David, can you describe who you are, where you are from, and a bit about your background and your early years?
I am a 39 year old metallurgical engineer living in Houston, Texas. I was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. I am married and have 3 daughters (ages 11, 8, and 6).
I remember when I was about 21 years old, my barber asked me if I wore a hat all of the time. I thought that was an odd question but he said he noticed my hair was starting to thin on the top. Being only 21 I denied it and that was that for a while.
I graduated from college in 2005 and soon landed my first job and got married. My mom passed away from brain cancer in early 2006. With this happening and the added stress of a new job in a new city, I began slowly gaining weight and my hair started thinning more and more, but I was in denial.
When did you first realize you were losing your hair?
I really started to notice after my third daughter was born in 2013, I was 32. I was in denial when anyone noticed. My excuse was it was just the gel in my hair making it look thin.
What was your first reaction when you found out? What did you do? How did you cope?
My first reaction was denial. I’m sure this is most people’s reaction when they notice. Since I was in denial about it, I just went on without doing anything. Since I was a busy father of 3, I didn’t think about it too much.
I would see it in pictures and would internally cringe, I knew without a doubt that it actually was thinning.
Was there a breakthrough moment for you, when you decided to embrace the bald lifestyle, in addition to changing your life with fitness?
I had a few things happening at once. It all happened in the summer of 2017 when I was 36. I was weighing 280 pounds and having a lot of issues with my ankles and feet. I was having tendonitis issues and would spend more time limping than not.
I was always an athlete in my younger years, I played football for many years and stayed in shape. Once we had kids, I fell into what many men fall into, the trap of settling. I looked at myself in the mirror one morning and just thought; “well I guess this is how I’m meant to be, just another overweight, average dad.”
It wasn’t until I had a very horrible bout with pain in my foot. I couldn’t even take my girls to school, let alone play with them.
It was at this point where I had enough. I always told myself growing up to never settle, never be average. I did not like who I was seeing in the mirror, I was tired of the denial of my hair thinning. I had to do something and do it now. If I didn’t do something now, I would never do it. I decided to just go for it and shave my head and not care what anyone had to say about it. I was doing this for me.
So, one Saturday morning, I got up and buzzed it off. At this moment, I was shocked, I actually liked the way I looked. My wife was shocked and really liked it! It is difficult to put into words, but the amount of sudden confidence and relief I felt was amazing. I felt a huge burden (the burden of going bald) lift off of my shoulders.
As a result, I then felt empowered to take it a step further and get after it in the gym. If I was going to be bald, I was going to be a bald man in good shape. I was going to do it all my way, no more settling.
As my fitness journey continued, the pounds fell off and my muscle mass increased. I have received nothing but positive feedback. I feel I am so much better looking as a bald man than I did with hair.
This is the beauty of ridding yourself of the denial of balding and just shaving it off, you feel empowered and confident.
Was there anyone in your journey that helped you come to acceptance around your bald look?
My wife and family definitely helped me. My wife was telling me for some time to just shave it off, but I was always hesitant and overthinking people’s reaction.
The reaction from my family when I visited them in El Paso was all positive. They said I looked so much better.
Looking back on your bald journey, what does empowerment and living authentically mean to you now?
Just taking that first step to shave my head told me a lot about myself. It showed me that I was caring too much about others' perceptions of me. I wasn’t being true to myself.
Now that I live knowing I did this for myself and no one else, I feel I can take on whatever life throws at me. I took on my vulnerability head first (pun intended) and won. This flowed into me taking on my weight and winning.
Is there anything you would like to share with the MANTL audience about you, your journey, and any advice?
Yes, don’t settle! With the shaving of my head, it was a mindset change. It got me out of the rut I was living in.
Take your thinning/balding hair straight on and embrace it. Do it for yourself and not anyone else. Too many people put it off or try to hide it. Why wait, we only live once so live on your terms.
We are able to adjust our mindset to live the way we want so don’t hide from it, embrace it!!!
How can people follow you or connect with you, if you are open to that?
People can connect with me via instagram @david_salgado1