I think it’s far less common for guys to talk about their body issues. So I’m gonna step out in the wild world of being different. I can’t remember when I first realized I’m fat. I think before I was ever called fat at school I was called big. This started with sports -sometimes it was a positive thing. That is until it was coupled with my inability to ever have a chance to steal a base or the insistence that I could never play shooting guard. Somewhere around 12 or 13 I realized I was chubby. I didn’t really know what to do about it.
Flash forward to high school and I was sporting hoodies on the daily to cover up my chubbiness. Don’t get me wrong, I was a pretty average guy. I had girlfriends and I played sports. But I got pretty fat in high school but really had no idea how to deal with it. I remember going jogging for 10 minutes around the block fully convinced I just worked out.
It wasn’t until 2004 when I went to South Africa that I witnessed what intense training and working out was and it blew me away. My friend’s younger brother was 14 and ranked as one of the top 3 swimmers in South Africa. The guy was ripped and looked about 18. I stayed at their house and watched his regiment. He would wake up at 5am every day and cycle to the gym. After school, he would train again. Swimming and lift, swim and lift. His diet and supplement routine was completely eye-opening. There was something about just seeing someone work that hard that was a game changer for me. I know it sounds so stupid and basic but for me, I realized I just have to become a fitness machine.
When I got back to the states I was a different person. I started swimming. I bought a bike and rode it everywhere. I started trying to attempt longer and longer runs. I think I might have even identified myself as a triathlete-in-training to other people. From January 2005 to August 2007 I dropped 50 lbs and got in incredible shape. I went from barely able to run a few miles to trying to get below 7-minute miles on 10-mile runs. But this came at a major cost. I lived at the gym. I became obsessed with how I looked. I had this guilt that if I didn’t work out daily then I was failing. This resulted in 11pm gym sessions. I was proud of the discipline I had found and it felt incredible to get the results but in hind site, I was a slave to my own vanity.
When I moved to South Africa I wasn’t able to work out in the same way and I think it was such a healthy thing for me. Rather than hitting the gym I would go on hikes, walks and jogs. Moving to South Africa and being forced to operate in a different regiment allowed me to let go of the exercise guilt and obsession with my body. We were so active in our daily lifestyle as we ran youth camps and worked with youth all over the country that fitness outside of normal life was far from my mind.
In the years that followed I kind of lost track of my weight but I can say that I’ve never actually felt like I’m in good enough shape. I suppose that’s the most dangerous thing with fitness. Only in retrospect can I look back at photos and say I looked good. Which is why focusing on an actual physical activity goal has felt so much more healthy for me. From 2009-2011 and later 2014, I ran the Two Oceans Half Marathon in Cape Town. I remember the first one very vividly. It felt so meaningful to work towards something like that and meet my goal. I actually got really emotional when I realized I’d finish 3 minutes faster than my goal.
It’s hard to say where I fell off the wagon with fitness. Overcoming this workout obsession was such a good thing for me. I stopped caring as much about my body and I think my weight was probably pretty stable between 200-215 pounds from 2007-2013. Then I got married.
Marriage is amazing. It’s unreal to have someone that loves you unconditionally. But having someone by your side means that you make a lot of decisions together. Decisions about how to spend your time together and decisions about what you eat. I think marriage or having a partner in that regard can be challenging. Annchen and I can be such bad influences on each other. I like to drink. She likes to eat dessert. It’s bad. Actually, it’s really fun. But what’s not fun is moving up in pant sizes and seeing pictures of yourself and being in shock. Or having to coach your wife on what pictures are postable to social media (what a sad confession).
Aside from the comfort of marriage and limitations of time. I chalk my fitness demise up to traveling and allowing myself too many moments of holiday mode. These days where you have 3-4 drinks and eat garbage ruin you. When you are traveling for fun and for work it’s easy to string these days together. For me, there is no way if I operate like that, that I will also exercise.
I know for me there is a very strong correlation between my happiness and exercise. I also know some of my best moments of inspiration have come during a run. My biggest challenge is finding a balance between not overdoing it and letting myself go. I’ve tried to find this balance. What it’s resulted in is 4-7 day stretches of intense workout followed by me messing up (holiday mode) and then stopping the exercise.
One of the aims with this 180-day window in life is to get in shape and it’s going well. I got a little head start on the 180 days. I’m about 14 days into trying to be more active and healthy. I’m down to 248 lbs from 258 (10 pounds!).
I want to get down to 210 lbs by January 28, 2019 (177 days from now). That is 38lbs to lose in 25 weeks. I’m trying to figure out what my additional goals might be. I definitely want to do the Two Oceans again in April 2019 and I’m toying with the extreme idea of signing up for the 70.3 Iron Man in South Africa in late January 2019. I’ll give that one some more thought.
I’ll be sure to share my progress along the way. For now this is going really well. I’m cycling everywhere, running almost daily and lifting weights 2-3 times a week. I feel really good. It’s funny though I probably look the same but in my mind, I’m more photographable.
Our minds are crazy places.