November 21

The Fight of My Life

There was this guy.  I used to hang out with him.  He was big, fat, lazy, and stubborn.

He was the guy that always told me that I couldn’t do it.  That I couldn’t go to the gym.  I couldn’t work out anymore, I couldn’t keep up  He was the guy that shoved that nasty, greasy “fast” food in my mouth every morning, telling me it was good and that it was normal and that what we were doing was normal, because everybody else was doing it.

He was the guy that taught me the secret of not being ashamed of how much I ordered: just order for two.  If I made it seem like I was ordering for myself and another person, I didn’t have to be ashamed at how much I plowed down.  Two thousand calories in a sitting wasn’t that much.  Just toss that second 32-ounce pop… unless you want it in place of a refill.

Today I beat the hell out of that bastard.  I smashed his head between the bars of the butterfly machine sixty times.  I dropped my feet on his head after every pull-up, all sixty of them.  I kicked, screamed, grunted, and groaned that nasty bastard out of my life.

I told him that two thousand calories wasn’t even as much as I should eat in a day, let alone one sitting.  I told him that I don’t really like those nasty hash browns from Burger King, or those ridiculously sweet cinnamon things, or those soggy sandwiches.  I told him I was done with that shit, that I’d had it and I was moving on  I pushed him away and told him to never come back.

Who was that guy, you ask?  If you haven’t figured it out by now, that guy was me.  It was the me of 2013.  It was the me that almost killed me.

Toward the end of 2013, I was in a death spiral  My blood sugar was out of control, with my “lows” barely hitting what should have been the upper limits of OK.  I was taking mood stabilizers to combat the roller coaster of emotions that I was wreaking upon myself, medicine that ended up destroying my memory.

I was laying in bed with my wife.  And I started crying.  Just to myself, praying she would hear me, hoping she wouldn’t.  She asked me what was wrong, and I told her I couldn’t remember.

I’d had a blow-up that night while playing a board game that involved remembering things and trying to guess who answered what: I tried writing it down, but I couldn’t remember the answers long enough to get them to the paper, so I’d write it down wrong.  And when someone joked that I couldn’t remember shit, I flew off the handle.  He was my best friend, but that sudden burst of adrenaline nearly blocked that out.  And the sad part was that this friend knew how to handle himself… if he’d gotten hurt, it would have been because he didn’t believe I’d do something like that.  And if I’d gotten hurt, it would probably have broken his heart.

So we sat there in bed, my wife and I, going over the events of the night.  She had to fill in a lot of gaps, which upset me even more.  Then we started piecing things together, figuring out what had brought this on, and realized it was my medication.  We looked at the side-effects, and one of them was memory loss… in fact, in the long list of side-effects, there was only one or two that hadn’t affected me.  I stopped taking them altogether, and got an appointment with my doctor right away.

Now, my doctor is an awesome guy.  He’s been our family doctor since I can remember… I think he’s been my doctor for at least two decades now.  Anyway, we explained the problem, and told him that we thought the problem was actually from my blood sugar being all out of whack.  And he agreed.  He told me a bunch of things that I didn’t want to hear, but needed to.

I decided I was going to change my life.  Not “right then and there,” but over the course of a few days, or maybe weeks, I’m not sure.  I got a membership to the YMCA, and started going on a regular basis with one of my best friends.  I decided I wasn’t going to live to eat anymore, but that I was going to eat to live.

Toward the beginning of the journey, I stumbled across a website called “Nerd Fitness,” which talked about this “Paleo Diet” and how to get in better shape.  I kept reading the articles, trying to find that punchline, thinking to myself, “jeez, at some point, he’s gotta hold something back for whatever he’s trying to sell me.”  But that never came.  Good old Steve Kamb wasn’t trying to sell me anything at all.  This website, all these articles, these PDF’s, these videos, they were all there to help people like me learn how to get into shape on their own.

I paid to join the “academy” there on my birthday.  It’s funny how excited I was about it: a year prior, I’d have thought something like that was worse than getting ugly/non-fitting socks.

In fact, it’s kinda bizarre that I was having so much fun getting into shape.  I played racquetball weekly.  I went to the gym three times a week, lifting weights and riding a stationary bike, and walking.

So here I am today, just freshly having beaten the crap out of the old version of me.  I’ve logged more than 100 visits to the gym, despite not having logged much of anything for the first few months.

When I started, I couldn’t do a single proper push-up, even on my knees; now I can do ten in a row.  I couldn’t do a pull-up, even with over 100 lbs of assistance; now I can do them unassisted (not very many, but still).  I used to worry about not fitting in at the gym, now I help friends to fit in.  Now I move an order of magnitude more than when I started, and I have fun breaking a sweat.

Whatever you do, do something.  Just start moving.  Don’t sweat the small stuff, but make sure you sweat.  Don’t worry about what other people think.  Just do what you do.  Be the change you want to see in others.

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