The inner light…

The inner light…

It took me a long time to have this picture taken.  That is, it took a long time during the photo shoot.  You see, I had to stop and cry a lot.  Taking my shirt of, and revealing the body shown below made me feel worthless – based on where that body had previously been.


Taken on 9/11/12. Ironic, as it looks as though I committed and act of terrorism — AGAINST MYSELF!

I had to come face to face with it though – with what I had allowed to happen to my body.

This photo was taken on 9/11/2012.  Ironic, as it appears I was in the process of committing an act of terrorism – against myself.

In truth, I just let my guard down for a while.  “For a while” could easily have turned into forever, but I didn’t let that happen.

No, I’m not going to insert of photo later on in this post of how I look today.  Trust me, I look fucking great.  That’s not my point.

I’m sharing this for two reasons:

1)  To let those who struggle with issues of personal fitness, eating, and body image know that we are all human, and we can all become vulnerable to life’s challenges – even experienced fitness trainers.

As a fitness trainer, former marathon runner, lifter, cyclist, bodybuilder, and life-time practitioner of daily action, I became vulnerable to all things which anyone else might find blocking their path; depression, relationship issues, self-loathing, junk-food-medication, alcohol, and more.

Once I when I realized I was down though, I chose to get back up, and here I stand.

2) To remind those prejudiced, zealot fitness assholes who think they know everything about life, about exercise and eating, about how to change the body, the mind, and the attitude, but who actually prize physical appearance above all other virtues, that at the time this picture was taken, I was still very active.

Shell shocked, but still functioning…

At the time the picture above was taken, I was running with my running pack each week, and fairing quite well.  I was lifting daily, and ahead of the game with my poundages.  I was still a good business man.  I could still crack a nice joke.  I could still turn a phrase like ringing a bell.  I was still a good father, a good friend, and a good citizen in my community.  And what I looked like didn’t have a fucking thing to do with who I was on the inside.

Yes, I want to look good – but looking good is only a shell.  Though my shell may ebb and flow through the rocky course of my life, so long as I live my intentions, who I am on the inside should never waiver.

I no longer look like the picture above.  If I did though, the only thing that would be changed about me, would be how I’m perceived by (some) people around me.

But that wouldn’t really be about me, would it…?  It would be about them, and their prejudiced tendencies with regard to physical appearance and beauty, which can be separate from functional fitness.

In truth, I do prefer the way I look today over the way I looked in that picture.  And trees are made out of wood.  I went to a party several weeks ago wearing a pair of jeans I could have worn in high school.  There was a confidence in doing that which escapes description.

The confidence that comes with looking better and possessing a higher level of personal fitness does, I believe, enable me to contribute better to all facets of my existence.  Perhaps that is the single greatest rationalization of my life.  I don’t know…

Looking good, feeling good…

This I do know: There is a difference between aesthetic fitness, and functional fitness.  Aesthetic fitness is simply the act of looking good – looking good is optional.  I believe all of us though, have a responsibility to be functionally fit – the progression of our society depends on it.

I won’t attempt to deny the superficiality that is behind my pursuit of being aesthetically fit.  I would rather go through life with aesthetic fitness than without it.  I try very hard though, not to judge any person for any reasons, least of all for what they look like or how they function.

In my day-to-day psyche I work very hard to remember that in the end, none of us will be judged by the shape our abs or whether we do sinister justice to that little black dress.

In the end, we will only be judged by the deeds of our minds, of our hearts, by our actions toward others, and that whatever we do, be done out of love.

Taking me back…

As far as getting back to my current level of conditioning an appearance goes, to change the landscape of the human body; both in terms of ability and in terms of appearance, there are not two more important words than:

–          Awareness

–          Discipline

I became aware of that which I wanted to change.  I applied the discipline required to affect those changes.

In fitness, I believe these are the only two words which matter...

In fitness, I believe these are the only two words which matter…

With a healthy respect for those two words, an entire attitude can be formed, and a body can be changed… Be well.  rc


Please check back in two weeks to see what happens when I hit the “stop” button on the blender in my head.
Oh, and there is this from Poi Dog Pondering.  Enjoy….

21 responses

  1. Hi, I’m new to your blog/you. And I am in love. (no, don’t run. LOL) The honesty with which you post, the deep look in our souls, is such a refreshing change of pace. Thank you for the insight and the sharing.

  2. Awesome post! I can relate, especially with the part about aesthetics vs. functionally fit. I work out regularly, eat healthy and take care of myself. However, I don’t do this to “look good in a bikini come summer,” but rather do it because I made a vow to myself to complete a Tough Mudder once a year. I think the motivation that comes from within is much stronger than the drive to “look good.”

  3. I’m glad I stopped by today. One of the very best I’ve ever read from you–almost better than the fantastic essays that got me started reading your blog. Thank you. I needed it!

  4. Nice Job Roy!!!! This post hits home for me @60 You Know me I’am a big guy 260 I ran a 9.27 mile with a big hill in it,slow!!! it is what it is slow. I have a lot of younger folks looking over their shoulders the thing with this is I can run at this speed all day!!!! Oh I punch the clock five days a week at the box. Roy is your best work !!!

    • Thanks Zimm! I appreciate your comments. I mean this too, I think about you all the time — what you have accomplished, how you did it, THAT YOU WERE OVER 50 WHEN YOU LOST ALL THAT WEIGHT, and that you inspired so many younger guys on the base when you were working out there.

      YOU are a role model of mine! True!

  5. Thank you Roy! Last year about that same time I was going through many changes in my personal life and had to take a look at my self and since then I have taken back many parts of my self that I had let go. I still am working on me. I started running last year. Everyday.
    It has become part of who I am. It has changed me. I love your articles…stories…they always seem to be in my email inbox at a moment that seems they are sent to me personally as they hit home for me in so many ways. You are a friend and great man. Hugs! Denise

    • Humbled Denise, thank you! It’s funny, my life has changed more in the past year than in the previous 10. Changes come fast and furious sometimes. I think one thing that has helped me face those fast and furious changes better is the people I have surrounded myself with — including our friend Betsy, among others. If you were here, no doubt we be taking occasional runs together. Hugs back!

  6. Well at least you own your actions as you could have said, like that other fitness trainer who gained a bunch of weight, that you were doing it to relate better to your clients and their experience with trying to lose weight.

    In most areas of life, when we tip from our center, is is very common to tip a bit farther than we realize before we notice what is happening and make the correction.

    I know you have made that correction!

  7. Roy, I think this is something all trainers should share with their clients. My clients would be so much more inspired by me if they saw that I too, was susceptible to the same challenges in life as they are. Going to check out my photo library and see what I can find!

    • Thanks Tamara. I genuinely believe that when we, as trainers, attempt to appear infallible, game over. Why I succeed at doing this, year after year, is because I live transparently. Even when I give my clients reason to doubt me, they know to stay tuned for the lesson they will get from their misplaced doubt.

  8. Another great essay on so many levels; feel very proud to forward it to friends and tell them the author is an old pal of mine! P.S. The flip side of Harrison’s “The Inner Light” is McCartney’s “Lady Madonna” – I prefer the more obscure version with the extra horns…..

  9. I love everything you’ve said here, Roy. I was on an aesthetic quest when I first started out. But functional fitness is the true prize to be had. Yes. I still wanna look good, and I work to maintain that. But the functional is what I most desire to take into my old age someday. I intend to live a high quality of life right up until the end. I’ll probably pass away peacefully with a piece of cake in my mouth. Looking forward to what you have in store in the coming months!

    • Thanks Josie! I may be right there with on the mouth/cake connection. Got a bodybuilding show in September. After that, I shall climb back up to reasonable 170 pounds and try and keep it for life.

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