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Struggling, as a matter of perspective…

July 2013
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In my last post I wrote about a recent struggle to suit up on Sunday. I like that post, it was from the heart and I didn’t hide anything related to having a tough time finding just enough motivation to get out the door… That was a rare day for me, but life is all about perspective.

My alcoholism, and recovery from it, has given me a great perspective on life.  This may seem like an odd way to look at things, most view having to recover from being a drunk as a negative…  First, alcohol had me giving away (freely) everything that was good and decent, anything that could make me smile – for a drink (well, several um thousand, but let’s not split hairs, eh?).  I can remember a counselor daring me to look myself in the mirror just a week into sobriety – I hadn’t even decided to stay sober yet. I thought he was a dope, until I was standing in front of that mirror.  I never realized that while I’d been combing my hair, shaving and brushing my teeth all those years, I looked passed me, anywhere but square in the eyes.  Let me tell you, that first time was a rude awakening.  I hated who I was, what I’d become and what I saw in the mirror. It was the dead eyes that did me in.  I gave up a lot to be a drunk.

Second was the path back to being a productive member of society. For this post I’ll keep it simple and say that all I had to do was change everything. It was a long, arduous journey (yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me…).  When a fella realizes his life is shit at just 22 years-old and manages not to kill himself because of it (permanent solution to a temporary problem), and climbs out of the basement to live a good life, it changes how you look at everything.  After all, if I can do that, I can do anything I set my mind to.

It’s through that filter I look at today’s problems.  At 20+ years of sobriety, to say that this knocks them down to a manageable size is an understatement.

On the other hand it’s not all fun and games; a little bit of laziness now can lead to a seemingly insurmountable slide down a slippery slope.  I didn’t become a drunk overnight, it happens slowly over years. Each bad decision compounds on itself over time. Before I knew it I was looking up at the mouth of the hole I’d dug so deep that I didn’t think I could possibly climb out.

To me, fitness is no different. One poor decision to kick it on the couch can start an avalanche that will bury me.  Is this view extreme, maybe a touch hyper-sensitive?  Surely I have come so far, I couldn’t possibly fall back into lethargy with one lazy day!  I write a blog and have a support group, surely I may fall a bit, but all the way to the basement?

One bad decision doesn’t necessarily mean it will lead to an utter relapse in character.  The problem is that one bad decision is a start and it’s a lot easier to fight through the initial stage than the latter stages.

More importantly, each battle with my will won builds on itself in a positive manner for later.  Each win makes me stronger, harder, happier and better suited to maintain myself.

I had a business meeting yesterday with a fellow only nine years my senior. He’s a bit heavy, maybe 20-25 pounds overweight, but he does nothing to stay fit. When I was let into his office he was in the process of calling in a couple of prescriptions – high blood pressure and early stage type 2 diabetes. If he doesn’t get off of the couch, he’ll take those medications until he dies.

What’s the difference between he and I?

I got off the couch on Sunday and went for a 30 mile ride when I’d have rather not.  You can call that extreme if you wish, I won’t lose any sleep over it.  The truth is, you can look at struggling through something like a tough couple of days, a week or even a month as a positive rather than a negative as long as the battle is won.


10 Comments

  1. fizzhogg says:

    So… I’m not sure what I want to say here except… well done.

    Your last two or three posts have been truly amazing, not just from the incredible open and honest standpoint, but from a writing standpoint as well.

    Really, really great stuff.

  2. biking2work says:

    Every time a wake up in the morning before my 12 mile ride to work and think about not doing it, I remind myself how good I’ll feel when I get there. I have an even better sense of achievement when I get back home in the evening. You’ve just given me more ammo to be positive and get my ass in the saddle tomorrow-nope, I dont want hypertension or T2DM either…

  3. Daniel Weise says:

    Congratulations for doing it and thank you for this post. I realize just how slippery a slope this is. One day leads to two to a week, and now, for me, to a month of basically no riding. It is much harder to restart than it is to maintain, but I am restarting. NOW.

  4. Thank you for your candid nature.

  5. cyardin says:

    High blood pressure and type 2 diabetes? I know what pain I would rather suffer. I reckon if you gave people the choice: (blue pill) sore thighs and exhausted lungs or (red pill) type 2 diabetes and put it on the table like that – most would choose the blue pill. Good post, choice and the series of choices is down to you.

  6. IowaTriBob says:

    Very well said. Its been a rare day for me where I’ve just outright skipped a workout or training day and for those that I have the feeling of guilt the next day (or even later that same day) is enough to make me think differently the next time – OCD, maybe, but as you say, there are definitely worse alternatives.

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