When I sat down with Marco, I didn’t hear what I usually hear when I ask somebody to spill their guts in the name of inspiration:
“I really don’t know why you want to interview me, my story isn’t really anything special…”
Something tells me the reason I didn’t hear that was because I approached Marco like this:
“Marco! I want to interview you for the Fitness Rebellion. Before we get started, you better not say anything like ‘I really don’t know why you want to interview me, my story isn’t really anything special…'”
Lucky for us he obliged, and was even excited about it rather than nervous! Go figure…
When you first meet Marco he’s a combination of calculatedly reserved and a ball buster. Never one to shy away from giving someone a friendly ribbing, Marco typically will be the first to greet a new face and even quicker to tell them how much of a blast they’re going to have. When he works out, he turns into an other-wordly beast with a “heart like Art” and the word “quit” scrubbed clean from his vocabulary. A father of two with a beautiful Rebel wife by the name of Lucy, his obsession with cars is worn on his sleeve like a badge of endearment and odds are you can find him at a car show of some sort if not at work, at the gym, or with his family. Need a hand with something? He’ll help you in a heartbeat to a fault (exhaustion can creep up on ya big guy!) especially if you’re a die hard 49er fan like he is.
All of that is simply a mini glimpse into the great man that Marco is. What those tidbits DON’T tell you about is his lifetime struggle with his weight or his severe soda addiction that kept him lethargic and drained around the clock for so long. They don’t pull the curtain back to how privately he’s floated in and out of feeling lost his entire life. It doesn’t tell the story of being surrounded by the wrong friends snowballing strings of bad decisions and choices resulting in misery more often than not. Nor does his light shine on the fact he has hips so bad he needs metal pins to hold them in place or how his habit of running away from the problems in his life and doing anything to keep his mind from facing reality has always led to circumstances getting immeasurably worse in the long run.
When I asked him what turned it all around, he simply said “The Rebel party I went to with Lucy when I met you. That was my turning point.” When I asked him to elaborate, he was quick to explain how he instantly related to the personal stories he was hearing being told from everyone which was quite a big deal since he never really trusted, much less hung out with anybody outside of his own Hispanic race. It was at this 10th Rebel challenge wrap party (every Rebel transformation challenge ends with a big celebration culminating in everyone getting an award, winners being announced, slideshows presented, and much more) where he had the opportunity to connect with a ton of people from all walks of life at a deeper level than he’d ever found himself experiencing. He confessed that it was the moment when I talked about my story in front of everyone and shared what I had been through that it tore down the walls he’d had up for so long and opened his eyes to the fact that we’re all the same people with the same needs, only we just go about them differently.
“You had my respect, which made me actually listen to what you were saying instead of brushing it off.”
So, Marco joined us! His wife, Lucy (the silent assassin) had just completed her first Rebel challenge and everything was good to go for Marco to join in on the second one. From day one, Marco could tell that the magic he experienced at that wrap party was far from a fluke. All of sudden after getting a few workouts in under his belt Marco WANTED to go to the gym! It was fun! He felt great before AND after, which if you’ve ever struggled with enjoying working out (yeah, pretty much all of us) then you know how gigantic of a deal that is. I mean here was something that traditional sucks BIG TIME and shockingly it was amazing for once!
Well, what was the difference? After all, Marco wrestled in high school and worked out with buddies for years afterwards. What had this being different than that?
“I was willing this time.”
The simplicity behind something so powerful floored me.
“I feel more alive now. I opened my eyes to the bigger picture. I get asked all the time by my co-workers ‘you work out bro, how much you bench press?’ and I always say ‘I don’t know, I don’t bench press. I work out.’ They ask me what kind of diet I’m on and I tell them ‘I’m not on a diet, I just make better choices.’ It’s about being there, feeling good, and having fun. You just gotta do it.”
When I asked him about when things start to get difficult and his motivation starts to waiver how he pulls himself back in and gets his “mojo” back, his answer was monumentally straight forward;
“That’s my reality check. I know, just like everybody knows, when I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing. If I start slippin’, I just say ‘alright, I had my fun… time to get back at it. In the end I’m not a changed person, I’m just a better one.”
Since having his eyes opened to the fact he alone has the ability to change the parts of his life he doesn’t like if he wants it bad enough and tearing down the walls he’d had up for so long, Marco has done some pretty damn amazing things. He’s gone 14 months (and counting) since his last soda. He’s lost more than 70 lbs putting him under his lightest weight he was when he wrestled in high school. He’s completed 3 Rebel challenges (winning a “Most Valuable Hulk” award along the way) and 1 Tough Mudder (the 11 mile course being the longest distance he has EVER trekked in his life). Hell, he even recently beat my own marathon running and badass Unicorn of a girlfriend in a “plank-off” at the a park workout recently!
When I asked him about his mindset for the future, his approach echoes that of my man Roy Davis;