April 24, 2021

Far from a Bronx Tale

Isaac Gambo

The south side of the Bronx shaped me as a kid and evolved me into the man that I’ve become today. Each challenge, struggle, trial, and tribulation that I’ve encountered growing up can be directly tied to my health and wellness journey as it exists now. The foundational principles that govern my health journey are one and the same as those that shaped my identity.

My childhood in New York City was filled with many forks in the road. Riddled with different challenges and multiple obstacles. Each day presented a new test, and each test demanded an outcome. Through life’s tests, I was able to carve my own path and define who I wanted to become. This ideal person I wanted to become was someone who was smart, hardworking, perseverant, consistent, and dependable. These same ideals that I believed to be great and filled my head with as a child are the same values I work hard towards every single day in my life.

My health and wellness journey has been nothing short of hardworking days, smart goals, consistency, and a callused mindset driven by perseverance and dependability. I believe my struggles as a kid, regardless of the outcome helped get me to where I am today. Especially regarding my health fitness journey. Every exercise, no matter how challenging it may be, I know I won’t quit. If I fail, that’s alright, as long as I pick myself up, learn from my mistake, step up to the plate again and tackle the challenge.

My health and wellness voyage is not limited to the realm of physical and mental fortitude. My identity, while strong and resilient also left a side effect on how I approached certain emotional challenges in life. During my upbringing, considering everything was very callused and required the strongest of wills and toughest minds, most issues were handled with brute force. Everything was direct and linear, and the rigidity left no room for flexible alternatives.

Of course, sometimes this was great, but many times, not so much. It took me a really long time to be able to grasp the idea that there were better ways to deal with this as it didn’t come naturally. This conflict is an instance where my identity did not directly help shape my wellness path. Rather I had to reverse induct my thinking to find a better solution in dealing with some aspects of mental wellness. This was not something I was privy to in a hardened environment.

How do you express yourself, how do you communicate, or how do you address an emotional conflict? These are all things that could not necessarily be solved with direct brute force. It requires more from an individual. In this case, my identity was of no help to me. However, because my identity led me to failure enough times, I understood that there had to be a better way of dealing with these things. This led me to find different solutions, talk to others, observe how they handled different problems, experiment, and then find what worked best for me.

Regardless of who you are, where you are from, or how you were raised, we all have principles that help guide us as we journey through life. Our health and wellness passages are merely extensions of our very own ideals. We do and act as the individuals we believe ourselves to be. In my experience, there is always a level of grit and perseverance that one cannot simply tap into without first having established a solid foundation to ensure they keep moving forward. This foundation is sometimes built while on the journey, but it is often established much earlier.

This has been true to my experience and surely for countless others. The person you ultimately become takes some resemblance to the person you’ve always wanted to be. This same idea ties into how your identity can influence other aspects of your life including health and wellness. Each morning when you wake up and hit that alarm clock, brush your teeth and get ready to start your day, there is something that pushed you where you recognize it or not. The same is true for every day you lace up your sneakers to hit the gym and squeeze out that last rep, or make that conscious decision to cook a healthy meal instead of going out to eat or take the extra ten minutes to meditate instead of watching a mindless T.V show. It’s all in your identity and how you choose to define your life. Your efforts simply follow suit to make them a reality.

As individuals, our health and wellness journeys are dynamic. The road to being the best version of yourself does not stop with the current form of you are now. Yes, our identities help shape our health and wellness habits. They also help build the foundation on which we stand, but we still have the chance to better ourselves while on this journey. Learn from others, build good habits, and watch yourself evolve. And when the road gets tough, always tap into your identity to find the strength to keep pushing forward. If that little boy from the hopeless concrete jungle can persevere, then so can you.

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