See me post-triathlon (2012) above, working my ass off but still with a gut.
To be clear, I’ve been working out and aware of my “diet” for over 14 years. I’ve been a lot of places with my body but never here. My shirts don’t fit in the arms and I can see my abs. As Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi would say,I’ve found my flow.
The shift for me began in New Bedford, Massachusetts. I was alone in my van for the weekend waiting for my wife. She was hanging with friends and I had no interest in shopping and pedicures. We had recently begun our 6 month tour of the US in my parents’ 17 foot camper van (Road Trek). Sitting outside of the laundromat I had this unexplaiined urge to drink booze. This thought came on strong but passed as soon as it arrived. I spent the night in a Walmart parking lot by myself (other campers will know they allow campers to park overnight for free). Before I fell asleep, I was drawn to the Walmart to buy something. I was in a fully-stocked van wanting for nothing. However, I found myself roaming the ailses aimlessly with an armful of crap food.
There was an announcement in the typical unenthusiastic Walmart voice “Hello shoppers, we are now closed. Please bring your items to the front and thank you for shopping at Walmart.”
A bolt shot up my spine and the urgent need to grab more crap off the shelves overcame me. …
In my van I was surrounded by crap food and a bunch of booze I would normally never drink (premixed margaritas and the like). I was confronted my my actions, so alien yet so decisive, so desperate. But why? I slipped into a confused introspective sleep.
I awoke to the grunt of an old truck whizzing by at 6am. I posted on FB a question about vulnerability and heard back from my community on what it was like for them to be vulnerable. That was helpful to feel connected. I was not capable of understanding what had shifted for me at the time but a transformation was imminent. After a quick and effective browse of “Eventbrite” (a social website that lists events and gatherings happening), my day was booked. Lego wars, a right wing political rally and a jello-eating competition filled me day.
It first struck me on a short jog to the lego war around noon. I hadn’t eaten breakfast. So I grabbed a candy bar in the lobby and then joined the crowd of 500 screaming 12 year olds. Side note – I went to the restroom and a middle-aged man followed me and stood against the wall. He did not use any of the facilities – just waited for me to finish and left when I did. I didn’t see him again until the event was over and I went to the rest room again. There he was. Standing off to the side, not staring but not looking away. Then it occurred to me I was solo at a child’s event 🙂 I guess I come off as a predator.
I found the candy bar in my pocket at the political rally when reaching for my wallet. CRAP it was 5pm and I hadn’t had a bite to eat. All was well because it was a catered event with finger foods. I chucked the bar and began schmoozing. After a belly full of finger crabcakes and an ear full of right wing US politics, I was on my way to watch people stuff their faces with jello.
Acutely aware of the age of patrons this time, I restricted my restroom breaks to one and kept my hands visible at all times.
Here’s the insight/epiphany
I use food, shopping and drinking to deal with life. I was confronted with the question “am I worthy of love?”. The answer was normally drowned in distractions like shopping, drinking and eating. Now to deal with my “coping mechanisms.” I worked out, set a budget and added structure to my drinking.
From that point on food tasted different. I lost the push to eat. I wouldn’t remember to eat. Erin would say “have you eaten today?” at 3pm. I would look back in my memory rather then checking how I felt (unlike before where I would constantly check in “do I feel hungry?”). I was free to choose.
I chose exercise – Body Beast by Beachbody. It’s a 90 day workout program focused on body composition. Within 2 months I was on the shores of Key West in a transformed body and mind.
Since I had a ‘change of heart/mind’, that old way of being has not returned. All of my old rules around calories, types of food to eat, equations of how long it has been since I’ve eaten last, etc doesn’t have a hold on me. I still play games with food, but it’s not a heavy (significant) process. For a couple weeks I even had a diet mainly consisting of cheesecake and found myself losing even more weight. Once my mindset changed around food, I was in charge and food wasn’t in charge of me. And I’m really living it up in the gym. It’s how I start my day with my wife.