Saturday Stories: An Active Lifestyle Over Drinking, Sam Aumack's Story
As far as I can remember, I’ve always been an active and energetic person. The problem is that these caused some of my main struggles in life. By finding fitness, I was able to find solis. With having A.D.D. I had a hard time focusing in my classes and I suffered with confidence issues because I felt different. As a young adult, I had bad luck with knee injuries and was in constant pain. I wish I had been properly educated about fitness back then, so that I could have been mentally focused and prevented some of my injuries.
I’ve been playing softball since I was a child. Once I started competing at a higher level, the injuries got more serious. I didn’t know how important it was to stretch, foam roll and to have good mobility. My muscles were tight, causing me to be pigeon-toed. I had three knee surgeries in high school and one in college (three on my left and one on my right). All were ACL and meniscus tears, which then lead to arthritis, bone spurs, and no cartilage. These injuries continue to hold me back from pursuing some dreams, jobs, and certain sports. I had a hard time retaining information because I am easily distracted and it’s difficult to stay focused. Keeping long term friends was difficult for me as a kid and young adult because I was hyper and out of control. It also made me an easy target to pick on because I was annoying and not “normal.” All of this really lowered my self-esteem and was the start of my depression. All of this made sense when my parents told me I had Attention Deficit Disorder (A.D.D) my senior year of high school. After I found out, I wondered what I could do to help my brain focus and not be so dang hyper! I just wanted to fit in. College was a breath of fresh air because I met people like me. They showed me it was okay to be different and how to own it! Things were starting to turn around! I was loving life by being involved with college clubs, recreational sports, and hanging out with so many new friends. However, it was at this time that I reached my lowest point. Drinking became my norm and I gained weight that put me at about 197lbs. I was becoming lazy, hating life and didn’t want to go out anymore (which is not a good thing for an extrovert). It was my 4th year in college and I was sitting on my couch watching TV. The infomercial for Insanity came on, I watched the entire thing, got inspired, and ordered it! I remember thinking that I didn’t want to see how much worse my depression could get and was desperate to make a positive change! I wanted to be better!
This was the start of my fitness journey! During the first month of doing the Insanity HIIT program, I lost 30lbs. I cut out drinking, desserts, ate a healthy diet, drank protein after each workout, and followed the Insanity calendar of working out 6 days a week. Stretching was incorporated during each workout, so that was a huge plus for me! This technique of quickly and completely changing your lifestyle, isn’t for everyone. It can be done though!
I got my first real taste of the active lifestyle and I was hooked! I had never been so strong and lean before. I was able to focus during classes for the first time in my life! More blood was flowing to my brain and the positive endorphins enhanced better memory and problem-solving. I was becoming more productive, had a positive outlook on life, and was once again living an active lifestyle. Goes to show how committing to your health can have its benefits.
My next step was to get more comfortable going to the gym and using the equipment! I started my first of many fitness programs. I learned the basics of proper form and exercises with Katy Hearn. I asked for help from strangers at the gym, who became some of my greatest friends. Later, I worked at a local gym and a coworker noticed that I was pigeon-toed. He then introduced me to foam rolling which relaxed my muscles enough to fix the problem! I kept learning and looking forward to the next gym session. I fell in love with the process and the person I was becoming.
By becoming stronger and more flexible, I now live with little to no knee pain during sports and extra curricular activities. I no longer turn to drinking alcohol to deal with depression. Instead, I meditate or find something active to do.
Ten years later, and my confidence continues to grow! I am constantly learning about different exercises, the importance of meditation, time-management, and routine. Although I am still easily distracted, I do enjoy reading books now because it’s become easier to focus. I am happy to say that I have become someone that I once looked up to. I thrive when family and friends ask for guidance, and I can help. Teaching them what I have learned from my mistakes. Letting them know what works and what doesn’t. That everyone is different when it comes to their goals and journey.
My advice to those starting their fitness journey is to trust the process, start now, and have fun while doing it! This journey has changed my life entirely. Find the type of activity that makes you happy and enthusiastic. Make it a priority. It will change your life so that you can be a better person for yourself, your family, and everyone around you.