The lesser expectations of my lesser self…


Perhaps the most luxurious aspect of knowing how to get into shape is also the most dangerous; that I have the ability to live in a lesser state of shape from time to time – until I feel enough is enough at which point I earn my way out of it. Now is one of those times.

Understand, I’m ahead of the game for 53. I workout regularly, I workout hard, and do so in a way that is both beneficial and sustainable. I’m currently lifting poundages, in some case, heavier than I ever have. I put in 30-60 minutes on the StepMill daily, at a rate of 72 steps per minute. I ride my bike to and from work daily in temperatures below freezing, and often in wind gusts in excess of 50 mph. My balance and flexibility are far above average, and on those rare occasions when I tuck my shirt in, I can still pull it off.

Being in a lesser state of shape for me has less to do with working out, and more to do with eating. It’s worth noting I’m far from obese. I currently weigh about 185 lbs., at roughly 17% body fat. The only six-pack I have is in the fridge, but I’m far from being overweight. I have spent most of this winter so far eating inconsistently with my value system – at least on the weekends.  This has everything to do with depression, discontent with my current life situation, and college football season.

My very kind landlady left me a cake.  What else was I to do...?

My very kind landlady left me a cake. What else was I to do…?

Like many, even trainers are subject to the internal demons such as depression, the external forces that can ruin a good day, and the temptations of the weekend.  Beer me.  Though Monday through Friday it’s been meat and veggies, my relationship with Saturday and Sunday is largely based on barley and cheese.

Each day though, for the past month or so, when I wake up I tell myself today will be the day I right the ship. By 3pm it’s time for hummus and candy. Oh well.

Where I once let this define me, I no longer do. I am a good father – at any body fat percentage. I am a good neighbor – despite my 3am nachos.  I am good trainer – even without a six-pack.

Can I do better…? Yes.  Do I need to…? Those are expectations I put on myself. My clients, my neighbors, and my friends all think I’m just fine.

I can't be trusted with hummus...

I can’t be trusted with hummus…

I’ve cycled through these breaks for many years now.  I’m not talking about being out of shape. I’m just talking about not being lean, jacked & shredded – living in a lesser state of eating. Every so often I take my foot off the gas for a few weeks, or even a month, knowing that when I put it back down, my sports car will blow most anyone else’s SUV off the road.

Vegetables.  Anyone seen my weekend vegetables...?

Vegetables. Anyone seen my weekend vegetables…?

For me, this cycle occurs about every two years or so. I almost think it’s psychologically necessary. I work hard staying in prime shape most of the time because my physicality is tied directly to my livelihood.  Sometimes though, I just need a break. It’s both Ironic and coincidental that these breaks often occur during difficult times in my life. Or maybe not.

I’m going to workout with weights later today, and follow that up with 30 minutes of rigorous cardio.  After that I may enjoy a spinach omelet, or maybe a pizza. Who knows…? This morning finds me in particularly good spirits, and for that I am grateful.  It is though, still football season — so all bets are off.   Be well… rc

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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there’s this from Talking Heads.  Enjoy…

16 responses

  1. I can SO relate to this. Once you’ve been TOP shape, and know how to achieve it, I think it’s unavoidable that you will feel blah even when you get slightly off track. Our world does not lead us in the direction of optimal fitness, and so it’s a constant swim against the current. Once in a while, one gets tired of that. I try no to get too far from my preferred weight and shape and state of fitness, though, because I know how much work it will take to get back to it. Once again, all about balance… Good luck Roy! 🙂

  2. I have a question. Let’s assume that you stay within the medically-established definition of good health, and you maintain functional fitness– meaning that your body can do pretty much any of the activities that you want to do. Given all that… At what age does it become acceptable to not be “ripped”? Is there ever an acceptable time in a man’s life when he can accept that he will no longer be in the same physical shape as a younger man?
    I’m thinking about this in the sense of masculine archetypes (boy-man, warrior-king). Isn’t being admired for being “ripped” and needing other people’s admiration for that more of a boy’s game than a man’s game? To step into your King means to value what you can contribute to other people’s well-being- to be a good leader- and to care about interior issues such as integrity more than you care about appearances.
    This is not a criticism… only a question. Feel free to tell me to bugger off.

    • Lisa, great comment! I kind of think that’s my point. I think deep down all of us desire to look amazing. In truth, and eluding to the last sentence of this essay, if I spend the rest of my life looking like this — I’m totally good with it. I function extremely well. I’m healthy. I’m enjoying life. I’m just not beach ready. Ten years ago that would have crushed me. Today, I’m proud of who I am….

  3. From a study I read, if your team loses one eats more unhealthy food, and if your team wins one eats more healthy food (fewer calories). So, for no better reason than you, I’m pulling for the Broncos today!

    To use a football analogy, I guess your attitude is if you are not the champion, you are a loser. Perhaps making the playoffs could be considered good enough and you can find having a 4-pack can be as unfit as you get, with being the champ still on the table, with the left over pizza 🙂

  4. Hope to reduce the pony keg down to a 12 pk. by spring. Yes, I slipped into Pigskin season eating habits to comfort me. See you on the Flip Flop Mr. RC

  5. For what it’s worth, your readers think you’re just fine too. 😉 Do to yourself whatever you do to make you feel better (in terms of exercise and healthy eating), but don’t allow self-doubt to steal your happiness. I am auto dictating this comment on the first long walk I’ve taken in ages. The allure of sitting around watching TV did not overcome my will power to feel better today! Good luck my friend.

  6. Roy, I am sorry you are depressed & not happy with the current life stuff.. Are you not happy where you moved or is it other stuff.. anyway, sorry! I really have never taken a break like you for longer periods of time. I am short, a woman that gains fat weight easily so as much as I know I can get it off, I don’t want to get too far above.. 5 pounds on this short bod is a clothing size & I can’t afford new clothes!

    HUGE HUGE HUGS! I am sure you still look HOT!

  7. Nothing wrong with being human regardless of the shape your in mentally or physically. Some would say you can’t appreciate the good times if you haven’t been through any bad times. The bad times always suck. That’s why chocolate was invented.

  8. I know just how you feel, i finished my diet mid nov and so looked forward to start moving some weight, but my motivation has been lacking to get it done. Im starting to enjoy being leaner and lighter, i have 10 more weeks on my lean bulk, then start cutting again at which i hope when july comes, i will be at a weight i can stay at. But right now, it is hard to eat what im supposed to, the lifting is easy. I do not have anything more to prove to myself, except for people to say, ” damn, that 50 something is yolked”…..lol

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