Finding My Why, Learning to Thrive by Stuart MacEwan

It was the spring of 1999 when I first took weight lifting seriously.  Looking back now I realize I was tired of being pushed around.  All of my life, I was a very small person.  I was about 5’4 and 113 when I graduated from Borah High in 1992 and the Army almost didn’t accept me.  I ate a lot of high calorie Army food and grew 6 more inches and another 20 lbs by the time I was a civilian again.  But even at 5’10 and 135 lbs, I was very skinny; athletic, but very slender.  I had a lot of anger inside from years of bullying and a voice inside my head had very negative thoughts.  I’m cringing even as I write this; I can’t believe what a different person I was then.  I wasn’t growing inside.  

So, its 1999 and I have a friend that went to the gym regularly, so I went with him.  It took about 3 months of going every day, but I started to notice that I felt better after I left the gym.  I started to feel like each workout took a little more anger away and left me feeling calm and accomplished.  I begun to feel less vulnerable and more like I was in charge of how I felt and how I approached life.  As the year came to an end, my friend had fallen off of our shared gym days and I was going by myself.  I still didn’t talk to many people, but I felt like I belonged.  I began to grow, both physically and in confidence.  I read everything I could on the internet about exercise, nutrition and weightlifting.  I had subscriptions to Mens Health and Flex magazines and even had a few pictures on my walls of my athlete heroes (try explaining that to a new girlfriend when she sees Arnold Schwarzenegger hanging all over your wall).

For the next few years, I was in an interesting time of personal and spiritual change.  I went to the gym every day, added a lot of weight to my frame and my lifts.  I started to feel very positive about myself.  I continued to grow and grow.  I noticed that I felt accomplished and confident, and that manifested in how I spoke to people and how I felt in public.  That omnipresent negative voice in my head became easier to shush, and I replaced it with positive reinforcements that reflected the kind of man I had always wanted to become.  I was so relieved to find that I could be happy and outgoing.  It sounds silly now to think that weightlifting in the gym was the catalyst that propelled me into my current happy state as a husband, father and business owner, but there it is… grinding out those weights every day, day after day, week after week for years was the lesson that tipped me over the edge and allowed me to become very positive about myself and what I could accomplish.  At some point, my personal growth changed into a kind of special change; I was now growing in all areas of my life and doing better than just growing… I was THRIVING!  If you know me now, then you see the product of what good parents, a loving family, time in the Army, college and persistence under duress can accomplish if you don’t give up; if you don’t quit.  I am a very happy father, husband and person today.  It’s because I found something to push against in the gym and I never gave up.  I took my negative energy and thoughts and slowly changed them into positive feelings.  I grew until I thrived!

Today, I make a decent living showing clients what they are capable of.  It’s very typical for a new client to have a degree of self doubt or of a negative self image.  Often clients start training with a loud inner voice that says they aren’t worth putting themselves first.  It’s common for a client to feel they come last, especially when in the midst of a busy marriage, time consuming parenting or after a painful divorce.  I spend weeks and months getting a client to learn to identify those stresses, that inner voice that says they are failing as a person, as a wife/husband or parent.  We start finding that negative inner voice and when we do hear it clearly, we come to the gym and we push against it.  We jump and push and pull and strain against it with weights until that nagging inner voice starts to be replaced by a growing sense of power; of accomplishment.  Together, we start to find out how powerful we really are, how accomplished we can be when we believe in ourselves and put ourselves first.  And then month after month we grow until our workout sessions become things of positive power.  Sooner or later, when my client and I look at each other we realize we aren’t just growing anymore… we are THRIVING!  

We are in charge of our live and our attitudes and the world is ours for the taking.  Finally, after coming to the gym day after day, never giving up, falling down but getting back up… we are who we always hoped to be; ourselves, unshackled from our old negativity.  Now we can THRIVE!