“I came to terms with being a lesbian probably my sophomore year,” said Marcus. “I even made some friends. It was getting better, I thought. That is until I would have to go in the girls locker room and change. Then it came rushing in, the overwhelming anxiety, the depression. I just hated my body, I absolutely hated it. I would have rather failed gym than go in that locker room, which I nearly did. I just didn’t understand. The rest of my time in high school was pretty much the same. I hated it. As time went on, I got angrier and angrier, but why?”Read More
For APEMAN Andrew Hesselmann, just 10 weeks after his first and only child was born in 2011, he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
“They wouldn’t let me leave the hospital,” he said. “I was there for five weeks getting chemo and trying not to let the complications that occurred at the same time kill me. I had lots of pneumonias and I ended up getting a rare and deadly infection called Mucormycosis. It ended up killing my lower lobe in my right lung and needed to have the lobe removed. That surgery almost killed me.”Read More
“I was admitted immediately,” Bowen said. “MRI and spinal taps were my life for the next four weeks. On bed rest I developed an affection and almost died from dehydration. After 14 hours of trying to get an IV in me they successfully got one in my foot. For the next two weeks I was in recovery.”
He was diagnosed with Pseudotumor, a rare disease with under 200,000 cases each year. At its core, Pseudotumor is a brain condition that essentially causes the same symptoms as a brain tumor – headaches, nausea, vision problems, dizziness.Read More
As an NYPD recruit during 9/11, he was thrown right into the streets to aid the seasoned officers with the rescue and recovery of the many lost.
It toughened him mentally, but left scars. Injuries and surgeries in the years after left him needing to strengthen his body. The gym, lifting and the people within strengthened his body, mind and spirit.Read More
“Powerlifting has brought a common love and passion into mine and my husband’s life and I wouldn’t change it for the world,” added Stephanie. “My grandma always said, ‘God won’t throw bullshit your way for no reason, he knows you and built you to overcome that bullshit.’ And I can truly say I have never understood that more than I do now. For others going through similar struggles I urge them to embrace the agony, the pain, the sorrow but don’t let it consume you, use it in any way you can to inspire you to do things you never thought you could.”Read More
But in 2010, when his now adopted daughter, Charlotte, was just six-months old, Mark was diagnosed with aggressive colon cancer.
“It was in the center of my colon which meant that over 90% of my entire colon had to be removed,” Mark said. “Three weeks in the hospital with complications until I got home. While recovering at home within a month I developed extreme numbness and weakness of my entire right upper extremity. An MRI showed I had severe spinal stenosis at multiple levels requiring urgent neurosurgery to relieve the compression of the nerves.Read More
“Last year I hit my weight-loss goal of 50lbs that took me 18 months to complete,” Vincent said. “My goal was to lose the weight but remain strong while still training. Powerlifting was always my first love since I was 14 and my uncle showed me how to lift in our homemade basement gym.”
Before his weight-loss, Vincent’s bench press 1RPM was 355, deadlift of 450 and squat of 405.
“Not bad for a 48-year-old,” Vincent laughed.Read More
“My advice to anyone going through tough times would be simple – stay strong,” he added. “Just grind it out. It is not probably the most sensitive advice, but it's one of the few that works. Find that caveman DNA within you. We are all capable of so much more than we think we are.”Read More
“When Jack was almost two-years-old he was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of kidney cancer called Wilms’ Tumor,” his mom, Kelli, said. “We heard words we tried to ignore like ‘diffuse,’ anaplastic’ and ‘poor outcome.’ Our world was rocked. Jack’s definition of OVERCOME didn’t ring true for us in this situation. As parents, childhood cancer was never a fear we had or something we thought we would ever have to face. However, not overcoming this was simply never an option.”Read More
“I had not been doing so well in life,” she said. “Mentally I’ve always loved the gym but lacked the strength to go. I am now struggling with weight loss. I had a baby 11 months ago and I know that as mother, your children should always come before yourself. My kids are the reason I get up in the morning… or even get out of bed and work. Depression is something I know that people struggle with and I hope that no one has to feel like I do every day. I haven't had the support I need from any direction, so it's been hard. But I’m trying.”Read More
“PTSD does not only affect the individual, it effects the entire family,” Paul said. “In 2017, my ex-wife passed away unexpectedly. My youngest son, Michael, came to live with me full-time. Just a year later, he lost his grandmother. The adjustment to both of our lives was huge. In late 2017, he started watching the World’s Strongest Man and became a huge fan of Brian Shaw and many others. It was something I was very excited about because it gave him an outlet to channel his energy.”
Ironically, what was an outlet for his son would also become a life-saver for Paul himself.Read More
The night I took a gun to my own head, I had gotten a phone call and was distracted enough, sad enough, tired enough to simply forget to go back to pull the trigger. So I went on another day. And another. And another. I graduated high school, tried out for the graduation speech and ended up delivering it in front of thousands of people—when my grades barely warranted a diploma.Read More
“As long as I can remember, I’ve had anxiety and depression,” he said. “I always took medication from the time I could swallow a pill. I was medicated my whole life until I turned 18 and refused to go to a doctor. After that, I started self-medicating with Xanax and anything I could find.”
Adam got into a serious motocross accident at 19. At the hospital, doctors began giving Adam Vicodin and other norcos like they were nothing.Read More
“I suffered some pretty horrible abuse at the hands of my junkie mother,” he remembered. “Among the worst was her attempt to strangle me with an extension cord at the age of 8.”
Some of the hardest times for Jebidiah were witnessing his mom's suicide attempts. One of her attempts happened on Christmas – a moment he’ll never forget.Read More
Like many of us, Ethan Hall is all too familiar with the “wrong” path.
Not everyone, however, is able to make it right.
“I served two years in prison because I took a terrible path,” he said. “I was a fighter, drinker and substance abuser. All of those things make it easy for someone to lose sight of what is important in life, and that’s what happened to me.”Read More
Clark Fredericks was raped at age 12.
But the grooming started years before by a man that he not only looked up to but trusted completely – a Lt. in the local Sheriff’s department, a trusted family friend and boy scout master.
“What the abuse did was destroy my childhood, destroy my trust and destroy my faith,” Fredericks said. “My mind, in order to protect me, told me that talking about the abuse was equal to reliving it and we surely didn't want to do that. And thus, my biggest regret in life began and that was the keeping of a debilitating secret.”Read More
For six years, Anthony was addicted to heroin and meth. Certainly, addiction in any form is incredibly difficult to fight through.
It takes strength and courage to admit you have a problem, and even more to fix it. That is to say, recognizing the demon is one thing; it’s something else to take action and conquer it.Read More
Shortly after his birth, Nathan was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy (CP), a congenital disorder of movement, muscle tone, and posture, and was deemed once again, to have little chance of having a “normal” life.
“I was told that walking would be highly unlikely for a person with his form of CP, but I was never satisfied with the prognosis,” he said. “Throughout my childhood, and into my adolescent and teen years, I went through a grueling amount of examinations, surgeries, and physical and occupational therapy. I bounced back and forth between medical devices such as carts, wheelchairs, crutches, and leg braces; learning and relearning how to walk countless times.”Read More
“I was hit from behind and severely damaged my left knee and ankle,” Daniel said. “I partially damaged every ligament in my knee and had a Grade 3 sprain of my Achilles tendon. There I was being told that I have to wear this air cast for months and do months on months of physical therapy. At such a young age, I felt like my dream was gone. All I had wanted until that point was to play hockey.”Read More
“We’ve all done things in our past that we aren’t proud of,” he said. “I certainly have a past like that. From 19-years-old to about 21, I was plummeting down the wrong path. I dove into drugs, alcohol and everything in between. I fought depression due to my grandfather passing years earlier, and battled addictions to cough syrup medication as well as marijuana.”Read More