I started this passion project because I am constantly approached with the same question, how do I stay in shape while having a balanced lifestyle where I can eat the foods I want, indulge in wine or cocktails, and enjoy life without the restriction of fad diets, excessive cardio, or constant stress of a day to day meal plan?
First, understand, it is easier to lose weight if you do not drink, but it doesn’t have to be one or the other. People see magazine covers and think, well I can’t get there and still indulge in the things I love, so why try? I’d like to change that mindset, if you create the right balance and build the right habits, you can have the foods you love, enjoy a bottle of wine at the end of the day, live life with passion and balance while maintaining a lean, healthy body.
I started lifting weights when I was 15, with little guidance and no experience, I stuck with it semi-regularly for years. But things took a unique turn for me at 22, I was living in Austin, Tx and I was out drinking with friends. The night is a bit hazy, but somehow, I got split off from my friends and was attacked in the street, thrown off bridge at 5th street and I-35, into a rocky ravine, 27ft headfirst. I was rushed to the hospital and was very lucky to survive. I went into the coma at 205lbs, when I woke up 6 days later, I weighed 155lbs. I woke up looked down and thoughts, who’s body is this? In a panic, I ripped the feeding tube out of my mouth, ripped the IV’s out of my arm and tried to escape. It was like one of those nightmares, where despite trying to flee and defend yourself, your body does not work, it was terrifying.
The orderlies rushed in, I was sedated, and my family tearfully explained to me what had happened, and at that moment, a journey began. I had a broken wrist pinned together, a broken jaw wired shut, two black eyes and a major frontal lobe injury to my brain. I was at a Glasgow Coma scale of 3 at my worst, I’m no medical professional, but when I tell that figure to people that are, they seem amazed at me being where I am now. I started with protein shakes because of the jaw and a severe lack of appetite, doing laps around my hospital floor with a walker. I spent months learning how to walk again, working with therapists to get my speech patterns back, the hospital staff was amazing.
When I left the hospital, I had to move back in with my parents, my mom was ever vigilant, she obtained funding from a Texas Crime Victims fund, as I had no insurance and, got me in to a famous rehab called TIRR. When I got to TIRR, they came in to assess me, looked at my chart and said, ‘you shouldn’t be this advanced already’. Well, this fired me up, I was thrilled to be going home to mom and dad’s instead of living at TIRR for months and I was going to prove this could not stop me.
I began trying to train myself at home, I remember my mom trying not to make a sad face when I could not get the coordination down to jump rope for even one rep. But I got in their pool often, walked the neighborhood, did push ups and sit ups and slowly began to progress. After a year I was able to move back to Austin and start bartending again, trying my best to get back to normal.
After ten years, every year feeling like I was back to normal, then the following year looking back and thinking, I wasn’t back to normal yet, I had moved to San Antonio and a friend introduced me to a book called Bigger Leaner Stronger by Mike Matthews. I was in decent shape, but this book was a game changer for me. It gave me a road map to not only get started the right way but organized the process in a way I had never seen. This was a pivotal moment for me in my training life, but it was a big moment for me in life in general.
I was so focused on my physical recover, it never occurred to me that there was psychological damage from being the victim of a violent crime. I trained my body almost every day, was eating better, this took a while to get into practice, but I was drinking myself to sleep every night. There is a big difference in enjoying wine with friends and self-medicating. My therapist loves to say that I was like a rubber band fully stretched, I was always about to pop, my hippie friends say, I was always red and now I’m green, not sure what that means, but green sounds better than red.