Every day, we are motivated to get out of bed. Maybe it is for work, school, to get something to eat, or possibly just to let the dogs out. Most of us fall into at least one of these categories; this is the standard. Then, there are some of us who strive for more. Not only do we pursue greatness in the classroom or in our career, but also, with our bodies. Anyone who works towards achieving a better physique is driven by something. They have a motivation that is deeply rooted, and cannot be unearthed by anything; I will explain mine.
The last thing I want to do is throw a pitty-party for myself, because I believe EVERYONE has one to one extent or another, but it is important for me to give some background on my life. My parents divorced when I was young, my mother remarried, and my newfound home life was anything but desirable. Thankfully, there was no physical abuse; however, my self esteem was constantly being taken down, notch by notch. When this happens, and you feel your value is low, you do not leave that feeling at home. That feeling follows you wherever you go.
When the time came to play sports in school, I automatically assumed I would fail in some way, or not be as good as the rest of my fellow athletes. And like sharks to blood in the water, everyone can sense that lack of self confidence. I had a very negative mindset. When you have a negative mindset, it will translate in your productivity. By assuming the worst, I was setting myself up for failure. And when I did fail, the ridicule from others was loud and clear. Of course, I thought that was to be expected. “I’m a failure at home, so it only makes sense it’s the same at school and sports.” I would think to myself. You have to understand, as Kai Greene’s famous motto goes: “Thoughts become things.” If you are positive, good things will happen. If you think negatively, there will not be a good outcome. Unfortunately, as a child and young teenager, I did not have the wisdom to understand this fact. I did not see the light anywhere in sight, until the summer before my senior year.
For over ten years, I was living a life full of negativity and self doubt. At seventeen years old, right after my junior year of high school had ended, I finally stood up for myself. I was told “If you don’t like it, pack your bags.” Wow, that was fucking music to my ears. “That sounds good to me!” I remember saying. At seventeen, I had my own car, a job, and could fend for myself. This thought had never crossed my mind, and to be honest, I am not sure if it ever would have, had it not been presented to me. Why would it? I was by no means a delinquent, and there was no way I could leave my mother behind. Thank God, she was on the exact same page I was. “I’m right behind you.” She exclaimed when I told her I had finally had enough. My vehicle was loaded with my belongings within hours of being told to “move out”. I had never packed so fast in my life! I only had one question remaining: “Where do I go?”
My younger years were not all bad. I had been blessed with some great friends, friends that would take a bullet for you if necessary. One of those friends was someone who I still love like a brother to this day, my good buddy Jon. You see, Jon was the type of person you could call at 3 AM and say you were stuck in a ditch. He would wake up, be there within minutes and pull you out. Anyway, I gave Jon a call as I was sitting I my belongings packed car. “Jon, I need a favor.” I explained as soon as he picked up. “What’s up man?” he replied. I told him all about my situation. Without hesitation, he voiced “Come on over!” (Jon, if you happen to read this, this may seem like a small gesture on your behalf, but I will forever be grateful for your act of friendship). He was still living with his parents at the time, who are also very generous people. He set me up with a bed and we shared his bedroom. It was undoubtedly cramped, but I did not care. I was able to not only hang out more with one of my best friends, but I was finally free from years of feeling like I was three feet tall. This only lasted about a week, until my mom had found a new place for us to live. Let me tell you, that week was like a dream vacation. I could breathe again.
My mother and I got settled into our new place at the beginning of July, and guess what was right around the corner: football season. Football, a sport I never dared try. I had never been confident in sports like basketball and baseball, “how the hell would I ever be competitive with the toughest of tough athletes in a game like football?” Well, that was what would have normally gone through my head. With this newfound life, this life that I no longer had to live with a million tons resting on my shoulders, I had been given a spark. Like the plants and trees blooming during spring, I was making a transformation. With my fresh and unrelenting confidence, I started to attend practice.
Life was good, it was summer, I was knocking heads in football, I was no longer scared to talk to girls (I quickly learned it was not that hard when you are confident *insert smiley face*), and my senior year was a mere two months away. I went to Elk Rapids High School, and there was quite a buzz around this year’s football team. When I joined, coach threw me on the defensive line as he probably figured it would be the easiest position for me to pick up with zero playing experience. I loved watching football, but I had never played it. There was so much to learn about the game, and I greatly enjoyed it. Little did I know, we were about to have a special season. Looking back, I wish with every bone in my body I had worked less and went to more practices that summer.
We went 9-0 that year, beating a team we had never defeated in school history, Traverse City St. Francis. To top it off, it was on THEIR field. This team also had not lost a conference game since the early 2000s (This current year was 2011). Did I play a lot? No. Not only was my experience lacking, but we had so many great football players on this team. I was always on special teams, and then I got in the trenches when we were up big in games. I did not care at the time, I was just happy to finally get a taste of this great sport. To my fellow teammates and coaches, thank you for such a bright spot in my life. This experience would end up catapulting me to my passion today, bodybuilding.
Football had familiarized me with the weight room. Being 5’10 and 175 lbs at the time, with one year of football under my belt, I knew I did not have a good chance at playing college ball, so what else could I do? This is when I realized, a gym would always be available to me. Just because football was done, my body was just getting primed to begin its transformation. I had such a hunger to better myself, and get “HUGE” as they say! I started buying supplements left and right. I was hitting up YouTube 24/7 to get tips and inspiration. Let me tell you, I found a treasure chest.
Looking back now, I realize I was beginning my journey, a journey that my YouTube inspirations like Kai Greene and CT Fletcher had once started. These men are so iconic to me, I could write an article on each of them. Both had rough pasts, hell, CT Fletcher has flat lined. Yes, he has technically been dead, and this man still puts in 110% in the weight room. If you get the chance, please watch and listen to these men, their stories, and their triumphs.
It has been six years since I started my journey into fitness. I have worked my ass off every step of the way since I developed self confidence. I am proud to say, that 175 lb teen is now twenty-four, sitting at 210 lbs! I will not stop. I cannot stop. We only have ONE life. We must do everything in our power to maximize our potential. At the end of the day, we all have something motivating us. As you can read from my story, it can be very personal. Just because we strive for greatness, that does not mean we are insecure. It means we are motivated to be better. It is ok to look back and see how far you have come, to admire your results. Just remember, do not forget to look forward, to see how far you are going. This does not only apply to fitness, but all aspects of life. Make THIS life count! Lift on my friends!
By Garrett Skurnit