Today was another eureka moment for me.
I was in the gym, and to check I pulled myself up on the pullup bars. I did 3 pullups. I could also hang from the bars for 30 seconds without a problem. After my bodyweight workout I did an interval cardio run and it felt great. Better than I have in a long time. During the run I was thinking “What the crap is going on, this is great!?” and “What’s different? What have I changed to get here?”.
So I reflected on the last few years and this is what I came up with:
Firstly, I’ve got a long, long, long high road still to travel. This post is not about chest beating. This is about small inches that create momentum, which result ultimately in self knowledge and self reliance.
Ten years ago I played hockey 6 days a week, and ran a winder (1km on a hockey field) in 3 mins and 5 seconds. I wasn’t an elite full time athlete then, but I was close enough to compete with the best in my age group and province (who were also among the best in the country). In my mind I’m still 22…
Seven years ago I weighed in at 125kg (275.6 lbs or 19.7 stone), had a left ankle that was swollen and full of scar tissue, a left side weak from a broken collarbone, was drinking 2 or 3 cokes and eating 2 or 3 chocolate bars a day, I couldn’t touch my toes standing up, couldn’t run without getting shin splints, couldn’t do pullups or pushups, and sure as hell felt crap (and probably looked it too – when I look at old photos I wince, but that’s life). I look at that as my brute strength phase.
From three to four years ago I was working 18 hour days, 7 days a week, non-stop. Fitness and health wasn’t a priority. I can remember coming home one Friday night and tucking into a full tin of Pringles chips, a full huge Morrisons £3.99 chicken and bacon pizza, a half litre of diet coke, and two Magnum ice creams, while watching either Akira or one of the Ghost in the Shell movies. Then going on valiantly to do another few hours of work afterwards. Most of my friends had taken me off their social lists and being alone on weekends felt normal. That was also a brute strength phase.
Two years, and up to a year and a half ago, I had shoulders that wouldn’t let me lift my laptop bag more than waist height or open a kitchen cupboard (left shoulder, then right shoulder – both from falling while snowboarding and not being strong enough to carry the fall). I was probably about 110 / 112kg then. My overwhelming sense was that this wasn’t what I wanted for the rest of my life. There had to be another way. So I saw a physio for my shoulders, and started in earnest. I look at that as my decision phase.
A year ago I was doing curls, bench presses, shoulder raises and getting better at running. Shinsplints were still common when I pushed it, and I had dropped to about 108, getting to 106 when doing a lot of cardio. But something was missing and it didn’t make sense for all the effort I was putting in. Still, persistence carried through, and I started educating myself. It became obvious pretty quickly that despite my biological background, human physiology from 10 years ago wasn’t going to give me the answers – so I became a sponge. I look at that as my search for knowledge phase.
Today I tipped the scales at 101kg (that’s 222.2 lbs or 15.9 stone), but more importantly for me I was able to do 3 pullups in a row. I thought “I am getting stronger, I can lift my own weight!“. I haven’t been able to do that since my early twenties. But that in itself isn’t what this is all about – my eureka moment was that persistence and patience, through gradual design and conscious direction, has created results that have made me realise that I was my own worst enemy all along. So this evening I celebrate, but tomorrow I go back to work – I still have a long way to go. I look at this as my being smart sponge phase.
If you’re reading this, whatever you’re doing that you’re passionate about, or that you’re doing to change your life, don’t give up, don’t stop, don’t listen to anyone else – you won’t regret what you’ll learn or gain in the process.