It was never really about health, fitness, or even losing weight. It all started out as a desperate attempt to get control of my life and the terrible realization that all men eventually have; we are little more than draft animals, pulling a heavy load.
I’ve been both fat and thin in my life. Not exactly a Yo-Yo dieter, but I would gain weight to a point where I’d realize I had to make changes. It was in my mid 30’s that things really started going sideways. Yes, I was heavy, at around 250lbs, but there was a lot more to it than that.
I had young children, a demanding job and lots of demands on my time. Though I’m blessed with stable emotions and competence, those don’t exactly garner sympathy or help from others. Quite the opposite.
Sure, people always surrounded me, but I was incredibly lonely. People around me saw me as a resource, and they were happy to take advantage. When someone needed help, when a job needed done or a problem needed solve, people wouldn’t even bother asking, they just expected me to take care of it. If I didn’t just do it, then they’d get upset. And heaven forbid they take a moment to say, “Thanks.”
If you’re reading this, I bet that sounds familiar.
The problem was, I couldn’t keep it all up. I wasn’t sleeping well, I had brain fog, ate terribly, and I was pretty depressed. These things just kind of feed into each other. A bad night’s sleep makes it hard to think, so you get stressed and since you’re stressed you eat poorly, which makes you feel depressed, so you drink too much. Where does that leave you? A bad night’s sleep. Then you do it all over again.
Getting Started with Diet
I heard on a podcast that a low-carb diet was good for people that had no energy, brain fog or lived in a general malaise. I’ve eaten low carb in the past and figured I should get back to that sort of thing.
I’d been reading a lot on the power of habit and ritual and decided to put that into action. Rather than going cold turkey and trying to white-knuckle everything, I eliminated grains and sugar slowly, little by little. First, no toast or biscuits for breakfast. Then a salad instead of a sandwich for lunch. Finally, just meat and vegetables with not pasta for dinner. It took a few months, but I got down to a sustained low-carb diet and the health effects started immediately.
Achieving New Heights with Fitness
After several months of eating clean, it was time to get stronger and more fit. Which meant a regular exercise routine. I’m no stranger to exercise, but fitting it in while taking care of everyone else was a challenge.
Sticking with my idea of building habits, I decided I needed to set aside a block of time dedicated to exercise, but I knew if I didn’t have anything driving me, I would end up meandering most of that time. So, I turned to workout videos.
I found a workout program where each video was twenty minutes, then I committed to watch that video every day. Whether or not I felt motivated to do the exercise, whether my energy was high or low, I did one thing each and every day:
And there were some days that watching was all I did. But over time, there were more and more days that I worked the entire time. Before long, I could crush the beginner workouts and move on to things that were more challenging.
To this day I still do daily workout videos, always trying new programs and new styles, from yoga to weight lifting, running to dance. I try them all. And I love it! It’s such a habit now that if I miss a workout, I feel like my whole day is thrown off.
My Problems Didn’t Become Smaller
Through it all, I continued reading books on personal development and productivity, learning how to better manage time, how to solve problems and how to be dynamic. Add that to all the extra energy I had, and my clearer thinking and my problems and challenges just didn’t same that severe anymore.
But I realized my problems did not become smaller, I became bigger. I am a draft animal, I can’t control that. I will always pull a heavy load. But what I can control is how strong I am. The stronger I am, the lighter the load.