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  • Writer's pictureTaylor Rodriguez

My Story Part 1: Darkness Into Light

coach taz handstand

Good morning world! For the last several days, I've been trying to come up with the next topic that would serve you the best in achieving your desired health goals. But, several people have posted on my various social media accounts that I should discuss my own personal journey. So, I figured now more than ever would be the best opportunity to do that. I've never personally enjoyed sharing my testimony because it does include a lot of darkness, most of which would be inappropriate to share here, but I've always been open and transparent in person when people show genuine interest in hearing my personal testimony. Here, I'll share some details on how I started my journey towards achieving a healthier and more active lifestyle but if anyone has any questions about anything that I was too vague on, do not hesitate to reach out to me and ask.

I was always a natural athlete. By the time I was 3 years old, I had a basketball in my hand and watched every sport imaginable with my family and friends. Now, do not mistake that for genetic gifts because I certainly didn't have those! I just had a deep passion for sports and athletics so instead of being inside and watching tv, I would be outside swimming, playing basketball, throwing a baseball, running through woods, etc. Because of this, it led me to play youth basketball for 11 years, begin weightlifting at 13 and once I reached adulthood, I became a professional wrestler on the indy scene on and off since 2007 while I went through college.

Where my story started to turn was from 2007-2010 while I was in college and post graduation, where I thought I would be in my life long career of Multimedia Design & Programming. While I was working full-time as a graphic designer, wrestling and performing on weekends (with a bad back due to a weightlifting injury); I started to dive into a very unhealthy lifestyle that consisted of a lot of alcohol, prescription medications, parties, staying up late and going to work hungover, which led to obvious weight gain and decrease in my athletic performance. I eventually rose up to 202 lbs, the largest I've ever been and with standing at only 5'6", I was a bit round to say the least. Living this lifestyle, I kept it a secret very well. I became a "Professional Liar," where I played off a very happy and normal me during the working days but by night, when I was with "friends," I was someone completely different. A version of me that no one would ever imagine. What I like to call it as, a gracious gift from God, due to the economy crash, I got laid off at the end of 2010 which EVENTUALLY led me to a healthier career change.

Once I became laid off though, I didn't discover my new career as a Personal Trainer immediately, there was still several years of struggle ahead but the initial change of my environment was what I needed at the time. Going into the new year of 2011, I enjoyed a fairly large severance package from my previous employer with unemployment for over a year. So, instead of looking for other employment, I decided to take an extended vacation and continue to party and enjoy the unhealthier habits I had at the time. I was away from the medications I was abusing but alcohol, I could get anywhere and everywhere. What do you think my severance package went to? Yep, the liquor store to throw some of the biggest parties imaginable and to stroke my own ego. I truly thought I was invincible.

This all came to ahead one faithful night when I decided to attend a preseason football game party at a friend's house. After the game was wrapping up and everyone was going home, I decided to stay with a few others and enjoy some extra drinking games. You can probably already assume that I was in a pretty unstable state after being at this party for nearly 9 hours! I had an ego remember? I had to be the first one at the party and the last one to leave to show everyone how cool I was! Right around the time of 3am while everyone was passing out, I decided that I rather sleep in my own bed and drive home. It was only a 15 minute drive, what could go wrong?

With friends asking me to stay, I decided against it. So, with my parents car, I got in and left. **My car was broken down at the time so I was driving theirs, somehow, I had money to build mega parties but didn't have the money to fix my car, that is where my priorities were at.** I thought everything was running smooth, I was only less than 2 miles away from my house and with just a few more minutes of drive time left, I saw the police lights behind me! While being under the influence of alcohol and other substances I decided to take that night, I decided to do simply the dumbest thing possible to on the gas!

Needless to say, I didn't get very far before I was faced with having a gun pointed directly at the side of my head while another police officer pulled me out of the car and tossed me onto the hood of his vehicle then eventually handcuffing me. I truly thought this was the night I was going to die. While bent over the hood of a police vehicle, with a hot sensation from the engine feeling like it was burning the side of my face, I thought I threw my whole life away. As the officers were checking my record, which felt like forever, this was when I started to look back on my life and figure out what went wrong. I had visions of my youth and playing basketball, being asked to attend basketball camps and help with coaching. Visions of my wrestling career being flushed down the toilet. Leaving my parents all alone to deal with the grief of losing a son. The visions came to me like a flood. This is when I decided to speak to someone I never spoke to that much before.

I decided to do the only thing left that I could do....pray. I closed my eyes and had a private conversation with the Lord. I had always believed in a God, but never had a relationship WITH THE God. I said a lot of things to Him in a manner of seconds, mainly begging for forgiveness and mercy. He allowed me to hit rock bottom which I fully believe I needed to do before seeking help and committing to changing my life. After my conversation with Him, I opened my eyes and there stood the officer. That officer, to this day, I will never forget the change of expression he had on his face as he asked why did I do what I did? His expression changed from ready to explode to signs of pity and compassion. Despite being faced with several charges that could of put me behind bars for a very long time, he said the words that I would never forget and truly believe that the Lord put on his heart to say to me...."For some reason, I just have the feeling that I have to let you go. I have no reason to do this but, here are your keys. Do not ever allow me to see you again."

It took me several minutes to collect myself as I got into my parent's vehicle and drove home. What just happened? How could anyone explain this? As I got home, I immediately poured out and flushed every bit of toxic substance I had in my possession. It was then when I got onto my knees in my bedroom and thanked the Lord himself. It took roughly another year before I opened a Bible but I made sure, every single day I had a conversation with Him.

Shortly thereafter, I signed up for my first ever gym membership, worked out with a personal trainer that specializes in powerlifting and committed to getting healthier. For the details on that story, I'll include another time ;) But, the biggest things that I want everyone to hopefully take away from this is...

1. If I can change. Yes, even you can.

2. There is nothing more special about me than anyone else.

If you truly have a desire to achieve a goal, you can do it. 98% of the time when we do not achieve our personal goals, it is because in some way or another, we mentally sabotage ourselves. Some of the cards we get dealt in life we can indeed control. Some others, we cannot but what we are ALWAYS in control of is how we handle the situations we are in. We control our attitudes, we control our second to second choices. Never point the finger at someone else for not achieving your goals. Your goals are YOUR, YOUR, YOUR goals. Not theirs! It isn't their responsibility for you to hit your goals, that relies on you. Check your ego, take ownership of your life, make a plan, surround yourself with positive people and CONSISTENTLY take action.

As always, I hope everyone enjoyed this read. If you did, please share and comment below. We never know what personal struggles others are going through. That is why I have never been shy to speak about my dark times, just so that it may pull some people out and realize that a better life is possible. Share your story and become a friend for someone today!

God Bless,

Taylor "Coach Taz" Rodriguez

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