As a Soldier in the U.S. Army, I used to think that I was invincible. I could carry extremely heavy loads, run long distances, I was strong, fast, and agile. I could recover from injury quickly, and very rarely was sick. No matter what injury I faced, I always knew I would recover quickly. That all changed after coming home from a year long deployment for 9/11.

I had been home about a month when I had gotten into a severe car wreck. The result was a broken femur due to being hit by a fence post that had come through the windshield as the car flipped over. To some this isn't a bad injury, for me however, it was a severe compound fracture resulting in my foot ending up beside my head. I ended spending 9 days in the hospital with multiple surgeries, and a Titanium Rod and screws placed in my leg. The doctors told me that I'd never be able to run again. In fact they said that I'd barely be able to walk without a severe limp. My career was over in a blink of an eye. But I urge to prove the doctors wrong and I did.

After rehabbing my leg I was able to walk without crutches 2 weeks after leaving the hospital, and not only served my last 2 years in the Army for a total of 9 years, but in that time I also made Sergeant, and became the training NCO for my unit.

 A few years later I was hit with another devastating injury to my knee when working with troubled youth. I had torn 2 ligaments and the cartilage requiring extensive surgery. Again I was told I would never be able to run. That I'd barley be able to play with my kids in the yard. That I'd have to use a cane. Again, I told myself that I'd prove them wrong!  After a year of rehab, I was not only able to run, but I also became a Mixed Martial Arts Coach, and a Fighter, going undefeated!

The aches and pains from the injuries from the Army began to flare up however, and so did something I hadn't expected...PTSD. This sent me spiraling. I was angry most of the time, very hyper-vigilant, and was barley sleeping. My health began to falter, my drive came crashing down, and I became depressed. I sought counseling, and was officially diagnosed with PTSD, and put on medication. I had lost my drive, that fire that carried me though the injuries...then it happened!

I came across the CrossFit games on ESPN channel surfing late one night unable to sleep. I became hooked, and slowly began training my way out of Shape body (5'10", 190lbs, 30%bodyfat). I did everything at home, and did routines in anything I could. Strength, Power, Endurance, Bodybuilding, CrossFit. I became driven again,  and I went to school and received my degree in Advanced Personal Training and Exercise Science. After everything,  I became a certified Personal Trainer. Today I can honestly say that at 38, I am in way better shape than I was at 25, AND I am medication free for my PTSD due to hard work and exercise, and was able to get my weight to now at 180lbs with 11% bodyfat and my confidence is at an all time high!

I am now a firm believer that no matter how rough life gets, and how far down you feel, there is always a silver lining. You just have to be willing to work hard enough and widen your gaze a little to realize it! It really is that easy. Just set your mind on a goal and put your full effort into it!! No matter how big or small it may seem. Even the little successes can reap big rewards, and getting in shape while doing it is just an added bonus!! I hope that many of you will find strength from this story, and that it will help you get through your struggles. Just by simply beginning, you have put yourself on a whole new level of success.

Rob is currently working on starting a business to help other veterans combat PTSD, and other ailments through fitness.


Rob Van Sickle
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