What is preventing you from living the life that you dream of? What is stopping you from taking a risk, moving to a new city, starting your own business, taking on a fitness challenge? Why do you just settle? Our minds seem pre-programmed to tell us to play it safe, to not take chances, to not put ourselves out there. It is a sort of survival instinct, like we are conditioned to survive, but not thrive. When you step back and analyze who you are and what defines you, are you genuinely happy with what you see?
This concept is really important to me because I have let myself down over and over again. What do we get in return from playing is safe? Do we ever truly experience happiness? I played it safe all through my twenties. I graduated with a degree in graphic design, and did that for a while. I then got laid off, and worked in legal copy. Then I got a nice safe desk job working for the state of New York. I did that for about a year, living in the same city that I grew up in, because I wanted to stay near my family. Back when I was about 8 years old, my dad moved the family to Carolina Beach, N.C. But after I graduated, I went right back to where I was from. I started to realize that just because I am from somewhere, does not mean it is where I wanted to be. Because of moving when I was younger, I knew places could be quite different from my hometown of Albany, New York.
In 2004, I had enough of it, and decided to move to Asheville, North Carolina. This city was known for being vegan-friendly and more progressive than the rest of that state. I was there for about a year and realized that wasn’t quite right for me either. I was working odd jobs, just trying to pay rent. I worked at a wholesale florist for a while, but this was not what I was destined to do with my time. Asheville was more geared toward the tourist industry, and I didn’t feel a solid connection with it. Since I already broke the fear of moving away from home, why not move again? This time, I moved to the Midwest for two years, with my eyes on one day making it to Portland, Oregon, one of the vegan meccas! The person I was dating at the time was finishing her degree in Iowa, so I moved there until she graduated. We then moved to Portland together. That relationship didn’t last, but I was really happy with the city. Before leaving North Carolina, I started working at gyms. As a vegan for a long time, I knew I wanted to promote veganism in some way, I just didn’t know how back then. Once I found personal training and coaching, I knew that was the path for me.
So, it all starts from a desire to be something more. When I moved to Portland, as luck would have it, I ended up working at the same gym that Robert Cheeke worked out at. We quickly became friends, and he inspired me to compete in bodybuilding. What prevented me from ever putting myself on a bodybuilding stage was definitely a lack of confidence. This lack of confidence has always been with me to some degree. You see, I always felt average. I never felt like I was the worst at anything, but never felt really great at anything either. This was not a mindset to live with. It prevented me from taking more chances sooner. Looking back on my twenties, I feel like I let them just pass me by – all because I didn’t believe in myself.
Once I competed in bodybuilding, I developed a new sense of confidence. This is not to be mistaken for arrogance, as I realize that I am simply one person trying to be an effective advocate for compassionate living, but I was no longer going to let my doubts decide what I can and cannot do. This confidence has snowballed in that it has allowed me to take more chances. I now had the confidence to quit my big box gym training position and open my own gym. I opened PlantFit Training Studio in Portland and had a blast running that for two years. I signed up and have been a competing member of the PlantBuilt Vegan Muscle Team, competing in both Men’s Physique and now CrossFit. I used that same confidence to sell my gym and move to San Francisco, California, where nearly everything was unknown. I sold my old car and finally got the car I’ve wanted for years. I pursued the women of my dreams, and we are now celebrating our 2 Year Anniversary! The me from 10 years ago was lost and stagnant. The me from 5 years ago was just scratching the surface. The me of today is living his dreams.
Our lives are in our control. We should of course accept what we cannot change, but we must become clear on what we can. Once we acknowledge that we can change something, we should put everything we have into creating those changes. If you want to go vegan, do it! If you want to get in the best shape of your life, do it! If you want to inspire others to go vegan, then do it! No more excuses. Now is the only moment we truly ever have. Take this moment and that confidence and live the life you have always wanted. This is your only chance.