It’s been said that sometimes we motivate ourselves by thinking of what we want to become; other times we motivate ourselves by thinking about who we don’t ever want to be again.

For APEMAN Anthony Merritt, that creed is a perfect microcosm of his life. 

“We all have our own struggles in life,” he said. “But I truly believe no struggle is too big to conquer.”

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.

“When I finally got the courage to get my life put together, I found myself very depressed,” he said. “Rather than deal with these all-consuming emotions, I started binge eating. Somehow I convinced myself that doing so would help that pain go away.”

The pain didn’t go away. Even though Anthony wasn’t doing drugs anymore, he wasn’t healthy. 

Eventually, he got up to almost 420 pounds. 

“That’s when I came to the realization that I replaced my drug habit for a food habit,” Anthony said. “One night, I remember telling myself that if I can stop doing drugs, I can lose the weight that I put on from being depressed. 

“I woke up that next morning, and I haven’t looked back.”

In a little over two years, Anthony amazingly went from 420 pounds to 250 pounds. In addition, he’s managed to stay clean and sober. 

“Powerlifting changed my life,” he said with a smile. “When I got into powerlifting, it gave me a sense of accomplishment. It’s not just going to the gym and lifting heavy weights. To me, powerlifting is what keeps me striving to be the best person I can be.”

Anthony says that his newfound lifestyle has helped him with so much more in life than simply getting stronger. It’s helped him stay off drugs, deal with his anxiety, and take out his anger or frustration. Powerlifting is his outlet now instead of drugs or food. 

He credits APEMAN for being a big influence and motivator – especially during the inevitable rough patches.

“APEMAN is more than a brand,” Anthony said. “When I see other athletes wearing APEMAN, I know that we wear it with pride. Staying focused and dedicated day-in and day-out is hard work. I want anyone out there to know that if you are struggling, just stay focused. Get in the gym. Never quit. 

“No matter how many times you fall, always get back up and try again.”