Saturday, July 9, 2016

Becoming an IronDad: Part One of Ironman Posts

Ups and downs are part of life.  There are plenty of comparisons that we have all heard time and again expressing this fact.  Certainly this idea is extolled more by well meaning individuals toward those in the down moments than the up, but the idea prevails regardless of which end of the seesaw you happen to be on.  The quest of one's life should never be to stay up all the time.  This would be an impossible undertaking leading only to constant disappointment and disaster.  What should be strived toward, however, is a trend upward over the course of a life.  To live such that the ups are higher and longer as life goes on and the downs shallow and brief.  Not as easy a task to make reality as it is to write, but a noble and worthwhile pursuit nonetheless.

Now, you may ask how an opening paragraph about trending upward could have anything to do with a 4 month quest to become an Ironman, but I assure you, at least in my head, it does.  Sometimes, in order to give that upward trend of life a boost, you need a grand adventure—a goal, in more life coach-ish terms—to keep you honest and motivate your soul.  I realize it is important to set small obtainable goals that mark your progress and fill you with a sense of accomplishment, but there is nothing like a summit when it comes to my self motivation; especially a summit that leaves me with very little room for descending when the going gets tough.  Hence this blog post and the weekly videos and blogs to come.  Hence the pricey, nonrefundable, 700 dollar price tag for admission to the Ironman race I have chosen and prepaid.  And hence a boastful promise that regardless of whether I'm ready or not, I will be on the starting line, and what will follow is either a great day, or, physically speaking, the worst and most humiliating of my life.

The last time I was in shape was about three years ago when a friend asked/begged/dared me to do a Toughmudder with him.  I agreed, got in shape, lost a bunch of fat around the middle I had no use for, and conquered the challenge with gusto.  Oh, and had a fantastic time.  I finished ready for the next challenge and immediately signed up for the Marine Corps Marathon and convinced my friend that he had to do it with me.  New summit...check.  Motivation...check.  Through a totally unrelated set of circumstances, my buddy got injured and the race was off.  Through fault only my own, my motivation plummeted and over the course of three years, I got chubby again, out of shape, and never ran the marathon.   Thus, I figured, how best to begin this new journey than where I left off several years ago.  Click on video above.  By the way, my sixty year old mom and my brother finished with me this time.  That's right, sixty.

Which leads us to the business at hand.  Weekly posts, both video and blog, and a quest to become an Ironman.  Please watch the video and tune in for future update.  Also, I will be raising money for the Alzheimers Association so please be generous to this worthy cause and click on the link below.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”  -Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, March 2, 2015

How the Mighty Fall

Neglected...this blog.
A rut...sure, you could call it that.
Laziness...closer to the truth.
What now...?

Every journey is filled with its ups and downs.  Life is a curvy, funky, finicky, fantastic thing, and everything except predictable.  And even the most dedicated, fanatical, well meaning individuals lose their way.  Have moments of doubt.  Have moments where they ask themselves, how did I let myself get back here, or fall so far, or get so out of touch.  And if you've heard or read anything in the vein of motivational in the past, you have a good idea what I'm probably going to say next...well...pretend I said it because I've heard it myself and yet I still find myself flat on my back, wondering why I'm not following all that great motivational advise.  I find myself in the mysteriously comfortable, horrible feeling land of laziness.  And in this land, motivation is not easily found.

So how did I get here?  Well first, let me tell you where I am.  I've gained about fifteen pounds back.  I haven't been exercising.  I say yes to things that are not good for me (read cookies and ice cream) when I should exercise some self control.  And more importantly I feel run down, unhealthy, and little sad.  So how did I get here?

A series of baby steps that looked quite innocuous at the time, which slowly became a complacent, "I've ruined it anyway" attitude that became a lie that sounded a lot like, "I'll start again tomorrow," which was nearly six 5 months ago.

Make sense.  Don't worry about it because in reality, it doesn't matter.  Sure, I could analyze why and look for patterns of behavior.  Try to look for triggers and all that jazz, and I might in the future, but for right now, it just really doesn't matter.  I'm going in a direction I don't want to go and it's time to turn around and start going in the direction I do.

And what, pray tell, direction is that?  What is it that I'm actually after with all this healthy living nonsense?  Six pack abs certainly seem like a great thing to have, but in and of themselves, not really all that useful.  So why would I like to have them?  What do they and a dozen other signs of a healthy me really represent.

I want to feel good.  Both in the practical sense and in the more touchy feely sense.  I want to feel energetic and alive.  I want to feel good about myself.  I want to feel good knowing that I'm setting a good example for my children.  I want to feel good as I grow older.  What I want is to be a complete and fit human being.  A well rounded (just not the waistline), soulful, fun kinda guy.

So what is lazy me to do...

Okay, this is that part where I give myself, and you if your looking for a bit of a boost, the pick yourself up by the bootstraps speech that I alluded to earlier.  The, it doesn't matter how many times you fall, what matters is how many times you get back up, speech.  The, because I've failed I learned to succeed, speech.  The, failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently, speech.  The many of life's failures are those who didn't know how close they were to success when they gave up, speech.  The, enough whining, get up and do something, speech.  The, enough is enough, time to pull yourself, one muscle fiber at a time, up off the ground, find something you care about, reach out and seize it because every day you waste wallowing in self pity, is a day that is gone forever—make the rest of them count, speech.

I know I feel better.  Problem is, it's 10:30 at night, I'm at work and so I really can't do anything until tomorrow.  Ha ha.  Oh well...

No.  Not oh well.  There is always something you can do and it is important to seize those small moments of motivation when you have them.  I am going to make some concrete plans.  I'm going to put a few things in motion to hold myself...accountable.  I encourage you to do the same.  My choices are signing up for the Marine Corps Half Marathon and confirming my reservation for the Marine Corps Marathon, which I deferred from last year.  Wait a second.............done.

I have officially lifted my head up off of the ground.  The rest to follow...

Monday, August 11, 2014

It's Okay to Be Fat?

I've been noticing a trend on social media, and in society in general, that I ultimately felt like I needed to comment on, if not for educational purposes, then just to get things off my chest.  The trend relates to an important issue facing our young ones, as well as grown women and men.  The issue is body image.  With the prevalence of magazines, television, and celebrities influencing our impressions of what someone should or shouldn't look like, there is a rise in the United States of people experiencing eating disorders, depression, and even attempting suicide based on unrealistic, often fabricated, concepts of beauty, sex, and what's physically attractive.  Young people and even adults face the daunting task of comparing themselves to Photoshopped images of models, men and women whose full time job is to be fit and exercise, and the idea that there is a standard for beauty and this standard is in someway attached to a person's worth.  All concepts we don't need to place on the shoulders of young individuals trying to find their way in the world, going through a host of physical changes, and already struggling with self image without the aid of such expectations.  The trend I have been noticing, however, rather than combating these ideas with helpful, supportive ways to achieve self esteem and good health, combat them with the idea that being obese is perfectly fine.  After all, you should just be happy with who you are.

Well, as with almost all extremes in America and in popular culture, I whole-heartedly disagree, and can already feel the rancor of the masses that support this new idea.  I will state very clearly, that this is my opinion and all that I ask is you hear me out.

No one should be made to feel like less of a person for the way they look.  No one should be discriminated against for the way they look, or any reason for that matter.  No one should have to suffer with self hatred and depression because of the way they look.  It's only natural then, to help people come to the understanding that's it's okay to be just how they are.  I am not a tall man.  In fact, I'm kinda short.  At 5'7'' I'm never going to reach the top shelf of my kitchen cabinets without climbing on the counter.  There will always be a host of Cosmo style articles related to women's preference for tall men.  Tall men are more successful.  Tall men are seen as more confident, commanding, and desirable.  And I could certainly wallow in self pity over my plight as a short guy.  Or, I could accept this unchangeable fact about myself, and be happy with who I am.  It's okay to be 5'7'', just as it's okay to be 6'8".  Some people have round faces, some angular.  Some have a big nose, some little upturned ones.  Some have dark skin, some pale.  Scars, long toes, short fingers, curly hair, blue eyes, wrinkles, freckles.  All okay.  In fact, it's wonderful to have such diversity.  It's wonderful to be just who you are.  Being overweight, is not who you are.

Telling an entire generation of young people, who are living in a country facing an obesity epidemic, that it's okay to be overweight is not the answer.  Obesity is a prescription for a lifetime of ailments, diseases, and health problems.  Want to ensure that America's youth will have a shorter life span than previous generations?  Tell them that being fat is just who they are and there is nothing wrong with that.  Heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, many types of cancer, vascular disease, stroke—all thrive with obesity.

"In 2012, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese." —CDC

Instead of allowing ourselves to be caught up in the ridiculous influence of magazine models, and superstar actors, and rather than making obesity an acceptable norm, let's promote health as something to look up to and toward.  Learning about what types of food you put into your bodies, getting up and moving around, taking care of yourselves.  Because ultimately, if you don't, then when you get older, someone else is going to have to do it for you, and then it will be too late.

We should be accepted for who we are.  We should learn to love ourselves, faults and virtues alike.  And all the more reason, we should care about ourselves enough to treat our bodies with nurturing respect.  We deserve to be the healthy, happy, best version of ourselves we can be, and believe it or not, having a healthy weight is not something some people are just born with, and not all that complicated to achieve.           


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