While I do occasionally support my own little sphere in this great big crazy world, I don’t sport the glutes, pecs, abs, and biceps that our primordial Greek friend did. I am a mere mortal man, attempting to extend his measly life a few more years by working out (semi)regularly. To be alive a smidgen more time, so I can enjoy the golden years in extreme joint pain because at 40 years old I decided I wanted to be tone, lean, and not gasping for breath after a walk to the mailbox(I don’t do that really…just being melodramatic folks.)
When you grow up in a house where it seems like every few months you’re visiting a grandparent in the hospital after open heart, angioplasty, or stroke you tend to think the worst about your future adult life. I can’t tell you how many times I was offered jello in a plastic cup off of a hospital plate sitting on a wheeled tray floating in front of grandma or grandpa. “Here John, it’s cherry. You like cherry don’t you?” Yeah, just not served to me by my grandma wearing a hospital gown. The prettiest Christmas lights I ever saw were in downtown South Bend when I was a little kid. We’d just left South Bend Memorial Hospital after my grandma’s first open heart surgery. Deck the halls, kiddos. Santa Claus is coming to town…with a new heart valve for grandma.
It was a childhood hearing about stress tests and blood pressures. Blood thinners and diuretics. I didn’t really think much of it. I just assumed it was the norm. But then I grew up, became an adult, and got married. It got to a point where I just felt worn out. Tired all the time. I felt lethargic. It was what I imagine manic depression is like, except I wasn’t depressed. I just had no energy. I started thinking about all the trips to the hospital as a kid, seeing relatives attached to tubes, bruised spots on their hands and arms where the IV was put in. I didn’t want my kids or grandkids seeing me like that someday. No way. I was NOT going to offer anyone jello in a plastic cup, dammit! So in 2002 I joined the Wellness Center in my town and began to workout. It only took about a week to get a regiment going. I started liking it. The repetition, the sweat, the pain. It all meant something. It meant I was alive. It meant I was transforming. Hulk like. At my heaviest I was 264 lbs. By May of 2004 I was down to 218. I’d lost over 40 lbs. It wasn’t instantaneous and it wasn’t easy, but it was a satisfying feeling. And it wasn’t just the exercise, it was what I was feeding my face. More fish, greens, whole grains, no trans fats or processed foods. I didn’t have to diet, I just had to eat the right stuff. I actually went three years without eating a single piece of fast food(I still rarely eat it, except for the occasional desperation stop on family trips.)
Since 2004, I’ve gone from The Wellness Center, to the YMCA, to Anytime Fitness, to where I’m at currently which is The Warsaw Tennis and Fitness Club. I tend to move on when it begins to get too crowded and goes from people wanting to be healthier to some sort of grunting match between tanned apes curling 100 lbs with one arm. I don’t need that noise. My goal is to live a comfortable, healthy life where I can occasionally impress my wife with a rock hard bicep, not look like a mound of muscle with a pimple-sized head on top. Right now I’m currently floating around the 223-224 lb mark. My weight has fluctuated between 220 and 235 for the last few years(hey, even Atlas occasionally drank rich, dark lagers…so sue me!) But since October I’ve been doubling down in the fit department. I’ve been working out between four and five days a week, counting calories(who knew, it really works!), and watching what I eat and when I eat. December was a screwy month, so the working out was more sporadic. But now I’m back in full swing. My whole body aches with the jarring pain of “fit”. Each turn of my forearms shoot the aching wonder of “toned”. I have a kink in my neck that roars like Zeus calling upon the powers of the universe from the peak of Mount Olympus. This, my friends, is the feeling of health. Longevity. Immortality.
I may not be Atlas, but I can carry the weight of the world a little lighter nowadays. I can bring home the turkey bacon, and fry it up in a pan(with vegetable oil.)