How Fitness Changed Me

I've accomplished a lot since getting involved in fitness and running, but by no means did it come easy, either mentally or physically. Before I began my fitness journey, it was 2012 and I just got out of a failed relationship of 5 1/2 years. I was left with some insecurities and resorted to heavy drinking to cope. I felt as if I had no identity if I wasn't involved with someone, so drinking would help me escape and allowed me to avoid dealing with my problems.

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Eventually, I turned to getting in shape when I realized my previous lifestyle was becoming harmful. I had a wake-up call when my weight reached almost 200lbs. Not too long after starting my fitness journey I suffered a ruptured achilles.

I remember the doctor telling me that I probably wouldn't be back to my usual active self immediately after surgery, and I had 8 months to loom over that. It was the lowest feeling I felt. I ended up relapsing and turned to alcohol again to cope with my situation. After I was able to tolerate the pain from the injury and no longer needed my pain killers I began selling them so I could continue buying alcohol. I was back in a dark place again, and new I needed to snap out of it.

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As soon as I was cleared to begin rehab after my injury and start working out again, all I could think about was recovering and physically getting back to where I was before the injury. I also realized I could my past experiences as an opportunity for a brand new start. I worked my butt off and starting see results physically and mentally.

A few years later, I finally mustered the courage to investigate how my father passed away 10 days before my 2nd birthday. After learning that a drug overdose was the cause of death, my direction suddenly changed, and I knew that I wanted to begin bettering myself. I became motivated to be a beacon of hope and to inspire others through my actions. For some time I was living for my selfish and destructive desires, but hearing how my father died and how I was just continuing the vicious circle that plagued my community by distributing drugs really hit home.

Photo by Javie Gomez

Photo by Javie Gomez

I've completed some tough races - 50 miler, obstacle course marathons, and several ultras - not only for me, but to have others believe that it is possible for them to also achieve a comeback story of their own. I never turn down an opportunity to talk to those getting their journey started and I always encourage them to keep going because they never know who they're inspiring.

In 2015 I became affiliated with City Challenge Race, an organization that hosts obstacle races but also donates their time and money to helping out wherever they're needed, i.e- volunteering at homeless shelters, hosting free boot camp sessions for those trying to get in shape, donating money to charities we believe in, etc.

In 2015 I also began running with Harlem Run. During my time with them I have learned to remove my loner mentality that I've had for so long. I've also embraced being a part of a team that has come to feel like family. I appreciate everything the Harlem Run family has done for me and what they've done - and continue to do - in making change in the community of Harlem. I've learned to no longer hide from my past but to embrace it and allow it to light the way for my future.

"Just remember the sweet is never as sweet without the sour, and I know the sour."

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- Jesse