In Which I Ruminate On Why, At 42, I’ve Finally Decided to Get In Shape (HINT: It’s Not Just About Playing Basketball)

Good Evening fellow denizens of this, my subjective universe. Or maybe I should say Good Morning or Good Afternoon. I guess it all depends on when and for that matter where you are reading this. It’s evening here in Broomall, Pennsylvania but it’s still late afternoon out west in California. Heck, it’s mid-afternoon in Hawaii and across the mighty Pacific in Japan? Well, you get the point. Instead of wasting more time on this I’ll just say Good BLANK. BLANK = Insert time of day or night here. 

And we’re off. Winky emoticon. Smiley face. Please stick with me. I promise this is going somehwere. 

Rather than continue to ramble on incessantly I think, for once, I’ll hop right to the point. As many reading this know, a few weeks ago I made… a pretty monumental decision. Monumental by my standards. For some, said decision would have been as significant as a nightly BM but for me? It represented a turning point in my life less extraordinary. At 42 and a half years old I decided that it was time. Time to get in shape. Time to stop being a dark spot on the couch in my living room good for nothing nightly but watching television and thinking about how g’damn tired I am all the time. It was time to stop gasping for air at the top of a single staircase… time to walk around Broomall with my minions and play Pokemon GO without sweating and breathing heavily within 300 feet of my house. Time for my heart to stop jackhammering like a teenager’s on prom night from the slightest exertion (sadly, not my comparison; I’ve got to give that one to The Bruce, i.e. Bruce Campbell. Booyakasha, Ash. Respect). Time to get healthy. 

I think that the decision to do it is the first big hurdle. There are others along the way but actually committing to it? That’s the tough part. For me, it’s all about a couple of things. Short term? It’s about representing my oldest minion’s Second Grade class at Saint Annie’s in Broomall in their annual Hoops Hysteria Tournament. The basic concept? Each class has a “team” made up of parents, siblings and teachers that enters and plays in a Round Robin tourney for a week. Eventually, teams are eliminated one-by-one until such time as only two teams… two class representations remain. Those two square off on Friday night for the Hoops Hysteria Championship. Winner take all, loser go home. It’s all about pride. Bragging rights for a year and last year while watching from the stands I hatched the idea to… consider doing it. I didn’t think I’d be doing it the following year but here I am. I started training with four weeks and some change until the first game. I’m now about a week and a half in and how has it gone? How am I feeling? I’ll get to that in a bit. This part is about motivation and playing for Team Second Grade was my first. But there were others. 

Getting in shape… getting healthy is in and of itself motivation. One year ago I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Not a lot of people know that and if you didn’t before now? Well, now you do. It was a rude awakening for me. No more sugar… a daily regiment of meds… testing my blood sugar every day. Life literally changed for me overnight and what happened? Well, I promptly lost 30+ pounds from the meds and the lack of sugar but the weight loss–which has tailed off since–was only a part of the treatment. One thing was missing: Exercise. I knew that that was the next step and I vowed to do it. It only took me… oh, about a year to start. 

Being there for my kids as they get older? That’s a motivating factor too. I’ll not lie (why bother now? ‘Might as well come clean about everything), leading up to the decision to do this I had to few… irregularities. Rapid heart rate while resting… the occasional “twinge” of uncomfort in my shoulders or once or twice, my chest. Light headedness, the inability to catch my breath… you know the drill. Nothing overly concerning or consistent but the symptoms were there. And I knew it. And I knew it was pointing to something I didn’t want to go through and I didn’t want my loved ones to go through. There was only one solution and that solution was to get healthy. To get in shape. Second verse same as the first. Are you sensing a pattern? I hope so ’cause one is intended. 

I could go on and on about motivation. Motivations. There are others. Everything from sleeping better at night to losing weight to… well, other things which I will not go into in this PG, bordering on PG-13 piece of Mental Flatulence. But I’m sure you get the point. You need to be motivated. Change is never easy and the change I was staring at was… extreme. Again, extreme by my standards. Some of you might think it as extreme as the decision about which television show to watch on a Wednesday night: “Expedition Unknown” or “Cooks and Cons.” For the record? Josh Gates for the f*cking win. It’s not that I don’t like Jeff Zakarian but come on: “Expedition” is like “Indiana Jones” lite. With geeky comedy. It’s my joint, yo. Check it out if you haven’t yet. Spoiler Alert: He never finds anything. But it’s cool to watch him try. 

Bottom line? It was more than just downloading a Couch to 5K app for my phone and starting to run. Hurdle Number Two was endurance and waking up muscles that hadn’t been used consistently for a long, long time. Cue my elliptical which had been sitting in my basement, collecting dust for years. Not anymore. Sit-ups, push-ups, leg lifts and lifting. Oh lifting weights. How I missed you (sarcasm slightly intended). I had to quit smoking, too. Yep, I’ve been a smoker for years and the only way to do it and do it right, I knew, was do the unthinkable: Go cold turkey. And I did. It’s been over a week and a half since my last smoke and let me tell you something friends: It makes a world of difference. Within 24 hours of my last cigarette I could breathe better. I was on my way to the next hurdle: Hitting the streets and getting my brisk walk/jog on. 

I started about 48 hours in on a level walking track around the corner from my house. I jogged for a grand total of about 10 seconds before I had to stop. The stats from that workout? 1.47 miles. 30:28 duration. 2.8 MPH average speed. 20:43 P/MILE average pace. Here’s a pic of me and my minions afterwards: 

What this adorable shot (adorable because of the girls; I look like a f*cking beast) doesn’t show you is the Godzilla-sized blister that opened up and subsequently popped on my left heel during. Said blister almost sidelined me but after some quick thinking and a number of attempted and failed remedies, said blister healed up and I didn’t miss a beat. 

I’ve been out six times since. And tonight? This is what I logged: 1.47 miles. 28:16 duration. 3.1 MPH average speed with a max speed of 7.0 MPH. 18:54 P/MILE average pace. My blister? Gone. And since I’m sharing pics:

That my friends is the face of someone who is jacked up on Endorphins. Most importantly though? I’m not on a track anymore. I’m on the streets. With hills. And while I’m still only running/jogging about 20-25% of the time… well, it’s a bit longer than 10 seconds now. It’s in increments but hey: Baby steps. Rome wasn’t built in a week and a half. 

Why am I sharing this with you? Disclaimer: I’m not bragging. No g’damn way. An 18:54 mile is not something to brag about. Any self-respecting veteran runner would laugh at me and then leave me huffing and puffing in their dust.  Furthermore, I’m not preaching. This isn’t me, standing on top of a soap box telling you that you need to do what I’m doing. Hell no. Be you. But if you’ve been ruminating on getting in shape and you’re concerned that your heart won’t be able to hack it, or you won’t be able to keep up with it I’ve got breaking news for you, straight from the Proverbial Wormhole of Existence newsroom: You can. It’s all about heart and determination. Find your motivation. Whether it’s the desire to play in a basketball tournament at your kid’s school or to run a 5K… whether you want to be able to walk around town and play Pokemon GO without sweating profusely or just be able to make it up the stairs without gasping for breath at the top you can do it. Deciding to do it is the biggest hurdle. Get past it and thereafter take them one at a time. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve realized that once Hoops Hysteria ends this process that I’ve started? It won’t. I have new goals now and over time, I’ll reveal them. But not now. Now it’s partly about playing basketball but that’s not it. It’s about getting in shape. For the minions. And for me. 

Remember that you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think. In short? You are a Godzilla-sized beast and you can do whatever the f*ck you put your mind to. So get to it. And I’ll see you out there. 

Booyakasha. Respect. And Good BLANK. Winky emoticon. Smiley face. 

F. 

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2 thoughts on “In Which I Ruminate On Why, At 42, I’ve Finally Decided to Get In Shape (HINT: It’s Not Just About Playing Basketball)

  1. I am so proud of you Frank. I am also in get healthy mode. This time around I am taking my time and making this a life change. Take pictures each month and compare the difference. The scale doesn’t always move but you will see the change. Let’s keep each other motivated.
    Love Ya,
    Caren

    • Hey Caren,

      Totally! It’s really a great feeling. Actually doing it and not just thinking about it… it’s wonderful. It’s funny: I was thinking about weight yesterday and wondering why I’ve only lost a couple of pounds since I started. And then I realized that this isn’t directly about weight loss. It’s a nice bonus but in truth? It’s about overall wellness. And I feel incredible!

      You know I’ve got your back. Let’s set up that exercise play date soon!

      Love,

      Frank

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