Success Story: Rick Roback
My story was a one in the making for about the past 20 years, it's just too bad I didn't even know it. As child I was that skinny boy who no one could catch when it came to tag, flag football, or anything else. Having this much endurance and speed early on, it was a shock to my body that around 10 or 11, I traded in my running outdoors and fun social interactions for ham and mayo sandwiches sided with hours of videos. Add in Cheetos, Hostess cakes, Oreos, and many other grocery store temptations that complemented my sedimentary lifestyle.
My wake-up call came in the form of what might have been considered a minor bout with tachycardia. I was on a road trip with my mother and some friends. One day I was invited to a game of 21, singles. About 15 minutes in, I started getting lightheaded. I had to stop. I tried to join back in, only to feel my heart pounding rapidly in my chest. This terrified me. A kid who used to outrun anyone, to the first kid out due to lack of physical conditioning. In years to come, I tried out for baseball, but my lack of coordination and poor physical condition led to teammates mocking me...I inevitably quit. I even tried Tae Kwon Do, which I excelled in, but later made excuses that the distance was too far to bike.
One summer, everything came to a head when I was at a party with friends -- or people I thought were my friends. We started a game of truth or dare. All I was hoping for was be be dared to kiss the girl I had a crush on. Instead, someone dared me to lift my shirt. I immediately chuckled and asked why. The response: "...so and so said you wear a bra to keep those big man boobs in check." The comment sparked a riot of laughter among my peers. Talk about kids being cruel. I tried to play it off and stay at the party, but the awkwardness was too much. No one really said much about it after that...maybe they'd had their fun...or realized, after the fact, how cruel the comment was.
Unfortunately it didn't end there. Apparently I chose the wrong shirt to wear to a party with a different group of friends. That party led to the downfall in my self-confidence. A loud person made it their goal to draw attention to me and my, apparently too tight, shirt. The girl proceeded to say: "Oh my God ya"ll check out Ricky's tight a@% shirt. For real, that just ain't right. He looks like a butterball! In a tank top! Oh my god thats your new nick name BBTT ButterBallTankTop. What a way to exit 8th grade, and enter high school."
That summer my uncle heard about my experiences and gave me a bench set. I tried working out with the weights, but that lasted all of a week. I didn't stop because it wasn't fun, but for lack of knowledge and form. Thankfully I spent that summer with my cousins who kept me active -- running and biking. So when I returned to high school the girl could call me lots of things, but butterball wasn't one of them.
This is when, I believe, the gym bug" hit me. I spent days in the school weight room. The love truly took flight when I graduated and I worked at Wick's (furniture) warehouse with a friend who encouraged me to join the gym he was a part of. Of course, as a new member, I was offered a free personal training session. I figured I was good...felt like I knew all I needed to know. During my time working out, I also started frequenting GNC and using supplements. Over the next 6-8 months I built a muscular frame. I was big, but dense with water weight from creatine. For the first time ever, I moved two 45-pound plates with no help. I was even big and strong enough to be the guy who carried the kevlar canoe on a Boundary Waters trip.
Unfortunately, when I lost my job at the warehouse, I no longer had the finances to keep up with my gym membership. It was a few years before I would join another club. Once I did, I started working out for an hour a day, a muscle group each day. And I started seeing results. Even better, it was this club that led me to a young and eager trainer named Jason.
His energy made me curious, and he convinced me to give him five minutes of my time. The pain that followed in 15 minutes was more pain than I'd found in my own workouts -- wall sits, planks, push-ups (performed correctly!) were new forms of pain. And, in some weird way I wanted more.
A few days later, we assessed my goals, set a game plan, and then we started our first real workout together. That first one hurt and the second one was beat down...I psyched myself out for the third session and, regrettably, stopped going. But something funny happened. In the six weeks I was gone...as each day passed...I noticed something missing. It was that good, torn-down muscle, rewarding and fatigued feeling you get when shock your body. I returned to finish my package and sign up for more sessions.
It's been almost 10 years now.
I have taken some time off, but I ALWAYS come back and keep rest periods minimal. Sometimes life gets complicated and my training lacks in dedication. But with one call from Jason, I'm back in. It's been well over 18 months since my last break. In that time I have learned to take my diet seriously...and watching my calories has amazingly boosted my success.
I started out at almost 250 pounds. And now I weigh-in anywhere from 199-202 pounds. I love being physically healthy and using the lean muscle that my body has developed. I can bench press 310 pounds, and (at one point) could shoulder shrug 3-45 pound plates on the barbell.
In the process, I've found new friends -- people I love to call family. Thank you, Jason, for helping me get this far. And thanks to everyone for the positive thoughts and comments you've shared to help me get to this point.