When I moved to Las Vegas, I was fighting a few battles. I had a lot of great friends–but spent way too much time in the bar. And like anything in life, when you do something enough, it becomes a habit. I couldn’t wait to get out with my friends–every night. They were my lifeline as I waded through some pretty tough times. And there’s no doubt–they were great friends.
But after some time, the weight started to come on. No exercise, drinking nearly every night, eating dinners out all the time…as my self respect grew smaller, my waistline grew bigger. I felt like my life was moving in a constant circle–down a toilet bowl. I knew the ending wouldn’t be good unless I got out. So I did.
I talked to my agent who helps me find jobs–and one day she called and said there was a position open at a TV station in Las Vegas. On the outside looking in, someone who’s struggling with too much food, too much drink and not enough self respect probably shouldn’t come to Las Vegas. But to me–it was a place where I could eliminate all distractions (oddly enough) and focus purely on myself. And–I could also gain the experience of living off the coast for a little while. When the final chapters of my life are written–I’ll never wonder what it would’ve been like to live in the West. I did it.
So with songs like “Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson and “I’m Movin’ On” by Rascal Flatts playing on repeat in my head, I drove 2500 miles away from all of my friends and family, and arrived in Fabulous Las Vegas. Without knowing a soul.
Talk about quiet time. I settled into work and then got into the business of fixing me. I had to find something that motivated me–and I found boxing. Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved the Rocky series. And here I was in Las Vegas, the king town of boxing, and with a chance to be my own Rocky. And there was one more realization that I was finally able to grasp. The fear of NOT taking control of my life became greater than the fear of change. Again…the fear of NOT taking control of my life became greater than the fear of change. So I got to the business of changing.
Many, many days saw me in the gym. Sweating. Learning a new sport. And falling in love with boxing. I actually turned out to be pretty decent at it–let’s just say my parents are relieved I didn’t discover this 10 years ago. I literally sweat–punched–and beat down 70 pounds. No diet. No starving myself. A diet is about denying yourself to achieve an intended goal. A lifestyle change is a gift to yourself–when you give yourself more than you ever thought possible. A lifestyle change–is saving your life. There’s no denying involved. I get so upset when people who need to lose weight (and I’m not talking 10 pounds people) turn to “diets.” Think about this. When it comes to your body and soul, nothing long term comes out of short term options. There are no shortcuts.
That kind of sucks in this day of instant gratification. But you’ve got to be selfish with yourself and truly love yourself to make the change. And it takes a long time. Two years later, I’m down 70 pounds. And when I look in the mirror–I see the real me, or at least the real person I’m becoming. A diet is short. A life change is the rest of your life. And trust me–you won’t feel like a champion every single day. There were days I couldn’t get to the gym because of thoughts in my own head. And I beat myself up for it. But I’ve also learned that if you make the wrong decision once, back up and make the right one the next day. Don’t let bad decisions and bad choices become a habit.
Two years down this road, my apartment once again is filled with boxes and smells like cardboard. Things are out of whack all around me–a lot of goodbyes are in the very near future. But one thing that’s not out of whack–me. I’m going home back to my ocean. My family and other “lifers” in my life. I still struggle with this ending to Las Vegas–I honestly couldn’t have scripted it any better–and I keep waiting for the other shoe to fall. But when I look back over the endless days in the desert, I realize that good things really do come to those who’ve put in the work. And I’ve put in the work. There are more changes ahead–primarily a switch back from boxing to my beloved triathlon, and getting used to having family and “lifers” around again. But when I drive out of town in two weeks–I’ll be leaving a shell behind, a lot of sweat on a gym floor, and will be full speed ahead with motivation and determination to continue on this path. I gambled in Las Vegas and won. I won–me.