I was an average high school student with a place on the football team and a love of athletics, but all that changed on August 17, 1998 when the left front tire on my car blew out as I was headed over a bridge to football practice. My vehicle rolled over five and a half times and I was ejected out the driver side window. While flying through the air, I was hit in the back by my own car, breaking my spine at T-12 L1. I was taken to a hospital where they operated and shaved bone off from my left hip to provide additional support for my spine. When I awoke after the surgery the doctor came in and bluntly told me I was now a paraplegic and that my football days were over. They said I would never walk again, but a seed of determination was forming even then, and I did manage to walk out of that hospital to my new life.
I would tell newcomers not to let a fear of what others think hold you back. When someone in a wheelchair is first going into competitive bodybuilding, a huge fear is appearing on the stage without a shirt. Many people in wheelchairs feel self-conscious to begin with because it feels like people are staring at them all the time. Of course these people understand philosophically that they are different from others because of the wheelchair, but they somehow feel like taking off their shirt will only draw even more unwanted attention. The secret to my success as a professional wheelchair bodybuilder is that I don't worry about what others think of me. This is my life and I am not living it for someone else. Besides, I have worked hard to achieve this body.
For someone who does not have this level of confidence yet, I would definitely tell them to focus on themselves and not be concerned about others. Wheelchair bodybuilding is one of the most powerful sports in the world for someone in a wheelchair. In any professional sport, the participants are constantly building their bodies but wheelchair bodybuilding is the only sport where you can actually become a professional and earn prize money. I have built a website wheelchair-bodybuilding.com that provides step-by-step instructions that help wheelchair athletes train to become wheelchair bodybuilders. Once they start seeing the changes in their bodies, their whole self-image and level of self-confidence increases dramatically and they are no longer defined by their wheelchair. Don’t get discouraged if it seems to be taking longer than you think it should. The result is worth the journey. Keep at it and you will be amazed by the results you can achieve. If I can do it, then anyone can.
There were actually two defining moments that changed my life. The first one was about a month after the accident. I was in rehab and my best friend, Rocky, came to visit me. At the end of our visit, I talked about this girl at school who I had a crush on. The following weekend he brought her and three friends in to see me - he is a really GOOD FRIEND! Up to this point I had not yet looked at myself after the accident but, after they left, I found a mirror in the dresser and was shocked by what I saw. My weight had ballooned to 300 pounds, I had grown a mini afro and a spotted beard, and I had soda bottle glasses. I couldn’t believe what I had let myself become. I was surprised that Rocky had convinced four girls to come see me. From that moment on, I swore I would never look like that again.
My second defining moment occurred a few weeks after that when I finally went back to high school. I thought being around everybody would help me get my motivation back, but it just made me feel even worse about myself and my situation because I saw everybody doing what I couldn't do anymore. So I decided to go to the gym because I had been so comfortable there before the accident. I thought that would help me too, but it didn't because I realized I could no longer do so many things in the gym either. That’s when it finally hit me. I told myself that if I couldn't do all the things that other people were doing, the one thing I could do was be stronger than everybody else in the bench press. I set a goal for myself and put a plan into action to achieve it. Of all the negative things in my life at that time, I decided to focus on the one positive thing I had. Reaching that goal became more precious to me than anything else. That passion helped me turn my whole life around and was the starting point for getting where I am today.
The point of these stories is that you really have to take a good look at yourself to assess your strengths and weaknesses. Once you have faced up to who you are, don’t focus on the negative and what you can’t do. Look at the positive of what you can do and you will be putting yourself on a path to success.
I believe that mindset is the key to everything. If you think you can’t, then you won’t. If you think you can, you will find a way to achieve your dreams. Mindset provides the purpose and reason to pursue your goals. If you don't have a big enough reason to do something, then you won't follow through strongly enough and will give up in defeat. I never did anything just for myself before, and I don't do all of this now for myself either. My purpose of helping others gives me HUGE motivation to keep doing what I do. I want others to understand that they can feed their minds with positive thoughts and make conscious choices about how to direct their focus and energy.
I do what it takes to get the job done, no matter what it takes or how long it takes. I don't let my diet, my training, my work or anything else come in the way of achieving my goals. I don't make excuses about why I can't do something because an excuse is just a well-planned lie, a story we tell ourselves about why we can't do something. If people would focus less on problems and how much work it takes to make things happen, and more on outcomes and solutions, they would be able to succeed at anything they choose to do in their lives. It is a decision, a choice and a free will opportunity that we have as human beings to be the best we can be, to help others be the best they can be, and to make a difference in this world.
When I first started out in bodybuilding, I thought I wouldn’t be able to do many of the exercises because it was so hard for me to transfer and sit on a bench or incline bench. The bars in the Smith Machine got in my way. There were so many things that don’t affect other athletes that got to me and made me question whether or not I could really do this. But then I realized that to succeed at this I had to keep an open mind and focus on what I could do. So I adjusted the exercises according to my needs. I studied for endless hours by watching videos and reading books. I found other material on exercises and the body, and even got a few certifications in fitness just because I wanted to find ways to become better at doing this. I never really think of what I can or can’t do, but instead look at it as a question of how to alter or adjust the exercises to make them work for me. That goes back to altering my mindset and focusing on the solution instead of worrying about the problem or the negative situation.
I find that listening to certain music really affects me, and can alter my energy when I am training. I listen to all kinds of music, but these are some of the songs on my playlist now:
I look for something that is going to motivate me and give me real energy. For others, it might be the message or a rhythm that helps them get through a workout. If you can focus your mind on how good it feels to be doing this, you won’t be thinking about why you can’t finish or do one more rep.
Many people don't think they can push beyond their last rep because it hurts too much. But I can tell you that this is a great type of pain to experience. The pain of working out is nothing compared to having your back butchered and taking yourself off pain medicine right away so you can heal quicker. I made a decision to suffer with unbearable pain, but I was willing to go through it so I could heal faster. I felt that it was an even trade. So when people say it hurts too much, I say that it’s time to release your inner beast.
My proudest moment in the gym was back in my powerlifting days. I was 20 years old and weighed 170 pounds, but bench-pressed 450 pounds. Soon after that, though, I decided to alter my path and stopped doing powerlifting.
Outside the gym, there are actually three moments that I am very proud of:
At first I used to just push myself in the wheelchair. Then I started to sit behind a recumbent bike and peddle with my hands. Finally I figured out how to strap my feet into place on the recumbent bike and angle my legs in a certain way where I could push some with them. Now my cardio is a mix of the recumbent and using the Speed Bag Burn Machine, which is like a hand bike but it's a free motion.
I don't really have a favorite. I am a fan of Arnold because he expanded beyond the bodybuilding and fitness industry. That was a key to bringing awareness to the bodybuilding and fitness world, and that's what I want to do as well. It's the disabled athletes that inspire me the most, seeing their mindset and how they overcome situations. That is what I love so much about what I do.
1. Build a Positive Mindset: Don’t make excuses about WHY you can't do something - an excuse is a well planned lie. The only thing standing between you and your goal is the story you keep telling yourself about why you can't achieve it. If you truly want to achieve greatness with anything, you must focus on the solution and not the problem. Think about what you can do and forget about what you can't do. Don't compare yourself to others and think about what you don't have or feel less than they are. Focus on the gifts that God gave you and your strengths. There are over seven billion people in this world and no two of them are alike. There is a reason for that.
2. Seek Wisdom: If you do not know how to do something, learn how to do it or get help from an expert that does. To be successful, mimic the methods of those who are successful. There is always someone out there who wanted the same thing as you and achieved it. If you want to be like them, learn what they did and you will eventually succeed.
3. Take Action and Be Persistent: Nobody will ever make things happen for you. If you want something, you must do something about it. If you are lost in your life and you don't know what to do, dig deep and focus on the things you love, your passion. If you truly love something you do not have to be motivated by outside forces because you will be self-motivated and feel alive, you will be in your strength zone. If you are passionate about what you do, you will have a purpose in life. That purpose will give you fulfillment, which in turn will lead to an amazing inner strength and desire to achieve even more. Be persistent and focus on the outcome, not on how much work or effort it takes to get the job done. Babies do not complain about how hard it is to learn to walk, or how many times they fail in the process of learning. To them, it is only the end result of walking that matters. As adults, the same rules apply.
So those are my three tips to get CutAndJacked: Alter your mindset, seek wisdom, take action and be persistent. Follow these rules and you will be able to achieve anything you set your mind to doing.
Nick Scott, Year of Birth: 1982