I hate it when people look at my leg and call me an inspiration.
There’s a picture floating around the internet of me doing a squat with my prosthetic. It was one of my first Crossfit workouts, for a charity called 31 Heroes benefitting the families of 31 soldiers killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. My squat sucked in all my love-handled, fat-assed glory. But that's when the word ‘inspiration’ started getting used.
Guess what folks - when I got blown up, I didn’t stand up, dust myself off, strap on a prosthetic and hit the gym.
I never struggled with the emotions of losing my limb, even in the 8 months of limb-salvage work I did. But I did have the same problems as other amputees when they first get a prosthetic – it took a while before I knew how to use it!
It was a solid four years before my new limb was just a part of my body, just like any other amputee. I am not someone you want to idolize - I can be an asshole.
I’m politically incorrect, especially about my leg. I crack jokes about it all the time. Hell, I use it to my advantage – I have a different leg depending on what exercise I’m doing. That doesn’t make me an inspiration – that means I’m working the system.
I really want everybody to stop seeing my leg as a reason to think of me as an inspiration. I’d love it if people would just stop noticing it altogether.
Inspiration is like temporary infatuation. It’s the honeymoon phase. Inspiration gets you in the front door of a gym or out on your first walk but it doesn't last. Motivation keeps you coming back. If an amputee sees what I do and is inspired to come into the gym, that makes me really happy. But then he or she has to get motivated to keep going. That's on them.
I have always wanted to help others. When it didn’t work out doing that in the Army, I found a new way to reach out. That’s all I care about. That 31 Workout? I’m not some glory hound, looking for attaboys or pats on the back. I just wanted to support those families.
So… be inspired by the things I’ve been able to accomplish despite my prosthetic if you want to, but then get over it and get motivated to go to the gym and get healthy. Be inspired by the work I do to benefit others, and then get over it and volunteer for a cause or charity that benefits others.
I’ll just be over here, cheering you on.