Who I am now does not closely resemble who I was 5 years ago. But then again, how many of us do? Five years ago I was tailing towards the end of culinary school unsure of whom I was and what I wanted to accomplish in life. As a culinary student, I had access to anything I wanted to eat, and with such a privilege I took advantage of it to the fullest. By the end of my tenure at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, I had peaked at a whopping 236 pounds!
Since then my weight had fluctuated at about 190 – 210 pounds, until about a year ago when I was fast approaching my 30s. As an avid sports fan, I have always heard over the years that the human body peaks from the ages 25-30 (give or take a few years) mentally and physically. With that knowledge combined with my family history of stroke, heart attack, cancer, diabetes, high-blood pressure and so on, something dormant inside me had awakened and all of a sudden I felt the unforgiving urge to get my health in gear.
Five years ago I was a one to two pack a week smoker. I was a binge drinker with frequent, and fully functional blackouts. As a young man in his mid twenties, periodical checkups and fitness tests had assessed my “real” age at 55 years old. I ate somewhat health consciously, but when it came to eating at buffets there was no one there to tell me to stop and I sure as hell didn’t. Friday nights after work meant a drive through stop at McDonalds for 2 big macs and 20 piece chicken nuggets with fries.
Those were great times until a year ago, when I stumbled upon the P90x workout program. I had always been a devoted runner over the years, but this was something else. Not only were the videos a challenging workout for me, but they also taught me the ways of how to workout and how important it is to shape all aspects of fitness: strength, endurance, balance, flexibility, etc. I quit smoking, started going easy on the drinking and started to change up the way I ate.
I saw results, and although they didn’t come fast, they showed over time, and soon enough I was pleased with what I saw, but still felt empty. Working out to look good made me feel vein in a sense. I needed to have a reason to do what I was doing: a reason that fulfilled my soul.
During my runs over the years I always thought about my aunt who had multiple sclerosis and how she never asked for help unless it was offered to her. I also remembered how my grandmother had been confined to a wheelchair as the result of a stroke, yet she would still try and stand up and yell out “I can do it”! Or how my other grandmother would remain active throughout the day in the kitchen, kneading dough with her veiny hands in her old age, yet seem so strong in doing so. I would think about these things and feel strongly dedicated to owing them and the many others that have physical challenges for showing me the true strength of the human spirit. If they can have a “can do” attitude with physical limitations, then what am I doing slacking off with all my fingers, toes and limbs intact?
So with those things in mind I trained for something I would never think of while I was busy binge eating, chain smoking cigarettes and drinking to blackout. I trained for a sprint triathlon for them. It was to be a true exhibition of hitting the mental and physical peak in my 30s and I have accomplished it and strive to continue to maximize my goals. I have gained and continue to seek knowledge, wisdom and spiritual enlightenment on that journey towards knowing myself and others. I wish to share that knowledge in hopes to motivate those that seek it.
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