Joe Zimecki, was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis 11 years ago. Today he is a Nationally Qualified Men’s Physique Competitor!
Here is his story.
I’ve actually used Dry Pro in my very early years of having my ileostomy or right around when you guys started to designed them for people with ostomy’s. Thank you.”
“First off, I want to thank my wife Rachele and all her years of believing in me with anything family related to personal goals I wanted to achieve for us. All it takes is that one person to stick with you or believe in you that makes a world of difference between being a success or failure. I’m one of these people that when I say, “trust me… everything’s going to be just fine”… that I make sure that I do everything in my power to make it happen. You know the famous “trust me”, well I’m sure many of you out there if you knew me well enough that when I commit to something, it’s going to happen and I typically exceed even my expectations. I find myself so dedicated, motivated, and passionate about something… that I have to surround myself with people of that same mindset. To be honest, nowadays those types of people are very hard to come by and in the sport/fitness life even though there’s those characteristics, they may be lacking the 2 other most important to me… character and trust.
So, why has it taken Joe so long to step on stage and compete and better yet… with all his knowledge of the industry it left so many people confused. I’ll try to keep this very short and to the point, but this has been yet another life changing event for not only me, but for many others and 10+ years in the making.
It seems just like yesterday that I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, but was actually over 11 years ago. It wasn’t even 3.5 months after I was diagnosed that I met Rachele (who later would become my wife) and has been my foundation day in-and-out ever since. I was on a few medications to control the flare-ups and pain that’s associated with Ulcerative Colitis. One of which, caused me to have something called “moon face” and really made me feel uncomfortable about my external appearance. So now, not only do I have my insides a mess but my external look has taken a drastic change from meds and ulcerative colitis (extreme weight lose). I remember one of the first things I said to her was, “I just wanted to let you know I really don’t look like this” and just put it all out there what I was dealing with. She didn’t care about any of the exterior and was more concern that I was getting medically what I needed to be healthy. Ironically, she’s still that way to this day and for that I love her more and more each day (reminds me I better call about that doctor appointment)!
So here we are 1 year into our marriage and medication isn’t working and my third trip to the hospital. This time wasn’t for just a little 3-4 days stay to hydrate and get pumped full of prednisone. The ulcerative colitis is so bad that the lining of my large intestine is pretty much onion skin thin and I’ve already been in the hospital 3 weeks. At this point, it’s a matter of life or death and the surgeons needed to run a test to confirm that the large intestine was the only area impacted and to confirm 100% that it was all ulcerative colitis (and small intestine weren’t impacted). This may be hard to believe, but hearing that I could have Ileostomy surgery (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ileostomy) was the best news that I heard during this whole process over the course of 2 years dealing with symptoms.
That’s right people… If I didn’t tell you and we met, you’d never guess that I had an ileostomy bag. Let me save some of you time and let’s just call it what it really is… that’s how I go #2 or in our house #3. Of course in the link above, that is truly an “images may appear bigger than they are” type of look.
I have been so active in the fitness/supplement industry that I would always get asked why I’ve never competed on stage. Below are just a few of the top questions I would get asked at least once a month for years:
1. Why no front pictures of you, if you’re this fit?
2. Man, why do you go so extreme or over the top with this workout thing, you’re obsessed?
3. Hmmm, Seems like you may be over doing it
4. You’re just going to stop and it’s going to turn to fat
5. Mid-Life Crisis
6. Why?… Why?… Why?… Why?
You know, I knew the answer all along and to be honest I’ve only shared these details of my Ileostomy with people that I felt close enough that truly understood what I went through over the years. This isn’t something that you encounter with someone having on a regular basis, let alone at my age of 41.
So to answer the WHY’s…. When I’m committed to something, it’s all or nothing and those are the only modes I know. Why do I push my mind/body like I do? I feel that what I do and want to achieve in this life will not be determined by an obstacle or barrier to keep me from happiness. Like I stated before, to me it’s about setting that goal, being dedicated, motivated, and passionate about reaching that level of self-satisfaction.
Everyone loves to win and trust me, when I started my 12 week prep (process) to get ready for my first ever fitness show on 6/1/2013… winning wasn’t even the motivation. You see, after almost 11 years after my Ileostomy surgery, last year was the first time at the beach that I actually didn’t wear a tank top in the ocean, on the beach, or in the pool. Last year, not even 10 minutes of “ok, I’m going to do this” a little girl around 6 asked me what’s that bag on your stomach and if you know me… without missing a beat, “that’s what happens when you don’t eat your veggies, so listen to your parents.” From that point on, there was no looking back as we all know kids speak the truth and adults will just look and whisper. Bet you can’t even imagine the sleep I lost over stepping on stage when I committed to this, since it took me 10 years to reach that milestone.
My goal doing my first show wasn’t to win (even though I’m extremely competitive), but to just bring awareness to not only people that have some element that may prevent them… but AWARENESS to the sport. I truly wanted to see if and how this fitness lifestyle and behind the scene would react to me and what I’ve accomplished physically. Food prep and timing is key in something like this and add in that extra element of an ileostomy bag and makes it even more stressful. Everyone that I met backstage was just amazing with insight and wanted to know my story and how inspirational it was that I was stepping on stage. That in itself was a priceless moment and in my eyes was a win in itself. The byproduct of this hard work and desire for awareness in the sport was an amazing transformation to my body. “Trust me”, my 12 week transformation pictures (and I’m not one to have an ego), but just blew me away.
I had to empower the assistance of my friend of many years, Emeka Okammor (Team Simple Fitness – http://www.thesimplefitness.com) , who knew when I wanted to do this that he was my go to guy and the only one I would trust to guide me to success and for that… I’m forever grateful!! It’s a bit scary how the two of us are on the same mental wave and envisioning the same things for each other’s success.
What you should take away from this: Set a goal and stick with it, Fear nothing and believe in yourself, It’s true… never judge a book by the cover until you open it (living proof), success is determined within, …..
Dedication, Motivation, & Passion delivers positive outcomes no matter what you apply it to.”
Thank you Joe for sharing your success story. We really enjoyed reading it and wish you the best of luck in the future.