TO SAY that SPARTAN RACE has inspired me to do a complete 180 lifestyle turn with life would be an understatement. It not only inspired change in my ethos from the very core of my being, but became the instrument of my resurrection. In 2012 I weighed 300 lbs., I smoked cigarettes, I was on too many prescription medications for a variety of health issues (physical and mental), and I was doing a few other things I’m not proud to mention. The very few friends I had in my rather depressed state of life other than a few small handful of “frenemies” included Adolphus Busch, Jack Daniels, and Mary Jane. The few moments of purpose and meaning that developed in my life at the point derived from the couch and what was coming next on the television. The only exercise received at that time was lifting the remote to change channels, and my nutritional intake was the Standard American Diet (SAD). My life had been progressively falling apart and worsening over the course of a decade. Through various situations, events, circumstances and ultimately poorly made choices, the situation was exponentially worsening and life was completely unmanageable.
I was on the brink of suicide-literally millimeters away from eternal black darkness. I was beyond the “cry for help”; I was at T-minus seconds to launch into the abyss of eternal darkness…
Then at a serendipitous moment an old childhood close friend walked back into my life. I had not seen or heard from him in over a decade. He reached out to me out the blue during this time to tell me he had to come to Boston for business for a few days and wanted to get together again. My friend was very shocked to see the decrepit state of life I was in. My friend wanted to help, and in doing so simply gave me the challenge to STFU-SPARTAN the F*#K UP. He told me of these wonderful events he was doing known as obstacle course races, and how he recently earned this coveted prize known as a Trifecta. He gave me a simple challenge that no other friend, relative, doctor or well-meaning individual had previously. He simply said, “I cannot help you in the state you are in. If you are going to leave this world-then so be it. I know you have been through a lot, and have been suffering many years. You have tried many avenues to seek improvement, and met those with consecutive failures. But-for the sake the of the “ole college try”, just try one more thing before you cash your chips in. Try to eat better, move a little more. Find a gym you like and be around more positive people who will inspire you. I want you to try one of these races. I’ll make you a promise that I’ll come back home and do one with you when you feel you’re ready…” Knowing I had absolutely nothing left to lose, I decided to take him up on his offer. In that mindset at the start, I had absolutely no expectations for success-at the time I was merely fulfilling a final promise to old friend on my way out.
My friend honestly thought (as he later told me) he never thought that day would come. Eight months later, I did my first OCR having lost 70 lbs. A month later, I did my second-having lost 15 more pounds. A month after that; my friend returned home to New England to do my third OCR and first SPARTAN RACE with me, a hundred pounds slimmer than our last morbid rendezvous. Eternally grateful am I to the simple act of making SPARTAN RACE a goal. It opened a door to a literal new life and my former life is gone. My life now has a solid foundation in health; and my former nemeses of the couch, drugs, alcohol, processed foods, prescriptions, “frenemies”, pessimism, and sedentary life have all vacated. I have made a myriad of new friends throughout the country and even worldwide through the health and wellness journey that began with the simple inspiration of a SPARTAN RACE. The new adopted extended family I have made in life-long friendships along this journey has left me blessed and eternally grateful. I owe a great debt to not only the SPARTAN RACE community, but the greater OCR community as well…as in the great force to be reckoned; the New England Spahtens-AROO!
AROO! AROO! I have also been fortunate to make fantastic friends through the Biggest Loser community in California and the great juicing community through the inspirational Joe Cross of RebootWithJoe and the film Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. This amazing voyage of health, wellness, exercise, and nutrition all started with the goal of doing this wacky thing called a SPARTAN RACE. I do consider myself to be fully resurrected through mind, body, spirit. My former self did perish onto itself and is floating down the Styx into Hades. I followed Leonidas…err I mean Joe DeSena…out of Hades and into Sparta. SPARTAN RACE was the initial spark on this journey I have undertaken. I owe my life to it for what has unfolded over this last 18 months. There is no reservation, or any mountain I would not climb, nor any feat I would not attempt for any one of my new found family that began with the goal of SPARTAN RACE.
The rest of the story continues to be written…
I still have many more life challenges and obstacles to overcome. In reality, I am dealing with more now than I was in 2012. The difference now is that I deal with them by the strategy of STFU and the 9 tenets of the SPARTAN CODE as opposed to that of a sedentary and morbid lifestyle inter-laid with poor choices. I am going back to school to study health, wellness, nutrition, and kinesiology. It is now my sincere hope with life and career path I am exploring to help others with their struggles in life. Having experienced it first hand, I am convinced that a healthy lifestyle and a positive attitude can change anyone’s life. I see so many different facets of our populous out there on the racecourse; all leaving their strife and struggles out in the mud and emerging victorious at the finish line strengthened. From the obese, the addicted, the crippled, the young, the old, to the very fit and unfit-SPARTAN RACE provides a metaphor for conquering life’s challenges. We all finish the race with indescribable feelings of elation; ready to handle whatever life throws next. No matter how long it takes; finishing is what matters most.
Joe DeSena’s statement of, “Sign up. Show up. NEVER give up…you’ll know at the finish line” is the most raw & brutal truth I have ever been exposed to in my entire life. I now proudly say in solidarity with my OCR family that I know my profession: I am a SPARTAN! AROO!
6 thoughts on “Spahten Story: Ben Millina”
What a fantastic story…you rebuilt your life through diet, exercise and hardwork…awesome! Keep it going..
It was a pleasure to run a lap of BoldrDash BEach 2014 with you Ben. Thanks for saving me the time of writing my personal story. I can now just say Ditto. 🙂
You’re most welcome, sir 🙂
You should take a second to write down your own personal story. Our stories are what fuels each other’s fire and passions! The power of paying it forward has infinite possibilities. They have the power to open the floodgates of inspiration onto others, leading to excitement and adventures of all kinds for others. The possibilities of that are limitless… I know you’ve got a story both worth telling and hearing.
HUGE HUG TO YOU!!! Way to go, way to lead, way to inspire!
And this is why we ♡ you! Keep up the fight and good work! Proud of you brother!