My Personal Story of Radical Change: Start With Identity!

Today’s post is different. This blog post is more personal in focus (after all, it’s about me), but, don’t miss the greater point of how you can create radical change in your business and/or health. Hint: This isn’t a ‘quick fix’ story.

If you have read my stuff before you know that I am all about creating, growing and maintaining a Values Based Mindset (hence my website: Below is how you can start applying that process to your personal health in addition to your business.

Let’s hop in the time machine and go back about five years and take a look at our fearful protagonist as he sits in a doctor’s office in Richmond, VA. I had been having some weird spots and bars in my vision and wasn’t feeling so great for awhile and finally listened to my wife and went to my doctor. I described the symptoms, the nurse looked at me intently and then she slapped on the blood pressure cuff and away we went.

179/148 is what she told me and as I opened my mouth she bluntly said “Be quiet, listen to the doctor when he comes in and you make sure you take your medicine today!” Shocked, I sat back and waited in silence. Long story short, the doctor told me I was in serious danger and that I needed to get on medicine right away.

I started talking about how I would lose weight and eat better and he emphatically cut me off and said he didn’t want to hear about it until after I did it. “You need to get on medicine right now and that is it.”

I weighed (depending on the day) between 250-260 lbs at 5’11” and had a waist that measured between 40-42 inches. What a long journey from my days in the U.S. Army and my 28 inch waist. How I got to this point isn’t what is most important and if you have followed me on YouTube or FaceBook you know quite a bit of the story.

What you might want to know is how I was able to get completely off Blood Pressure Meds.
The process didn’t start right away…I took a few years to feel sorry for myself and to stay in my personal status quo of being fat and unhealthy.

It all changed about 3 months or so before my dad died from colon cancer (I hate cancer). He walked up to me, showed me a photo of himself and I at my graduation from U.S. Army Airborne School (where you learn to combat parachute) and poked me hard in my expansive gut and said “When are you going to remember that this isn’t who you are?!?” He then pointed at the picture and said “This IS who you are!”

3 months later he died in pain and it was horrible…and beautiful in a sad way. About 2 months after my dad passed I looked in my mirror one morning and found myself saying “That isn’t who I AM!” At that moment, without consciously recognizing it then, my process of getting of medication started and my life dramatically started to improve.

Practical application:

Most people try to change based on outcomes (goals) and this is why so many of them (and I suspect many of you) don’t succeed. It’s just too hard to place a goal out there and then navigate the process and deal with all the obstacles as they come. I have realized, particularly after reading the great book “Atomic Habits” by James “Clear, after the fact that my successful change happened primarily because I started my journey with my Identity. For myself and my clients, Identity is discovered and expanded through examining our Values.

In my case, it was that I WAS NOT who I saw in that mirror, the fat and depressed 48 year old who had just lost his father. I had a picture in my mind of myself at age 18 standing next to my just as physically fit father and that was WHO I was determined to become again.

After Identity is changed (or, in my case reset back to health) the next step is to develop and apply a process of becoming that Identity. I sat back and evaluated myself and what I felt would be the best way to start back on my journey to myself. While I had decades of athletic participation and several exercise certifications in my back pocket…information wasn’t enough to springboard me back into intense exercise.

I knew two things: I needed to start moving without injuring myself and I needed to figure out a way to eat less while maintaining health.
My first step was to start working with Kettlebells (I already had all the equipment and knowledge having worked with an amazing coach in Richmond named Will Parker) and to pursue a low-carb/ketogenic diet. My rationale was that I knew how to use the kettlebells safely and that they were without a doubt the most effective fitness tool I had seen.

I chose the low carb/keto approach because, quite frankly, it appeared to be the most likely one for me to follow for a significant amount of time. After a few months, I was feeling better and had lost some weight and had been able to keep it off (down to 245 or so). However, I was stalled out and wasn’t losing further weight and/or inches. I didn’t feel bad, but, I was dissatisfied because my identity wasn’t being achieved.

Time to assess the system/process and make some adjustments.
I, back in our favorite place Roanoke, VA again, decided to reach out to a Crossfit Coach I knew named Ryan Robertson that owned two Crossfit Affiliates with his partner Jonathan. I wanted to ‘do Crossfit’, but, was very concerned about my ability to keep from injuring myself (I had a tendency in my past to be too intense and not pay attention to good form). I decided, along with Ryan’s input, to start with personal training sessions with him to build my confidence and skill.

This was a good move…a very good move. After a month with Ryan, I was ready to start working out in the group classes and was having some fun (at least what we call fun when doing high intensity fitness). The exercise part of my identity was satisfied, as I believed that the true spirit of Crossfit (functional fitness) matched up with my future self well. The problem was I wasn’t dropping the weight.

Enter personal nutrition coaching with Ryan where he taught me how to weigh and measure my food and most importantly, be aware and focused on WHAT I was eating and WHY I was eating it. I dropped down to below 220 after 6 months and was able to convince my doctor to let me see about getting off Blood Pressure Meds. (Note: as I lost weight my doctor kept lowering my dose)

Today, I am still below 220…heading to 200 with confidence and clarity.

Takeaways for you:

You can change! The challenge is that you need to trust that if you do the work on WHO you are and then let that determine your process and habits…the Outcomes you seek (whether business or fitness) will arrive as a result. Focusing on the goal is what kept me from getting to where I wanted to be. I knew I needed to lose weight and I knew lots of different ways to get there with zillions of nutritional strategies…I just wasn’t deeply connected to the power that would carry me through the journey: me.
My journey took 18 months. One of the reasons we get sidetracked is we try to take shortcuts (even though we know they usually don’t work) because we are so afraid we won’t be able to do what is necessary: slow and disciplined following of a clear and measurable system. If you change your identify (or, in my case, rediscover it) the very process of change becomes worth the effort…not just the results.
This works for everything. Being a better small business owner, becoming a healthy person, quitting smoking, being a better member of your family…being an effective human being. Identity, followed by process/habits and then the outcomes you are looking for.
I did the work, but, I had a coach to help me along the way. Guidance, perspective and the additional support Ryan provided was invaluable. I believe I would have done it on my own, but, there is not doubt that he helped me get there faster.
Originally published at:

What do you need to change? WHO do you need to become or rediscover? What is the road map for your better version of yourself.

I hoped you enjoyed and perhaps learned a little bit about yourself while reading my story. At my core, I am a coach and this process I underwent is exactly what I do for my clients. There is no charge to reach out and connect…all it costs you is desiring to become more of who you were designed to be and taking your first step to a better future.

How to reach me:

@valuesbasedmindset on IG on LinkedIn

Hit me up and let’s schedule a time to talk about your Identity.