Lori DeMarco – In Need of a New Garden

At Lori’s heaviest. I still don’t recognize this woman…

This is the day (if you read her story) Lori walked the half marathon with “Team in Training.”

 

I interviewed Lori DeMarco for the new fitness rebellion website to be launched very soon. She told me that she didn’t show it to anybody because I wrote it up, so it’s mine. I see where she was coming from, but when a filmmaker makes a documentary, it doesn’t mean it is his or her story… It just meant they felt the story was important enough to be put into a presentable format. Well, I’ve created a presentable format that has the positive approval from Lori herself so this is where I would like to share what I found out about Lori last Thursday….

In Need of a New Garden 

When I sat down with Lori DeMarco behind the gym in the back alley where the ghosts of lunges past roam the Earth, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. On the outside, Lori is a vivacious woman who wears her heart on her sleeve and is as kooky as the Caribbean sand is hot (in the most endearing way possible of course). I’ve come to get to know this 51 year old 5 feet 10 inches tall stick of dynamite quite well over the last 6 months, and was really looking forward to the story I was going to hear. 


As soon as Lori spoke I was hooked for the duration of the ride… “My mom was a model and my dad was a professional wrestler” she said nonchalantly. 

“Awesome! How’d that go?” I replied… and we were off!

Lori’s parents, who were both “beautiful people,” had instilled confidence in both of their daughters yet strayed from encouragement in the athletics department. Even though both Lori and her sister inherited the family height, the push to be active was reserved for the two brothers Lori also had. Luckily the aforementioned confidence her parents DID help her out with made being a tall, heavy set kid a little more bearable than those cards typical pan out to be. She wasn’t exactly running for school president, but bullying never really snaked its way into Lori’s childhood. This led me to ask “so being teased and bullied doesn’t seem to be a factor growing up… Were you aware you were a tall and heavy kid who wasn’t really that athletic?” Her answer was one that is sure to make a WHOLE LOT of you say “I hear that… I know how you feel!” creep into your brain…


“Oh boy was I aware… you remember those presidential fit tests you had to do in P.E.?” she asked.

“I sure do. The ones where you had to run a mile, do crunches, push ups, trunk stretches, and few other exercises right?” I affirmed. She went to tell me that it was right THEN, at around 9 years old, she was made very well aware she wasn’t physical able to do what most other kids were able to do. It’s hard not to come to that realization when you’re pitted against your peers in a spotlighted exhibition of a game called “who can do it and who can’t.” Even though Lori didn’t have to really deal with the plight of how cruel kids truly can be, from that day forward she was painfully aware she was “the fat kid.”

Lori did the standards of covering herself up ALWAYS with big and baggy clothes. Never really revealing herself. If they were doing something challenging in P.E. (gymnastics for instance) then Lori would inadvertently get singled out. “Don’t worry Lori, you can be the spotter” isn’t as comforting to a child in their formative years when the subtext reads “You clearly can’t do this because of your size, so rather than seeing you struggle to do something that obviously isn’t going to happen, you can be the eyesore who only moves to help the more able bodied kids.”

As many of you know, your own mind has a tendency to be your best friend, most dependable pilot, and quickest computer you’ve got. It can also be the meanest, most disparaging, cruel and ruthless entity you’ve ever come in contact with. In Lori’s case, she did her own bullying. She had all the outer confidence you would expect someone with a model mom and professional wrestling Dad to have with all the turmoil you’d expect of someone going through so much inner hurt with no outlet to release it would be going through.

After High School, Lori met somebody with a similar mindset. A heavy set individual who had similar limitations due to his size. Misery loves company, right? Let’s see, we’ve got one cliche… All we need is one more stereotypical ingredient to make this truly combustible… Oh, I’ve got it! Ignorance is bliss! You take a pinch of “misery loves company” and add a dash of “ignorance is bliss” and the final product is a big one!

About 100 pounds bigger.

Lori had managed to slowly but surely rack up over 100 pounds over the course of 20 years. Lori had managed to “pretend” being active for so long that she didn’t realize it was becoming harder and harder to “pretend” as she went along. She had convinced herself that as long as she was active and busy, helping out with kids, running errands, keeping up with hobbies and a plethora of other “I’m all over the place!!” activities, she’d be ok. She even joined Team in Training, a group dedicated to training for all different sorts of marathons! How’d her experience go with that? She trained rigorously for 10 months culminating in walking a half marathon… Without getting rid of one bad habit or shedding a single pound. None of this could cover up anymore the fact that Lori actually had a REAL problem on her hands…


That problem was that she now weighed 327 pounds and whenever she got on the scale, it read “ERR” which stands for “error.”

“There is nothing more degrading then stepping on a scale and being called an ‘error.’ AN ‘ERROR?!?!’ I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, but nothing has ever stung as much as being call an error!!”

Unfortunately, Lori’s sister was gaining weight at the same rapid pace. It took Lori’s sister wanting to lose HER weight for the competitive “I’m not gonna let her be the skinny one!” sisterly mentality to kick in to shed light on the truth of the situation… This was more than just a competitive sisterly debacle… This was real life. Real life had Lori pegged as an “error.” Her sister was also experiencing the abbreviation “ERR” whenever she stepped on the scale and decided Gastric Bypass surgery was her ticket out. Lori said “if she’s gonna do it, I’m gonna do it!”


So, 5 years ago Lori ended up going under the knife and getting her stomach shrunk. They bothered Lori with a bunch of hullabaloo about how the weight was going to melt right off but she had to be sure to follow the careful instructions that involved proper resistance training, integrating more foods into your diet at a certain point, and going through the necessary therapies and nutritional steps to not only make the weight loss a success, but the overall health and well being of her body and mind better as well.

Lori stopped listening after “the weight is going to melt right off of you.”

The weight sure did melt off. 50% to be exact. Lori lost exactly half of herself, slimming down to a mere 163 pounds. On paper, this seems like the ultimate success… but need I remind you how tall Lori is? at 5’10” and coming from a genetically thick structure, this weight not only made her look like she was battling a life threatening illness, but made her FEEL that way too! She had done none of the proper steps her doctors mentioned because “the weight will melt off” were the only words she saw in her mind’s marquee. Now, she was faced with an anxiety pumping question; “What do I DO?” She had become scared. All her life she was one person, but now she didn’t even know how to shop anymore! When you’re big, it’s easy! The stretchiest and most comfortable. When you’re smaller however, you have all sorts of different decisions to make! Boot cut, low rise, straight leg, stone washed, loose fit, cuts with flare… AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! I likened this to being the prisoner who gets released from prison yet upon coming into contact with the free world, realizes they have more in common with prison life than free life. She enthusiastically agreed. Like a breathe of fresh air came the answer out of the blue…

Alcohol. An immediate answer with immediate success. Why think about it? Lori found she was able to put herself in an alcohol filled haze and lift any worry about the weight she was at and how bad she felt. She could drink it whenever, for however long, however much she liked. It was like self prescription only way easier than going to any Doctor! It seemed like whenever Lori had a problem in life, the answer wasn’t too far behind. Only problem was, Lori didn’t always choose the right answers…

Then, all of a sudden, within one moment…. alcohol was no longer an option. Lori had found herself medicating herself a little too much one day before an important family event. Sparing details, it left her facing an incident that upon coming down from her haze she had a difficult decision to make; Is this really the person I want to be or am I capable of better? With the thought of embarrassing herself further through a dependency on spirits that took its namesake from her being expelled as an option, Lori took action.


She found herself joining a gym as the next answer about a year and a half ago from now. She knew she needed to take charge of her health and did what few who gain a lot of weight and lose too much weight know how to do… She realized she needed to gain weight back. The right way. The healthy way. She looked back on her weight loss journey and realized that at some point in the 163 lbs she lost that she was at her perfect weight. She remembered feeling her absolute best at 200 pounds… so 40 pounds to gain seemed to be the right number! So at this gym she found herself a new found member of, she enrolled in a kick boxing boot camp.

This boot camp kicked her butt. It gave her something to focus on as she integrated better eating in her diet and slowly started to gain her weight back. No longer looking like skeletor and feeling pretty good about herself, Lori hopped on the scale to see how she was fairing. As it turned out, she fared a little too well; Lori had overshot her goal by about 25 pounds.

“Just my friggin’ luck!” she thought as she now started to re-evaluate her decisions and what was going on. First, she realized that she took the “eating for weight gain” a little bit too far and that was the first thing to be reigned in. Next, she evaluated her boot camp… After being honest with herself, she realized she wasn’t getting that much out of it anymore. The class structure hadn’t changed too much and it lost the motivation of being shiny and new. She now felt more like a sheep walking into a barn. No one talked with one another, everyone went to the same spot every time, no one encouraged one another, and when class was over everyone went their separate ways. It was like they were actively trying NOT to come into contact with one another.

So, Lori decided to shake up her environment and join a NEW gym! There was a tiny gym near her house that she’d always been curious about… What better time than now? So, she brought herself on over to this little gym down the street, and found herself signing up for a trial membership. While there, she happened to be walking by this gym’s aerobic room as a boot camp was about to start. “Rebels” they called themselves. The enthusiastic trainer who happened to be buzzing about and greeting people before class caught her lingering for a moment and stopped abruptly. “Wanna join?” he asked. “Um, I’m just checking the place out, thank you though!” Lori said (she later admitted she was freaked she wouldn’t be able to hang and was prepared to give ANY excuse as long as she could walk away). “Well, what else are you doing?” he queried with a sly smile. “Damnit, I don’t really have an answer to that…” Lori thought as she scanned the room for any excuse to get out of it. Then, she saw a gentlemen who looked to be in the same age bracket as she was. Faced with a circus-like trainer who wouldn’t take no for an answer with no good excuse to give as it was, she decided that if this guy who looks to be her age can do it, then so can she!

At this point in the interview I said “Who was it that you saw?” to which she dryly responded “Art.”

By now, if you haven’t figured it out, I’m the enthusiastic trainer she saw. A little back story on Art… When I met Art he was barely able to hold a 10 second plank without trembling like a paint shaking machine, he was about 50 lbs over weight, and had the blood pressure of a power lifter on the Atkins diet (meaning BAD… REAL BAD). At the point where Lori had seen him however, he had shed 50 lbs, regulated his blood pressure, and held the record for longest plank at 12 minutes for the 10 week string of boot camps she was witnessing. Art is a machine. He spawned one of my favorite phrases to rile my Rebels up with “HEART LIKE ART!” He realized he was his own last line of defense and he took charge of his life like a newborn mother lifting a car off her own child. He was notorious for wiping the floor with the most fit participants through sheer heart and willpower alone. While everyone would be dying in between exercises, he would force himself to do a wall sit. He is the first one to encourage you and the last one to leaving you hanging when you look like you need a hug. Whenever we’d have 10 seconds remaining during a particularly tough exercise, his cry of “YOU CAN DO ANYTHING FOR 10 SECONDS!!!” became legendary. THIS is the man she saw that day that made her think “if he can do it, so can I!”

Thank our lucky stars this turn of events happened, because without it we wouldn’t have “float like a butterfly, sting like LORI!” We wouldn’t have one of the most iconic images I’ve ever seen of someone pushing through every adversity via a one arm plank photo. We wouldn’t have Lori’s encouraging voice ring through every boot camp “COME ON REBELS, WE’VE GOT THIS!” when it gets tough. We simply wouldn’t have Lori!

Well, Lori joined boot camp that day, and it all finally clicked. Lori had grown accustomed to being three different individuals, and she had finally landed on the perfect one for her… She had lived the life of the miserable wife by topping out at 327 lbs. She had lost exactly HALF her body weight only to find that there IS such a thing as too skinny… Well now, after overshooting her goal weight of 200 lbs by a not-so-meager 25 big ones, she is now at her goal weight. She is happily married with a wonderfully supportive husband. She has a band of Rebels she can proudly say she knows all the names of when she goes to boot camp. No longer in her own bubble being made to keep to herself, she is thriving in a group of people who wants what she wants… To be happier. To live healthier. To embrace the journey rather than condemning it. She is strong. She has a handle on the scale and realizes there IS such a thing as “too skinny” when you feel your only validation as a person is how many pounds that scale says you’ve dropped. She’s realized that running away from problems in a haze only causes those very problems to balloon to suffocating proportions. Lori doesn’t do it for the scale or validation of others anymore. She doesn’t “pretend” to be active… She is. She doesn’t live in a haze anymore, she sees things crystal clear now. She’s run (RUN) a 3k and a 5k. Next up… a 10k. She is doing exercises with her own body weight! If she had to do that Presidential fitness test all over again, she’d be a top ranker. The air is easier to breathe and the sun couldn’t shine brighter…

As the sun begins to set, Lori and I realize that 2 hours have passed and it’s about time to mosey on over to our homes for a little late dinner. As we get up and stretch our legs, I reflect on the alley we did the interview in. The one with the “Ghosts of lunges past” roaming the Earth. It was here where Lori said it all came together… On her first “official” boot camp, I had her whole team of Rebels lunge down the alley and back 3 times, which is equivalent to about 250 yards. She said she was positive she was going to be broken that day. When she not only survived, but had people encourage her BY NAME on her first boot camp, even coming up behind her and finishing her laps of lunges out with her, she knew… She knew that if you plant a positive seed, you get a positive flower.

Lori had carried this positive seed around her entire life, she just needed the right garden to plant it in. Well, she found her garden. Can you dig it? 

THIS is the Lori I recognize!

Thank you for everything Lori…

– Rebel8

I wish that I was strong enough to lift not one, but both of us

The song you hopefully are listening to above is a song that is currently crawling it’s way to the radio. It’s a song that comes off “Strange Clouds” by B.O.B. that I’m absolutely in love with. This is one of those songs that I really like, but not as much as many others (“Just a sign,” “Chandelier,” and “Bombs Away” to name a few). That is, until I realized what the song was REALLY about…

From the moment I heard the song I always just kind of pictured the song being about a family member, a friend, or significant other of some sort. Well, I was doing my morning meditation on the elliptical when this song came on shuffle. For some reason, the instant the guitar started in the beginning, I realized “this song isn’t about a family member, friend, or significant other at all… It’s about the person in the mirror!” It was at THAT moment I visualized being bent over my bathroom sink in exhaustion, looking up with tired pupils as I lock eyes with my reflection and ask the question we all end up getting to at one point or another… “What the hell am I doing and can I keep this up?” I had this visual because it’s a reality that has happened on several occasions (don’t worry, the answer I always come to is yes, I can keep this up).

The song reminded me of all the times I felt like I wasn’t strong enough to take care of myself. Even if those moments are fleeting, they still can wear down your armor. I tell people all the time that my boot camps (and I hope people realize this is a metaphor for life at this point) aren’t designed to be done perfectly, but designed to challenge you to be better when everything in you says “I Can’t.” When you’re surrounded by 25 of the greatest people you’ve ever met all locked in to a boot camp where everyone has the same goal and not an ounce of negative is brought to the equation it’s easy to be motivated… but what about those times when you’re by yourself?

When you’re looking in the mirror, wondering if you have the strength to go on? I’ve found myself looking in the mirror MORE than a time or two saying “I wish that I was strong enough to carry both of us.” That reflection is symbolic. That reflection, more importantly, is reality. Your opportunity to see yourself from the outside while still looking within.

I’ve got great news… You are strong enough.

There is something I do when I’m working out either on my own or in a group setting. I will find a mirror and lock eyes with myself when things get really difficult. I’ve had people notice and ask about it, and people aren’t quite sure if I’m joking or serious when I say “I’m daring myself to quit on myself.” That’s EXACTLY what I’m doing. I’m not joking. I’m holding myself accountable. When you let yourself down, it’s often accompanied by turning your head down and ignoring the painfully obvious… You quit on yourself. It’s a whole new ball game when you hold YOURSELF accountable. You get the results people don’t get by doing the work people don’t do is MUCH more than just physical. By now, many of you know that. What I hope you get from this post is that your reflection is powerful. You ARE the results! You ARE the work! Holding YOURSELF accountable is exactly what people don’t do. YOU’RE YOUR LAST LINE OF DEFENSE!!!

So, in conclusion, I just wanted to share a song that really struck a nerve with me when I realized what it was about. It’s about the person in the mirror. That reflection that stares back at you, begging for help but not knowing how to get it. I recommend you all listen to the song from start to finish and listen with the mentality I just talked about. For some of you, it will floor you. For others, you’ll be done saying “Neat song!” or “I hate Taylor Swift!” However, if ONE person gets even the slightest impact that I got from the song, then this post was a success…

 

AhhhhhOOOOOO!!!!

 

– Rebel8

 

To be loved, we must first learn to love.

Now that I’ve got your attention… READ THE INFO BELOW!

Please read! I think I want to try to put one of these up in Santa Rosa!

So a semi-spur of the moment via tradition you’ll have to ask the Unicorn about in person (if you don’t know me personally, then I’m just going to leave that beginning as is so it keeps with the mythical element of this intro) caused us to take off to Reno for a quick 24 hour getaway. Something about the draw of crossing into a different state for a day sounded really refreshing, so we dove at the chance! Among the many adventures we so graciously got to enjoy, we stumbled upon something that really resonated. Thus, I wanted to share!

The description of the “Before I Die” board does not do actually seeing it in person any justice. It is huge!

Every line is crammed with the dreams of the world

Going through each line was awe-inspiring and really a great reflection of what TRULY makes the world happy. Of course there were the obligatory “I want to be famous!” or “Party with Kanye West!” but the great majority were much more pure of heart…

For instance, Cara wants to live happily ever after, in proper conjunction with her mystical nature.
…right after having Channing Tatum’s baby of course.

When the wall got to big to write on, I started to scour the perimeter. Sure enough, people went beyond the edges and into the “real world.” The very first thing I saw when looking for “outside the box” thinking was this:

Looks like we’re on the right track… I wrote underneath in purple and green writing “Timetorebel.com” with the hopes they will find us!

Another favorite of mine was the big and bold “To See Evil Men Destroyed” written across a whole section. At first I said to myself “that’s kind of a jerk thing to do…” until I found a new perspective. Instead of it overlapping, I saw it as being an important part of the background. Behind every great wish is the basis of evil being conquered. 

I love searching for new ones by scouring!

One of the coolest realizations about the whole thing was we were having a great time finding awesome little nuggets of amazing all around downtown Reno, and it was THIS picture that led us to the slightly “off the beaten path” downtown area where the “before I die…” board was located!

It was the rainbow clouds that led us to the board. I couldn’t make this up…

After taking photos of the whole thing and enjoying how awesome this whole experience was with Cara, it sparked something… I want one of these. Somewhere in Santa Rosa. I don’t know how it’s going to happen, but I am going to figure this out… Sharing humanity creates humanity. 

With a blood curdling yell to rival Braveheart, a shovel in my hands, and my heart on my sleeve.

So I leave you with hopefully the same tranquil inspiration that I had after coming across something so simple yet so meaningful. If you know of a spot in Santa Rosa that would be a perfect fit for one of these beauties, feel free to e-mail me at AllLevelsTraining@gmail.com. Inspiration spurs inspiration, so let’s inspire Rebels!

Love,

I’m yours 🙂

If in need of a little inspiration…

Uhhhhhh!!!!

I felt that some of you partaking in this current challenge who are new to the Rebellion don’t quite know what drives him. Well, I just so happen to have a few videos that share his story in a nutshell, so when you hear his screams ring out in that aerobic room, you know this is where it comes from… The first video was made by a professional filmmaker friend of Tye’s to help tell his story to Anytime Fitness and more so, whoever would be inspired by it. 

The second video is a slideshow I made to “Fix You” by Javier Colon for Tye and his amazing/gorgeous wife Bobbi to commemorate how far they’ve come when Tye became a certified personal trainer through the NASM.

Also, in honor of the most amazing midpoint measurement day I’ve ever experienced, I wanted to reshare a video that never gets old. A reminder about the scale that we were ALL reminded of today…

Lastly, I also wanted to share the slideshow I made of our last Tough Mudder experience in Temecula this last February. I cannot WAIT for September. It truly is a once in a lifetime experience… I can’t wait to earn another headband but more importantly… go through another turbulent journey and become bonded with my closest friends all over again :).

 

– Rebel8

Measurements!

Get a positive flower!

Hey everybody!

I just wanted to throw out a quick reminder that this Friday and Saturday, boot camps are replaced with circumference measurements! This means we are almost at the official halfway point!

I will be measuring your neck, chest,waist, belly button, hips, arm, and thigh as well as doing your halfway point weigh-in and testing your body fat percentage. That’s it! No photo, no fit test, no forms… Just those 3 things. Once you’re done, you can leave! Now, let me tell you why I love the midway measurements so much…

For those of you where the scale hasn’t dropped the massive lbs you’ve been looking for it to drop, it provides a MUCH better perspective. Your body is changing! I can’t tell you how many times someone comes up to me and says “I didn’t lose any weight this week… I’m so pissed… I mean, my clothes ARE fitting better but when’s the scale going to match?!”

If your clothes are fitting better, and your weight doesn’t put you into a health crisis, and you’re not a horse jockey who needs to make weight in order to have a legitimate chance at winning the triple crown, then why does the scale have to match? If your energy is up, you’re taking care of yourself, exercising consistently and with a purpose, eating better, clothes are  fitting better… Yet the scale isn’t telling you what you want to hear… Then isn’t the scale the LEAST important factor in all of this? 

The answer is yes.

Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean that the scale NEVER needs to move. That doesn’t mean weight loss is meaningless and doesn’t need to happen. It means that the toughest thing to do in a fitness journey is to actually enjoy the journey. Becoming too fixated on something that is meant to be a LIFETIME HABIT is a quick train to frustratedburg (located just outside Peoria, Illinois).

The point I’m getting at is measurement day showcases a lot of things the scale can’t. For some it will be a defibrillator to your drive. For others, a reminder to step it up. For many, another mile marker on an incredible journey.

Lastly, I have a boot camp going on Saturday, June 9th at 1pm. It will be outdoors so dress accordingly! Claritin and sunblock and whatnot… The cost is $10 and the duration will be about an hour and fifteen minutes. We are meeting at the gym and taking off from there!

See you soon Rebels…

– Rebel8

PS Outdoor boot camps are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday as well so be prepared! The week after that… Blacklight 6.0… 😉

PPS I don’t have time to do makeup measurements for any times other than the times for boot camp. Thanks for the understanding 🙂

We Called!

So today, a few of us happened to make a video to “Call Me Maybe.” Thanks to all the rebels who showed up and took part in one of the most fun times I’ve ever had doing something ridiculous.

Lord knows I’ve done a lot of ridiculous things…

AhhhOOOOO!!!!

– Rebel8

Let It Burn!

The video below makes a TON more sense if you read the explanation below THEN view. Not only that, but I guarantee you don’t have to have participated in the exercise to have it resonate with you. More people than just the 75 or so that went through this exercise need to have this kind of liberation.

Welcome to the Rebellion.

 

On May 29th, May 30th, and May 31st, I had a special exercise I did with every team that’s a part of Rebel X. Team Ignition (VROOM VROOM!), Team Beast, and Team Ballistic all took part in this activity where upon arrival everyone was asked to write down 2 things; The thing they hate about themselves the most on the pink card and a compliment that would make your absolute day if someone were to approach you and give it to you.

I then had everyone place their card on the wall. All the cards were anonymous, and I shoveled the cards so no one knew whose was whose. Everyone then proceeded to squat down and HOLD the squat position in front of whatever card they had in front of them. After holding the squat sit for 10 seconds, absorbing the card and everything it says, I had everyone step directly over to the next card and hold the squat sit again for 10 seconds. Again, all the while the focus being not only on the burning in your legs but the card in your face.

We did this until all the cards had been read and absorbed by every single person.

At the end, I made the very clear point that each card represented one of the MANY negative thoughts swirling around in every single persons had that was in that aerobic room. When I asked how many people related to more than 2 cards, every hand went up. When I  asked how many people related to more than 5 of the cards, every hand went up. When I asked how many people related to more than HALF the cards, every single hand went up…

At this point I’d like to remind you that every age, gender, occupation, athletic ability, mind set, and every other variable you can think of was represented in this room. This was NOT a room full of strictly athletes, nor was it a room full of strictly first time “weight losers.” I repeat… EVERY SINGLE HUMAN DEMOGRAPHIC WAS REPRESENTED IN THIS EXERCISE

Once everyone’s hand had gone up after asking how many people felt connected to more than HALF the cards, I asked the all important question…

“How many of you feel the way you read on those cards towards ANYONE ELSE HERE other than yourself?”

Eyes averted downward. Crickets all of a sudden became an explosion of noise. Most evident however was the lack of a single hand being raised.

The point was this… All those horrendously negative things swirling around your head are created BY you FOR you. You think anyone else is pointing the finger at you CONVINCED your belly fat is awful, you’re weak and lazy, you have terrible skin, you’re self conscious, you have a problem with eating too much, you constantly assure yourself you’re a failure, and you’ll never amount to anything? NO! THEY ARE TOO BUSY THINKING THESE THINGS ABOUT THEMSELVES!!!

So, I decided to burn all the negativity away. Get rid of it. Gone. Finite. Chapter closed. I hope you understand the video above, to many people, is more than just words on paper being burned on a pot. It is a mindset that is put out in the open so it can FULLY be let go of. Kind of like how on any supernatural “ghost” show or movie 9 times out of 10 the reason the “ghost is still in the living realm” is because it hasn’t lived out it’s purpose. Well, your negative degradation has served its purpose, and now it’s time to get laid off. It’s expired. The purpose to show you pain so you can know happiness.

How long are you going to drag out the pain? When no one feels that way about you but YOU, when are YOU going to forgive yourself and move on? No better time like the present…

As for what I did with the compliment cards… I turned the lights out, had everybody hold a wall sit, and read off every single compliment. This was the light and fun portion (before we went out into the back alley and did lunges until our legs didn’t feel feelings anymore) but also the most important. This was the portion where all the things people DO notice about you but perhaps don’t say as often came out to the open. This was the point of the day where all the nice things you need to hear more than you realize get told to you. Not because it’s nice… but because it’s true. 

Seriously, you don’t look that old at ALL. I see how hard you work, it’s definitely paying off! You look like you’ve lost some weight! I love your arms! Nice ass! You’re a WONDERFUL mother! You’re gonna be an AMAZING Auntie! You seem so happy! I’ve never met anybody as strong as you! You’re so inspiring! You truly look spectacular, you have a glow about you! I love being around you! You make me laugh! You make me happy!

Plant a positive seed, you get a positive flower.

AhhhhhOOOOOOOO!!!!

– Rebel8

Who are you trying to be Healthy for?

That’s exactly why I’ve never felt more alive. Join me? Welcome to the Rebellion…

“I Can”

Let me start off by saying that everything you are about to read is unfortunately the perspective of a great majority of people rather than the minority of a few. SOMEWHERE in this brief synopsis of how I’ve come about to the person I am today you will be able to affiliate yourself with a nugget or two of moments that make you say “I feel that way…” That is why, as a representative of the majority, I’ve yelled about change to the point where I have literally scarred my vocal chords and changed the pattern of my voice forever. Here is why…

I grew up in a household where money wasn’t abundant and there wasn’t enough hours in the day for the amount of hours my parents needed to work to raise 2 boys. Week days were “mom time” and weekends were “dad time.” While this worked out when I was younger, it turned a little tumultuous as my years started to advance. I started to crave television and cheap junk food rather than playing outside and coming inside when the sun went down. My parents were concerned, and definitely tried to coax me off the couch, but my brain always overrode their efforts. Kids are cruel, this is not a mystery, but for some reason they seemed to pay extra special attention to me. My triple chins, thick afro-esque hair, and shy demeanor made me an easy target. It didn’t help with each passing grade I seemed to gain about double the weight that is average for a kid to accumulate as he matures. 


This made its presence known through a variety of ways. I’d wear sweatshirts in 110 degree heat and tell people I ran cold blooded when the sweat on my brow and stains on my shirt were a dead give away that I was lying. The reason for this? When you are uncomfortable in your own skin, you are ALWAYS aware of it. Every second. Whether you’re going to bed, taking a shower, watching a movie, exercising, eating, hanging out with friends, working in the yard… ANY moment you can think of you are aware of how tight your pants feel. Of the crease in your belly hanging over your pants (or that very same belly resting on “its side” when you are laying on your side on the couch or in bed). Of your lungs seeming inability to work right when you do something as simple as climbing a half set of stairs. Of people taking pictures (making sure to keep your chin really high because if you can’t get rid of your chins, you can at least stretch them out, right??). Of eating whenever there is ANYONE around and feeling ashamed of it because all you can think about is how disgusted they probably are at watching you eat. It didn’t help that at every corner, at the bus stop, on the bus, in class, or walking home I was constantly blasted with every insult under the sun and beyond pertaining to how fat someone could be. If I responded, it riled them up and made it worse. If I didn’t, I was laughed off and called every colorful adjective to let someone know they are a “pansy.” I could go on and on…

To handle this, I developed several coping mechanisms. The first was to cut myself. In the thigh. With pens. In my room. By myself… I grew to crave it. There was something liberating and exhilarating about being able to CONTROL the pain I was in since I was going to be in pain all the time anyway… At least, that’s how my brain viewed it. My “pilot” (the area of my brain where I get to make conscious decisions) was on a psychotic break and wasn’t very good behind the wheel. My brain turned into a dark haven of self loathing and worthlessness. If I was Batman, my brain was Gotham City. The criminals, indeed, were winning.

Enter Freshmen year of High School… Even though I was coming in at a tiny 5’3″ and a not-so-tiny 265 lbs I thought “ok, kids are more mature now, maybe I can get a break!” To summarize how well this worked out for me, the INSTANT I stepped foot on campus I got greeted with “hey, nice shirt!” from a senior who earned points with everyone around him because everyone LOVED it. Literally the SECOND High School started, I figured out that older kids aren’t mature… They’re meaner.

After a traumatic event of bullying that I’m not quite ready to share with the world on a national scale quite yet (but soon. Let’s just say it involved bleachers, duct tape, and a secluded park corner) I decided to make a change. It was 2 weeks in to Freshmen year that this event occurred and I thank everything considered holy that it did. Not everybody is lucky enough to have a life changing event such as mine. Trust me, at the time I felt it was the extreme opposite of luck and fortune, but hindsight is 20/20… After all, you’re reading this now, aren’t you?

I was sick of being scared all the time. I was tired of feeling worthless. I couldn’t stand my own mind, body, or soul anymore and SOMETHING had to change. So, I marched home that fateful day on a mission. That mission was to join a gym. That’s when my mom saved my life… She not only got me a gym membership, but promised to drive me there every day. She made good on that promise. There came a time when I started to ride my bike to the gym, but at the realization that it was a great warm up not because she got sick of it. Again, my mom saved my life. 


Flash forward to Sophmore year. I’ve lost about 40 lbs and have successfully “cleaned up the streets of Gotham” for about a year now. I had even started the habit that has stuck with me to this day of constant self research and looking for the most optimal yet varied way to eat right and exercise properly. It was around this time there was a criminal uprising… My dark haven was starting to make a triumphant return. Things like “you really think you’ll always be able to keep up with this much exercise?” and “you were born to be a nobody, that was your roll… why fight it?” kept popping up. I also hit a plateau in weight loss and went from feeling accomplished to being convinced I was spinning my wheels. I thought to myself “something has to change…” That’s when my NEXT major coping mechanism reared its ugly head. After all, it was the only logical step…

So, I started to throw up all my food. In bags. In my room. By myself… Not only did this hurt my throat, give me horrible teeth I still pay for to this day, and cast doubts on my health by my peers, but I didn’t tell a SOUL about it and battled this new demon all by myself. I learned to hide it better and better as I went, and the more I put up a fake smile to assure everyone everything was alright when it was far from, the more the miserable the heavy feeling in my chest became. The more worthless I felt. The more I believed everyone who made fun of. I thought “so many people can’t be wrong… I mean, am I the only one who doesn’t realize I’m a loser?”

Then an epiphany hit. A “moment.” A strike of teal lightning. If you’ve seen the movie “Phenomenon” starring John Travolta, then the moment when he looks into the blue light in the sky… Well, it was kind of like that…

I had a realization that I didn’t want to settle for misery anymore. I was tired of being tired. Sick of being sick. I was worthWHILE, not worthLESS damnit. See, all this time I was trying to prove this to all the wrong people. I wanted my parents to be proud. I wanted love and admiration from my peers. I wanted girls to like me. I want to have nice abs like the jocks thought “I need the perfect body so that everyone will like me! Then, I can buy the clothes I want to buy! I’ll get a girlfriend! I’ll stop getting made fun of!” All this time… I was doing this for all the wrong people. It took years of mental warfare that manifested itself into physical torture on every level (cutting myself, obsession with exercise, and bulimia… The big 3!) for me to come to a conclusion that too many people never get the gift of realizing. A gift that has caused me to scream about this realization so passionately that my aforementioned permanently scarred vocal chords are worth ten times that if only one person makes the same “Phenomenon” style conclusion I was able to make at the very young age of 17.

Instead of “proving myself” to my parents, my peers, and family… I needed to be healthy for ME. I tell you… That day the clouds parted. I stopped everything cold turkey. I stopped throwing up everything I ate. I stopped cutting myself. I stopped LISTEN to the negativity that seemed to be the only thing swirling around me and realized that there was positivity everywhere! I just had to open my eyes to it! It was a scene straight out of the Wizard of Oz only I had made it to the destination. My yellow brick road was lined with Reebok cyclers, pens, vomit filled grocery bags, tear stained pillows, fake smiles, more hours spent at the gym than at home, and many more character building side stops along the way. The pain and sorrow was necessary though. For me at least. It showed me there IS sunshine after the storm! You just have to find out… All that glitters ISN’T gold! Sometimes though, gold isn’t what you need… The grass ISN’T always greener on the other side because if you take care of the grass you DO have, then who cares about everyone else’s grass! You’ve got your own to worry about!

Once I realized that the goal wasn’t the light at the end of the tunnel, but rather making my own LIGHT in the tunnel and ENJOYING the journey… Life has been the best roller coaster any amusement park has to offer. I’ve competed in several body building competitions, I’ve run (and led) 2 Tough Mudder teams, I’ve completed an 8k (a fat kids marathon), and more importantly… I enjoy the sunshine every day has to offer. I wake up with a vigor for the day, rather than a resentment that I woke up again… I’ve learned to ENJOY eating right and staying active for the sheer reason that I’ve never smiled so much in my life! I used to look at it like a chore, but now I remind myself that I do this for the friendships I’ve formed with everyone I’ve come to find who thinks like I do! Who have been down similar roads! Now, I can go to the river and take my shirt off regardless of whether I have a pudgy tummy or not. I can enjoy it! Why? Because I no longer huff and puff climbing down the sand hills to get there!

To conclude, I’ve been on both sides of the fence. They say misery loves company, but I find the exact opposite to be true… Misery loves to keep you to itself, where as euphoric bliss is TRULY the gregarious social butterfly…

The second you BELIEVE you can is the second your life is yours.

– Rebel8

Join the Rebel-yum!

Welcome to the Rebel-yum!

Hey Rebels!

I just wanted to put out there a reminder that every Wednesday night at 7:40pm at Anytime Fitness off Santa Rosa Avenue there is a food group open to all members of Anytime Fitness and Rebel X! If you’re not a member but would still like to check it out, no problem! Just send me a quick e-mail (Alllevelstraining@gmail.com) and let me know! I’ll make sure you are properly set up to have a good experience (mandatory I get an e-mail though… We need to know and be ready for any non members showing up).

For those of you who don’t know,  We are the Rebel-yum. A group of people who get together weekly and discuss how our weeks nutrition intake was. We go over ups, downs, victories, disappointments, frustrations, questions, realizations… Everything that makes eating right and taking care of yourself so damn hard… because let’s be honest, we all LOVE having great energy, feeling good about ourselves, feeling comfortable in clothing of our choice, and feeling amazing when you’re being active… So again, we go over all the reasons why we know all of the latter yet it’s like pulling teeth from a shark sometimes.

Puttin’ down the cheese wheel and going for the greenery… I like it!

In food group, you’ll find new perspectives you might not have thought of before. You’ll find you’re not the only one having a tough time. You’ll be a part of a support group set and ready to keep track of you on the “My Fitness Pal” app that is all the rage (that app is awesome! It let’s people keep up with you and share information all while having an insane database of food to make keeping track of what you eat SUPER easy!). You’ll also have the ability to share what YOU know that could possibly help someone else! We’ve all accumulated a lot of experience on this journey we call life… Let’s put it all together and make figuring it out easier!

Every week, we will have a topic of discussion as well as a healthy food recipe provided by everyone’s favorite Bobbi Rivera. This week, the amazing and fantastically super Liz Rait (who co-leads the group with me… Thank you Liz!) will be offering up a special “exercise” (non physical) that all I can tell you is going to be a ton of fun while helping integrate some light bulbs hopefully turning on as well :).

Lastly, you don’t HAVE to speak. You are more than welcome to come join the Rebel-yum as a spectator until you feel comfortable enough to share! If you’d like to keep up with everyone via Facebook (CICK HERE), we also have our own group where The Rebel-yum posts daily. VERY helpful!

If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me at AllLevelsTraining@gmail.com. Look forward to seeing you there!

– Rebel8

When running the same monotonous rat race doesn’t work for you anymore.

Let’s lose a LOT of weight this week!!!

Here’s the scoop. As you saw in the video, I cleaned my room and got rid of a lot of literal excess baggage. I thought to myself, I says “Hey myself, that’s a lot of clothes you’re gettin’ rid of there. You should think about making a video and encouraging everyone to do the same.” So, I had that thought… and here we are!

It’s something extremely easy to do. It helps out countless others (it will ALL be donated to Goodwill). It clears space in your house. It gives you a reason to do that “deep cleaning” you’ve been meaning to do forever and haven’t gotten to. It’s a fun family bonding experience? Well, probably not… but maybe! \

Regardless, I am encouraging everyone to bring as many unwanted clothing items as they can ALL this week. Tuesday through Saturday, before boot camp, bring your clothes in. I’ll weigh all the bags of clothes and tally up how much “weight” we’ve lost at the end of the week!

I can’t wait to see how much weight Goodwill gains :). Rebels, this is your chance to make a difference in an EXTREMELY easy way. The point of ANY Rebellion is to make a difference. This is that moment. One of many. AhhhhOOOOOOO!!!!

It all starts with the person in the mirror 😉

– Rebel8

Don’t get rid of THESE shirts though! As a reminder, bring me a shirt and I’ll set you up with original Rebel Wear! Welcome to the rebellion!