It's Never Too Late to Start
Logic doesn’t matter when the alarm goes off at 5 am, the sleep gets rubbed from your eyes and you roll out of bed to start what you know is the long path back. Am I really doing this?
It is always interesting how culture snakes its way through society over time, how points of view become fashionable and then not, and how things we once knew as truth begin to reveal themselves as otherwise. Indeed, the “conventional wisdom” of the day has much to answer for in the history of mankind. We were told as boys to eat meat and potatoes, then fat was bad, then fat was good, and now we know the only truth is the one we make ourselves by reading, learning, and asking. But somewhere along the line, you stopped wondering whether anything made sense. You let the diet go, you reached for the extra chips and one more beer and a glass of wine sounds good, thanks. Training seemed like a legitimate option, then you gained a few pounds and it was less so, and then you gained a lot more and suddenly it went beyond the point where you felt it would be two good weeks to get it right. In the back of your mind, you knew it would be a few months of pain, and if we can all be honest for a moment…there is a part of you that wonders whether it might just be easier to remember how fit you were and put those thoughts behind you. Carbs, fat, it's all the same when there’s no plan at all. Life is life. Other people get fit.
You lace up your shoes, rub in the liniment to make sure your body lasts longer than your lungs can, and it's onto the street. Not even the birds are up, and only a lonely taxi cab rolls past you. With an exhale, you step off, beginning the first run in a long time.
One day, you’re out with the kids. Were they always this active? You feel a little out of breath, and when you bend down to get the ball, its an effort to get up and just for a moment, you feel a bit light headed. This would have never been the way I felt before, you tell yourself. You haven’t weighed yourself in a year. You think about it as you walk home from the park. You don’t talk about it, but it worries you. Dad died at 68, a smoker, overweight, never ran a day in his life. You put it out of your mind.
The first few steps you feel your knees jarring, your hips starting to open up, but it's like dragging logs beneath you. “How long has it been?” you ask yourself, but you know. The sound of the footsteps blocked by the start of a song you haven’t taken the time to hear for a really long time. You press on. It's been a mile. Your lungs are full, but it doesn’t hurt as much as you thought it would. Others run past you, but you are on your own, slower, trudging along, and you remember how that felt. You listen to the music, and you put one foot in front of the other. You remember.
Friday night drinks. A six-pack, pizza, and a night in front of the television with the family. You get up and walk to the kitchen, and on the way, you catch sight of yourself in the mirror. You suck in the gut and move your shoulders back…you know that you have to do something. Today is a loss. Tomorrow is the day. You find your shoes, and you put your gear out for the morning.
Its 2 miles now. Not fast, and you’ve walked a bit, and your muscles are itchy with the feeling of lactic acid and blood pushing through arteries which haven’t had to work for a while. You jog, slowly, feeling the road beneath you and the first light starts to push its way through the trees. You are on your fifth song, and you can’t remember the 3rd or 4th. What were you even thinking about? You run on, feeling the first bit of pride but mainly a sense that it didn’t kill you. You stop. Its day 1. You inhale and turn off the music and you sit on the grass and lean your head back. The sun is out and there is movement in the streets. The day is beginning for so many people, but not for you. For you, it’s the beginning of something better. You’ve bought a day, a week, a month of extra life. You’ve started.
Its been a month now, and 4 miles is not only an option, it’s a routine. Three times a week, and although the weight is taking some time to move, you feel stronger. You aren’t fast, but you aren’t racing. Your diet matches the effort you are putting in..drinking less, eating more protein and now you’re conscious of the mix of your food. Now…to the shed…where did I put those weights?