Helene developed a severe case of depression and anxiety. Eventually, it led to the use of prescription medication.
“It wasn’t until I was about 21 that I fully realized the damage I’d done,” she said. “I was just shy of 300 pounds at 5-4, in a miserable relationship, and was angry and depressed.” I developed a pretty severe case of depression and anxiety which led to the use of prescription medication.”
When someone else’s happiness is your happiness; that’s love.
And if you need an unconditional example of it, take Julio Vasquez and his wife, Yesenia.
“I’m writing this for my wife, because I think she is APEMAN STRONG,” Julio said. “She is profoundly deaf and legally blind.”
Tony doesn’t remember much from the accident, but what he does recall is horrifying.
“I was going in and out of consciousness but remember my 13-year-old son crying,” Tony said. “My wife was kneeling beside me. They quickly life-flighted me to the hospital, underwent emergency surgery and I was subsequently put on life support.”
“I saw how large I looked in pictures with my son,” Bryan said. “This was the tipping point. I was at 319 pounds. I was on blood pressure medication and felt tired all the time – literally all of the time.”
Bryan knew he needed to change. And that’s exactly what he did.
“As soon as I put an APEMAN shirt or belt on, I felt like I wasn’t that skinny kid anymore,” Mark said. “I felt like I could grind through anything. I realized it wasn’t about if I was skinny or not, but about improving my self-worth and how I looked at myself every day. I still strive to be stronger but at the end of the day, I’ve found something that helps make me fully happy.”
Not coincidentally, when Mark started gaining confidence through powerlifting, other areas of his life started to drastically improve. He is now happily a music teacher and continuing along his APEMAN journey.
“It started a few years ago,” Albie said. “My wife and I had our last child. I was 41 at the time. I remember sitting on the floor and I couldn’t put my own socks on; I was 400-pounds and my diabetes was out of control. I thought, ‘I’m going to be 60 when my son graduates high school.’ I don’t know many 400-pound 60-year-olds out there.”
Albie began hitting the gym hard and estimates he lost at least 100 pounds of fat while gaining a ridiculous amount of strength.
“My life has seemed like a continual struggle,” Kyle said. “In 2008, I was 22-years-old, weighed nearly 400 pounds and worked a job I had no real interest in. I basically had no idea what I wanted to do in life, but I knew I wasn’t doing it.”
“Back in 2015, I went on a family vacation to Colorado with my mother, sister and grandfather,” he reflected. “On a family rafting trip, my grandfather fell into the cold Poudre river which triggered a heart attack. The day was a blur. I was on a separate raft when we got the signal to make our way to shore, and all I remember hearing is my mother screaming as she frantically held onto my grandfather, so he wouldn’t continue floating down the river. I didn’t have the slightest clue what exactly was happening.”
“In 2016 my world came to a halt,” she said. “Not only did my dad fracture his neck in a car accident and nearly died in the VA hospital from a stage 4 bedsore, my brother passed away from cancer.”
Ana struggled on a day-to-day basis trying to be a pillar of strength for her family. On most days, she succeeded. But as we all know, that’s infinitely easier said than done.
“I have a medical condition that I don’t want to go into because it isn’t really relevant, but I lost all of my hair due to it,” Iain said. “It is called Alopecia universalis. I lost all the hair on my body and don’t have the ability to grow any more. When I was diagnosed, I dropped into a severe depression over months and months and got quite unwell. I lost an alarming amount of weight and even attempted suicide.”
“I’m an ex-alcoholic and drug addict who also lost his own stomach to stomach cancer at age 22,” Mike said. “I’ve gone from being homeless and living under a bridge in California at 25-years-old to becoming a married homeowner at 30.
“I’ll never give up. Ever.”
“I’ve always been big for my age,” Adam said. “I used to get teased for being overweight when I was younger. So much so, that I would go home and cry to my mom that I was afraid I'd never have any friends.”
Adam developed internal scars and strength through his adversity. Instead of fighting how he was naturally built, he embraced it.
“I went into a rage,” Erik said. “I destroyed a door and put my fist through the wall with all of the anger directed at my stepfather since he was indirectly the cause of all of this. I still have the scars on my right hand from putting my fist through a wooden door and ripping it off its hinges. I spent the next three years living in a stupor. I lived off an inheritance, ate so much that I ballooned to 325 pounds, and became very antisocial while playing video games for 12 hours a day and becoming more and more suicidal with each passing day.”
Vincent’s significant other, best friend, lover and girlfriend of two years had taken her own life.
“I came home that night, after an argument that morning to be greeted by silence,” he said. “Not only did she die, but a part of me did, too. She was the most beautiful, loyal, caring, compassionate, selfless, and empathetic person I had ever known. We’d stay up until the early mornings just talking. Sharing. Laughing.”
After coming home, Daniel relied on drugs and alcohol to escape life and all its emotions. If he’s honest with himself, drugs and alcohol helped him escape, literally, everything.
“I gave up jobs, family, friends and myself for a very long time,” he said. “I began getting DUIs at the age of 26. I racked up four within 10 years. The last one was in 2012. I was at the point in life where I wanted to die.”
“I was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma,” he said. “That was about eight years ago. Never did I think that was the end for me. I knew that I would fight and overcome it. That’s exactly what I did.”
In fact, not only did he overcome it, he competed in his first Scottish Highland Games just 18 months after his surgery.
“For the rest of my high school education, I was in and out of treatment facilities for Anorexia Nervosa and Exercise Bulimia,” she said. “I became addicted to feeling empty, fragile and weak. I severely restricted my intake and would run until I burnt off double whatever minuscule amount I consumed. Although I was tired, I was constantly chasing the high that my eating disorder gave me. I was no longer living for myself; I was either eating to please other people or succumbing to the voice in my head. I was completely disconnected from my body and in denial that what I was doing could have serious repercussions.”
“That’s when they found how big my heart was,” he said. “They diagnosed me with hemihypertrophy disease. I always knew there was something wrong – I had a size 22 left shoe and size 18 right shoe – but I didn’t realize it was my heart.”
“My story begins after my last deployment to Iraq in November of 2006,” APEMAN Juan Cervantes said. “My struggles with dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and multiple attempts and thoughts of suicide, and how my wife has been by my side the entire time even before she was my wife.”
“My father died when he was just 35, I was only seven-years-old,” Branden said. “I grew up in a broken home and we were very poor. I was hurt. Angry. Developed trust issues. I don’t think I ever really recognized how angry I was.”