Around three years ago, I found myself at the lowest point in my entire life, I was just out of a drug and alcohol treatment facility, weighing around 300lbs, going through divorce, living with my dad and step mom, and had very little desire to participate in my children’s lives, nor did I care much about my own. I had about lost all hope, but I knew that I had to do something. I simply was not going to be able to lay in bed forever, feeling sorry for myself, and wishing it would all go away. I certainly did not know what to do, but I was finding out what not to do.
I had decided that I would try to muster what little energy and drive that I had, and try my hand at some exercise. This day I had worn some long exercise pants, to cover my fat, pasty legs, a loose fitting gym shirt, to cover my oversized stomach and sagging tits, and a brand new pair of tennis shoes. I was chain smoking cigarettes, while sitting on a bench outside feeling hopeless and dejected. It just so happened to be the first day of a wonderfully fulfilling life. That is when I met Roy.
Roy is a 6’4” black man who is probably in his mid sixties. He has a head like a bull, and two fists like anvils. He has a furrowed brow and piercing brown eyes. I would also find out that he has one of the kindest, gentlest, compassionate, and caring souls that I would ever want to meet. Although age and illness have taken much from his physical prowess, it is quite clear that you don’t want to fu*k with Roy. I certainly did not know it at the time, but Roy would soon become not only a friend, but also a mentor. He is a man of few words, and certainly one of the most humble individuals that I have known. It turns out that Roy played professional football, boxed all over the world, and is said to have played under Vince Lombardi. Being that Roy new a little about my background and the shape I was in, both physically and mentally, he took one look at my outfit, and shook his head. He asked what I was doing, and I told him that I was about to go try to exercise, but I had rather dread it for three hours, than do it for thirty minutes. The dialogue that took place after that would alter my course significantly, and change the way that I look at many things in my life, and it was as simple as this:
Roy: “Are you an athlete?”
Me: “I used to be, kinda.”
Roy: “Awww shit.” (shaking his head in disgust)
Me: “What?” (looking like a complete dipsh*t)
Roy: “What, you fixin to go exercise?”
Me: “Supposed to, but right now I am just dreading it.”
Roy: “So, let me guess, you already know how much you are gonna do, how far you are gonna go, and how fast you are gonna do it in….and when you don’t do these things, you are gonna be pissed off that you didn’t, and if you do, you are gonna be pissed off that you didn’t do them faster, or your gonna expect to do them better, faster, and stronger next time. You have never, and you will never ENJOY exercise or anything else in your life with this kind of thinking. Can I make a suggestion?
Me: “errrrr, uhhhh, yeah, I mean, errrr, duh, sure”
Roy: “Just go walk. Be thankful that you still have the use of your legs. If you feel like jogging, then jog, and be thankful for the clean air and the blue sky. If you feel like running, then run, and be grateful that you have been given the opportunity to live a better life. Above all else, just ENJOY. There is nothing that a brisk walk won’t make, AT LEAST, a little better.”
There is a quote from the Vanilla Sky that says, “Every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around“. And that, my friends, was my passing moment. It was my opportunity. It was not the beginning of my fitness journey, but it was the beginning of a transformation in thinking, that would eventually lead directly into my willingness to start focusing on my health. It was a lesson that I would not soon forget, but it is a mindset that I often forget to practice.
I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity this week to encourage a fellow teammate of mine, before she did her assigned running for Von Rall’s running course. My advice was, “just enjoy it. Don’t get concerned with your times, just enjoy”. Not 24 hours later, I am fu*king slamming lockers, kicking at gravel, and cursing every person’s name I can think of in my mental rolodex. Why? Because expectations of what and how things were supposed to go. I, mind you, made up these expectations, for me, and about me, which means they are based on purely self-manufactured bullsh*t. It struck me that because I have met some previous goals, that anything less than those goals I was considering a “failure”. I was missing the meat and potatoes of why I am even putting myself through this. I have forgotten that this is for my pleasure, not my punishment. I have since re-centered myself, and am back on the plane of sheer enjoyment. I am only doing what I am doing for my pleasure, and enjoyment, and I will continue with this mindset.
Coach Von asked me earlier this week, what my next goal is, and the truth of the matter is that I don’t really have another short-term goal. I told him that I only have one goal at this point, and that is it. There are no 10K, half marathon, or full marathon goals, although these are things that must be accomplished. My goal is to run a 50 mile ultra marathon, and be able to deadlift 400lbs. At this point, I will be a member of Von’s “50-400 club”. This is a lofty goal. You may say it is an absurd goal, and you may be right, but it is my goal, not yours, and you may kiss my a*s. My plan from that point is to usher Von to the nearest computer, take a selfie, and force him to post the most eloquent and complimentary biography about Beefcake on his website www.liftheavyrunlong.com, and his undying pursuit of excellence, and hero like persistence in the face of adversity, while defying all odds, (this biography will, of course, be written by yours truly ahead of time). As soon as Von posts my information on the website I shall raise to him my middle finger, send to him a picture of my fat white ass, and retreat to the nearest Burger King, where I will spend the rest of my days enjoying double whoppers and telling the customers about my “glory days” of fitness, never to return to a gym again. Until this time comes, my focus is going to remain on the enjoyment of the journey , and doing what I can to not let myself waiver off that course. I have found that improvement is what happens while I am busy moving my feet, and bitching about all the things that I am not. If I continue to suit up and show up everyday and keep fitness a priority, than I cannot help but to get a little better. It is crazy for a guy who has never ran more than ten miles at a time to claim he will someday run fifty , but I don’t think it is any crazier than training everyday and assuring myself that I never will run fifty miles. It is so nice to be surrounded by people who want to see me succeed. I truly believe that if my goal was to sh*t golden eggs, and sprout wings to fly, there would be people who would do anything they could to help me train for it. I have not had anyone even HINT towards there being anything that I “can’t” do, and so many who have told me what I “can”. You know, if you tell a fella that long enough, he will truly start to believe it. It’s a wonderful life, and I am glad to be a part of it. It is no coincidence that wonderful people surround me. Whether anyone has agreed with my goals or not is of little importance, but what is important is that they have supported me in my pursuit of them.
Peace, Love, and all things Beef related,