A lot has happened in the last 4 months—some that I can get into while some I will leave out for now. I'm just really glad to be back.

In the past 38 years of training, rarely have I closed up shop and just taken a break. Even when I have, it has been for a good reason—death in the family, injury, and on occcasion I have just taken time off for being burned out and needing a break. Those were all conscious decisions that I made that I felt I was in control of and decided that was the best course of action. This last time, it was out of my control, or so I thought.

I will not get into the specifics of everything, but I will say this, first: Everyone deals with shit, and I am no different. Though I truly believe I have led a charmed life, there comes a point in almost everyone's life where things just become so overwhelming that it seems the only coping mechanism left is to shut down. In doing so, I assumed that after some time I would be able to process things better and turn things around. Instead, it turned into a downward spiral and it was a slippery slope—a situation that I don't ever want to be in again.

If you have been there, you understand. If you haven't, it may seem like one of those things where you just need to pick yourself up and figure out your shit. I used to think that way and it got me through 52 years, until it didn't.

As with anyone else, it usually isn't just one thing that crushes you. Most of us can handle balancing a lot of stress, negative situations, or obstacles that get thrown in the way. It's when a "perfect storm" hits and it feels like you are being hit with machine-gun fire and for some reason, it becomes psychologically devastating.

What I might find devastating, others may not. In fact, I think this is why a lot of men don't talk about their stresses and the things that start to drag them down. I remember talking to a friend in the past (years ago) about something that was bothering me and his response was a clear implication that I had nothing to be down about. He went on to mention how great my marriage is, my family, my business, that I was in great shape, etc. Anyone who has been in a tough position knows that not everything needs to be "bad." It isn't as if I or other people can't acknowledge that there are good things in our lives; it's more that the bad things overpower anything good and our focus becomes so laser-focused on the bad that we can't see the good.

For most of us, training is an escape. It gives us a couple hours each day to forget the real world and find therapeutic advantage to working out—whether we are growing and progressing or not. I was to the point where the pyschological component was exhausting, and I had no motivation to do much of anything. In fact, there were days where I would only get off the couch to move twenty feet to the computer to do client work and then go right back to the couch. I would force myself to brush my teeth or take a shower every few days, and I ordered over $3200 in Uber Eats during one month, alone. I'm not proud of it, and I would rather not even talk about it—especially now that I'm out of that phase. I'm a bit embarrassed but at the same time, I have to accept that I was not able to process my negativity and I chose to ignore it. Netflix and Uber Eats became my escape vs training and taking care of myself.

It wasn't until I was forced to travel for an entire month (because I had already made commitments to people), and though I apparently was fine letting myself down, I don't let other people down. For anyone who saw me on the Table Talk Podcast with Dave Tate in October, that was the first thing that forced me off the couch. I had gained almost forty pounds in roughly eight weeks, and I looked and felt horrible. At the same time, I was glad that something forced me off the couch because I don't know what else would have gotten me off that damn couch.

The next weekend, I had to be at SWIS. I could barely walk two blocks to the restaurant after sitting in conferences all day because I had gained so much weight. My QL was a mess and it was so painful that I was walking like Herbert from Family Guy (though not with the lisp and without inappropriate comments to young boys). I went from being in close to contest shape eight weeks earlier and feeling about as healthy as I have ever felt, to feeling eighty-years old and knowing I was asking for health problems.

I had a great time at SWIS and was beginning to feel better about my situation. A week later I went to Chicago because I had two clients in a show and had a great time there, as well. I saw Austin Stout at that show (he won the overall), but I secretly think he didn't recognize me—at first—because I didn't look like my normal self. I admit that this could have been my interpretation because of how horrible I felt at that time, but it's a safe assumption. Most know me as lean and tan, and I was neither of those things in Chicago.

I started back to the gym the week of Thanksgiving. It was a situation where my QL issues were so bad and I felt so unhealthy, I knew if I did not get going again very soon, I might have health issues. For the first time ever, I took my time and broke back into the gym with low volume and intensity, but was locked-in with the diet right away. I slowly chipped away at both, and my back issues started to subside in only a few weeks. While out of town for the holidays, I made it a point to train and continue to diet because I didn't want to lose the progress that I was making.

I am now coming back stronger and getting leaner each week. I am in a completely different place (thankfully), and I hope to never be in that situation again. At my age, I cannot afford to go off the rails like that, physically or mentally. I would go so far as to say that it's just plain dangerous.

As much as I knew it at the time (but didn't care), I created or made the situation worse. I was already in a bad spot, pyschologically. I then stopped training, abruptly; stopped dieting and gained weight, abruptly; came off ALL gear (not even TRT); quit tanning (sunlight and vitamin D are both powerful for the immune system and general psychological health) and each of these only dug my hole even deeper.

My wife was concerned about me, and I even had quite a few clients who, I found out later, were very concerned about me. I had no idea some of my clients knew I was dealing with anything, but never underestimate your clients to pick up on something being wrong when you have worked with them for years.

I appreciate all of the support and in its own weird sort of way, it has brought my wife and I closer together. So, if there is a silver lining, it would be that. I still have some things that I need to let run their course, but I am in a much better headspace to handle that. I do not have marital problems and I do not have health problems. Our kids are doing great, and financially I'm in a very good position. Those things are not concerns, for the record. I think this is why some people can't figure out why other people struggle, sometimes. My battles are personal and as much as I am giving insight, I will still keep the specifics to myself.

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