You may have read my bio on the Club Sweat website; I was a kid who was always fascinated with movement, became sedentary which left me feeling tired and frail, found dance and eventually fitness then had his energy restored, became stronger and more “antifragile”. The end.
…There’s a lot more to this story however: physical changes, psychological changes and the evolution of my own process and approach to living healthy and fit.
Let’s go back to young Darek for a minute. As a skinny kid growing up in the mid 80’s and 90’s, you were bombarded with images of superhero-like figures in popular culture. Pro-wrestlers, movie stars (we’re talking Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Van Damme), cartoons… even the freaking ninja turtles were jacked. I was always a skinny kid but at that age you don’t look like you’re overly skinny (growing taller really changed that though) and I was never really bothered by it but was still motivated to exercise. The only
issue was that I had no consistency over any decent length of time and I really didn’t know what the hell I was doing.
It wasn’t until my first year of middle school (grade 8 at that time) that I really started to care about how skinny I was. That seems to be the age when everyone starts to care about how they look but to be clear, I grew about 9 inches in height over the summer going into grade 8 and I looked like a godamned baby giraffe just learning how to stand and walk.
It was around that time that a cycle would begin. I’d see myself in a photo looking like a legitimate toothpick, or I’d hear some pretty girls make a comment about how skinny I was. I’d feel like shit then work out hard for a few weeks until I would magically and eventually predictably get sick for a few days, stop working out for a couple months and the cycle would inevitably repeat itself. Those experiences all lent to my feeling that I was fragile and maybe even ‘broken’.
That shit repeated more or less in the same fashion for the next 15+ years.
It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that I found the ‘secret’ to my problem. Lo and behold the secret was to eat in a caloric surplus and do resistance training consistently without hurting myself or making myself sick for more than a few weeks -who would have thought?!
Following this ‘secret’ process, I put on 30lbs in one year and had finally conquered the problem that had plagued me for over a decade.
If we look a bit deeper into that story the problem on the surface was gaining weight but a bigger problem was my approach to the problem. Black and white thinking, minor details over big issues, no clear goal-setting, and minimal planning.
It wasn’t that I didn’t learn things each time I went through the cycle. I’d learn new exercises, new techniques and approaches that I believed would lead me to getting bigger and stronger. But I was missing the forest for the trees. I was way too focused on the little details and not focused on the major issues at hand. Just like many people when trying to lose weight they might say something like “I was told apples have sugar and sugar makes people fat” so they avoid this perfectly healthy fruit then go eat a double cheeseburger or something.
Aside from gaining that weight another cool thing changed for me; the experience and knowledge that comes from overcoming a persistent problem. That experience has got me excited about tackling the next problem and the next problem after that. It has also taught me to look at things over the long term. For example: To put on that weight as quickly as I could I ate a lot of shitty food, ate even more than I needed to which lead to me actually getting a bit chubby around the waist, and did some exercises that my body wasn’t ready for that gave me a bit of a knee issue. Now my goals are increasing my shoulder and ankle range of motion to keep my joints pain free (I even got my FRCms certification to learn a better way to improve mobility, and let me tell you… this shit WORKS WONDERS), keeping as much muscle on my body as I can while shredding fat, and trying to figure out some pesky skin issues I’ve been dealing with.
Knowing that the body needs consistent inputs over time I’m not in any rush these days, I just know that I need to put in the work that we all know we need to do to give us the best chance of a long, active, healthy and fulfilling life: eat well most of the time, lift some heavy stuff, get a good sweat on, stretch, sleep well and remember to enjoy the process. And that’s where I get a lot of the joy in my life, helping you do all those things and more!
If you haven’t met me yet I’m the tall guy in the gym doing weird stretchy stuff.
We’ll be seeing you,