0500 and the alarm is going off. It wasn’t a sneak attack; there was no malice on the part of the clock. This had been planned and directed by yesterday’s me. That guy who realized how important fitness was. Yesterday’s me had the will, and ambition he could see the big picture. But this morning’s me was thinking of excuses as he hit the snooze button. 30 minutes later a text comes through from Derek, “see you at the gym this morning?” And now I’m thinking of even better excuses.
There was a time in this life I would laugh at other people’s fears of physical activity. The idea of total exhaustion was a myth to a younger man. I was in amazing shape once upon a time; I guess that applies to most of us. I didn’t have to count calories or worry about how a shirt looked on me, whether or not it covered my gut. I see pictures of myself that people post where I didn’t have the presence of mind to suck it in before they said cheese. It’s embarrassing, humiliating and worst of all depressing, and piles onto the pressure to just give up and try get accustomed to being a “fat guy”, and get used to that image of myself.
More and more it’s like I woke up in someone else’s body. What happened, where did I go wrong? I find myself out of breath when I play with my kids. But fast food is convenient, easy, and slides into my busy life like a puzzle piece. So I buy bigger clothes. But still a tick develops where I find myself constantly pulling at my shirt so it doesn’t hug my belly, giving temporary camouflage to the monument of my shame. Out in the world, one might see me as a confident man walking tall and smiling at everyone, while inside I am too embarrassed to go swimming with my kids because people might see me with my shirt off and laugh. My wife, my kids, they never find anything wrong with me. They continue to think Big Papi is a badass. Little do they know I fear I might not have the stamina in the event they truly need me.
I tell myself it’s harder for me because I was in such great shape, and it wasn’t so long ago. I tell myself it’s because I went through a bad divorce, and a long custody battle. It’s harder because I had a major move, a new job, a new relationship and marriage. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster. A ride I boarded wearing size large, and exited busting the seams of a XXL. I tell myself this isn’t my problem, that it’s just life. But these are all just excuses.
I am not looking to be in amazing shape again, I just want to feel good like I once did. I want to be comfortable with taking my shirt off in public and be able to breathe in a suit. These aren’t lofty goals compared to the challenges guys like Derek have faced and triumphed over. And here he is trying to motivate me. I stare at the phone for a few seconds, though the fog of all the reasons not to get out of bed. And then somehow, miraculously, I’m surprised to feel my feet hitting the floor. And then I hear myself calling out inside my mind from younger days, “Let’s do this”. Today is the day I’m going to listen to him. What’s your excuse? I hope you forget it tomorrow.