Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Bad Stuff is the Good Stuff

I've been fortunate in life. Despite occasionally b@#ching about being sick for a few weeks or running slow, I've been lucky. Things have always worked out for me right when I needed them to. There are many people who aren't so lucky. They suffer from anxiety. Depression. I used to think, "that makes no sense. They should just get over it."

That's because I was an idiot.

I would judge these folks because when I was younger, I didn't stress much over anything. It's not that I was better at handling my $hit than them. It's because I didn't really care about anything or anyone. It wasn't a solution. It was an escape. I was afraid of caring. Now there are things in my life that I value strongly, and people that I care about immensely. So now I get anxious or melancholy much more often, but it's worth it.

I also have friends in my life who suffer from depression or anxiety. Some of them have to take medication for it, because if they don't, it will ruin their life. For my younger stupid self, this was hard to grasp. But I've experienced the mental anguish of my friends second-hand for some time now. And due to my constant training, I've experienced my own brain chemistry get completely f@#ked. I've gotten really upset, really angry, anxious, and downright depressed, even though I would tell myself logically, "what the f*&k? Just get over it!"

It doesn't work.

Growing up doesn't prepare you for this at all. School is easy. Students may feel like it's tough, but it's not. You have structure. You are told what to do. You know exactly what to expect. You don't have to worry about a car breaking down, staying late for work, or a friend inviting you to an all day event that you have to go to (yeah, skip that wedding because you don't feel like going; just try it). In school, life makes sense. You feel like everything is going according to plan, and that is immensely comforting.

Then you graduate and you realize, cr@p, you have absolutely no clue what to do. Suddenly the down comforter of purpose and structure is violently ripped away from you, exposing you to the harsh elements of real life and self-doubt.

I went to an Ivy League school, not because I was smart or hard-working, but because I was lucky. I grew up poor, but I ate enough and had a place to live, because I was lucky. I felt satisfied in my world view, confident that my life would work out perfectly, magically. I was lucky to have this faith and sense of solidity.

When I graduated I didn't get an awesome job. I wasn't a driven or dedicated person. I lived with my parents and was only slightly employed. I would sleep in, go to the gym, and hang out with my very few nerdy friends. I kept living like a child. The only reason I got the awesome job I have now is because my dad got tired of me bumming around the house and directed me to a job ad (again, pure blind luck).

I still didn't find meaning or direction. I started drinking and my social life exploded. Ahah! I thought. This is it, this is what I was missing: Connection. But it wasn't connection, it was just empty frivolous validation and ego-seeking. I didn't give a shit about the people I met; I only sucked emotional highs out of them. I hurt people, but I didn't care. And I still judged those who were anxious or scared.

"I'm not anxious. This just sucks."

I coasted by like this for years. I jumped from "relationship" to "relationship". I use quotes because saying I was capable of anything substantial at the time is laughable. I partied. I drank. I got fat. I had a lot of fun. A lot of fun. And for a long time it was enough. I convinced myself it was enough. I avoided stress and responsibility like they were the plague. And having a nice job convinced me I wasn't a total loser.

Now I stress. Now I worry. Now I get anxious. Now I get depressed. And thank God. Thank. God. I want responsibility. I want to give a $hit about things. I want to have people in my life that matter so much to me that I think constantly about them and worry about how they're doing. I want to obsess over my training and whether I'm working hard enough to accomplish my goals. I want to have to review this blog post to make sure I didn't use the same fancy noun twice.

I'm a human being now. I'm no longer a pile of goop chasing after stimulus. I'm no longer a child absentmindedly chewing on salty snacks drowning myself in pretty colors and noises. I'm no longer an imp chasing after petty indulgences. I thought I was liberated before, but I was just scared, confusing pain-avoidance for freedom. My soul is liberated now, free to immerse itself fully in life.

And life is awesome.

Absurd, awesome, whatever.
Photo Cr. Marc Ryan

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentines Day!

Life is tough and weird and crazy. Sometimes it's hilarious, and sometimes it's painful. There's times when we rejoice, and times when we suffer. But the bad times are much easier to bear with people you love, and the good times are that much better when shared with them!

The past few months have been just as bizarre for me. There were times when I felt absolutely alone, refusing to allow anyone to break my self-imposed isolation. Thankfully that's been more than offset by the immense love and joy that I've been given recently. I sometimes whine that I don't "deserve" it, but love is something you cultivate. It doesn't just fall on top of you like a chandelier while you're reading Tolstoy.

I have likewise had ups and down in my training, which I've mentioned in other posts. In the fall, I buried myself in a dark place due to my overtraining syndrome. In January I could've easily fallen into a similar pit of despair due to a horrible stomach thing, but thankfully I didn't allow myself to do so. Someone has recently entered my life who makes me feel genuinely blessed. She's reminded me that I want joy in my life, and that secluding myself is just an indulgence.

That may seem weird, that choosing to feel bad is an indulgence. But it is. Ultimately we decide how we react to the events in our lives. We can choose to focus on the bad stuff - the disasters. We can choose to take for granted the good stuff - the minor miracles. Or we can take it all as an opportunity to grow, become stronger, to prosper, and to be more joyful.

Being alone brings a sort of comfort. It's a familiar pain. And when you're alone, nobody can hurt you, and you can't hurt anyone. I've hurt a lot of people in my life. I used to be very selfish, and now I recognize that fact. I feel guilty for having hurt people. And yet, when I talk to those old friends, expressing my regret, they forgive me! The guilt doesn't help anyone, it just acts as an excuse to not change. I embrace change now. It excites me and brings constant improvements.


I don't really celebrate Valentine's Day, or most holidays for that matter. One may argue it's just a commercial holiday, meant to sell greeting cards and chocolates. One may say, "why do you need a special day to express how you feel?!"

You don't.

But it's a day of focus. Today, I can't not think about love. The love I have to give, and the love many others have so generously given me. It's a day I can say "I love you!" to my dear friends without making them too squeamish (although I generally don't mind making folks squirm a bit with my sappiness these days). And even with the cards and chocolates and stuffed bears that will go straight into a closet... it brings a moment of warmth. Sometimes it's all too easy to forget how lucky you are to have the people in your life that you do.

I know I've been mentioning love a lot recently. I promise I'll go back to talking about crushing rocks with bare feet! But as always, I write for myself too, and this is a lesson I do not want to forget. I have forgotten it all too often in the past. I can never have too many reminders of how important it is to me. Out of all the highs life has brought me - beautiful nights of music and laughter, crossing the finish line of a brutal race, breaking a brick with my bare hands - love is the one I can point to and say, "this is it. This is why I'm alive."

So to you reader, I love you. And to some special readers, I love you extra :)

As close as I'll come to flowers!

Friday, February 10, 2017

I Never Feel Like Working Out

I didn't feel like swimming today. I spent half an hour trying to log into my investment account so I could get my 1099 and failed miserably. And I was tired, and sore, and hungry, and just really whiny. And I have to, like, drive 15 minutes to the pool, and there was a big hairy guy in the shower room aggressively scrubbing his manly bits for all to behold.

I went swimming. And it was amazing. I had a huge learning moment and shaved 20 seconds off my 100 meter time. That's a lot, by the way.

Yesterday it was 15 degrees. Fahrenheit. In Celsius the number becomes even more depressing. I really didn't want to run. All day I was thinking, "I really don't want to run." I even debated jumping on a horrible, awful, soul-crushing treadmill. It was so cold that polar bears were crossing town heading south for warmer climes.

I went running. Outside. I ran 10 miles. And it was amazing. I don't know why but it was just really great.

I never want to ride the stationary bike for two and a half hours either. That's just a really long time to have my balls crushed. But then afterwards I get to eat a bathtub full of ice cream.

But knowing that I'll feel good after a workout doesn't really help me before a workout. I've had plenty of terrible workouts, so it's far from a guarantee. And I don't have to eat ice cream. I can just not exercise, and eat a normal meal like a normal human.

If I only exercise when I feel like it, I will literally never work out. It's really rare that I'm actually motivated to go outside. Usually because it's a gorgeous day, or I'm doing it with a friend. But it's the dead of winter right now, and there's nobody around for me to have adventures with. So it's just me, tired, suffering from a bit of Seasonal affective Disorder (ie. hating winter), and often freezing.

I have no problem exercising every day. I may b*tch and complain, but I get up and I go do it. Every time. Sometimes I even exercise when I really shouldn't, like this past month when I had just the most horrible thing and exercising made it ten times worse.

Most of the folks who read this are probably already bada$$ athletes, and know what it's like to be sore or exhausted and kicking patoot anyway. But if you're one of those who struggles to get going in the first place.... Well, I'm going to be a jerk. The reason you struggle is because you treat working out as something you want to do, rather than something you have to do.

If you want to exercise, it's going to lose out every time to the other things you want to do which don't involve sweating or freezing or smashing your body. Like watching TV. Or reading a book with your cat (if it's literate.... otherwise in the proximity of your cat). Or eating an entire thing of Oreo cookies and then staring at the empty tray with a slight frown.

However, if you treat exercise as something you have to do, on the same list as going to work, doing your laundry so you don't smell like Oscar the Grouch's socks, or grocery shopping so you don't die, then it's no problem. It doesn't matter how you feel. It doesn't matter if you're not in the "mood". If your kid is sick, you stay up all night wiping her nose, and then go to work (after drinking ten coffees). It doesn't matter. You may hate yourself afterward, but you just do it.
"I don't wear socks, dummy!"

Because you have to.

How do you get to that point in the first place? You have to be kind of crazy. You have to convince yourself that working out is as critical to your survival as earning a living and and putting digestibles into your body. Which, for some people, it is. But even if that's not the case, you just have to pretend. I mean, you don't really have to work at a job. Plenty of people have super sh!tty lives and keep on kicking. If you lost your job and your house, you'd be fine. You just wouldn't be able to afford bags and bags of Oreo cookies anymore.

It requires changing your life. Downright destroying it really. When you first started working full time, you probably had to sacrifice day-drinking with your unemployed friends. When you started doing your own chores, you probably had to sacrifice sitting around doing nothing all day. If you had a kid, you probably had to sacrifice.... well, everything.

Exercise is one thing that you choose to make sacrifices for. That is incredibly powerful. A lot of us feel helpless in our lives, like we're just being dragged along on a prescribed path. And yeah, going for a run may be as exhausting as doing a mountain of dishes, but it's something you chose to put into your life. It's something you chose, because it adds meaning, satisfaction, and a sense of accomplishment to you. It's something you chose, because it makes you a better and stronger person.

And because you chose it, you have to do it.

Every day.

Even with results like these,
I still don't feel like working out

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Discovering Your Personal Nature

I have often wondered about who I am, what my purpose is, how I should live my life and whether I'm doing it "right". I've made a lot of mistakes, and will likely continue to make a lot of mistakes. I judge myself harshly for things that are beyond my control. And I feel time slip away that I will never get back.

I've always been a fan of language. I like learning new languages, appreciating how cultures are shaped by the language they speak, and seeing both the similarities and differences between them. It's pretty cool stuff for a nerd like me.

When I was in my 20's I wanted to learn a new language. I couldn't decide which one I should start with, so I ended up spinning my wheels and doing nothing. Finally I realized I was just making excuses and that there was no "best" language to start with, so I just picked Japanese. Useless? Maybe. Probably. But I liked it.

I studied it for a couple years, mostly through audio lessons on my work commutes. I did some other languages too, although not quite to the same extent. But I stopped about a year ago. I got frustrated that I never would get to practice with native language speakers, and that I was forgetting more than I was learning. I didn't know when or where I would get to travel.

What's my point with the story? It was neither right nor wrong that I started to study languages. And it was neither right nor wrong that I stopped. The only wrong thing was in judging myself. Should I do it? Which one? Why am I doing it? Was it wrong that I quit? Should I go back to it?
We all struggle with these thoughts...

Those are all stupid questions. They make me feel guilty. Either I squandered my life learning languages I'll never use, or I'm squandering my life not learning languages. It doesn't matter. What matters is whether I'm happy. Whether I feel like my life is moving in a generally positive direction. Whether I'm proud of myself.

I train for the same reason. Plenty would say it's a waste of time, that I should be focusing on my career, or that I should be making babies or something. I train far more than is necessary to be fit and healthy. And I'm never going to get rich or famous as an athlete. And I struggle sometimes, both physically if I get hurt or sick, and emotionally if I feel disappointed in my performance. Some of my friends say I should chill out, have some whisky, and reacquaint myself with a social life.

Ultimately, it's arbitrary. It doesn't really matter what we do. We all will die some day. But I can't afford to second guess myself. In the modern age, most of us have near a infinite number of options available to us! Should I learn to play guitar? Should I go back to school? Should I write a novel? Should I take Crossfit? Should I get into monster trucks?

Should I just eat this box of donuts?

The real problem is fear. It's easy to get paralyzed by the sheer number of options available and to end up doing nothing. Or to keep jumping from thing to thing without ever developing any mastery. Or to be riddled with guilt for not doing the "right" thing. And ultimately it becomes an escape. An escape from being forced to look deeply inwards and to figure out who you really are.

Because who the F@#k knows? Nobody. It's impossible to know. You spend your whole life learning and die knowing nothing. The only thing you have any control over is how you feel. Do you feel happy and successful? Or do you feel miserable and unsatisfied.

Exercising makes me feel good. Writing makes me feel good. I don't need to painstakingly analyze these choices. I might make adjustments as I learn and grow. But I'm not going to let doubt or fear effect my mood or decisions. It accomplishes nothing, except to make me feel sh!tty.
That's a lot of weight. Maybe I should second guess it...

There is one exception, one thing we should all pursue because it undeniably makes life much richer and more amazing: Love. We all know that and we all want love. And yet many of us - most of us - struggle with it endlessly. And it often causes more pain and drama than joy. Love has to come from a position of strength and self-respect.

If you are insecure about your decisions, or feel guilty that you haven't made any, or worry that you're on the wrong path, you're going to project that. It's going to tarnish every relationship you have. If you are proud of who you are, and confident that you are on a path of joy and success, then you will exude that as well. But that is a choice.

Discover a thing, your thing. Whether it's running, painting, knitting, or scuba diving. Do that thing. Love it. And love yourself because of it. And then when you love yourself, you will have no trouble giving and receiving love. It will reverberate from and towards you, ever increasing in strength. And when that happens, you won't doubt yourself anymore. You won't question your decisions. Your life will be full. And it will be joyful.

Almost as joyful as eating this cupcake.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

I'm Not an Athlete

A lot of what I write here is catharsis. If I'm having a tough time for some reason, I kick my own butt to remind myself that a lot of it is just in my own head. I know a lot of folks have similar struggles though, so I hope it helps you as well.

One of the things I tell myself - when I'm feeling depressed and mad at myself - is that I'm "not an athlete". I tell myself that I'm just embarrassing myself by pretending that I am. I was sick for most of January, and my body still isn't 100%. I've gotten back to nearly my previous level of training, but my body is definitely still struggling.

It doesn't matter though. I'm never going to be an elite athlete, and that's not a goal for me. I tried to qualify for Boston last year and failed. I failed exactly because I trained too hard and and messed up my body. Then I got angry at myself for my perceived weakness and trained even more, which only made me worse. The problem wasn't that I suck at exercise, it's that I expect too much from myself and don't rest when I need to.

I've mentioned before that one of my priorities is vanity. I like looking good. And that's something I can do without breaking myself, simply by maintaining my calorie intake. I also like to do crazy adventurous runs. I ran a marathon at midnight of New Years. I didn't care if I did it fast. Most of the time I don't have a pace goal. I'm signed up for an Ironman, but I just want to finish it and say I've done it. So if I have a slow workout.... It really doesn't matter.

On Sunday I had a good swim. I swam a mile and a half entirely with freestyle stroke, which was a first for me. I was telling Geoffrey about it, because I wanted to share my joy. I said something like, "it's nothing for you, but for me it's good." And he told me, rightfully, that his swimming has nothing to do with mine and that I shouldn't compare myself to him. I should compare myself to myself. I had a better swim than my previous swims. And that's what counted.

Thumbs up for not drowning!

Because I'm friends with so many other runners and athletes, it's really easy to get caught up comparing myself to them. And I have no doubt they compare themselves to me. And I have to admit, guiltily, that one of the reasons I did that midnight marathon on New Years was to make people say, "holy cow!" Because I still have quite a bit of ego banging around in my skull.

To an extent, it's OK. Competition makes you train harder. But it's a double-edged sword. Too much of it and you start looking for reasons to feel down about yourself. And pushing yourself to work harder can easily turn into pushing yourself too hard. Which can lead to the negative spirals I'm all too familiar with.

Anger also can be healthy to an extent. If I don't want to get up and run because it's cold or dark out, I'll get angry at myself and go and do it. That's OK. Afterwards I'll feel good about myself. However, if I run, and then get angry at myself for my run afterwards, that's not good. I have no way to vent that anger. I just sit and stew and hate on myself.

"Stop hating yourself and feed me already!"

Everybody would tell me that I am an athlete. One, it's because the people I love are amazing, and make me feel good when I'm struggling. But two, they see the things I do: How much I lift, run, swim, bike, and that I teach karate. If I exercise for over ten hours a week and tell myself I'm not an athlete.... That's just me indulging myself in pointless whining. And it's not fair to my friends either. If I run ten miles and say it was junk, how are they going to feel about their 5 mile run?

It all comes down to getting stuck in my own head so much. It's why it's so important for me that I have love in my life. Because being with people, talking with them, always makes me feel better. I'm really my own worst enemy. And in being able to help them with their personal demons, it reminds me that I'm not the only one who struggles. I'm not the only person in the world who sucks sometimes. There are people who I would consider better athletes than me who beat themselves up too.

Although sometimes there's a good reason to beat yourself up...

That's the thing. Your pain is your pain. Your struggles are your struggles. Your successes are your successes. You may look at others, and perceive them as being "better" or "worse" than you, and would expect them to feel comparatively better or worse about themselves. But that's not how it works. The fat guy eating a box of friend chicken wings might be feeling pretty amazing about himself. Whereas I may be hating on myself because I did one fewer rep on my deadlifts that morning. Our universes are entirely different.

So whatever your feel, whatever you think, it's entirely 100% your choice. Sure sometimes something really awful happens, and it's hard to not feel down. That's OK. I'm not saying you should force yourself to be giddy with joy all the time. That's a recipe for insanity. But if you stub your toe and start hating on yourself for being a clumsy idiot (which may sound like a dumb example but I totally do this), then maybe don't do that.

Like I said, I wrote this for myself. I often judge myself. I often feel lousy if I don't perform to some arbitrary standard. I get angry at myself for getting sick and not being able to exercise. And then I force myself to exercise anyway, and get angry at myself for getting even more sick. It's a really stupid pattern, and it makes no sense. I'm getting upset that I'm not superhuman.

Being superhuman would be boring though. There's no challenge. I'm defined by my challenges. All of the pride I have in myself is due to overcoming challenge. The fact that I feel challenged is good. Because that is a recipe for growth. For learning. For becoming a better human being.

Although I don't know if I'll
ever overcome my vanity...

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Running and Dating

It might seem out of place for me to write about dating and relationships on a running blog. Well, one, I can write whatever the heck I please. Maybe my next post will be about Dungeons and Dragons! Not like you have to click on it. Back in the 80's people thought folks who played D&D were Satan-worshipers. I certainly wouldn't want to tarnish your soul.

Running (and exercise in general) though is a passion for me. A mission. It's something that matters to me that I spend a lot of energy on. And that's an attractive quality. Folks are attracted to passionate people. Well most folks. Some may say, "you just run all of the time! You never spend any time with meeeee." But that's useful too. Meet people who share your passion. Avoid those who would resent you for it.

Nice guys often complain that they can't meet women. They shower them with compliments and attention, and then wonder why it's not reciprocated. Unfortunately, this leads some guys to blame women, accusing them of being damaged somehow. They think that if they're nice to women and then get shot down, there's something wrong with the women.

That's just the guy protecting his own ego. Getting shot down by the love of your life is painful, and he doesn't want to admit that he's using the wrong approach.
Definitely not the right approach.

There's nothing wrong with being nice. I'm nice. I like being nice. It makes my friends feel good which makes me feel good. The problem with a lot of "nice" guys is that it's not genuine. And that's what women pick up on. If a guy she's never met suddenly starts telling her that she's beautiful and amazing and showers her with gifts and attention, she's going to be understandably suspicious. He doesn't even know her! How does he know she's so great?

It's because he wants to get laid.

This is where the guy shouts, "no I don't! I just wanted to be friends!" That's a lie. A big fat lie. When you're hanging out with a friend, watching football and eating ice cream, do you say to him, "dude, you're so freakin' perfect. Can I take you to dinner?" He'd think you just had a stroke.

The problem isn't with being nice. The problem is that he doesn't have anything else to offer, other than being nice. Women like guys who have a goal in life, who know what they want out of life. A guy who's passionate and is expressive in his passion. And guys who are busy pursuing their passions are too busy to bathe a stranger in attention and dinner dates. But if in the midst of pursuing his dreams he meets a woman who shares in that drive.... Well that's a recipe for awesomeness!

On the other end of the spectrum are a$$holes. These guys are mega jerks but always seem to get all the ladies. And of course this upsets "nice" guys even more. And sometimes feeds into their belief that women are "broken" somehow. Which isn't fair.

Jerks have a pretty hit-or-miss strategy...

It's not that jerks are so great. It's just that they accidentally act like high status dudes. Women think, "well if this guys is so aloof, he must have something big going on!" Of course by the time she finds out the truth, it's often too late. Women are programmed to be attracted to high status guys. A$$holes can fake it for a while. Whereas nice guys just say flat out, "the only thing I have to offer is tons of free validation."

I'm not knocking these guys. I started out as a too nice guy who couldn't meet anyone and resented women. And then I turned myself into the polar opposite and became a massive doucheb@g. Which "worked", but I ended up hurting people and eventually ended up hating myself as a result, and I still punish myself to this day for it.

Finally, I decided to pursue the things that mattered to me. To find out what my passions were. And to make myself a better person. I realized that I was using a bunch of stupid gimmicks to meet women, but that I didn't like who I was and what I was doing. The interesting side of effect of improving myself is that I met higher quality people. People who are positive and driven and live life with zeal.

I don't exercise as a tactic to meet women. I mean, yeah, I like looking fit. But frankly, I met more women as a chubby alcoholic. So that's not it. I do it because it gives me direction and purpose. It feels like I'm taking control of my own path and propelling myself in a positive direction. And even though I may meet fewer people, the ones I do meet are, just, super cool. And we have a lot in common right from the get go!

Maybe not what I mean about common interests...

I'm mostly targeting guys in this post, but the same things apply to women. In the same way that some guys give women free attention, or act like jacka$$es and insult them, so too do some women get by on looks or drama or whatever. Finding something you love that excites you is just as important for women as it is for guys.

Because even if you do get "lucky" and meet someone.... if you don't have a purpose in your life, a mission that you actively pursue, you will just leach all of your validation out of your partner. So even if you liked each other a lot, eventually you'll end up poisoning the relationship simply because you're too dependent on them for your happiness and ego. It's really hard to be the only thing that matters to someone. It causes resentment.

But if you both already have rich and full lives, and bring one another into it, then you bring each other joy and success. You inspire and motivate one another. And you don't need one another to be happy. You're choosing to share your passion, enriching one another. You fuel them with more energy, rather than sucking it out of them.

Find what you love and do it. Become the best person you can be. And then, you can love someone from a position of strength and joy. And they will feel that. It will be genuine. And it will be amazing.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Exercise is Hard but Also it's Not

Photo Cr. Frank R.

I sometimes judge people for their lack of activity, or their superfluous mass. Usually it's when I'm cranky and I need to make myself feel better. It's always an internal dialogue. But I still feel like an a$$hole when I do it.

Being fit is hard. Obviously it's hard. Otherwise everyone would be running around looking sexy as heck.

There was a time in my life when it was hard for me too. I'd sit around and think, "I should do some exercise," and instead I'd end up drinking on the couch with my dog. I don't have that dog anymore, but she was very tolerant of my girth. Dogs don't judge. I'm sure there's a lesson in there somewhere.

But now maintaining my weight and exercising every day is kind of..... easy. I realize I just made myself sound like an even larger douche.

If I want to lose weight, I just change my calorie counting app. A couple months later, bam, I'm there. It really is just that simple. It's like having a knob on my body I can turn to decide my weight, albeit one with a very delayed response.

"I don't know why it took me so long to lose weight..."

And not exercising is actually harder for me than exercising. I've been super sick the past couple weeks. The kind of thing that if I told you what it was you'd go, "ugh, that sounds like the most terrible thing ever." It was.

I still exercised as much as I could. Even though I mostly would regret it the next day. It's just really hard for me to make myself do nothing. Most folks have to force themselves to exercise. I'm entirely the reverse.

That's why I judge people who don't do what I do. Because for me, I would have to choose to eat more, or to exercise less. I would have to make myself do it. And as much I know - logically - that we're different people, my personal attitude is going to color my perception of others. Of course, out loud, I would be 100% sympathetic. "Oh you're a little tired? Yeah, that sounds super tough." But inside my head..... Awfulness.

I'm pretty lucky that I don't have a family or too many other responsibilities. It's easy for me to stick to a routine, because I know I won't have any surprises to interfere with my workout. So I can see why a parent who works full time would have a tough time with a regular fitness schedule.

Except that most of the other athletes I'm friends with online and in real life, including Meghan and Geoffrey, are parents who work full time! Their schedules are insane! The people who say they have a hard time getting motivated to work out or eat right..... are the ones who spend hours playing games, or messing around with their smart phones, or watching TV.
"It's dark and freezing out.... Why
would I procrastinate my run...?"

So it's not a matter of time or energy. It's a matter of discipline. And unfortunately there's no shortcut to it. People look for easy solutions: Easy diets or training plans that will get them "shredded fast." But it's a lie. The only method is this:

Hard work. Time.

People usually learn discipline because they have to. By getting a job, by having kids. And then they can apply that skill to something else. But if you don't have it, then everything seems hard. Doing your taxes, cooking, scheduling appointments for important things and then going to them. For some people, those things are like OMG STRESS BOMB. For people who are accustomed to responsibility it's like, whatever, just get it done.

Health and exercise is about mindset. They only way to start doing it and to stick with it is to change who you are. I can't be the person I was 5 years ago and do what I do now. It's simply impossible. The person I was and the person I am are completely different.

Now me would look at past me and say, "man, what a fat loser!"

So ok, maybe I'm still working on the judgmental jerk part.

When I started on this journey, I was worried about losing the old me. And it wasn't that the old me was such a great guy. But my life at the time was what I knew, and I was comfortable with it. Changing it for something different is scary, and there's no guarantee that new thing will be better.

And most people, when they look for the super fast and easy solution, don't want to change anything about their lives. They don't want to change their schedules, or what they eat, or what time they go to bed, or how often they go out, or anything. They want to do the bare minimum possible so that they can otherwise be the same person, just a little skinnier or sexier-looking.

It doesn't work.

New you means just that: New you. And not just better looking. Becoming someone who's obsessed with health and fitness isn't just about looking different. Your priorities change. Your attitude changes. You friends - and the time you have for them - changes. A huge amount of who you are changes. You become a different person.

And now, the thought of going back to drinking and snacking and lounging and loitering and whatever I used to do.... now that's scary. Because I'm comfortable with the new me. It makes sense, for the time being. Oh sure I'm a little neurotic. I exercise too much sometimes, I starve myself sometimes.

But I'm also not done learning. The more I've changed, the more excited I get by the prospect of further change. I don't want to be mired. I don't want to live in "comfort". The one thing I've grown to love is pain and challenge. Because those are the things that make you stronger and better.