U.S. Army veteran Noah Galloway shares his inspirational approach to living a healthy life to its fullest.
The start of a new year offers hope and new beginnings. For many, it’s a time of personal goal-setting, a pledge to improve personal health and wellness — a transformation. But for others, the opportunity for change is thrust upon them. Noah Galloway’s life took an unexpected turn as a result of a tragic military event that forced him to completely rediscover and reinvent his health path. He shares the trials and tribulations on his journey, the steps he took to regain his fitness and his positive approach to life that’s truly inspiring.
Galloway grew up in rural Alabama in a family with a military background. As a child and young adult, fitness was always a part of his life. Immediately after 9/11, he left college and joined the United States Army; he wanted to serve his country.
“When I was 12 years old, I would work out with VHS exercise tapes, go running, use the local community center fitness room — I was obsessed with exercising,” shares Galloway. “When I got into the military, it was heaven for me because the gyms that you have a free membership to are incredible. And even though you get physical training every morning — running, push-ups, sit-ups, all those things — to me that was part of my workday. Then after work, I would go to the gym.”
On Galloway’s second deployment in 2005 in Iraq, he was traveling in the lead vehicle of a convoy when they engaged an improvised explosive device (IED). Galloway lost his left arm and leg as a result of the blast.
Stepping out of your comfort zone
“I got into the worst shape of my life, because it was about five years of not taking care of myself at all (after the explosion),” shares Galloway. “Nothing mattered; I was so miserable and going through depression. I attempted going back to the gym a couple of times, and it didn’t work. For the first time in my life, I looked different and was out of shape.”
Galloway had spent most of his life considering himself one of the “fit” guys. Struggling with insecurities about his physical appearance was a new and unexpected battle.
“When I was tempted to quit, I wasn’t focusing on the information I already knew,” he recalls. “I wanted immediate results, and I wanted a change, but I wasn’t as strong, and I didn’t have the cardio that I did before I was injured. That got in my head — that’s what disappointed me and made me want to quit.”
Eventually, Galloway decided that it didn’t matter what shape he was in. To get stronger, he had to accept his new reality as his starting point. With that shift in attitude and perspective, his entire life began to change again.
“I can’t get to the next point unless I start here,” Galloway told himself. “Once I stopped caring about where I was physically, and mentally accepted that it was time to change, I started eating healthy and being patient.”
Today, Galloway recommends changing eating habits as the first step for anybody looking to improve their own personal well-being.
“People don’t realize how what you put into your body affects you,” he says. “Food can be confusing, and I think a lot of people get intimidated by that. Even those who think they don’t know how to eat healthy, they know what’s not healthy. Instead of trying to eat the healthiest option, start by saying ‘What bad stuff am I putting in my body?’ Just start cutting that out.”
Galloway is a firm believer that small steps are keys to long-term success.
“I’ve seen people try to go too drastic too soon, and if you do that you will crash hard and not be able to recover,” Galloway says. “It’s all about making little changes, like first weaning yourself off of soda and then quitting eating desserts. You don’t have to be a nutritionist to start cutting out those bad things.”
After changing his diet, taking his fitness to the next level was still pretty tricky. The process led Galloway to establish a personal motto of “No excuses.”
“For me, there were no magazines or books that I could find that would explain how to work out missing an arm and a leg,” Galloway recalls. “Suddenly, I was the one paving this new trail; I had to figure it all out. Yes, there was a little bit of nervousness and intimidation, but I had to focus on the fact that I was creating something on my own. So I had to thrive on that excitement and let it overshadow the intimidation.”
Although the path to total transformation was long and difficult, Galloway stuck with his goal of getting into the best shape of his life as he saw the results building upon themselves. He was no longer self-conscious about his appearance; he wanted people at his gym to see him with a missing arm and leg pushing himself to higher intensity without concerns of physical limitations.
“Too many people join a gym and think they’re going to have immediate results,” Galloway says. “Yeah, I started to notice a change in 6 weeks, 8 weeks, but after 6 months, 8 months, it’s even better, and then with each year, it’s better and better and better. That’s what I always point out to people: Nothing happens overnight. It’s hard to be patient, but once you put in the work and effort, it’s incredible the things you can discover and find that you’re capable of doing.”
Through his experience, Galloway has learned that success isn’t measured through something
or someone else.
“When I was a kid, I remember looking at fitness magazines and seeing a picture of a guy and thinking ‘I want to look like him,’ but now I’m 35 years old, and I realize that you don’t base your body off someone else,” Galloway says. “Our body types are all different — our muscles, the way everything is set up is so different — and looking at someone else and thinking you want to look like them sets people up for failure.”
Instead, Galloway realizes that the journey toward fitness and health must start from within.
“Once you decide you want to be healthy, that’s point number one,” Galloway shares. “You have to have that mindset to say ‘I want to be the healthiest I can be,’ and when you’re at your healthiest, you’re going to look and feel amazing.”
Life presents opportunities to share what you’ve learned, and for Galloway, that starts with setting a good example for his family to follow.
“There’s no excuse why you can’t be a better leader, be a better example and challenge yourself,” Galloway says. “Just in my house, I have three young children, and I’m leading by example every day. Everything I do, I make them a priority. That’s showing quality leadership, which is important, and when it comes to health and fitness, this is one of the things that I try to show them. You can’t force health and nutrition and things you enjoy on your children. I just try to be a good example and show that aspiring to be healthy — by eating well and being fit — nets positive results.”
Galloway recently composed a memoir entitled Living With No Excuses, which sheds light on his ambition to succeed in all aspects of his life. Additionally, knowing that his actions speak louder than his words, Galloway started the No Excuses Charitable Fund, which focuses on supporting fitness for youths, troops and veterans.
“If you want to move to the top, and you’re not taking others with you, then you’re wasting your time,” Galloway exclaims. “Doing is more powerful than any conversation you could have with someone.”
Jodi Marsh is Executive Editor for Healthy Living Made Simple.
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