Furious Pete (Pete Czerwinski) had a difficult road to being fit, happy and healthy. When his life spiraled out of control as a teenager, he took his power back the only way he knew how: by rigidly controlling what he put into his body.
While in high school, Czerwinski was misdiagnosed with lymphoma. At this same time, his father was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and his mother was hospitalized for complications arising from multiple sclerosis. Understandably, he says, "I was completely uprooted, and I felt like I'd lost all control over my life."
Looking for an escape, he spent that summer at a sports camp. Still feeling out of sorts, it was there that he decided to start controlling what he ate. When he returned home, his food restrictions followed. When school started back up, any sense of control he felt he had gained, quickly went away. He explains, "an overloaded class schedule and the added stress of applying to college eroded the grip I had on my life. So I kept up my restricted eating and added extreme exercise on top of it. I started with daily 5-mile runs and quickly ramped them up to 10 miles on a consistent basis... all on a tiny amount of food."
It wasn't long before friends and family started to take notice. He was able to explain most of it away but that all fell apart on his 18th birthday. Czerwinski's mother had planned a family dinner party and had specially made him an angel food birthday cake. Unable to eat a single bite, he knew he was breaking her heart. "The last thing I wanted to do was hurt her feelings, but the voice in my head wouldn’t stop. I was holding on to so much fear at that point," he says. "Every calorie was a battle, and even though I knew I was breaking my mom's heart, I gave in to the voice."
Shortly after this party, he woke up in the hospital. Czerwinski says, "I stayed in the hospital for six weeks. During that time, I had to eat six supervised meals a day. My body was so frail that I was only able to take in liquid food at first. After that excruciating month and a half, I thought I was ready to check myself out. But of course, I wasn't ready." For six months, Czerwinski experienced what he describes as a 'rollercoaster.' There were successes and failures, followed by more successes and more failures. It wasn't until he decided to share his story that things began to really change.
Czerwinski says "I signed on to my first fitness forum. I posted my story, my diet, and my training onto a supportive online community. I found that encouragement and advice from objective outsiders carried far more weight than any other strategy I'd tried up to that point. And in that way, the online forums were huge factors in my recovery." This move allowed him to take the fight outside of his own head. He explains, "once I'd make an improvement of some kind, like clockwork, a voice inside of my head would return to try to hinder me. It felt like my brain was getting hijacked — sometimes it got so intense that I would scream at the voice to get the hell out and leave me alone. But the more I talked to other people on the forums, the more this voice started fading away."
As Czerwinski began to improve his fitness, repair his relationship with food, and become more comfortable with his body image, that voice got quieter and quieter until he could no longer hear it at all. The most important thing he says he learned from this struggle is, as he puts it, "if you’re thinking negatively all the time, you can’t live life happily."
He says, "It wasn’t about my weight or physique. It was about what was going on inside my own head. My mentality became a crucial component of my journey to health — something I valued, prioritized, and protected."
In the years that have passed, Czerwinski took on the name "Furious Pete" and began breaking Guinness records in competitive eating and works as a fitness model.
What a remarkable recovery and complete transformation!
Does Czerwinski's story inspire you to take control of your life by talking back to the negativity?
Source: Mind Body Green