Mens Sana En Corpore Sano
Physical Fitness and Academic Success
When was the first time you heard praise for the concept of “a sound mind in a sound body”? Like me, however, maybe you listened more to the drumbeat of media advertising for junk food while reclining in the couch potato position. I’m the guy in the before and after picture and, no, this is not trick photography. The elapsed time between “before” and “after” was just over a year. “No way,” you say; but I’m here to tell you that I did it and that you can do it too. And, although you can’t see it in the picture, the best part of my story is that there is now a sound mind in that Arnold-like physique.
Last year I said to myself, “no more time, it is now or never.” Mr. Before was 28 and had finished Landmark College several years before with an Associate of Arts degree, a momentous achievement for me at the time; but this job market was screaming at me: “got to have a full, four year degree or you are not in the game.” So, I applied and was accepted at Marymount College in McLean,Virginia with a major in graphic design. Knowing how difficult school had always been for me, I made the crucial decision of working on my body at the same time. I became an experienced master of the art of bodybuilding, and I embarked on a journey toward physical fitness.
Here is what I learned: discipline from within is the only kind that works for me. Self-discipline and countless hours of gym work led me down a path that found me last summer as a competitor for the title “Mr. Maryland.” I didn’t win, but watch out for me next time.
Here is the best part: all of this self-discipline and the self-esteem that smiled back at me from my mirror translated directly into my performance as a student. At last I understood what so many people had told me for so long: I can do this stuff just like the other kids. Feeling good and doing well are now in an endless feedback loop. If you think that this can’t happen to you, then just take another look at that picture. If I can do it, so can you. Set an objective, be tough on yourself, and develop a taste for ground turkey. Good luck! #
Brooks O’Brien is a senior at Marymount College where he majors in graphic design. Prior to returning to college in 2009, he spent three years in the founding group of Cyren Call Communications, a start-up based in Tysons Corner, Va. He is training for next summer’s bodybuilding competition in his home state of Maryland.