The Fall of 2011 I was working in a toxic environment that had me on the run so often that I was not eating healthy or exercising. I volunteered endless hours with the belief that this is what you should do. Placing other peoples’ priorities ahead of my own was natural. I reached a point where I hardly saw my friends or family in order to make others’ lives easier.
December 9, 2011 my mother passed away after twenty-five years of battling cancer and associated health problems at the Palliative Care Centre in St. John’s, NL. The following day I received a call to go into oncology where I was told that I had a malignant tumor and would have to go into chemo treatment to treat it.
When I started to encounter health problems, I was unable to continue doing everything. I soon realized that not all people had the same belief system as me and that once I was not of “value” I would be cast aside and persecuted for not being able to keep it up.
Disconnected from society as I was, while sick I did not want to call on the support structure that I had as I had lost touch with many of them and faced battles while sick on my own so as not to bother anyone along the way.
Over the next few months I had to battle with this new information being presented to me as well as having the person that I would normally talk about anything like this with no longer here.
Stepping back twenty-five years in my mother’s life she had been faced with the same circumstances that I currently was. So, after a few months of not going out of my house and giving up on everything,
“I came to the realization that I have two options to choose from: the first being to just go through the motions or the second to work like a dog and prove to everyone that I can overcome this adversity and figure out how to beat this.”
After this point I went to the doctor for tests to see what could be done. Once they were complete the first thing that he identified is that I needed to loose weight and change my lifestyle. To this point I did not associate cancer and being unwell with my weight and lifestyle. So at 356lbs and working 16 hour days between two jobs I needed to change how I lived in order to live long enough to raise a family.
I started working with Carl George through Healthy Living NL to transition to a healthier lifestyle. It was a very gradual transition. I was unsuccessful at first but failure in life is guaranteed. I fail at things 100 times a day. At that 101st attempt when I succeed, it makes the failures part of the “Trial and Error Process”. The key is not to get hung up on the failures, rather, celebrate successes.
In identifying my health issues I have been forced to take a look at my lifestyle and to assess all aspects of it. Removing the negativity was the first part and one of the hardest. Disconnecting from people you have been linked to for many years, breaking ties was something that I had to do and, instead surround myself with people who support you along the way.
I began focusing on fitness and nutrition. After the first year of hating it, I really came to embrace and enjoy it and have lost over 150lbs. There were days I should not have been at the gym as I was too sick to keep going but I would push and lie on the mat for a few minutes then start again.
After coming back from chaperoning a youth conference in Montreal, I was talking about my idea and plan for creating active youth in NL with one of the participants, Michael Halleran, and we decided to go for it and create something. We had no idea at that point what it would be or where it would take us but it needed to be done sooner then later.
I had developed a strong foundation from what I learned and joined Heavyweights Training Centre to continue on my journey in health and fitness. This again was a game changer. The support of the centre and staff is amazing.
It is a family.
I started lifting weights and continuing to reach new goals in my fitness and life journey but more importantly it gave me a chance to push myself and on the wall I saw something that resonated with me. “Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable”. Throughout my life I had found something I was good at so I never strayed too far from it. I never really pushed the limits to see where it could take me.
These past few months I have gotten comfortable being uncomfortable. This is something I will instill in everyone I meet. For the first time since grade school I am able to do a push up. This may not sound like a big deal, but to me it was a turning point.
Through Heavyweights I completed the Training for Warriors Level 1 Instructor Certification. I pushed myself further and harder than I ever have in my life. Martin Rooney said: “You can’t burn something unless you, yourself are first on fire.” I wrote this down on the inside cover of my book as it hit me as the answer to all my questions. If you haven’t experienced it how can you understand it?
From my experience at Heavyweights and through the knowledge of Training For Warriors, Pro Fit NL has transformed to Pro Fit TFW. The Warrior in Training Program is created to help youth focus on battling the fight of healthy living but not in a traditional way. It is about creating an experience, developing youth as mentors and leaders in wellness and fitness to coach and support their peers.
I was always competitive and even more stubborn. When something is set in my mind I will find a way to get it done and reach my goals despite anyone telling me different. Still training at Heavyweights (sometimes despite doctor’s advice), this is where I am able to push my limits and challenge myself. I went from never lifting a weight to being able to deadlift 335lbs, having trouble getting up stairs to doing a 32” static box jump; Trouble sitting down to squatting 6” from the ground, and my biggest so far is from a personal weigh of 356 lbs to present time at 184lbs while still setting new challenges and goals daily. Current goal is to reach 15% body fat.
I am still battling with my health and every day is a challenge but on my arm I wear my Training for Warriors Band says the “Warrior Within.” As we battle life’s obstacles it is this warrior within that helps you win the battle and will have me reach my goals in health and life.
P. S. If you enjoyed Gerry’s transformation check out the rest of my client transformations by clicking HERE.