Over the last two years I have gone through many changes. From hitting rock bottom, paying off student loans, eliminating alcohol, to teaching group fitness. The changes in my life have led in difficult feelings and lessons learned. I decided to build this platform as an open space to share my past (and ongoing) experiences with the world. I know the impact on my life from stories such as Ben Greenfield, Tim Ferris, and Joe Rogan have had on me and if mine can change one, I would consider it a win.
I believe that optimism makes the world go around. Without hope we can never strive for greatness. We’ll never be perfect but the pursuit is what sets us apart from the norm. I don’t come from money nor make it my primary goal in life. I was raised by a single mother who was part of the first generation of our family from Mexico. Coming to America at the age of 9, she had ambitions of her own but the universe had other plans in mind. By the time she was 21, she had 3 boys to feed while working the assembly line in a factory. As a child, I didn’t understand the concept of money until one day in elementary school. It was the hot lunch day where you could purchase pizza instead of the normal cold cuts. Most kids got pizza but that wasn’t an option for us. It didn’t matter until someone made the comment about me having “the poor kid’s lunch.” Confused as a child I now look back and realize it was my first experience with bullying. My mother never sent us to school without enough food to eat. We always had food on the table no matter what. At the age of 31, I can now look back on similar moments throughout middle and high school. From new clothes to new cars. It wasn’t until this year (2019) that my mother and I got to look back on those years and talk as adults (or me as an adult). I asked her about what went through her mind and she brought up the comments family or friends would make about a divorced woman raising boys on her own. The comments ranged from us ending up in jail or becoming gangbangers.
“I wanted to prove them wrong…” she said.
This is what moved her.
I look at my mother now and she’s the president of her own company and traveling the world. I look at her struggles growing up and can’t express how happy I am for her seeing how far she’s come.
I look at from the time I was 20 till 30 as the “finding myself” phase in my life. I finished college and moved to the city (Chicago). I am not perfect. I am nowhere near perfect. I have made mistakes and will continue to do so throughout my life. It’s the actions I take from those mistakes and grow from them. In October 2018, I got my ACE certification in Group Fitness to teach classes across Chicago. I was working out, working Corporate America, teaching classes, and enjoying life. As I grew within the fitness space, I noticed the increase in pressure to perform. Pressure for me comes from within and I’m always pushing to be my best. The problem with what I was doing was that I wanted it all. I wanted (or thought I wanted) to be the guy who could workout, teach class, then party on the weekends. I found myself on Sundays with hangovers that would quickly lead to anxiety.
Internal thoughts would range from…
Why did I drink too much?
My body is so sore?
I need to be refreshed for work and class tomorrow!
I never depended on alcohol as I could go for long periods without it but I found myself binging in those small pockets (Saturday nights). Blackouts would occur and I would be sitting there on Sunday with guilt salting my wounds of a hangover. I wondered why this was happening only to realize I was using alcohol to numb the pressure that was coming from within. I wanted to forget all of the pressures of becoming the best and instead, I was hurting myself. There’s a quote by Aron Ralston where he says “You’ll never find your limits until you’ve gone too far.” I remember hearing this years ago and it always stuck with me. No matter what I have done in life, I have always tried to be my best in that particular space. The con side of this was that I applied that quote to everything in my life including alcohol. When I worked out, I was going all out and when I drank, I would go all out. 8 months into the fitness life, I was at turning point and needed to make a decision. Do I want to continue this lifestyle or do I want to see how far I can go with fitness?
In June 2019, I quit alcohol. For me, alcohol was an obstacle in my way that I could easily remove. After the first month without alcohol I could feel the difference. My body was recovering from workouts faster than ever and I was finally getting the quality sleep I needed. Oddly enough, my memory went through the roof and I could remember everything. I wish there was a way to measure this but I could feel the difference in the way my mind was processing everything.
Where am I going with this?
I think about Bodi Shaks slogan “Find What Moves You” and for me, fitness was just that. I share my experience and thoughts with alcohol not as a “Go Omar!” message but for the person who may be struggling an obstacle in their way. We all have that something we want to do. It doesn’t matter if you’re 20, 30, or 40, you can always make the change. Find what moves you to be the best version of yourself.
If you enjoy chess, challenge yourself and sign up for a tournament…
If you like painting, challenge yourself to paint something new…
If you like writing, start a blog…
If you like doing hair, be the best stylist there is…
It doesn’t matter what your “X” is as this is your book of life. I think about everything going on in the world and there’s a ton of negative energy circulating. I know there’s only so much one person can do but if we can unite as people, I know we can slowly turn the tables. As we prep for the New Year (2020), I encourage those to think about what moves you.
Just ask yourself, how do you want to give back?