I don’t think there has ever been a time in my life where I was not a big person. Heck, I came into this world at close to ten pounds, so I mean it when I say I’ve never been tiny. I’ve learned that there are many different kinds of “big” in this world. You have the “big, strong, and grateful” kind of big. You also have the “big, broken, and empty” kind of big. For most of my life, I’ve been the latter. I used to weigh close to 400 pounds. I was the very definition of big, broken, and empty. I’m proud to say that things are much different now, but they haven’t always been this good.
I can’t pin my old weight on to any one event. I grew up in a good Ohio family. Of course, we had our low points, but I was lucky to have a hardworking father, a caring mother, and for the most part, a supportive family. We weren’t rich, but we always had what we needed. My family, like many others, uses food as a way to cope. Yes, it may all be going to hell in a handbasket, but there’s nothing that a good meal can’t fix. I still believe that, though I no longer take it to the extremes that I used to. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t blame anybody but myself for getting to where I used to be; that was totally and completely on me.
My weight problem hit its highest point in college. I hold a degree in Music from Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne. For the first time in my life, I was on my own. I had total control over my life, especially where, when, what, and how much I ate. Anybody who has been to college knows how lonely it can be. I used food to fill that loneliness. I was consuming easily 5000 calories per day. My relationships and friendships were failing. I hated everything about myself. It turned into one vicious and self-destructive cycle. I used to think that if I was big enough, nobody would try to mess with me. What I ended up building was a prison that I carried with me. My weight isolated me from the people around me. So many people tried to break through, and I shut them out. Before I knew it, I was almost 400 pounds.
I moved to Laramie to finish my BA in the summer of 2016. The first few months here were some of the darkest in my life. As a musician myself, I can say that musicians can be cliquey, and sometimes even mean. My first semester at UW was spent mostly alone. I was the outsider. Yes, the fact that I was the outsider didn’t help, but I also refused to let anybody try to get to know me. Many tried, most failed.
My absolute rock bottom came one October night while I was in bed. There was a girl in my life who I adored at the time. I don’t remember what the argument was about, or even if it was important, but she said something along the line of “You are too big for me to even consider dating you”. While this may seem juvenile to me now, it was the cold reality check that forced me to give myself the following ultimatum:
“You either kill yourself now and just be done with it, or you go to sleep, wake up tomorrow and change your life. Make a choice and make it now.”
I made it through that night and I did wake up the next day. The first thing I did was ask for help. I asked my roommate to go to the gym with me, and he said that he would. Those first few weeks at Half Acre Gym at UW were some of the most painful weeks of my life. I was asking my body, which had been stagnant for most of its existence to move and to be active. It was painful, but I persisted. I began to see slow results. I went from a 4XL shirt to a 3XL shirt. From a 3XL to a 2XL shirt. Summer hit, and I was at my most active leading up to my current lifestyle. I would wake up in the morning and go for a walk. After my walk, I’d go to work, then to the gym, then home for dinner, and I’d close my day out with a bike ride. My results quickened, and I eventually hit the -100 pounds mark. Last fall, I hit -150. As I sit here today and type this, I’m wearing a Large size shirt and a pair of 36 waist pants. I haven’t been this small since the 8th grade.
Nicole Lamartine (another AF member) introduced me to powerlifting. Dr. La (as I know her) coached me through my first meet. I was looking for a challenge, and to break a plateau I was in around November of last year. Dr. La told me about the sport and we had a few coaching sessions. My numbers at the time were nothing to write home about, but I persisted. January eventually rolled around and it was time for my meet.
For my first meet, I only did push-pull because I couldn’t physically do a squat. I PR’d my bench press at 180 and my deadlift at 295. I laugh at those numbers now, but they remind me to stay humble. That meet hooked me on the sport. At my second meet in Casper, I won second in my weight class (I also squatted for the first time competitively). At my third meet, I won second and went 9 for 9 with three personal records.
I look at my life now and I feel nothing but gratitude. I’m past my undergraduate days. I just bought a new car, and have a great job. I am thankful every single day of my life for what I have. I’m happier and healthier than I have ever been previously. Yes, I’m still a big guy, and I think I always will be. The difference now is that I’m no longer big and broken. Today, I’m big, strong, powerful, influential, grateful, happy, healthy, and successful. Most importantly, I am alive. How many of us take that for granted?
I still fail. I fail daily. That’s okay. I learn from it and I keep pushing forward. Fitness is a marathon, not a sprint. One could also say that about life. To those reading this who may be struggling, I see you and I understand the pain you’re in. I changed because the pain I was in outweighed the fear of change. Never be afraid to ask for help. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my coaches, friends and family members. I wouldn’t be the man I am today without those people.
The best advice I can give somebody starting this journey is to stop looking for “motivation”. Motivation is an excuse we invented somewhere along the line to not do what we need to do for ourselves. I take care of myself because It’s the right thing to do. I changed because if I didn’t, I was going to die. Stop searching for something that you don’t need. Look at your wife (husband). Look at your children, friends, and family. Sometimes it sucks going to the gym. What doesn’t suck is being able to go outside and play with your kids. What doesn’t suck is going on hikes with your friends and not falling behind. Folks, what doesn’t suck is this life we’re given. We live in such an abundant and beautiful world, especially here in Wyoming. We owe it to ourselves to live it to the fullest because it can be taken away from us instantly.
I wish nothing but peace, success, and good will to those reading this. I hope that my story helps you in some way. I hope that maybe my total vulnerability will allow you to feel comfortable asking someone for help along the way. I want you to have a fantastic life. I want you to be free, and to those who understand: I’ll see you on the platform.
Peace to you,
About the Author
Brad Becker was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Brad moved to Cheyenne in 2012 to attend Laramie County Community College. After his time at LCCC, he moved to Laramie in 2016 to continue his studies in Music. Brad’s Powerlifting journey began in the fall of 2017. Brad stepped on to the platform for the first time in January of this year. Brad has three competitions under his belt. He won second place in the 120+kg weight class in USAPL’s Cowboy State Raw. He also won second place in the 120+kg weight class at USPA’S Wyoming and Mountain West Championships. Brad also went 9 for 9 at this meet. Brad is a classically trained musician. He works for the University of Wyoming and is an avid lover of the outdoors.