Accept the Challenge: An Introduction to Alex Barrett

Alex Barrett, a friend of mine and fellow member of the youth group at church, came to me requesting a spotlight here at One-Way Stop. The following material represents his testimony in the realm of health and fitness, with which I resonate. His feature unearths two active ideals for health: Change. Challenge.

 “January, 2012:

I can say that I was in the worst shape of my life at this current point. I was approaching 200 lbs., and I kept gaining. I had very little muscle to speak of, and I was less than The Rock-like in appearance. I was sad, unhappy with myself and with the life I was living, and I was constantly being picked on at school.

Let’s face it, I was fat. There’s no two ways around that, but I didn’t want to be that way. I wanted to be skinny, like so many of my friends were. One could say I was inspired by my own selfish ambitions to change my ways.

One day, I caught a cold, or something to that extent. I went to my local children’s pediatrician. She treated me, prescribed antibiotics, and told me and my parents the fact we didn’t want to face: I was twice the normal range for kids my age, at that time 14. However, the next bit of information she told us was the key to changing my life undoubtedly forever.

The trainer who owned gym right down the way from the care clinic started a program, and he wanted an adolescent who was overweight to start circuit and weight training. Against my will, I was signed up.

The next week, I began training. I hated it. I was always sweating bullets, out of breath, and struggling with the weights. I wanted to quit so badly. But I didn’t. I kept going. I kept pressing weights. I kept sprinting. I kept running. I didn’t stop.

The first year was the hardest. I lost 30 lbs the first year, but it was hard. Now, I’m not gonna throw the wool over your eyes: it was hard. The hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do. I got angry. I got so angry at times that I seriously thought about walking out the door. The pain hurt. The pain made me want to stop. But then I thought to myself: “How bad do I want it?”

I wanted to drop weight with a passion. I wanted to look good. Now, 2014, 50 lbs since when I started in February 2012, I’m here. I still have a ways to go before I can crush cans with my abs, but I’m working.

The point is: I didn’t stop. In the words of Anthony Kiedis, lead singer of my favorite band, The Red Hot Chili Peppers: “Can’t stop, addicted to the shindig.”

I didn’t stop. I was addicted. I still am. I still seek to further my fitness and my appearance. Even when it seems so hard that you can’t go anymore, you have to. A phrase I like to coin to myself a lot is: “How can you get stronger if you don’t accept the challenge?” Set goals. Accept the challenge. As the cliché goes, you can do anything you set your mind to. Nothing is impossible, just as Jesus said. “I can do all things through he who strengthens me.”


                             – Alex Barrett”


Living Well: My Personal Story – John

During my junior year of college, I initiated a venture that tested my patience, rung my motivation, and stretched my mind. I intended it to be for my own good; I assured myself it would benefit me long-term. I insisted, “When you are 40 years old, you will be thanking yourself.”

Me in the park with friends during my freshman year.

Me in the park with friends during my freshman year.

Physical training had yet to grace my 20 year old, junior collegiate limbs: I enrolled as a soft, skinny, 170 pound freshman who was ignorant to his less-than-average appearance and physical abilities. When I stepped on the scale for Lifetime Fitness, my sophomore fitness class, I noticed 25 extra pounds on my body; I was unaware of my weight gain – and the unawareness scared me. My stereotypical guy-overconfidence shrank and I started climbing at the local rock-climbing gym with my one of my best friends. The gym’s yoga classes and climbing dropped 15 pounds off my stomach, built some strength, and granted peace of mind.

The end of my sophomore year solidified my interest in rock-climbing, and I wanted to approach the hobby seriously. Health and fitness research filled my free summer hours to prepare me for my junior year weight training class – which I was certain would improve my climbing. My diet changed during the summer, taking away five more pounds; my perspective also changed, instilling a desire to change my 40 year old self – making climbing a secondary motive. I began making decisions meant to improve my quality of life 20 years later: I pressed through my homework as hard as I pressed the dumbbells.

My priorities as well as my body changed during my junior year. The gym’s yoga class and personal meditation built inner-strength; weight training built physical strength. Introspection introduced me to someone I had yet to meet – myself. People became my priority; learning and fitness opened a door to my immediate community. Schooling taught me how to learn, and weight training taught me how to apply what I learn – consistent physical fitness taught me discipline.

There were innumerable occasions in the weight room when I questioned myself and what I was doing: “If you think this is hard now, what will this be like in 50 years? Do you really believe this is a lifetime endeavor?” That doubtful question almost always appeared during the last repetition of a weight. There exists a brief moment in weight training during the last push when you are convinced that you cannot push once more; it is in that moment that you must push once more because that is when you will grow, when you will see progress. That weight training philosophy manifested outside the weight room: when I could not read another page or complete another assignment, that was when I knew I must push once more because that is when I will grow, when I will see progress. That life philosophy inculcated discipline: I became strong in body and mind.

In retrospect, this venture strengthened my patience, grew my motivation, and expanded my mind. It proved beneficial, and I am Senior Yearcertain it effected me long-term – I thank myself today. Prior to my experience, I lived in the shadow of my potential: I lived unaware of my capabilities. Many of us are capable of things greater than we perceive. It is as though our subconscious disrupts any inkling of motivation to experience our true potential. Unless one is perfect, he has room for improvement; I found room in my health – do you have any hidden space to fill?