In Total Control, Almost Kind Of…

This is Part II of a series of four essays for this blog.  If you have not read Part I, please click here.

I will be busy relocating my business and traveling overseas during the next few weeks.  Please check back in early June for Part III of this series.


Home Studio

As a fitness enthusiast, I had designed my life to be lived aesthetically and with a reasonable amount of productive selfishness.  In the early 2000s I took my training studio into my home and in set shop in my oversized garage.  I did this primarily so I would never be too far from my gym.  If alcohol was used to help me sleep at night, my daily action was the methadone of my daylight hours.  Working from home would enable more opportunities for more activities.

I not only took my business into my home, but I built my work schedule around my play time.  Working from home would make it easier to break up my schedule – to take earlier and later sessions, thus setting up the middle of the day for myself to lift, run, kayak, surf, or swim.  By 2005 I was living my dream, training clients for 3 hours early in the morning, playing during the peak of the San Diego day, and training clients for another 3 hours in the evening – and I was profitable.  I could not have built my life any better.

Chief Running Beer

Sleep still came with a price, and my bedtime cocktails continued.  In 2007 I took more seriously to running as I prepared for every runner’s ultimate race, the marathon.  Where I once feared running under the hot summer sun, I came to embrace my mid-day beach runs at Oceanside Harbor.   One afternoon in July I returned home after a strong 8 mile run at the beach on an 85 degree day.  I felt alive – the kind of alive that made me feel as though god had something to learn from me.  With my next training session still a couple of hours away I opened my fridge, pulled out an ice-cold MGD Lite and drank it down.  I was the most refreshing beer I had ever had.  Through all of my bedtime drinking, I had never before taken a drink in the middle of a workday.

The post-run MGD became a daily ritual.  At 64 calories each, I could more than afford it, and it scarcely went to my brain.  It was simply the cherry on top of my hot afternoon runs.  In December of 2007 I completed my first marathon.  I was light, lean, and feeling very good about my physicality.  With no new race on the horizon, I shortened my runs and spent more time with the weights, hill climbing, and in my ocean-going my kayak.  Every so often my mid-day MGD Lite would be replaced by a shot of tequila as I enjoyed a healthy lunch at Estrella’s restaurant in Bonsall.  This continued for a few more years with no disruption to my personality, physicality, my writing, or the state of my business affairs.  If a stranger ever asked me what I did for a living, I would simply reply, “I’m Roy Cohen, I do summer vacation for a living.”

Studio B

In December of 2009 I took my studio from my home and moved it into commercial space as I relocated to a new home residence that could not accommodate my gym.  I also gave away my Jeep and committed to life as a fulltime bicycle commuter.  In hind-site I’m not sure these simultaneous changes were in my best interest.  They were, however, my new course.  As my lifestyle changed, I began to long for the beach and the water, which without a car, I could no longer access during my extended mid-day breaks.  I had become bored with my weight room, a bit depressed an despite my bedtime cocktail, my sleep began to suffer once again.

By mid-2010 my afternoon MGDs gave way completely to a daily shot of 1800 Silver, and on longer breaks, I took more than one shot.  Still, my physicality was largely unaffected.  I built those calories into my eating and exercise day, and charged forward.  With no surfing, kayaking, or beach runs, I focused more on my weights despite that they were no longer calling me as they once did.  My bike became a greater priority but something was different – not fully realizing it, I had drifted far away from happy.  I missed my beachy lifestyle, my time in the sun, and the freedom to go anywhere in my Jeep — I just didn’t realize yet that I missed it.

Commuting on my bike 6 or 7 days per week in addition to my long rides, my cardio output had increased drastically, yet I was unwilling to give back any of the time with my weights.  My ability to recover from riding and lifting decreased and led to overtraining which even more fractured my sleep – which led to even more post bedtime drinking.  By the middle of 2011 I was getting about 1/3rd of my daily calories from alcohol – and most of that during bedtime hours.  I began decreasing carbohydrates to compensate.  Within a few months I began to notice serious changes in my physicality.   My muscle mass was suffering, my body fat was increasing, and my strength had noticeably diminished.  I was also exhausted most of the time though I tried hard not to show it to my clients and workout partners.  A pattern of lying to my friends, my clients, and myself soon began, and soon began to snowball.

To be continued…


 Please check back in early June for Part III of this series.  Oh, and there is this from singer/songwriter, Milton Mapes.  Enjoy…


23 responses

    • Thanks Carla. Not sure if “journey” is the right word. Perhaps, we can think of it as falling up a flight of stairs — at least I end up on top, despite the bruises along the way 🙂

  1. Awesome that you are sharing this Roy. Hope you have the tools to beat the booze demon. It took me months in a fantastic out patient program @ Hill House, and a great old hippy therapist, to gain control of my life and true acceptance with who I am. If you ever want to talk Im a good listener. Have a great Sunday!

  2. You told me once…leap & the net will appear…you took the leap, you’ll land in the net. Believe it! Good luck on your move to the new location. Safe travel & looking forward to hiking the GC with you soon.

  3. As my long time friend Joe Cirulli (Google him) told me: “Circumstances do not make the man, they reveal the man to himself!”

    Good luck, Roy!

  4. Roy,
    Make good memories with Chelsea on this trip, learn lots, and come back and write about it!
    Most of all, take care of yourself. CC

  5. Phone cut me off…

    not be just help gaining fitness, but gaining confidence. Roy, I enjoy reading your stories for more reasons than I can begin to explain.

  6. I loved part I and although I understood why you turned off comments, I also did want to tell you that you are brave to share. So many people can be helped by you. This part II was equally wonderful – that you for sharing.

  7. Pingback: The Collapse… « Roy Cohen's Contemplative Fitness

  8. Pingback: And So It Goes… « Roy Cohen's Contemplative Fitness

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