In the winter of 2000 I started getting fat. I begun to lead a fairly sedentary life after a youth spent running all over God’s green earth on my bike, playing baseball in my buddy’s back yard or hockey on the 2-3 acre pond adjoining our back yard with that of many of my friends. When I first sobered up there was rollerblading and a little bit of softball.
Then, video games.
I finally realized I was slipping in the summer of 2001 when I saw a photo in which I had a double chin. I didn’t even realize I’d let myself go. All of a sudden, BAM, I had a gut and I was pushing 200 pounds after having a full six pack my whole life. Calling that a bummer is an understatement of epic proportions but there it was and I had a decision to make: Get fit or get fat.
I chose the latter. I chose to get fat and just enjoy food. For less than 24 hours.
The next morning I woke up, looked in the mirror and thought, “Dude, what the f@ck are you thinking? And that was enough.
My wife had taken up running a year earlier and, much as I didn’t want to get fat, I really didn’t want to get fit running. It was the only way I saw though, considering where I lived, road conditions (deplorable) and the amount of traffic (coupled with the fact that everything I knew about bikes ended at the crappy big box models that topped out at $200), running made the most sense.
The next day I pulled out an old pair of leather gym shoes that weighed about eight pounds and ran my first mile and a half at between an 8-1/2 and 9 minute mile pace. I never looked back. Before long I was running everything from 5k’s up to half marathons. I never really liked running but I loved how I felt afterwards – and I loved the fact that it was a lot easier to see my toes.
I dropped from 195 down to 170 almost immediately and ten years later I was still at 170-180 depending on the time of year (heavier in the winter, obviously).
Then came cycling after I’d grown bored with running and wanted to shake that boredom up. And that’s when things got easy. I’d stuck with running and experimented with cutting easy calories before but when I realized how much easier cycling was at 160 pounds versus 170+, food became fuel and eating wisely became a lot more important, valuable even.
Through the last fifteen-odd years, staying on the path has varied from easy to difficult but I’ve managed to keep a good attitude especially though the tough times. When things got boring or too repetitive, I shook them up. When I needed time off, I took it off but I’ve always managed to match how I eat to how much activity I’ve got on the horizon.
I managed to switch the common order of which thing to put in the bank. Normally, when you hear most people talk, it’s “I’ll have that piece of cake and work it off tomorrow.” I work out today in the event I might want a piece of cake later on tonight. I know plenty of people who get on that cycle of constantly trying to work off what they did the day, week or month before, only to fail. On the other hand, being proactive and staying in front of my fitness, not only is it okay to have a piece of guilt-free cake every now and again, it’s easier when I have to say, “No thanks”.
Those days where my metabolism could have burned up a brick if I could have stomached it are over. Once I accepted that I learned how (and what) I could eat and still maintain a fair weight. While I’m no model, I’m definitely good enough for government work.
There is no doubt, as far as I’m concerned, the 90% reason for the success I’ve enjoyed staying fit has been a positive mental attitude. The other half is finding something I love doing. To borrow part of a phrase.
I have doubts and lazy thoughts just like anyone else. What I won’t do is entertain them. My secret to success is shutting out the negativity that exists naturally in me. If negativity cannot get a foothold, it can’t climb out of the hole from which it’s been banished.
The truth is, having lived a sedentary life for a short time, I know a few things:
Pain is relative. My understanding of aches and pains in my body changes with time.
Living a sedentary lifestyle is far more painful than living a fit lifestyle – fit only hurts while I’m doing an activity and maybe shortly thereafter. Sedentary hurts all of the time.
I’d rather hurt an hour or two a day than all of the time – and that is not limited to physical pain. The mental anguish that went with being unfit for activity was much greater than the physical pain.
I have a tough time being negative when I choose only to feed the positive.
Ride hard my friends, we only get one model year and it’s gotta last all the way to the end.