Reinventing Yourself When Life Knocks You Down - Dan Giancola
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I started training when I was 17 years old with my best friend Steve. I fell in love with lifting weights right from the get-go. As years passed, I got stronger and stronger bigger and better. It has always been my passion to push the limits seeing how my body would respond to lifting heavyweights. When I first started lifting weights in my late teens’ the early twenties it was all for vanity the big arms,  big chest, rolled up sleeves and tight shirts looking big and buffed on the beach and looking good for the girls. Fast forward to my late twenties and early thirties, I was playing professional football at this time so lifting weights became my job as a professional athlete to get bigger stronger and faster. Now in my early fifties, it’s about something totally different it’s about being fit but even moreover for my mental health needs that more now than ever. You see lifting has always been my drug my release is my stress reliever.
Life is full of challenges but I always remind myself of one of the greatest sayings I’ve heard since my heart attack ” The comeback is always greater than the set back ” never give up life’s too short!

Last year May 20th 2020, I woke up like I have my entire life since birth. I got up took a shower brushed my teeth dried my hair and got changed for the day ready for another amazing day at my studio teaching my online class free for everyone live on Facebook during the Coronavirus Pandemic. First, stop through Tim Hortons for a peppermint tea then off to my studio to teach the class. As I have always done over 2 and a half months when the Pandemic first started I would start my class at 10:30 am LIVE ON FACEBOOK with over 5000 people literally from around the world joining me for this free 30-minute workout. Today though was different I found myself extremely tired right from when I woke up and right up to the start of my class. I’ll never forget looking at my clock on the floor which I used to time, my class.  It was 10:50 am when I started to feel like I had the flu and it was coming on strong I was extremely nauseous I just remember I had to finish this class. After I signed off after class I got horrible pain in my back it was an excruciating pain that eventually shot through my chest I knew there and then I was having a heart attack but little did I know the severity of it. Fast forward by day end I was in the ICU recovering from what is known as ” The Widow Maker ” 100 per cent blockage of the main artery. 4 doctors that day said I should have died in that studio but only because of my physical condition did I survive. 3 stents later along with Blood pressure meds, beta-blocker, cholesterol medication, blood thinners, baby aspirin, anxiety medication and stomach medication to counter all these pills am I still here alive. But believe it or not with all the above mentioned it’s not that which crushed me it was the fact that the doctors and specialists said I could never lift heavy again. Just the thought of never being able to do what I love to do what I’ve done since I was 17 years old was killing me inside. Anxiety, depression and PTSD all kicked in. 18 months of side effects not allowing me to train no release whatsoever a ticking time bomb inside of me.
I’ve finally hit my lowest point I remember running out of the lorazepam that my doctor prescribed to me and I completely lost it what do I do now I knew he was on vacation and I couldn’t get my prescription refilled. I knew exactly what to do but I was scared terrified, to be honest, but the truth was right in front of me it’s been there the whole time. I became so dependent on my lorazepam when I had the panic attacks I completely forgot my true answer. The answer is to do what you’ve always done go back to training but for the first time since you were 17 years old your starting from scratch back to the basics. Bodyweight training using one of my favourite training tools TRX Suspension Training and Rubber Tubing was my start I wasn’t strong enough for anything else. I remember my very first day back training my body was shaking like a jackhammer crying through each and every set mixed emotions of sadness because I’m shaking lifting only my bodyweight feeling so weak but also happiness and joy because after almost dying and over 18 months of no physical fitness it just felt incredible to be doing what I so love to do. Changes in my training needed to be done no more than 5 sets 6 to 8 reps but now 3 sets 10 to 15 reps. Cardio was 2 to 3 days a week now 5 days a week. Eating clean now 6 days a week with 1 so not cheat day. Has it been easy no especially at the beginning nobody likes change especially when you have been doing the same thing for almost 35 years but watching my body change to something completely different has been incredible going from a 225 bulky man to 210 pounds beginning to lean out?

A new look, a new me, a new challenge, a second chance. I could look at these 2 ways the first way is to feel sorry for myself for not being able to do what I once could or I could transform my body into something I’ve never been a new goal a new challenge a completely different outlook. Life is full of challenges but I always remind myself of one of the greatest sayings I’ve heard since my heart attack ” The comeback is always greater than the set back ” never give up life’s too short! Remember ” why does it always have to be someone else why not you ” BE THAT ONE! – Danny G

Photo By: Phil Cheevers

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Owner of Bto Performance Fitness Studio, Motivational Speaker, Owner of ”Be That One", Fitness Apparel, Professional Football Player (Place Kicker).

1 Comment

  1. This guy is a true inspiration! I love reading his articles. They are so raw and pure. He relates to what so many people struggle with and sharing his incredible stories just make me want to push myself and have me believe in myself that yes I can! I can Be That One! Amazing Danny G!

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