The Inspirational Story of Bodybuilder James Sutliff
My name is James Andrew Sutliff, I am 31 years old and fitness is what keeps me motivated, inspired and strong. I wanted to share my story with you to prove that anything is possible; any goal, dream or ambitions you have in life can be achieved, no matter what life throws at you. I believe you should always give 110% back.
7 years ago my life took a sudden, unexpected change. After a normal night out on the town with friends drinking G&Ts, I returned home, went to bed as I usually would and slept without any interruptions. After waking up as normal the next morning, I started to feel a little unwell, however I just put this down to a hangover. I took a small nap and woke up to something that changed my life in an instant. I found that my speech was badly distorted and slurred but, thinking this was something that would pass, I carried on as normal. A couple of days later the problem had gotten worse, so a friend took me to the hospital where I was admitted straight away. On paper, I was a healthy 24 year old man so it was recommended that I was reviewed by an expert. I underwent test after test and doctors were baffled by what was wrong with me as they could not point to a cause or diagnosis. Still, almost 6 years on, I have had no firm treatment plan or understanding of the cause.
After discharging myself, I was put under the care of a neurological specialist, whom I saw every 6 months. A year had past and, although I still had my speech problem, I was able to carry on my life as I normally would do, until the problem directed itself into my hands. I noticed that my thumb on my left hand was starting to become painful and tight and I found it increasingly hard to use, to the point where it eventually closed fully. Over time a couple of my fingers on both my left and right hands did the same. Working as a plumber by trade, I found it increasingly hard to continue doing my job and my condition had meant that I could no longer plumb as a living. I am not one to sit around and feel sorry for myself and, although I found it very hard experiencing a drastic wage decrease, I continued to find work as a labourer. Luckily, I work with a great team of lads and they help encourage and build my confidence each day.
Finally in the year of 2012, I was diagnosed with a neurological dysfunction disorder called Dystonia. It was relieving to eventually be given a name for the thing that have been ruling my life for so long. Dystonia is a debilitating disorder that can completely affect your life.
Being diagnosed with Dystonia has been very difficult at times. I look back to when I was a normal, confident lad with a promising rugby career, no cares and a great paying job and compare it to what I deal with now – a massive change. It felt like my life had been taken away from me and I felt resentful at times; I went through some dark periods to say the least. I found it difficult to cope with what had happened to me and I suffered from low confidence and low self-esteem. One thing I did know is that I wasn't going to allow what had happened to me to take over my life. I knew if I continued on the road of self-pity that I would end up a lot worse off than I am today, so I turned my focus to fitness.
I had always being keen on the gym and kept myself in pretty good shape, but I wanted to take it to the next level and prove that my goals and dreams were still achievable despite having a disability.
My diet now consists of high protein, good fats and carbohydrates to give me energy, aid recovery and help to keep me lean. I train 6-7 times a week and do about 90 minutes of cardio a week too. My weight training mainly consists of high reps with lots of tension and squeezes which gets the blood pumping around my body.