'Average Joe'
'Average Joe'
and this is not only the story of my health and fitness journey, but also (more importantly) my story of darkness, despair, mental illness, and, ultimately, redemption and healing...

I have been obsessed with martial arts and self-defense training, as well as building muscle and losing body fat for over 25 years now, ever since seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Lee on screen as a kid. I loved the way they looked, their rippling muscles and abs that popped, as well as the power they seemed to possess. I craved those things, and this was the catalyst that started me on my fitness journey all those years ago. 

I was quite small and weak as a kid, and I was picked on by some of the bigger kids in my school as I was growing up.
Even though I was small, I was skinny fat at a bodyweight of 118 pounds when I graduated from high school, and I was never able to see my abs. I hated the feeling of people being able to take advantage of me at will, I hated how I looked, and this ignited a fire within me to change, no matter what it took.
involved the Charles Atlas program, which I ordered through an ad in a “G.I Joe” comic book. The program involved using a series of isometric muscle contractions, but it didn’t work out the way I had initially hoped or give me the body I was searching for. I got a bit stronger from the program, but other than it only served to make me hungrier for the physique I was craving.

This was followed shortly after by my first weight set, a York Barbell set with plastic plates and collars, and a cheap bench that I got from my parents at the age of 14. 

I was elated, and convinced that this was my ticket to the physique I wanted, and the power and confidence that would come along with it!

I really had no idea what I was doing, and I found myself following the program that came along with the barbell set, which was printed on a large poster in black and white showing the various exercises.
that came between me and my fitness goals began in earnest in my last year of high school. I had dabbled with drugs and alcohol on and off since I was 13 years old, but I jumped into that world with reckless abandon when I turned 18. 

I spent most of my evenings with friends, drinking beer and smoking pot. We would drive around the back roads out in the country, listening to music, getting high and talking about ridiculous theories regarding the world and the universe.

After high school, I moved in with a couple of friends, and our evenings of partying eventually turned into days as well, and I started selling drugs to be able to finance this lifestyle. 

Pot gradually turned into LSD, magic mushrooms and cocaine, and I began to drink more heavily with each passing day.

My parents sensed the road I was travelling along, were justifiably concerned for my well being and my future, and for my 18th birthday, they bought me my first gym membership. 

This kick started my fitness and fat loss goals once again, and while I didn’t stop partying, I slowed down and stopped selling drugs.

I had made a conscious decision to give my life to Jesus and follow Him shortly after this point, and I felt called to focus on this area of my life once again in response to the difficulties and struggles I had become faced with. I decided to travel to Europe and attend a Bible school in the Austrian Alps for a couple of months to get my feet back under me again.
 Before I started taking my training seriously
 After I became consistent with simple, yet effective training & nutritional strategies
would turn out to be a huge source of strength, comfort and peace for me, as well as my family, during the massive struggles and turmoil I would find myself facing in the next decade of my life.

I had started working as an insurance agent part time when I was in high school, and I went back to that job once again in a full time capacity once I returned from my trip to Europe. 

I spent my lunch hours at the gym, learning proper technique and chasing the physique that I had always wanted. I was in a pretty good place at this moment in my life, and I actually ended up meeting my future wife of 18 years during this time as well.

My insurance office was located in a shopping mall, and she worked as a waitress at a restaurant that was situated across the hallway. I ended up eating a LOT of greasy food during the time that she worked there, mostly as an excuse to talk and interact with her.

While my time in the gym enabled me to get some modest success in getting stronger, building muscle and losing body fat eluded me. 

Add to this the fact that I was eating greasy diner food almost daily and I slowly started gaining weight around my midsection, even though I was training quite hard at the time.

Life was great, but my old demons started to show their ugly faces once again. I had suffered a shoulder injury from bench pressing too heavy a few years earlier, and I had surgery to try and fix the problem in same year we got married.

The recovery period from the surgery involved powerful narcotic painkillers, and I discovered that I loved the feeling that these powerful drugs gave me.

Once my prescription ran out and I was healed up, I found a way to get my hands on these drugs without the need of a doctor’s prescription.
my drug habit only became stronger and stronger, and while I thought I I was living a “healthy” lifestyle because of the time I spent in the gym, I gained a lot of weight from a terrible diet that consisted mostly of fast food, microwave burritos and Mr. Noodles.

My drug habit slowly began to consume me as well and I felt like I was trapped, with no hope. I was secretly terrified that my drug habit would end up killing me, and I repeatedly cried out to God to deliver me from the grip of this horrible habit.

This issue came to a head at the age of 33, when my wife and a couple of friends confronted me about it, and convinced me to kick this habit.

At the time I was making my own “backyard opium" through sources and methods I had researched on the internet, and I had a monster sized habit. I decided to kick the habit cold turkey, and the first night, I became so terribly sick that I needed to check in at the local hospital emergency room.

We had 2 small children at the time, that we had to bring to my in-laws house on our way to the hospital. When we were checking in at the front desk of the hospital, I passed out and woke up in a hospital bed, hooked up to a bunch of monitors and machines. 
In 2012, disaster struck my family twice in a matter of months, and put my fitness quest on the back burner once again.

First, my youngest son Coltan was diagnosed with a Congenital Cystic Adenomatoid Malfunction, which is a fancy way of saying that he had cysts forming in one of his lungs, and would require major surgery at some point.

Then, just over 3 months later, my oldest son Noah was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. We were understandably devastated by this turn of events, and life became more about surviving rather than thriving.

We had 3 children at the time, 2 of which had serious medical conditions that required major surgeries, as well as daily doses of chemo, frequent visits to the nearest Children’s Hospital which was an hour and a half away, as well as monthly, 5 day rounds of steroids which were absolute hell.
My son would go into rages where he would destroy his bedroom and break things, he would scream at us that he hated us, and life became a living hell much of the time.

Add to that the fact that we were unsure if he would even survive, and we had to face the very real fear that cancer might take our oldest son away from us.

At this point I had plenty of reasons to abandon my fitness goals, but I refused to take this as an excuse.

After all, if I didn’t make the time to take care of myself, how could I expect to take care of my family properly?

How could I expect to be an example to my wife and kids if I just gave up on the things that were important to me?

How could I inspire my clients to take care of themselves and prioritize their health and fitness in the face of difficulties if I refused to do the same?

While I did make the time to train and eat properly, I completely changed how I approached my training and distilled everything I had learned over the past few years down to the absolute basics, so that my training time was compressed and optimized for the maximum results in the minimum amount of time.
from the simple, yet sustainable approach I was taking towards my goals, and I was relentlessly consistent.

During this time, I went from 195 pounds at 35% bodyfat, to my current 150 pounds at 12% bodyfat, and I am stronger and have more muscle mass than ever before in my life.

I began implementing these simple strategies with my clients as well, and they started seeing phenomenal results as well.

Throughout this long journey, my passion for helping people achieve their fitness and fat loss goals has become stronger and stronger.

I want to help people see that simple, but consistent, behaviours are the key to achieving these goals, and that spending a ton of time in the gym and elaborate meal prepping isn’t necessary to achieve their goals.
I also want to inspire people to overcome the struggles and obstacles in their lives, no matter how difficult or frightening they may be, and to be an example of that in my own life as well.
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© Chris J Friesen - All Rights Reserved - Transforming the Average into the Extraordinary
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