03/13/2014 07:42 EDT | Updated 05/13/2014 05:59 EDT

How Lifting Weights Saved My Life

In 2008, the financial meltdown hit and my business was destroyed. Two years later, my then-wife got up one day and left our marriage without warning. I was devastated. I fell into a depression, faced the huge challenge of pulling myself back up. So I turned back to what saved me once before: lifting weights.

Just a few weeks ago, I participated and took second place in my first ever men's physique competition: the Krack Klassic. I placed second in my division and qualified for Provincials, which take place in June. I'm ecstatic at the outcome.

Seeing all my hard work pay off has been incredible, but what I really want to share is the story of my journey and how I reached the competition stage.

My story starts at the age of eight, when I had a major kidney operation. The traumatic experience of my bowels, bladder, and kidneys shutting down left me lying on my back for four weeks.

It became very clear to me at that age that we humans are not immortal. It was an awakening experience for anyone -- especially an eight-year-old -- and it alerted me to how important it is to stay healthy.

Depression and anxiety became the norm during my childhood. When I was 15, my mother committed suicide. Then, when I turned 18 and started university, I fell into a major depression.

I decided to turn to lifting weights and poured all my time and energy into it. Heading to the gym every day was how I got myself out of that funk.

As I graduated and began my life, being an adult took over. I started my own real estate investment firm and focused on helping wealthy Albertans invest in B.C. I had a beautiful wife and an amazing home walking distance to the beach in Penticton.

Then in 2008, the financial meltdown hit and my business was destroyed. I was over leveraged, revenues decreased by 30 per cent, and my equity was extinguished.

We lost it all.

Starting over financially at 38 seemed like an impossible mountain to climb, and this put strain on my already troubled marriage.

Two years later, my then-wife got up one day and left our marriage without warning. I was devastated. I cried every day for 11 months straight.

I fell into another depression, and faced the huge challenge of pulling myself back up, finding a job, saving money, and getting healthy both mentally and physically -- not to mention trying to figure out how to provide for myself in retirement.

I knew at that point that the only way to move forward was to get back up. I decided to not give up and kept taking one step forward day by day, moment by moment.

How I got back up

My unconditional self love was at an all time low. My self esteem and self image were in the tank. I was not treating myself the way I would ever treat another human being.

So I turned back to what saved me once before and fought my way out of depression by walking, eating whole foods, thinking positive thoughts, breathing, living in the now, and, of course, lifting weights.

Two years later, after a dedicated training regimen, I found myself wanting to compete in a provincial body building competition. More specifically, I wanted to compete in the Masters Men's Physique category -- so I began to work toward the goal.

A big part of my healing has come from being a sponsored athlete for SD Pharmaceuticals and working at the Body Energy Club. Their belief in me has been an enormous boost to my success and I can honestly say has motivated me to stay on track and focused.

What now?

Today, I am now the president and co-owner of a successful real estate investment firm with assets in Saskatchewan, I am the co-founder of a Vancouver-based nonprofit organization called ReValue Children, and I am a certified personal trainer. I am rebuilding my finances and am about to open my own supplement store.

At 40 years old I am in better shape than I have ever been before, and feel healthier and stronger than I did at 20 years old.

It's never too late

If you want to feel better and pull yourself out of a challenging time in your life, one way to do it is to focus on your health. Rebuild your body. Being strong and fit on the outside can and will help you get strong and happy on the inside.

Lastly, never give up on your dreams.