image It Challenged Me, it Changed Me; A Journey from Afar to the Contemporary.

Gareth Thompson

I hear the words in my head every day. “I’m gonna need you to get on board with this.” These words came from a special person whom fate decided to cross our paths in life. 

We often played games. Many different types of games. Card games, board games, Jenga and even some more unique and fun games. When she finally uttered the words to me, I simply assumed it was yet another game to play.

This one was different. This was not a game but a ‘challenge.’ One at the time I was skeptical and hesitant to sign up for. I knew little about the program and in fact, I didn’t even know who Cody was at the time and the little I was told about the program, (not Cody) did not seem to overly excite me at first.

However with the deadline approaching and the sign up deadline hours away, I decided to “get on board.” 

As far back as I can remember, I have always had a passion for sports and athletic competition. Growing up I played youth sports, excelling at baseball and football in particular. One of which helped me get in to college.

To truly excel at these sports, I had to put in some serious work. Anyone who has participated in high school or college athletics knows that the key to success is to train, train, train…practice, practice and more practice. 

I became accustomed to rigorous workouts. It became a big part of what defined me. Trainers and coaches instilled the mentality in me to keep pushing through; to maximize my strength, endurance, stamina and agility. These coaches and trainers helped mold my mindset to push beyond my limits.

I began to feel like if I was not working out and improving, someone else would be. If I slept, someone else was working harder to take my spot. This led me to sometimes workout two to three times a day at some points.

After college, I was in great shape. If one were to put weights in front of me, I was moving, pushing and pressing whatever was in front of me. However I was doing all of this with little thought or concern for my diet and nutrition.

Slowly but surely I got stuck in a rut. I felt I had peaked. To make matters worse, I felt I lost a bit of my edge for working out. 

Yes, I still worked out just about every day, but it wasn’t the same. I felt I lost my purpose.

And then life threw a huge curve ball at me. 

During my early to mid 20’s, I became hooked on pain medication. During my playing days, as a running back in college, I often suffered from shin splints, and I suffered separated shoulder during a game, which I never took the time to let heal properly (a mistake I still pay for and live with to this day as my right shoulder does not have the proper range of motion as my left does.) The pain was so unbearable that the trainers would throw Percocets my way.

At first it was take two at the end of each practice. The next thing I knew I was grabbing handfuls out of the training room and consuming unhealthy amounts. Eventually it evolved to the point I would be taking them even if I wasn’t in pain. 

I never understood true addiction at that time, as even after I finished my playing days, I often sought out pain medication from doctors. Once that ship had sailed, I traveled down the dark road of less than reputable means to acquire my fixation.

Soon I was experimenting with heavier and harder medications and drugs. Still even during this time, I somehow managed to keep working out. However at this point in my life, I was working out because it was a part of my routine. I had no goals, nor much desire to better my nutrition, appearance or lifestyle.

Eventually I hit rock bottom. The lifestyle I was living led me to the bottom of the barrel. I was broke, disinterested in anything but feeling no emotional or physical pain. 

For a few years I wandered aimlessly around trying to recover emotionally, mentally and physically from the damage I had done to all parts of my life. It finally took a good kick in the ass from my father, God rest his soul, to finally kick my habit that had lasted close to six years.

It was a slow process back rehabbing my shoulder to the point where I could at least begin to workout with intensity again, to finding myself emotionally and to reconnect with old friends and lovers. Some had stayed, some came back for a while and some had left for good.

The road back was not an easy one but I did make it back. For the next few years I put the pieces of my life back together. 

I began to train harder. I began to seek new connections with new people with whom at the time I shared special bonds with.

It went on this way for roughly six years. I had some tremendous ups, and some extreme lows even during the clean phase of my life. I guess that is all a part of life though. However fitness remained a constant for me. 

Still giving little care to my diet, but training harder again, I felt my strength and my body returning slowly to what it once was. Sure there were times my weight fluctuated, but my strength never wavered.

Life went on. People came, and people went. Some were harder to lose than others. I have always found solace inside a gym. The gym has been a place of therapy for me.

And then one day I met someone new. Someone who brought a unique aspect to my life and opened my eyes to a different way of living my life; a new lifestyle.

This person introduced me to the CSATT world of fitness. For this I am forever grateful to her. 

Throughout the program I learned a new way to live my life and workout. No longer was my priority to push as much weight as possible. No longer was my desire to try different workouts like CrossFit or go back to my bulking/trimming methods of on and off season college football training.

What I learned through the CSATT fitness is that speed and reps, along with a clean and healthy lifestyle and diet are the true keys to a successful body transformation. 

I have tried many different types of workouts. This was a true ‘challenge.’ For 30 days I pushed myself as hard as I have ever pushed myself. I stuck to a clean diet of low sugar and high protein.

For the first time in my life, I actually felt inside the results that I made on the outside! Never have I felt that way before! 

While my transformation was modest since I began only this year while some have been a part of the crew for a few years, I have embraced the lifestyle.

I was happy with my results after a mere 30 days. Were they breath taking and drastic? Not really, but in this challenge I found the tools inside of me to live a healthy lifestyle to continue to improve well beyond the completion of the program.

Cody Sattler, the leader, organizer and motivator of this program left his mark on me. Him, along with the person who nudged me to join were constant inspirations to me as I continued to challenge myself daily with working out, eating healthy and living a clean lifestyle.

I enjoyed Cody’s raw emotions. His brutal honesty. I’ve seen a lot in my brief time on this planet so far, but one thing I know is how to read people. Cody is as real as it gets. His not a gimmick or trying to be someone he is not. That is what truly gravitated me to stick it out to the end of this program and to now always keep an eye out for anything new coming from his camp.

I believe Cody to be an authentic innovator with a unique brand being built. I respect his outlook on life in so many ways and I found myself relating to many of the routines and preferences that he shared with our group. 

The scents, rocking out to music, acting silly – just being yourself sometimes and not concerned with what others think, needing that time as an introvert to recharge; these are all aspects I came to respect as I find myself very much the same way in those regards plus many more unique similarities that extremely impressed me.

My journey, like many of you had extreme highs and lows. I suffered physical and emotional set backs throughout the challenge but I pressed on. Personal matters in my life were not always the best during the 30 days, yet I pressed on. I was involved in a major car accident and suffered mild to severe bodily injuries, yet whether it was stupidity or dedication, I pressed on.

Once I saw my after pictures, I saw some changes. Maybe not as much as I had hoped I would gain, but I caught a glimpse of my future. My future is to stick with the new lifestyle. To improve everyday and live a happy and healthy life. I wasn’t upset at where I was and how I looked on day 30, but I began to imagine what I might look like in 60 days, 6 months, even a year from now. 

While the challenge ended, my journey will continue. My journey of living a healthy lifestyle, working out more intensely and keeping up with my nutrition will always be my number one priority to myself.

I was amazed how up beat, eager and supportive everyone in the group is. It feels like a tremendous tribe of people who all truly root for the success of others while also pursuing their own personal desires and goals. I have been motivated, inspired, challenged and changed from the amazing dedicated people who choose to live this exceptional lifestyle.

The kindness that everyone shows and shares, the transparency, everyone’s ability to open up to others. These along with Cody’s amazing ability to connect with people in a amusing, yet authentic capacity has kept me and will keep me wanting to come back for more.

However I can’t end this without thanking once again the one who quietly was by my side this entire journey. Someone who motivated me every day to always improve myself and to stick with it. 

The smallest gestures go such a long way with me and every day checking in on me meant the world to me. So to the one out there who stood by my side and introduced me to the new lifestyle that we embarked on together, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. It is a thank you that I don’t know if I will ever be able to repay in a manner in which is deserving of the gift you have given me.

We had quite the ride! I look forward to what the future holds for us, along with all the dedicated members of the CSATT group, along with Cody himself, who without his vision, dedication, ambition and inspiration, none of this would have been possible.

I think he said it best when he said, “I’m not for everyone. I’m not looking for a fan club here….” truer words rarely spoken. Words from the heart. Much respect to him, the one who helped show me the path and to all who follow along that just want to live a healthy, happy lifestyle and never stop improving.

Author: Adam Wilkinson

Adam Wilkinson, high school Social Studies teacher by day, freelance writer and free spirit by night. Firm believer in fate and that all things happen for a reason. Worshiper of the sun, ocean and the stars. Lover of tattoos, deep intellectual conversations and meaningful connections with like minded people. A gym enthusiast, mentor, motivational coach; a jack-of-all-trades, so to speak. Someone once said of me, “You’re a lot of things, but one thing you never are is boring!” Words spoken from someone whom I’ve had a close bond with most of my life and words that I have always tried to uphold. “Vive intenso!”

Image: flickr

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