The most rewarding accomplishments in life are tackled with good friends by your side.
Telling my story has been a game changer in many positive ways. The comments and fun ribbing about being on the cover have been a lot of fun. But as promised, this series is about the journey that I committed to share. The part where most have expressed interest in is the challenges and obstacles that were along the way. Everyone loves a great success story but the similarity of struggle to their own lives is what makes it real. My goal here is not to say look at me but rather to look at yourself through my lens and know that just like me, you can do and achieve anything you want.
It was last December when I started getting serious about physical conditioning. When you start to choose your clothes to hide your imperfections, you are deep down the rabbit hole of despair. Negative thoughts would run through my mind like I will never be able to run a mile again, or I need to be careful about what I try to lift. I rationalized it was age but in reality it was neglect. Everyone knows that getting back into shape will involve some discomfort, but as the saying goes, pain is just weakness leaving the body.
Muscle soreness is just a small part of getting back on path. Creating joy has been an process of learning to exercise my gratitude muscle. Instead of thinking about how difficult a workout was going to be I began to visualize how I would look and feel afterwards. It worked so well I began to try it on everything. Each time the task created dread or anguish, I refocused on the outcome and how it could be positive. If there was no solution then I would choose not to participate.
I enjoy my work and spending time with family and loved ones. But when I started to really get introspective it became very obvious that I was not taking enough time for simply having fun, some might even call me a workaholic-this had to change immediately.
Piling on the Plates
Step one was to identify those things that were more important than anything else. I value my health but my actions did not match, always putting off till tomorrow what I should do today. Goals without deadlines are just dreams and what I needed was a clear understanding of exactly what I wanted and how I was going to get there.
One thing I perpetually put off is getting enough exercise. I really wanted to get back into great shape so I made a firm commitment to some form of exercise six days a week. It was a place to start my journey and one where I could see tangible results.
I needed to find a place where I could feel comfortable, where I could leave work at the door and just be like everyone else, just one of the guys. The perfect place for me–D1 Sports Training of Hardin Valley. Devin Driscoll, the owner, does a great job of creating regimens that really inspire people to stick with the program. This is more than just the corner gym. There are no treadmills, this is a serious training facility complete with a 60 x 25 yard turf field and weight room. If you want to get it done this is the place.
There are lots of athletes, some in high school, but so are the 50 to 60’s crowd-people just like me—doing everything from DDPY yoga to power lifting. But most importantly it is fun, and at D1 you are on a first name basis with everyone in pretty short order.
Having the assistance of knowledgeable professionals to assist in guiding you through the process is invaluable. Without professional help it was just too easy to tell myself I couldn’t. And once I made that agreement it became twice as difficult. Devin and his team have really helped me make some impressive gains. In a little over 2 months I have added 90 pounds to my bench press going from 145 pounds to 235 pounds. It’s been like that for almost every area of my body, literally amazing increases. I feel better than I have in a really long time and feel like this a a great foundation.
The most important part about whatever path of growth you choose is picking something you can sustain, and if you do that you will have a foundation to change other things in your life.
One thing almost everyone needs to consider is a better diet. I do eat pretty clean, not perfect, just pretty good. My problem is I really enjoy good food. While I haven’t seen any pounds fall off, I have moved the body fat down by 3%, which means I lost over six pounds of fat and gained that much muscle mass. It has made a huge difference and I have lost several inches off my stomach. My favorite lunch treat is the tuna sandwich at Aubrey’s, ordered with no bun and broccoli, it’s the perfect keto meal.
Stretch, Stretch, Stretch
There is a price for sitting on your butt too long and part of that price is loss of flexibility. No sooner than I started really cranking up my workouts, it was obvious that I was really tight. Ali Jenkins of Stretch to Win, offers a unique service to help get you back in the groove by releasing tension in the fascia—tendons, muscles and connective tissue—which increases blood flow around the joints. This also releases unneeded fluid which results in increased range of motion and a reduction swelling. As you progress in the therapy and inflammation decreases, pain is often diminished. Different from traditional stretching, this assisted manual stretching technique utilizes activation to trigger the para-sympathetic nervous system to allow a much deeper state of relation, thus a far better stretch, something that is nearly impossible to achieve alone. After about 4 sessions, I was actually able to run comfortably for the first time in years.
Relax and Smell the Roses
Even with all of Ali’s fascial release, I was still holding tension unnecessarily. The daily stress of life was still holding me away from the joy I was seeking. I called on Aaron Searcy, licensed massage therapist, to help me finish my quest.
Stress to a degree is necessary or we might just fall over, but holding tension is not healthy. Massage allows for someone else to hold space for you in a manner that allows for your body to receive a nurturing touch, which promotes healing. And it reduces the stress hormone cortisol, which in excess has a really negative effect. In addition, a good massage boosts serotonin and dopamine, which are your body’s natural feel good neuro-transmitters. We all need touch but massage takes it to another level. I was chronically bad at not allowing time at this type of self-maintenance. High functioning people want to help all the time, so relaxing simply is not second nature. Part of spiritual balance that I am seeking is being able to receive. For me in years past, I couldn’t even easily receive a simple compliment without feeling like I was being a burden. Aaron has taught me that the outer appearance is a reflection of the inner condition and while he works, he offers mindful consultation as well. So difficult as it was initially, I learned to receive and release and that has helped me in all of my relationships. Restoring balance in my body has helped me gain balance and clarity across all areas of my life.
I have found that many people that offer life coaching often refer to problems in their childhood and the need to spend time to resolve and process those feelings. Certainly being clear of any past trauma in your life is a positive step in the right direction. We all need to pull a few weeds to get the garden ready for spring. My next adventure will be all about what to plant in my new life. I am looking forward to finding tools that help increase joy.