|Brian Grasso. (Supplied) |
Long before he topped out at a portly 280 pounds, Brian Grasso had written off his chances of ever having a chiselled physique.
The six-foot-three Toronto native simply presumed obesity was his destiny.
He accepted such a burden because that's the way he had been for as long as he could remember - despite an active lifestyle including martial arts and football.
"I've always been an athlete. I've never been sedentary. I've always trained in some capacity," he tells Sun Media from his Montreal home. "(But) I used to be flat-out fat, to be honest. I was a big, chunky guy."
His ample size served him well during his high school football career. As a defensive end, Grasso was twice named a regional all-star.
He went on to compete in boxing and martial arts as a heavyweight, of course. Throughout his 20s, his weight fluctuated between 240 and 280 pounds, even as he made a successful foray into the sports and fitness industry as a trainer and performance coach for elite athletes.
By then, Grasso's generous girth was deeply ingrained in his psyche. He continued to tell himself that he was at the mercy of his "big-guy" genetics. Until, as he describes it, he finally "stopped B.S.-ing himself" in 2004.
As Grasso entered his 30s, he became aware that he could, in effect, recreate his destiny by altering his thinking.
"We all tell ourselves stories, whether we're conscious of that or not," he explains. "Who we are, what we look like, what we do in the way of our careers, the successes we have - they're all just an accumulation of the stories we've been telling ourselves for years."
These stories change over time, Grasso notes, but most people aren't even aware that they're telling themselves a story.
"Your story is your truth," he adds. "It's not the truth. It's just the truth you're telling yourself. It's a version of the truth."
Grasso began to recreate his truth by telling himself a much more positive story - one without his self-imposed limitations. He used a variety of means to do this, including self-talk, visualization and journaling.
"It's all in the mind. Everything in life starts in the brain," he says.
"The mental game you bring to physical fitness is the greatest part of it."
As part of his renaissance, Grasso stopped blaming his weight on genetics. Instead, he took full responsibility for getting lean and fit in terms of his diet and workout regimen.
"We live in a very blame-oriented and irresponsible society," he says.
"Society at large is about blaming somebody else for what you don't have. It's about the entitlement of what you think you deserve but can't have because somebody else is taking it away from you."
Grasso was 36 when he took his bodyweight under 200 for the first time since he was 13.
Now 38, the master of his own fate weighs a rippling 193.
"You really can create your own destiny," he says.
"That doesn't mean you're not going to have bad days or bad things are never going to happen. They are. But we can control how we react to those things and that's the key to success."
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