I began tracking my workouts in May, 2011. Since then I’ve traveled, by foot or bicycle, more than 10,000 miles and burned more than 1,000 burgers (more than 555,000 calories or just under my body weight in pounds: 158). Those calories never found their way to my gut.
If I were 20 years old, living with my parents and didn’t have a job, this wouldn’t be such a big deal, but at 43, with a marriage, two kids and a company to run, it’s not too shabby.
This provides a good backdrop for reflection. I used to believe, and have written so on several occasions, that when it comes to fitness there is no “end zone”. There is no point at which I get to spike the ball and do a little dance. To an extent, I still hold that belief but it’s evolved a little bit.
If my legs don’t get any more awesome than they are today (and they’re spectacular), I will be happy. If I don’t put on one more pound of muscle, I can see being content. If I don’t lose one more pound of fat, I’d have no reason for consternation. And if my shoulders, pecs, triceps, forearms or biceps don’t gain another inch, I should be just fine. Looked at through that filter, I have reached an end zone. The question, mainly having to do with semantics at this point, is whether or not there will be an end zone dance.
As one might expect, my goal was to achieve a level of fitness that I could be proud of and happy with. I have absolutely done that and then some. I came to learn though, that fitness is a lot more than looking good. Being fit over 40 feels good, hurts less, and is a lot more fun than being sedentary – completely the opposite popular sentiment. Not too long ago my life consisted of working hard, playing video games (with Mrs. Bgddy of course) and watching TV… Today, with the exception of late evenings only, I can think of dozens of things I’d rather be doing than watching the tube – and they all involve being active.
In short, while I’ve absolutely gotten to a place where I am satisfied, there’s no need for the end zone dance – what used to be a goal has become a way of life that my happiness depends on… That may be cause for celebration but I’ll trade the jig for a bike ride any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Life is good.
Elisariva, one of my good blog friends, brought up an interesting point in a comment that reminded me of a really fun topic for drunks to debate: Near Beer.
I happen to have tried near beer one time, about 20 years ago now (if you do the math I was sober for just six months at the time). I had exactly one and one half near beers (if memory serves) – the very first time I was conscious and left an adult beverage container half-full – got up in the middle of a conversation and walked out of the bar. I was with a friend, celebrating his birthday. Originally I’d turned his offer to hang out down because at six months sober I just didn’t feel safe going into the lion’s den. He was pretty persuasive though. He pulled out the old, “what could go wrong, you’ll be with me and if you order a beer I’ll kick your ass. C’mon man just one last time for old time’s sake” line. Well, I bit.
Half way through that second near beer I’m looking at it and thinking, “screw you near beer, it’s time for something with a little more kick”. That’s when I got up, wished my buddy a happy birthday and walked out the front door, got in my car and drove home. Within a few blocks I noticed that it was difficult to keep my car in my lane. I felt foggy headed and off. I swore off near beer for good.
A day or two later I was talking to an outpatient treatment counselor about the ordeal and asked what the deal was with the odd symptoms I’d experienced after consuming all of 1-1/2 near beers which contained, combined, less than a tenth of a thimble full of actual alcohol (all near beer contains some alcohol, just not much). She explained it like this: “Jim, you came about as close to relapsing as you possibly can without going over the line (some would say I did, but that’s not even water under the bridge anymore). Your body remembered the alcohol, so when you got just that little bit into your system, you were off and running”. Say what you want, but she was right. My body, my mind, did remember the alcohol – it craved it – just that little taste. So there I was, six months sober and I almost traded in the next twenty years of prosperity for it.
So with that said, when I say I’m an all or nothing kind of guy, I’m not joking. I’m not playing loose with the facts and I sure as hell don’t have any reason to kid or lie about it.
Put simply, for this ex-drunk, near beer is near death.
It reminds me of that shark guy who swore he could walk around amongst dozens of bull sharks and, if he just controlled his heart rate and his breathing, they wouldn’t attack him (or something along those lines). Sure enough, he did walk around a bunch of bull sharks, controlling his breathing – until one bit off his calf muscle… The whole thing, gone. For me, drinking near beer is slightly dumber than walking around a bunch of bull sharks – and walking about amongst known man-eaters is dumb!
The necessary conversation then turns to other drunks… Can one drunk say, with the same certainty given to the bull shark analogy, that drinking near beer is stupid?
I don’t think so. First, what would be gained? Nothing, to do so would simply bring about angst, denial and an argument where none is necessary… When all I need say is indeed, I’d be one huge dumb ass to drink a near beer. That stuff’s near death don’t ya know!
There are certain things that we addicts simply shouldn’t do. Near beer for one, righteous indignation would be another… Let’s see, umm, oh yeah – skydive without a parachute, that’s a good one.
In other words, the semantics are important though we needn’t battle over them.
Just this morning I bumped into a post on Victories Edge where they shared a motivational poster for the 50 Reasons to Exercise. Number 18 said that exercise helps control addiction. Now that might make sense to 90% of the rest of the world but to someone who’s lived through and recovered from addiction, the sentence made me laugh. Look at it this way: I gave up my relationship with my parents, my car, jobs, relationships with women (including a model and several other 9’s), a free ride through college and my health – others give up a lot more… For a drink. Now do you really think that the fact that I’ve got a fartlek workout planned for tomorrow will control that?! Of course it won’t. So I sent a very polite email to the website that came up with the list suggesting they may want to change it. Whether they use my suggestion or crumple my email up and throw it in the ether wastebasket is not my concern. I gave my two cents and it’s done.