others, especially in this region of the country, that it can be done.
I continued my workout regimen throughout the new year in order to take photos for my 37th birthday. By the time February arrived, I had reached 185lbs. That looked like a good place to stop and maintain. Though weight is not the absolute measurement to look at for maintance, I stay between 190-200lbs on average. I am very grateful for this second chance at life and plan to live life to the fullest, not merely exist in it.
IT IS NEVER TOO LATE FOR A NEW BEGININNG
Fast forward to present day, I have kept the weight off. Anyone can lose weight. Maintaining it is where the challenge lies. Between 2011 and now I re-entered the fitness/wellness industry with a renewed passion for it. Since this “renaissance”, I have completed physical tasks I would have never thought possible before – multiple athletic events, (5ks, 10ks, 11 half-marathons, 1 marathon, and 5 Obstacle Course Races, aka, OCRs (mud runs, urban challenges, etc.). For reference, prior to my ER trips, I had run 2 miles consecutively (maybe). In addition, I have made my degrees and continuing education mean something again in two ways. The first is by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and second, turned my focus on how to help others achieve one as well. NOW is the time to start assisting others in getting their life back! This is the heart and soul, aka, mission of Sweat Is Free™.
Brookhaven Run 2010
Blazing Sun Run for Freedom 2011
Brookhaven Run 2011
OK Run to Defeat Diabetes 2011
Brookhaven Run 2012
Brookhaven Run 2013
LuDown Legacy 2014
Oklahoma Strong Run 2014
Brookhaven Run 2014
LuDown Legacy 2015
Oklahoma Strong Run 2015
America's Finest City 2015 (San Diego, CA)
Brookhaven Run 2015
9/11 Freedom 2015 (Virtual)
OKC Dodger Dash 2015
Rock 'n' Roll Bonus Track 2015 (Virtual)
OKC NYD Blastoff 2016
Adrenaline Run 2016
LuDown Legacy 2016
OUHSC Health Dash 2016
Stars and Stripes Forever 2016
FMI Guild Anniversary 2016 5k (Virtual)
Brookhaven Run 2016
OU Fun Run 2016
OKC Turkey Tracks 2016
OKC NYD Blastoff 2017
OKC Dodgers CommUNITY Run 2017
OKC Memorial 2017
Moore War Run 2017
Brookhaven Run 2017
OU Wellness Fun Run 2017
Red Bud Classic 2015
I Am Second - Dallas 2015
Taquito 10k Beach Run 2017 (South Padre Island, TX)
PF Chang's Rock n' Roll Arizona 2013
Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas 2013
PF Chang's Rock n' Roll Arizona 2014
The Showdown (Dallas, TX Area) 2014
Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas 2014
HITS OKC 2015
Rock 'n' Roll Los Angeles 2015
Williams Route 66 Tulsa 2015
Rock 'n' Roll Dallas 2016
Long Beach 2016
South Padre Island 2016
OKC Memorial 2018 (April 29)
OKC Memorial Marathon 2015
Obstacle Course Races (OCR)
Tough Mudder Dallas 2012
Little Willie's Triple Dog Dare OKC 2013
Tough Mudder Las Vegas 2014
Mud Factor OKC 2015
Mud Factor OKC 2016