It was 2015. I was 320 lbs. I had failed miserably at the umpteenth attempt to lose weight. Was it really that hard? Three years earlier, I had successfully lost a significant amount of weight and gotten much fitter through a healthy diet-vs-exercise combo, but Life being what it was, Life Life’d and I was left struggling at all aspects of life.
Food is my comfort in times of stress.
Sometime around 2014 I sought a second job to help pay the bills. I took a night job at a well-known big box discount store. After all, you know they always need knew people, the hours were perfect to balance against the full time week day job I had, and the money wasn’t horrible at over $13.50CDN per hour just to stock shelves.
Between both jobs, no sleep, minimal food intake and constant moving, I saw my weight plummet to the lowest of my adulthood. If you know me in person, you’d know that’s saying a lot.
It’s no wonder then, that given the drastic way the weight was shed that it came back with a vengence just a few short months later. What was seemingly a stroke of good luck with a new career that had amazing things on the horizon, quickly turned sour. Long hours combined with alot of time spent on the roads resulted in poor dietary habits, extended hours of inactivity and subsequent weight gain. A lot of weight. So much weight, in fact, that by the time November 2015 rolled around, I was rolling with it.
I attended a friend’s wedding, dreading every minute of it. They’re the stereotypical hot couple. You know the ones – funny, charming, witting, and disgustingly attractive. Needless to say they’d have tons of their hot-esque friends at the wedding too. In fact, that little voice in my head said the whole damn wedding party was just going to be one big Hottie McHotster gathering. I couldn’t wait…to leave.
By the time the social media feeds were lit up with links to the photos and videos, my ego was already smashed. The suit I’d wore was uncomfortable. I had purchased it three years earlier when I was becoming trim and fit, and now it was a constant reminder of my inability to stay the course; a nagging reminder at my lack of dietary discipline.
There I was, on film, like a giant blue-black beach ball on the screen as the bride and groom descend down the aisle to their celebratory music, hand-in-hand. My strategically chosen location of the rear pew in the church left me vulnerable like the slow, wounded Buffalo at the edge of the stampede, easily spotted and even more easily outmaneuvered.
In that moment, I decided that I would no longer promote a perpetual pity party, prioritizing payments and profits over personal performance and price. Pitiful practices prevented positivity. I’d had enough.
I spent most of my December 2015 planning a quasi-cliche New Years Resolution: Get in shape by my 40th birthday in November 2016. It was symbolic to me as I’d never made one before, that I recall; certainly, not one that I committed to in my heart, mind and soul.
I would go back to the dietary lifestyle I had enjoyed: plant-based. I would re-commit to doing a 5km per day walk-run. Most importantly, I accepted a lifestyle challenge that my sister issued: Complete a half-marathon together. Within minutes of accepting her wacky, zany idea of running together in Florida in December 2016, I received an email notification thanking me for registering. There was no backing out. Pride could not allow it.
As the hours passed, soon becoming days, I became obsessed with reading about running. I watched YouTube videos. I returned back to some of my favorite documentaries. I picked up and dusted off books I hadn’t touched in far too long. It was the Kona recaps of 2013, 2014 and 2015 that got my most attention. Hines Ward, Gordon Ramsay, Sean Astin… Ironman Marketing did exactly what they intended to do when they opened up celebrity spots: They get your attention by putting well known names on an otherwise unknown professional sport. I learned that Ironman is the single-most grueling day of sports you can enter, and yet triathlon is one of the most financially non-rewarding sports. If there’s no money in it, why do it? I had to know. Moreso, I need to know that I can do this.
I have not owned a bike since I was a child. I haven’t swam laps since high school. I’ve never worn out a pair of running shoes. I’ll be 40 in under a year. There is no time like the present to make this happen.
There’s little doubt that I’m met with skepticism. I’d probably call me crazy too. Yet one thing has me uber focused: This is not a team sport. I’m not out to “podium”, at least not in my first few events. I don’t need a ton of equipment to start. I need a bike, a swimsuit, a pair of sneakers and the will-power to use my body in a way that I never have.
It’s time to take the Ferrari out of the garage and get it on the open course. But first things first, a few test laps to make sure All Systems are Go, before Launch.
In my best Mike Reilly Voice: “Houston, This is Ground Control.”