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Don’t Call This a Midlife Crisis!

April 29, 2015

Have you ever been walking along one day, and out of nowhere you finally hear something important that a loved one shared with you weeks, or sometimes months earlier? Although we are adults we share some characteristics with our own kids in how we often don’t respond to sound instruction until we learn those lessons the hard way. I had this situation happen to me concerning my health, and the need for me to get in shape and lose weight, but despite how many times my wife encouraged me, it didn’t become real to me until I had a humbling experience in the gym one day.

As active a basketball player as I was throughout my life, I reached a point where the responsibilities of life took over, and then the decrease in activity set in until one day it happened. I was playing basketball in the gym, and I couldn’t get to the ball before it got out of my reach. In this one simple gesture I realized that I had gotten so severely out of shape that I couldn’t do something that I once was able to do with ease.

Now, I know it’s common to suggest that any man in his mid 30’s to mid 40’s suddenly becoming concerned with his weight, or appearance, is not only suffering from a midlife crisis, but has an agenda to impress a younger female coworker, or other. Against that accusation, I submit the following… an accurate report of what happened to me one day when I finally listened to my body, my wife’s encouragement, and my own personal mission to prove that getting older is NOT synonymous with being in bad shape.

As an avid sports fan I have always enjoyed the sports reference, “Ball Don’t Lie,” and one thing I had to come to terms with was, despite the fact that I had a muscular frame and had always been active in my younger years, I had gotten out of shape. At one point, I weighed, at my highest, just of few pounds shy of 290!!! Believe me, I nearly fainted when I weighed in that day! My BMI had me at an ideal weight of 175lbs, but that was high school weight for me! As much as I wanted to get in shape, I was not going to shoot for an unrealistic weight; made unrealistic not because I couldn’t do it if I wanted to, but because I had no desire to get under 200 lbs!

Realistically for me, was having an understanding that if I was going to make any progress in my efforts to get in shape, it was going to happen with consistent effort, and my wife’s help. She could encourage me, but she couldn’t do it for me. I remember one day she asked me, “Why are you doing this all of a sudden?” I remember I wanted to bark at her in my own defense, assuring her that I wasn’t trying to impress anyone at work or otherwise, but instead, I humbly told her that I was ashamed of the fact that I had let myself get so far out-of-shape. I didn’t want to train for some cross-country marathon, but I honestly wanted to make an effort to stay active, and change my current circumstances.

For me this effort meant that I had to get outside of my comfort zone, and do something drastic to let both my wife, and even to convince myself, that I had had enough! I was not going to turn into a gym rat all of a sudden, so I started with baby steps. I wanted to remain as active as I could by doing something out of the norm for me, so my first effort saw me making a commitment during the summer of 2014 to walk to work, and then possibly, ride my bike.

The walking period was not a problem. Initially it was tiresome, but I didn’t give in. It seemed like slowly, but surely, I felt my body getting stronger. Then once the walks became effortless, I decided to start riding my bike. It was not an easy transition, but I knew I needed to push myself forward. Although I didn’t live too far away from work, what made my trip a bit of a challenge was the fact that I had a few hills between my house and my job, so my little trek to work quickly turned into a real test; and believe me that first day nearly made me reconsider how much I wanted to get in shape.

As if this wasn’t enough, remember, I worked at a summer program for kids, and thus our days were filled with entertaining them the entire time; mostly accomplished through physical activity. So, not only did I spend my days playing basketball in the gym with kids, but I decided to start playing games with the adult staff as well, all of which were young enough to be my children! When I got tired I slowed down a little, but what kept driving me to keep going was not some young female co worker, but the image of that day when I couldn’t catch up to that basketball because I felt too out-of-shape to go after it!

It’s one thing for an older guy to try to relive his glory days, or start dressing a certain way, in order to be something he’s not, or prove he’s not past his prime; it’s entirely another thing to say to yourself… I’m gonna change my situation! I was on blood pressure medication that a doctor told me that I had to have for the rest of my life, and I felt helpless, until that day when I got more than a little pissed off at my circumstances, and decided to do something about it. I can tell women, that while men may differ slightly in how they deal with this issue, men do have some of the same issues about their appearance when they pick up weight; they just aren’t as forth coming about it!

I understood that my wife was my best support system and even work out partner, but I couldn’t depend on her because I was proving it to her as much as I was proving it to myself. I didn’t want to lean on her as much because I was doing this as a testament to how much she had encouraged me to begin with. Yes, I had to say my wife was more dependable than my buddies who were always planning to get together, but never actually got together! If I wanted to talk “planning a workout,” I got with my buddies; if I actually wanted to work out, I contacted my wife!

Sorry guys, just keeping it real.

Over the next few months I didn’t weigh myself, and I kept doing my “baby steps” approach to staying fit. I rode my bike to work when the weather permitted, and I walked a few times as well, not to mention that whole gym and outside play with the kids work environment. It was either gonna kill me, or get me in shape! Yet, before I knew it, people were beginning to ask me if I had lost weight, and I would say, “Yea, a little,” but the truth is, I didn’t really notice a visible change immediately. It wasn’t until one day that I came home from work, and took off my jeans without removing my belt that I noticed something was happening. I remember wanting to run to work to weigh myself, but I didn’t want that feeling of disappointment, yet, I hesitantly went into the weight room at work, and weighed myself when nobody was looking.

I remember adjusting the scale for the highest amount, and putting the two heaviest weights at 250 feeling that at the most I had lost 10, perhaps 15 lbs. When the scale refused to move no matter where I moved the last weight, I initially thought it was broken. That’s when I realized that I had to move the 50 lb weight in order to get my true weight. It took a while to sink in that I had lost 50 lbs in what seemed like no time at all. The true significance of the entire situation has still not fully sank in to me!

I have now lost nearly 60 lbs. since that day!

I fully understand that it seems more appealing to simply say I did this to impress a young coworker, or that I’m somehow trying to regain some semblance of the days of my youth, but I can’t lie. While this experience has been no doubt inspiring, I’m riding this wave for all it’s worth, and I want to continue to take my “baby steps” into fulfilling the mission I started just a few months ago. I joked with my wife when I first began, that if I ever got close to seeing 200 lbs ever again I was gonna celebrate by working a strip club for ladies night “one night only!”

Although I declared it as a joke since at the time I had no real belief that I would get that close to my goal, especially knowing I had nearly 100 lbs to lose. As I share this with you I find myself only 30 lbs away, from my now very attainable goal, and my wife is putting pressure on me to keep my word and honor my strip club deal! I had to remind her that my motivation to lose weight was not some secret mission, or fantasy to remain relevant or relive my youth, I simply wanted to see what I could do once I set my mind and efforts into making a positive change. I’m not looking to buy a sports car, I’m not fantasizing about some young hot chick, and I’m certainly not starving myself all in the name of getting in shape.

My method is a simple approach… eat healthier, and get my body stronger… and not get complacent ever again when it comes to my health!

Just like the bad habits set in when you first began to gain weight, so do your efforts need to remain consistent when it comes to reversing that process, regardless of whatever you do, in order to remain fit. I removed the clothes from my part-time clothes hanger so that I can, once again, utilize it as a treadmill, and I hung a heavy bag in the middle of my bedroom, which I find is a good way for me to get a good work out! I no longer fit any of the clothes that I was wearing last year, and I can once again fit many of the shirts I gave to my son years ago!

Although I am not finished, and while I am still not obsessing over an exact number,(as my wife encouraged me not to), I still do a double take whenever I see video footage of me just a few months, or even a year ago.

For any other guy out there experiencing any of the same anguish I felt about where you are in your life, (health wise), just be encouraged to start small, and maintain whatever exercise you do until you are able to increase, and do more. I now find myself racing many of the kids in the afterschool program where I work, and I get to rub it in their face that they got beat by an old man!

I also find it funny that now, many of the same kids that have known me for several years, find it hard to believe that I am 44 years old; many of them now believe that I have been lying about how old I am. One of the older boys today told me that he thought that I was perhaps only 32; one parent thought that I was about 28, or 29! I thanked her for her kindness; believe me, I have no delusion that I could pass for 29, or even 32, but I also can’t help but notice the spring in my step that has come with achieving something that I didn’t think would come so soon.

A mid life crisis didn’t bring me to this revelation. The support of a loving wife, my children encouraging me to keep going, and a belief that I can do anything I set my mind to do, is what truly got me here and I don’t want to lose this.

Call it whatever you want… just don’t call it a midlife crisis!

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