What a Difference a Year Makes

Last October, I was asked by my friend Alice to be her partner in the Freeze Fest Team Challenge. She wanted me to compete with her and I said, “Yes!”

That seemingly simple question and quick response might not seem like a big deal, but it was a defining moment in my life.

Up until that point, I thought I was content just being a participant – sitting in the audience was fine with me since everything was relatively good. I had a job. I had my health. I had my friends and family.

There were no big ups or downs. Nothing to really complain about.

But then, by deciding to compete, a switch went off. Synapses fired. Suddenly I was hungry for more than just “good”. I wanted better. I didn’t want to just compete, I wanted to win.

I focused on my training, I cleaned up my eating and I hit the ground running. But then I got to Freeze Fest in February and things didn’t go as planned. We lost. We fought damn hard, but we lost.

Yet, I wasn’t upset. I didn’t regret competing. I realized that losing is okay. I had spent so much time avoiding loss in my life by not taking risks that I never realized there could be so much personal reward and growth from the experience alone.

So I went back to the gym, started working with a personal trainer and prepared for the Dakota Games – my first individual competition.

I was a total gym rat and seeing physical change as I started putting on more weight and muscle.

I showed up in Fargo in June stronger than ever, but again I lost. Some would take that as a sign to quit, I took it as a sign to work harder.

I also started thinking about what risks I was avoiding outside the gym. Where else was I hiding from the prospect of losing?

I realized that I needed to start putting more effort into my job and demand more of myself in my career. An opportunity opened up within my company and I reached out and told them to hire me.

I was smart.

I was capable.

I was now more driven than ever before.

The confidence that I had gained in the gym was spilling over into other areas of my life.

My colleagues saw it and gave me the job. It’s been challenging and has required a lot of quick learning and longer hours, but it was worth fighting for.

I also considered other aspects of my life. I have been renting and living in apartments for the last ten years.

I have avoided being a home owner because of the risk involved and the process seemed scary – there were nightmares of loan officers, broken water heaters and endless leaky faucets.

It was so much easier to just let the maintenance guy fix the toilet or change the light bulbs. Yet, again with all this change to my own sense of self, I knew it was time. I could do better. Live better.

Be happier. Purchasing my first home has been overwhelming, especially as I sit here surrounded by newspapers, boxes, bubble wrap and suitcases as I prepare to move this weekend.

But it’s also been absolutely thrilling. The sense of pride I have every time I open my new front door can’t be beat. I’m putting stakes in the ground and proving to myself that I am ready.

In the last twelve months, I have put myself in the ring. I competed in St. Paul and Fargo. I hit new PR’s. I did Murph with a weight vest. I put on 15 pounds. I did a handstand. I did a back spring on a trampoline, numerous times.

I grew a beard, shaved it off, and grew it back again. I went to Power Monkey Camp and trained side by side with Games Athletes.

I got a new job. I bought a crockpot. I bought a house. I spoke in front of an audience of 700+ to tell them why they should compete as adults. I got life.

By simply saying “Yes”, I’ve moved the needle.

I’ve experienced constant change, both physically and mentally, that has shaken me to my core and almost brought me to tears.

But it has also brought me more happiness than I could have imagined. The bigger muscles are nice, but the bigger smile is even better.

Jeremy
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