Fitness: Changing Body, Changing Mind
It was senior year of High School when Sean woke up and realized he wasn’t happy with himself. He looked at himself in the cracked and dirty mirror beside his bedroom door and said, “I want to look different. I’m not happy.” At that exact moment, Sean knew it was more than just a few days at the gym and cutting out the late night McNuggets and McDoubles from McDonalds to achieve the body that he desired. He knew he had to adapt an entire lifestyle change, one that would allow him to achieve his goals.
Sean Albarella is a 21-year-old male who lives in New Hyde Park. He attends Farmingdale State College as a full-time student and works part-time in the retail industry. Sean is getting his education and is working hard to save money, like most college students. Although those are two aspects of his life that most would find extremely important, he finds something else just a little more important: the gym.
When Sean first walked into a gym, he felt intimidated. He described that he felt like a lost puppy, not knowing where he was or where to go. He researched online and took advice from others in the gym that seemed to know what they were doing. He cleaned out his kitchen, throwing out all cookies, ice-cream popsicles, and other snacks that there may have been. Sean began doing his own food shopping, going to places such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s to get the very best food that he can find. It’s been almost four years since Sean started this lifestyle change, where he can now bench 310 pounds, squat 385 pounds, and deadlift 525 pounds if he wanted to.
Sean makes time for the gym regardless of his hectic schedule. He goes Monday through Saturday (a few Sundays, too). He attends before/after work on weekends, even if it means going at 7 in the morning when the world is still sleeping, or 11 at night when his friends at are bars and clubs. If he can’t work out in the gym, he works out using his own materials at home, such as old rusty weights that his dad used when he was a kid. He enjoys to work out outdoors as well. This semester is the first semester that he is able to go to the gym prior to going to class during the week. “I used to hate going to the gym after school,” says Sean. “In class, the only thing I would be focused on is the gym and what my goals were for the day. It was never about what was happening in class, but what I could accomplish after class.”
Sean eats very mindfully. He has several meals a day and they are proportioned and weighted out exactly to fit the necessary calories and his macros (protein, carbohydrates, fat) needed for his diet. He hasn’t completely cut out the McNuggets and McDonalds, but only has that type of food once a month. “It’s hard to completely cut out your favorite foods, but being mindful is key.” Sean says, “I’m not sponsored, but there is this great app for iPhones called “MyFitnessPal”. It helps monitor everything you’re eating in addition to all the physical exercise that you do each day. You enter in your goal weight and the application will tell you how many calories and macros you need to eat within a day to obtain that goal weight.” Sean also takes several types of supplements from GNC, and even takes the time to make his own protein shakes to give him the energy that he needs.
Some people dedicate a few days, weeks, or months to working out. However, Sean has dedicated his life to this lifestyle change and does not ever plan on stopping. His idol, Arnold Schwarzenegger says, “Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” This particular quote is what keeps Sean pushing himself, as he even has a detailed poster of Arnold on his bedroom wall to remind himself to keep going. Late September of 2015, Sean’s life changed forever: his mom had passed away. Although his world was crumbling down, he remained strong in unbelievable ways and continued to lift heavy and eat right. “If I stopped this lifestyle, I will be disappointing her because she knew how much I loved fitness. I must continue to not only make me happy, but to make her happy,” says Sean.
Fitness has had an effect on not only the physical self of Sean, but the mental and emotionally self of Sean. “It get me through times of depression when I am thinking of my Mom, and when I have extremely low self-confidence and self-esteem,” says Sean. “It has changed not only my body, but also how I view life in general. Fitness and eating healthy allows me to think more clearly about situations that present itself, such as arguments with friends/family and school/career stresses. It gives me the answers I need to all the questions that I have.”