What I Learned When I Lost 180 Lbs. -- But Went $1 Million Into Debt
At the age of 17, I weighed 365 lbs.
Within 18 months I shed half my body mass, dropping to just 180 lbs. During those 18 months, I ate like a bodybuilder and worked out each day. I pushed my body to new limits, and as I look back nearly a decade later, I'm proud of what I achieved.
Because I was unhappy. I had built several successful businesses at a time most people were finishing high school, but I didn't appreciate what I had (and I wasn't happy with who I was). I wanted to become a new version of myself so badly that I committed to losing all that weight. Each day I woke up with vision and drive, committed to working toward my goal (no matter what).
This period taught me a lot about myself: what I'm capable of, how I'd spent most my life self-sabotaging myself, the effects self improvement has on your mind and body. I felt like a new person, but life was far from perfect.
I lost 180 lbs. but gained nearly $1 million of debt.
As the weight dropped off, my success in business seemed to go with it. I slipped into nearly $1 million of debt, and had to literally rebuild my life from the bottom up. It was a tough period for me, mentally, physically and emotionally.
I felt like a huge failure, but my weight-loss seemed to anchor me.
I knew I had made many mistakes, but I could also see what I was capable of. I saw how powerful (and important) it is to have persistence, perseverance, motivation, drive and a vision.
My physical transformation gave me the belief that I could transform my business. It helped me build the mental toughness I needed to overcome the debt and start all over again. It showed me that no matter what, you have the to power change your fortunes, so long as you focus on these three very important elements.
Life isn't an obligation. It's an opportunity.
Life's a roller coaster, and entrepreneurship makes the entire ride a whole lot crazier. It's intense, full of ups and downs ... and I've spent my entire life riding it.
Through the good and the bad, there are three key elements to self-improvement that you need to have in abundance at all times: determination, patience and dedication.
If you lose sight of these three things, it's easy to lose sight of what you're doing. You'll wander off course and slip into debt, put on weight, turn to the bottle or whatever your version of self-sabotage is. You begin to play the victim and look at life as an obligation.
But, it isn't -- life is an opportunity.
Whatever your situation is right now, you have an opportunity to grow and learn. Slipping into debt is an opportunity to rise from the ashes and build something better. Being 365 lbs. is an opportunity to transform your body and teach yourself what you're capable of.
As I look back, I realize this is what I did when I lost all that weight. I had tried beforehand and failed, because I didn't have the determination, patience or dedication.
But, this time it was different! I stopped self-pitying and playing the victim, and decided to take action. I wanted to become someone better, and it all began by pushing out my comfort zone.
Your comfort zone is where self improvement goes to die.
As a species, we crave comfort. It's in our DNA: to avoid dangerous situations and feel safe whenever possible. So as people, once we find comfort, we cling to it. We know we have a problem, but eating makes us feel better. So, we continue to eat because it's comfortable.
Each day our brain convinces us to stay inside our comfort zone, because everything outside is scary and dangerous. So, we create stories in our head that everything is okay. We complain, play the victim, blame other people, say we're unlucky, get angry and frustrated, and turn to things that make us feel better, and generally walk through life blind. Because being blind to our problem is easier (and safer) than facing it.
But, this is no way to live your life. And it is no way to build a business.
As an entrepreneur, your comfort zone is your biggest enemy. You cannot live inside it, and you must break free from it every single day. So long as you have these three key elements to self improvement -- determination, patience and dedication -- you have all you need to do so.
It's not to say it's easy, but with these three ingredients you have the power to do anything.
Self improvement as an entrepreneur is important.
Your life is like a story, and you are the one writing it. As you do, your story will ebb and flow. Sometimes the words come easy, and other times they don't. Some chapters need major editing, and some will remain a work in progress.
This is fine. At all times you have the power to turn a blank page into a word of art.
It took me losing half my body mass to realize this, and to appreciate what I'm capable of. It showed me how dangerous "comfort" is. It gave me the skills to build the businesses I have today. It ignited my growth mindset and helped me grow as a person. It taught me how important self improvement is, not only to become the best man I can, but to push and challenge myself as an entrepreneur so I can fulfill my purpose and vision.
Slipping into nearly $1 million of debt wasn't fun, nor was losing 180-plus lbs. But, it's made me who I am, and it's all part of my journey.
What happens to you is part of yours, so never let go of your determination, patience and dedication. It's all you need to evolve to the next level.