Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Why am I fat?

Why am I making such a big deal about this Ironman triathlon thing?  For those of you who are not familiar with the particulars, I will give a breif synopsis.

Simply stated, it is one of the most difficult single-day endurance events in the world.  It breaks down like this, you start your day at 7:00am with a 2.4 mile open-water swim, followed by a nice 112 mile bike ride.  You then get to cool down with a full, 26.2 mile marathon.  And by the way, you have a maximum of 17 hours to complete all three disciplines.  If you cross through the finish chute before midnight, you are declared an Ironman.

Now the big question.  Why would anyone want to subject themselves to that type of insanity?  My answer: because for the first 39 years of my life, I never thought I would ever be able to consider this as a possibility.

Throughout my life, success in physical activities have been non-existent.  I never thought of myself as any kind of athlete, even by the widest of definitions.  You will see why when I give you a little history.

I was born in 1973.  Spending most of my formidable years in the 80's, it seemed like everything was about technology and convenience, especially food and meals.  Microwave ovens were in every kitchen, prepackaged meals were in every freezer, processed foods were in every grocery store aisle and there was a fast food joint at every major intersection.  Family meals that were traditionally prepared with fresh, local ingredients, were now being unwrapped, nuked and served in 5-7 minutes.  If we didn't have 7 minutes to spare that day, a 2 minute visit to the drive through window would be a perfect replacement.

Successful days were celebrated with a delivered-to-your-door pizza pie, victories were rewarded with a trip to the local "massive portion" restaurant and setbacks were consoled over a huge ice cream sundae.  When it rained outside, we fired up the television which now had VCR's and video game systems attached to them.  When it was too hot outside, we did the same.  When it was too cold, we did the same.  When it was too sunny out, we did the same.

Was it any wonder that I was fat?  Did I really expect to excel at sports and physical activities when I was ingesting all of that crap and then planting my ass on a couch?  What the hell were we thinking?

June 2000
230+ pounds

Although I participated in the usual bundle of team sports, I never excelled at any of them.  I was overweight, out of shape and had no real guidance for a course correction from my parents.  I don't blame them, they (as well as most people in those days) just didn't know any differently.

I found success as a drummer and pursued that avenue as a youth and young adult.  To this day, I still enjoy sitting down behind a kit and laying it down from time to time.  But that did nothing for my health.  As I began living the lifestyle as a "trying to make it" musician, things got even worse.  Late night gigs, plenty of alcohol and 3am Taco Bell runs were part of everyday life.

What is most ironic about this time of my life is that this is when I discovered the gym.  I would get up every morning and pump the iron before work.  I never missed a day.  I made huge gains in every exercise.  I was getting really strong.  For some reason, I thought this was the path to health and fitness.  Every rep I did with 250 lbs would negate the fact that I ate a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich for breakfast; so I thought.

By 2000, the year I got married, I was pushing the scales at almost 230 lbs.  At 5'-7", I was referred to as "stocky" or "thick" by friends and family.  Actually, I was fat.  There is no way to sugar-coat that one.  I was fat.  Period.

Even at that point, I never thought I could have the body I wanted.  I made excuses for everything, but resigned to the fact that I was always going to wear a 38" waist.  Coincidentally, all of my focus was on physique with not a single thought to health and wellness.  After all, I was not athletic, I was just strong.  That had to be something healthy, right?

Then came the bike.

May 2013
Alasdair and I after the Carl Hart Duathlon

May 2013
The Duathlon went well for both of us.  I got my
first podium finish.  Finished 1st in my age group (M40-44)
and 21st overall (out of 322)!

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