We had the good fortune of connecting with Otis Bartlett and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Otis, other than deciding to work for yourself, what was the single most important decision you made that contributed to your success?
The single most important decision of my life honestly came when I decided to actively live a life of following through with my commitments. I, like many others, find it so easy to make a decision to do something. It’s almost ‘matter of fact’ however when you actively commit to whatever goal or desire that may be…this is where the challenge begins. You don’t realize that you make be seeking level of uncomfortably that you never fathomed of. I came to realize that a life of mediocrity wasn’t that in which I desired for myself. I couldn’t visualize myself working 20 plus years doing, and living the same mundane life daily. So I fought to commit to my dreams…I placed myself in proactive situations and circumstances that forced me to grow and advance in whatever aspects those situations are within.
What should our readers know about your business?
Well, I never heard of a fairytale that started without a sob story! Yet I believe it is my transparency, honesty, and genuineness that has given my brand a monumental foundation. I’ve been very insecure, but I believe that the story of self love and body positive must be spread. There’s no need to be ashamed, as we all have our struggles in life. I want to be a fitness model, 430lbs me said! Gazing throughout social media platforms and magazines. Seeing the abundance of photos, never ending smiles, beautiful bodies, and laughter. That’s the life I desire…effortless! Hey “Fat Boy”, an associated yelled! “Sup bro” I replied. Poof… I snapped back to my reality in an instant. Fat ass me will never make it in, let alone on the cover of a fitness magazine. Maybe I was my own worst critic back then! I embraced the words…FAT ASS…that how I self identified. Perhaps it was because I was already called such for so long . The “fat years” I acted as if nothing bothered me, however inside I was shattered man! I wanted to be fit, I wanted the infamous 6 pack abs. I wanted a life that was always shown to be easy. It was a dream, that seemed so out of reach. Not only did it appear out of reach the negative words of those around me, never believing that I could attain such goal also haunted and halted my pursuit. They say that even in the darkest of places there’s always a shimmer of light. However some times these places are so dark the light is as faint as a star on a cloudy night. Nevertheless the light still shines. See that shimmer of light are my dreams, and the darkness was the failure of pursuing them. I always had an overwhelming desire to quit, never realizing how close I actually was to success. It’s not the first step that’s the hardest, it’s the continuation of those steps. I was fat for much longer than I’ve been fit, however it seems that whenever I tell my story people are in such disbelief. When a person takes a look at me they tend not to see where I’ve come from, but they feel the passion that I exude throughout my fitness lifestyle. I’ve shed just as much sweat, as I have tears throughout my process, yet U wouldn’t change anything I’ve done throughout my journey.
People often find my transformation to be remarkable; however I have to remind them that the road to change was my hardest achievement thus far. The road is not evenly paved and there are constant obstacles that may stand in your way, yet one must overcomes these things in an effort to be better than they once were.
It seems like so long ago that I’ve been called “Fat Boy”. I dare not say that it was my fondest memory of my past, but it help mold me into the man in which I am today. I was always considered a “big boy” throughout that of my younger years and my weight progressively worsened as the years moved forward. I honestly didn’t know that I was I was obese as a child, as a vast majority of my family and friends were on the heavier side. I always believed that smaller children were underfeed or lacked in one capacity or another, never realizing that I was struggling with obesity.
Although I was large I, like most children, found myself outside with friends most days playing football on open fields. One particular day I was approached by a coach from my high school that figured he could utilize my size within the team. I found this to be a reason to get bigger, as for bigger always seemed to be better when playing football. I found that the more space that I could take up, the more of an asset that I could be to my team. So throughout high school I continued to grow and upon football camp for college I weighed in at about 386lbs.
I loved the game of football, and although this seemed to be my dream, my weight hindered every other aspect of my life. Standing at 6’9 it was already a task to find clothes, but looking for a 5x shirt and a 44×36 pants was truly a task. I found comfort in a group of friends that played football, and like me, were huge guys. It wasn’t until one of those really great friends of mine passed away did I realize that my size was a hindrance. He was a bit shorter than me and was nearly 500lbs. when he passed by that of a massive heart attack. I never fathomed that we could die due to our weight. I believed that we were far too young to die from a heart attack.
I was at that point that I made a commitment to myself to change. Shortly after this I found out that I was soon to be a father, which transitioned my weight lost journey into top speed. I vowed to lose weight, to enjoy and embrace every moment with my child. I dare not leave my daughter fatherless because I was to lazy to make an effort to lose weight.
So the journey began, and I’ve never looked back. Starting at 430lbs. to that of a 245lb.
Fast forward to almost a year ago I found myself at the Fit Expo amongst the best physiques in the world. I left behind the fat of a 430lbs man, however when I stared in the mirror I still saw him. I had come so far, never rationalizing my achievements. It wasn’t until that day that I saw just who and what I had become. My motivation instantaneously changed. Conversations ensued with those striving just as I was to lose weight. The words of my journey wasn’t falling upon deaf ears. I knew at the moment that I didn’t want to be a FITNESS MODEL, yet a model of fitness. That far to often the community of fitness, and those therein speak and show their success and accolades, however leave out the pain and frustration. Never realizing that the truth and transparency will help those in need. The same tears that I have had fall, has fallen by others by others in the same situations. What’s the point of a million followers if your words don’t reach their hearts, speak to their soul, and motivate them.
The TRUE..unedited sorry can speak volumes into another’s life.
Whatever you do, don’t stop dreaming. Furthermore let nothing keep you from these dreams. I have realized throughout my journey, and even today people will doubt you! They’ll think your crazy, they’ll say you can’t do…they’ll be negative..they’ll laugh and attempt to hurt you mentally….but again don’t stop dreaming! The sad truth is the most negative people, are the weakest themselves. They shut down your dreams, because they haven’t fulfilled their own. They desire to be stagnant and remain mediocre, because their own dreams have become a distant memory. The journey from being fat to fit, or any transformation takes time. It’s not just aboutweightloss or weight gain, however first coming to realize that you need self love! The negativity caused by others, and self inflicted must be set aside and used as fuel for your dreams. The heartache and the tears weeped, must now blend with the sweat and intensity of a great workout! Decide to chase that dream again. To lose that weight, to transform yourself into the person that you always dreamt of. That candle inside of me continues to burn, some days are dimmer than others, but it still burns. I strive to achieve and empower all those that desire the same. Greatness isn’t standing on the highest peak by yourself gazing, and bringing as many people with you to share the view! So as you embark on your quest help those along the way, challenge yourself, and those like you, dream unrealistic dreams and then turn them into reality. I still remember that FAT BOY everyday I look in the mirror, remembering that I proved him wrong in so many ways! I not only proved it to others, but more importantly to myself. That dreams aren’t just meant for sleeping, their mean to become your reality. I don’t desire wealth, but I do desire to help those like myself. Providing guidance, nutrition, and aiding in an active lifestyle for all that will come.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well, now since it’s a friend I may have to take them to my favorite Sushi spot! It’s Sushi by Jin where it’s all you can eat. This is probably the only time I’ll wear sweat, as my waist size will increase in abundance. Then thereafter we’ll head to Venice and work it off longboarding down the strip and making out way to The Mecca of bodybuilding…Gold’s Gym Venice! We’ll probably train for several hours and grab some food after. The next couple mornings I would be inclined to take them on hikes. LA has some of the most amazing views, so we could honestly do a different hike everyday and get a vastly different view. Perhaps starting with Runyon Canyon, then the Hollywood sign, hit the stairs, then grab lunch before heading to the gym again. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
God has been my foundation, and all that I have is surely because of him. My exterior, although captivating j/k, is merely decorative. This shall fade in time…my LEGACY won’t be that of weights and plates, but the words I utter. I realize why so many people don’t/can’t/won’t train with me…because my passion is vile/vulgar/it’s uncultured….I can’t stand the lack of desire for those whom don’t want the best for themselves..take a moment..and see how God feels..his people..settling…living for mediocrity…desiring no more…fealful for ask
Michal Olender at Michal Olenderphotography