Despite Shane Idleman has an impressive history in fitness, helping over 30,000 people lose weight and becoming a successful author, father, husband, and pastor, his past tells of a different story. One that wreaks of addiction, obesity, and childhood struggles; all while dealing with dyslexia and reading disabilities.

However, you wouldn’t notice if you took a look into his past fitness and athletic achievements.

During Idleman’s younger years, he served as a manager and corporate executive of the then, fastest-growing fitness company in the world, 24-Hour Fitness. At that time, Idleman began reading many books and publications from the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

As Idleman managed fitness centers and personal training departments while assisting and interviewing thousands of weight-loss clients, Idleman identified a consistent pattern that surfaced time and time again: Those who were fit rarely if ever, referred to dieting. Fitness was a lifestyle.

Fast forward to Idleman’s first published book, “What Works When Diets Don’t,” Idleman was endorsed by Rodney Corn, Director of Education at NASM – a massive accomplishment despite his challenging past.

Today, Idleman shares his story with the mission of encouraging those stuck in addiction and dealing with challenging health struggles, that there is hope. If he can make it out, you can, too.

Shane Idleman addicted to steroids
Shane Idleman

How Childhood Pain Led to Addiction and Weight Gain

 As a child, Idleman tended to isolate himself to prevent pain. “I became an approval seeker; something you would find hard to believe if you heard my preaching, says Idleman. “Angry people scared me and personal criticism hurts more deeply than it should.” At an early age, Idleman found that alcohol relaxed him, and from there, it became what he calls, a hellish taskmaster.

Alcohol wasn’t the only drug of choice Idleman used to self-soothe. Using food for comfort, Idleman began to gain weight early on. “I still remember the headline underneath my picture in our junior-high yearbook that read: “Stuffed Pig.” I was in a red wagon, with an apple in my mouth, being pulled around because I had just broken my leg.” Sadly, this was one triggering factor that led to Idleman’s future steroid use.

From Overweight to an Overachiever in the Gym

After high school, Idleman shot up past 270 pounds and was bench-pressing over 400 pounds using every type of drug he says, from Sustanon-250 to Anadrol-50, and from Equipoise to Human Growth Hormone. “My “I’ll show you” mentality fueled this lifestyle of destruction and it cost me dearly. We make a choice, then the choice makes us,” says Idleman. A great reminder that the choices we make daily determine the outcome of our lives.

“The deep pains of childhood can follow us, and the enemy of our soul will use them against us. Thankfully, God makes provision for all our needs through His Word and He must be our anchor and our true source of hope.”

Dyslexia and Reading Disabilities Didn’t Hold Idleman Back

On top of struggling with his weight, addiction, and depression, Idleman also struggled academically. “As a person who struggles with dyslexia and reading disabilities, and having graduated high school with only a 1.8 GPA, I should not be writing op-eds on the national level or speaking to tens of thousands on the radio and other media outlets.”

Idleman’s critics laugh at him but many others are encouraged. “They think, If God can use Shane Idleman, then He can use me, too. And they are right: With God, you’re never too far gone.”

It’s Time to Make a Change for the Better

At this point, Idleman’s life was out of control—he was succeeding in business but dying spiritually. “I was severely depressed and very unmotivated. So, I made a commitment to re-surrender my life to Christ, but it took over a year to fully embrace that goal. It was a true prodigal son story complete with ups and downs, victories and failures.”

This massive change brought true joy and peace to Idleman’s life. “We must keep moving forward despite obstacles.” Idleman’s story can be watched here.

A Word for Those Addicted: Failure is not final

“Addiction truly is hell on earth—you’re enslaved but desperately want freedom, you’re bound but can’t break free, you’re in tremendous pain but can’t find relief. If you can relate, don’t worry, there is hope,” Idleman shares.

Idleman’s Method For Making a Change

The Three R’s – (Repent, restructure, and repeat)

Change your mind (repent) and your actions (restructure) and keep repeating.

“Addiction is a stronghold, and often, it needs to be broken down one brick at a time,’ says Idleman. Desperate times call for desperate measures.” We may need to end relationships and avoid places that bring us down while making other key lifestyle changes.”

Idleman explains that sometimes addiction is a lifelong struggle and people need more grace and less judgment. “I’m not excusing actions, but I am offering hope for the journey. Get back up and keep fighting. Failure is not final.”

“Addiction is a lifestyle, and that lifestyle must be changed. That’s one benefit of focusing on health and fitness—it changes your focus from destruction to healing.”

And that’s exactly why Idleman wrote, HELP! I’m Addicted. “I’m not perfect but I try to help people fall forward.”

He adds: Idleman ends on this note: “No matter how far you have fallen or how much damage you’ve done, you can change that TODAY.”

Idleman’s Top Tips for Keeping Your Mind and Body in Top Shape

Keep moving forward despite failure: Those who succeed are those who get back up and keep moving in the right direction.

Don’t focus on perfection, but direction: You shouldn’t focus on being a “perfect 10” because even the “10s” are oftentimes miserable.

Choose Lifestyle over Dieting: As far as diet goes: The key is to eat life-giving, God-given food in moderation while staying active and incorporating fasting. Idleman explains we have to be careful with carbohydrates in regard to insulin sensitivity and metabolic syndrome—wisdom is definitely needed, but if we focus on eating whole, life-giving food in moderation while increasing exercise and maintaining a healthy weight, many of our diet-related illnesses would vanish.

Check out biohacking: Idleman loves biohacking but stresses to be very careful that you don’t become fanatical and out of balance. Make it fun, but don’t become a fanatic.

Find healthy ways to deal with stress: And be sure to not take on too much drama.

Make sure to get enough rest, sunlight, hydration, and less caffeine:  These simple steps can make a big difference. Idleman’s friends, Ben Greenfield, Gary Brecka, and Daniel Pompa have helped him in these areas.