fitness guys have issues

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Adult fitness dude, trying to buck the trend of sick, soft, and slow:

You probably grew up in a good home, playing the days away. There were no hardships or rash demands. You had it a lot better than you could know. You were an active little guy. Probably excelled in sports at that level. Rocketed a hand overhead to lead gym class. Cared who banged out the fastest 10 push-ups in the whole entire classroom.

You probably ran, "worked," biked, and played into the night. Baths and restaurants were a chore. Until about the age of 12, when you slowed down from hummingbird to sparrow pace. You were expected to sit and not fidget once in a while. Sports practices left you slightly tired and sore, in the mood for a nice video game "sesh."

Google search: ~1992 stacked athlete. Yep.
Then one day you heard you are what you eat. A realization hit you, about the gallons of Hi-C and tubs of Planter's cheese balls, dinners of entirely chicken nugget, and post-game feasts of pudding and ham cubes at the Rax buffet.

By 15 or so you managed to get slightly soft. Or if that wasn't reality, you started noticing that your coltish body didn't exactly look like a pro athlete or the guys on TV and magazines. It was still mostly all fun and games and sprinkles maxed out on ice cream cones.

At school you were repeatedly barraged with the idea of discipline and dedication, strive, effort, and work ethic. So. Much. Work ethic. You needed to hear those things, yes. But with little counter perspective, it's no wonder that during the most arduous period of gaining independence and finding identity, the accelerator started to stick.

I’m guessing that you suddenly started keeping an orderly (or more orderly) bedroom and your grade point average jumped. You decided that the National Honor Society and being huge and ripped for sports and for the ladies was...well there just wasn't anything else. And all that wasn't going to happen from living like any sort of a human being. Certainly not from eating grandmas stew and those damned pumpkin cookies.

The discipline schtick worked pretty well in some ways, for 6 months or so. You saw progress in the classroom and gym. You enjoyed the consistency, the illusion of control, the clear results of living out your philosophical modernism. There were good points, for sure. There were certainly worse ways for knucklehead teenagers to error.

But error you did. Your imbalanced, self-absorbed life caught up with you. Knotted you like the hair of a mopey Seattle grunge band. You had almost no fun and were less fun company. Ladies learned not to care about your cut bi's because you were a 160-pound zero.

Clever marketing misinformation. 
I mean, he's lifting supplements out of
the ocean with a fish net??
Nine months of nearly perfect discipline started to show. Your family knew nothing about anything, and you taught them lessons about control. People worried, seeing what happens when a young man makes good on two workouts/practices every day coupled with the dietary advice good for mostly sedentary, middle-aged bodybuilders.

All this, of course, meant that you weren't training enough or eating right, according to the gospels of Joe (Weider) and Bill (Phillips). Is it any wonder that you now have a chip on your shoulder about stupid supplements and worse than useless over-training practices?

Dialing UP the discipline and grit pretty much ruined your chances of being a friend, much less a collegiate athlete. You wanted to blame it on illness, honestly not knowing how being frankly messed up in the head creates dysfunction somewhere in the body.

You didn't learn fast, but you did learn. At the bottom you said "This isn’t working very well, and it sucks.” Even more determined, you devoured books and journals, learned plenty, transformed your love of knowledge. But of course knowledge alone didn't immediately advance you toward a strong mind and body, much less joy.

A tight grip through college had its benefits. Like no "Bs" in class or STDs or trouble with the law. Somewhere you heard that over 2 BILLION people have no toilets much less one pound of protein per pound of bodyweight. Put old Joe and Bill right in their place.

The grip gradually loosened as you became stronger, with graduate school, a marriage, a regular job, and children. You had way...more fun...with all that responsibility pressing on you.


One day you woke up to see that you were actually getting somewhere. Training was important and the results were kind of a side effect. Not that you were the epitome of awesomeness and wisdom. But you realized the ebb and flow of a balanced life, of work and recovery. You knew the MIRACLE of flexibility within a framework of disciplined consistency.

first tree flip

Now you notice when other young men seem to be spinning their wheels. You try not to project your issues onto them, but you see it a mile away. You want them to learn from your mistakes. You pull your net of training and living wisdom from the ocean of possibilities, display it lightly. You hope some aren't so knuckleheaded, having humility to forge ahead of you instead of digging a rut of their own.

Were you lucky to have found your way? I don’t believe in luck, not at all. And who has arrived? I certainly haven’t. But I believe in a God of freedom who seems to help at least two at a time, who weaves paths together through seasons and situations.

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  1. I like this. Sure is a flip side from what I wrote about (just trying to get people to do a LITTLE exercise :)

    I liked the voice here too, the sense of compulsion and motion, set in the pace of the very words themselves.

  2. Dude, you can write!

    I love it. ;)