I was like so many others, overeating my way to cementing a sedentary lifestyle for myself, one meal at a time… Then came decision time. I was young, too. Just 32 years-old, my once furnace-hot metabolism had cooled and I was catching up on 200 pounds. I was a 150, dripping wet, when I sobered up. Some of that fifty pounds was needed. 150 is too skinny for a 6′ tall man, but 200 pounds is when the double-chin starts forming.
Do I get fit or fat? Running (and eventually cycling), or video games and the couch?
First, I never knew how painful a sedentary lifestyle was until I started running. People complain about muscle soreness with running, I did from time to time as well, but no amount of fitness I’ve tried hurt like a sedentary lifestyle.
I’ve run half-marathons (that was enough, thank you), ridden a hundred miles a day, for days on end, 60,000+ miles in my 40’s, and nothing hurt as bad as sitting on the couch. The second worst was getting off it. The third was continuing to choose to stay off it.
Once I got fit, though, once I learned the tricks of running, and eventually cycling, I found my own and my peace. I also found a few missing pieces to the puzzle of my recovery.
After riding with my friends yesterday, a nice, enjoyable 18-1/2-mph, 47-mile ride with my wife and my two best riding friends, I took a nap with my wife… on the couch. We woke up at 3 and went to watch my daughter, a high school junior, perform with Eastern Michigan University and several other high school bands, during and after the football game against Western Michigan.
Our seats weren’t in the nosebleeds, but they were high enough, on the 40-yard line. I took each step with ease, keeping pace with my 13-year-old daughter who weighs about as much as my legs. I wasn’t breathing heavy when we reached our seats, 28 rows up. If my heart rate was over 80 bpm, I’d be surprised.
I went up and down those stairs a few times, just as fast, throughout the game.
Our team (I went to Eastern as a much younger lad) was down, and Western looked to be in control until the momentum shifted when EMU stopped Western and scored just before halftime. Eastern was down 14-10 at the half.
My daughter, at halftime, was the a part of the middle peak of the M in E M U, right out front as the EMU marching band and the six-ish other marching bands present all belted out popular hip-hop tunes they’d learned just a couple of hours earlier. I can’t describe how cool it was to see my daughter down there on the field, at the university that asked me not to come back for my junior year, playing with the marching band that I was too much of a drunk loser to play in… If any evidence was needed that I’d done well with my recovery from addiction, I got a plateful last night.
The Eastern Michigan Eagles came out of the locker room on fire, having made some needed adjustments to their game, held the momentum from just before the half, and took it to the Western Michigan Broncos. EMU won 34 to 27 in a classic come-from-behind victory (they’d been down as much as 14-3 in the first half). Their offense was exceptional much of the game, but their defense really picked it up in the second half. There were fireworks and the ROTC lit off cannon blanks every time the Eagles scored (that was awesome).
For the post-game show, my daughter’s school was chosen to perform their entire show on the big stage. Many fans stayed to watch along with the EMU marching band. And the Swartz Creek Dragon marching band nailed it. Their best performance of the year.
27 years ago, I chose to accept my alcoholism and recover from it. 17 years ago, I chose to accept that, after I’d quit smoking, I loved food and had to get off my tukus and get fit. As it does so often nowadays, all of that awesomeness came together and I got to see why I went to all of that trouble to live a clean, healthy life in the first place.
I could easily look at what I don’t have in life. I could concentrate on where I fail, and I do every day (small failures, but failures nonetheless). I could look at where life fails me, at everything that “isn’t fair”. I could choose to ball up my recovery and flush it for a case of beer and a momentary escape (I never drank half-assed – if I’m going to give up and drink, even hypothetically, I’m gonna do it right). Better, I could have given up everything that’s been good in my life decades ago, because “I’m probably not a drunk, it was just bad luck”…
I could have taken all of my misery back and I’d never have experienced what I did last yesterday.
I choose to live the way I do because being me is awesome.