Passion…what is passion? It’s a powerful emotional feeling towards someone or something. I believe most of us think we have passion. I thought I was passionate about sports. I grew up playing all kinds of sports: baseball, football, basketball, swimming, diving, weight lifting. When I was 18 and looking at colleges, I chose to go to a school (College of Wooster, go Scots!) because it had a great baseball program and I thought it would give me the best opportunity to make it to the bigs. I thought I was passionate about baseball. Boy was I wrong.
I’m so burnt out from playing that I can’t even watch a game on TV anymore. The fire, or what I thought was a fire, burned out my freshman year of college. I was done. But it was ingrained in me from a young age to never quit. So I didn’t. I played all four collegiate years…well I guess you could say participated. I didn’t get much playing time. I didn’t like playing anymore, but beyond that, I didn’t believe in my abilities anymore. The passion was gone. And it drastically affected my performance, especially when it mattered.
As a pitcher, I was the king of fall ball. No one could touch me, not even the best hitters on the team. But fall ball didn’t mean anything. There was no pressure, there was no “bottom of the 9th, bases juiced, 2 outs, you HAVE to strike this dude out”. I just went out there and had a good time with all of my buddies. Then spring came, the season started, and it’s like a whole new being entered my body and I was a shell of my “fall ball self”.
When games mattered, I sucked. When Coach P was riding me, I sucked even more. When I knew I couldn’t give up a hit, or didn’t want to let my teammates down, or couldn’t throw a damn strike, I would fail. Why couldn’t I get the job done anymore? The passion was gone. And so were my abilities that I spent my entire life, since I was 4 years old, trying to hone and perfect. I really couldn’t care less about baseball, and it showed via lackluster performances. I cared about my teammates, I cared about my coaches, I cared about winning, but I didn’t care about baseball. I was tapped out mentally, and it showed physically. I entered college at 195lbs. I left college at 260lbs. And gained another 22lbs in the coming years. Until I found it…I found my passion. Jiu Jitsu.
I graduated college in May of 2010 started Jiu Jitsu in March of 2014. During the 4 year gap I was a human yo-yo. I had worked out my entire life, but here I was, a fat, lazy, depressed 282lb ex-college athlete. I knew I had to do something to change my life. I think back to the day that I hated myself the most…sometime in 2012 walking in the mall, I realized I had multiple back-fat rolls. Now belly fat rolls are common, hell I even have them when I sit down now. But back fat?! And A LOT of it?! I couldn’t let myself get any further in the hole because it was affecting my social skills – which isn’t a good thing being in sales! I was embarrassed, I didn’t want to go out and be seen in public, I didn’t want my family to see me like this. I felt disgusting.
My first step towards living a healthy lifestyle was when I bought p90x. I went through 90 days, dropped 30lbs, had a tight diet (so I thought), and felt good. After that I did Insanity. 60 more days of feeling better, feeling like I had my life in control again. I lost another 15lbs. But at the end of the 150 days, I fell back to my old ways – pizza, chicken wings, beer, couch. The 45lbs I lost came back in about a day and a half. And again I was fat, lazy, and depressed.
Circa 2013, I joined CrossFit. What an experience! I fell in love with CrossFit. The workouts were brutal, but everyone suffered together. I became addicted to the community, addicted to the shared suffering, addicted to the feeling of accomplishment after each workout. Some days I didn’t want to go, but I knew my friends would be there, so I felt I had to go. But just like baseball, I soon became burned out. My joints were sore – mostly from improper form, partially from performing olympic lifts for speed and reps – going to “the box” was no longer fun but a chore. But luck was on my side though. The universe works in crazy ways.
When you pull up to my gym, the door to the right is CrossFit, the door to the left is Jiu Jitsu, with a wall dividing. The owner of the Bushido Jiu Jitsu Academy, Rob Magao, is also part-owner of CrossFit Thin Blue Line. Rob would teach a few CrossFit classes I attended and always extended the offer to come over and roll (roll = do Jiu Jitsu). I never really took him seriously, even though I was a huge UFC fan and loved horseplay.
One of his brown belts, Matt Wheeler, would also teach CrossFit classes. One day after class, Matt invited me over to roll and I accepted. But why did I accept this offer when Rob had offered so many other times? Because Matt is about 135lbs soaking wet. I was 260lbs. In my head, I was gonna crush this little guy. I even told him that. Naivety is a son of a gun.
It didn’t take Matt 30 seconds to completely subdue and tap me out, via armbar. Under 30 seconds. This little guy who I thought I was gonna crush under my 260lb frame just dismantled me, and it didn’t take a half a minute. Can you picture that? He’s 4ft nothing, 135lbs with change in his pockets, and OWNED me. A true David and Goliath event. That very day I quit CrossFit and joined Jiu Jitsu. One of the best days of my life, one of the best decisions of my life. I didn’t know it that day, but that little spark inside me ignited a flame. And that flame has grown into a wild fire. I found my passion.
I go to Jiu jitsu class at every chance I get. As much as 8 classes per week! It’s not because I need to, it’s because I WANT to. I want to be the best Jiu Jitsu practitioner I can be. I want to be the best in the world. And because of this desire, I’ve changed my entire life around…all because I found my passion.
I cleaned up my diet in order to lose weight, feel great, and perform optimally. I actively stretch to become more flexible so I’m a pain for my opponents and training partners to deal with. I study, watch videos, read blogs/magazines/books. IT’S ALL I THINK ABOUT. And I LOVE it! I give my life to Jiu jitsu, because Jiu Jitsu gave me my life back.
We preach proactive metaphysical health at ProMeta. That’s exactly what Jiu Jitsu gave me. Mentally, I’m much stronger. I have way more patience, I can fight through tough obstacles, and handling the grind at work is much easier. Not to mention my limits and boundaries have been drastically broadened, most likely due to because crushed under the weight of 300lb men and simply having to deal with it. Physically, well just look at my before and after picture. Emotionally, I’m in love!
And I feel a need to give back, which is why I coach kids ages 5-13 (little ninjas in training!). The kids don’t know this, but I get way more out of coaching them than they do learning from me. Watching them learn new moves is cool. But hearing the stories of how they stuck up for their friends in school, or had restraint during an argument, or avoiding situations are what I love most about being their coach and mentor. Spiritually, I’m much more one with the universe. I see the good in people, the little things in life excite me, and meditation has a much more profound affect on me.
So my advice…find what you love. Find your passion. Go explore, get out and do stuff! There is an endless supply of activities to try out. So what are you waiting for? GO! Your passion is waiting for you. Your new life is waiting for you. What are you waiting for?
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