By Chanda Temple
Editor’s Note: Noah Galloway won the magazine cover competition in October 2014 and was on the November 2014 cover. In March 2015, he will be one of the contestants on ABC’s ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ The show will debut on Monday, March 16 at 7 p.m. CST.
In 2010, Noah Galloway took a long hard look at himself and didn’t like what he saw.
It wasn’t that he had lost his left leg and left arm in a 2005 roadside bomb attack while serving in Iraq. (He had already come to terms with that after being mad about it for years.) Instead, he didn’t like how he’d let the tragedy eat away at his very soul.
Once an avid athlete and runner, he was no longer active. He’d allowed what happened to him in the blast, rob him of any desire to work out or even take a walk around the block.
“I had a beer gut,’’ said Galloway, of Alabaster, Ala.
But when he woke up that morning in 2010 and saw how his body had changed through his own choices, including drinking too much, he decided to make a change.
He started working out again.
“I joined a 24-hour gym and went at 12 in the morning,’’ he said, citing how he didn’t want anyone to see him exercising because he had to learn how to use everything over again. “I was embarassed.’’
But through trial and error, he found exercises that worked for him. He used an ankle strap on his left arm and a cable machine to work his chest, shoulder and back muscles. To strengthen his right side, he used Kettlebells, free weights and various machines. To improve his lower strength, he used an electronic leg to run.
As time went on, Galloway was no longer embarrassed to go to the gym. He started going during regular hours.
He had confidence. He had swag. He had determination.
“People kept me motivated,’’ he said of gym patrons. “They told me that if I was there, they needed to be there.’’
In 2011, one of the soldiers that was in the Humvee with him during the bombing, encouraged Galloway to join him in running a Scottish-themed 5K in Georgia. It would be Galloway’s first run since losing his limbs in 2005. He was game.
Galloway completed it, wearing a kilt and beard – a nod to his father’s Scottish roots. He started doing more races and tougher races, ranging from 12 miles to 26.2 miles. By 2013, he was doing nearly one run a month. The running began to take a toll on his body and he had to stop. But he didn’t stop exercising. He kept at it, even becoming a fitness trainer.
“Fitness, overall, is to help you in the long run. What I was doing was destroying my joints and it was making it harder to recover from the races,” he said. “(Running) was doing the opposite of what I needed to be doing with fitness.”
In spring 2014, he learned that Men’s Health magazine had teamed up with Kenneth Cole for the Ultimate Men’s Health Guy Search contest, which highlights men for their fit lifestyles. The contest had already been underway for three weeks by the time he discovered it, but Galloway entered anyway because he said he’s always had a dream to be on the cover. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Noah won the contest in October 2014 and is on the November 2014 cover.)
By the next morning, he had garnered enough votes to push him into the Top 3. Today, he’s in first place. Even though he’s in the lead, he said he still needs votes to send a strong message to deciding celebrity judges that he’s the people’s choice. Voting ends Monday, June 30. People may vote once a day.
The magazine issue comes out in November, which is when Veterans Day is celebrated. He said it would be really nice to have a veteran on the cover of the magazine at that time.
“I think to have an injured veteran who’s adapted and overcame and not let the enemy stop me,’’ is a powerful message, he said. “I’m going on.’’
So what keeps Galloway, 32, going? It’s Facebook messages from people whom are amputees, people who’ve gotten out of shape, people in great shape and people with a child or relative with a disability. They look to him and say, “Thank you.’’
“I get messages all the time that I’m motivating somebody and that motivates me,’’ he said. “Even if the judges don’t pick me, something good is coming out of this.’’
Go here to vote for Noah Galloway.
Go here to see a video of Noah exercising and running.
Seven things to know about Noah Galloway
- He joined the Army because of 9/11
Galloway was a college freshman at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in Birmingham, Ala. when 9/11 happened. Wanting to serve his country, he dropped out of school and enlisted. Three months into his second deployment, the Humvee he was riding in hit a roadside bomb and exploded on Dec. 19, 2005. He took the force of the blast, which also injured two friends. Galloway was the only one to lose limbs. He didn’t wake up from the blast until Dec. 25, 2005. To this day, he doesn’t remember it.
- Working out after the blast wasn’t easy at first
He recovered at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C. for nine months after the 2005 bombing. While there, he received his first running leg. He couldn’t control the joint. He didn’t like it. He tried working out once or twice but put away the running leg. He didn’t try running again until 2011.
- He’s a divorced father of three
He’s taking time out from being a personal trainer, to spend time with his children this summer. And yes, he has a girlfriend.
- Fitness has been a part of his life since he was 12 or 13
He grew up in Midfield, Ala., where he liked to work out at a community center when was about 12 or 13. He always got kicked out because you had to be 16 to work out there. He’d always sneak back in.
- Guilty pleasure
Papa John’s Pizza with jalapenos and pineapple. “Have you ever had it? It’s amazing,’’ he said.
- His fitness tips
When starting a workout routine, have small, attainable goals. If you set goals too high, you’ll burn yourself out and lose interest.
To get ripped, don’t diet. Cut out the sugar.
Accept that weight loss takes time. There are no quick fixes.
Push yourself to visit the gym. He goes no less than three times a week.
- His legs and arms
He lost his left leg above the knee and walks on an electronic leg. His running leg is made of carbon fiber and has a titanium knee joint. He doesn’t like to wear a prosthetic arm. He never learned how to use it. “Once I got back in shape, I said, ‘Hey, this is what I look like. This is me,’ ‘’ he said.
Check out his Facebook page: Noah Galloway – Athlete.
Follow him on Twitter at @noah_galloway.
Chanda Temple worked as a reporter for 20 years before becoming a public relations professional. She blogs about being better in business and careers, working out and more at http://www.chandatemplewrites.com. Follow her on Twitter at @chandatemple