As I looked back at the contents of this digital time capsule of my life, I realized that my memories of the past have begun to glaze over details, romanticizing some and taking the rough edges off of others. In addition to old pictures and videos of myself, I also found some scanned pictures taken in the era of film loaded cameras in the days before the internet. Seeing these pictures and videos were a welcome reality check as I near the end of my 5th year of recovery from obesity.
In today's age of Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest (I still don't know what to do with that site), it's very common to see 20 somethings posting all manner of life advice. There is more information available than ever and the internet provides an eager forum so that every hyper-passionate trainer can shout from figurative mountaintops into the google-cached ether. I remember those days well except that we couldn't shout as loudly and with as wide a reach as kids today.
When I was in my twenties and fully immersed in the passion that was competitive powerlifting and Personal Training, I too, believed that I had all the answers and that there was no way I would ever let myself down by becoming one of the sedentary have-nots and do-nothings waddling through the shopping malls. Like kids of today, I took progress pictures:
|21 yrs old, Oct 31, 1987, 178 lbs prior to weigh-ins for my first or second PL meet|
|22 yrs old, November 1988, 193 lbs prior to weighing in for the 198 lb class|
I would continue to compete in powerlifting for another 4 years and work as a Personal Trainer for three of them. Training was different back then as we pretty much trained everyone like a bodybuilder. It was all about appearance rather than function and in Los Angeles that meant the 'profession' had even less of a soul than it does today. As I didn't want to shyster people out of their cash for what passed as "Personal Training workouts" back then, I decided to "get a real job". You know, the kind where you go to work for 8-10 hours in grown up clothes and hope to be promoted into management. This was the beginning of my loss of focus on my health.
A promotion brought me to Toronto and with that, severed the last strings of my competitive powerlifting passion. I made the choice to focus on my career which included long hours and lots of partying. Single, under 30, virtually unlimited expense accounts for wining and dining employees and sales accounts, it was an easy opportunity to spend many nights out at the bars and clubs. I still went to the gym occasionally but the workouts lacked direction and purpose. I never logged a single training session, I just went to the gym and did stuff.
|Sept 1996, 210 lbs, slow fall begins...|
Cut forward five years...
|12/26/2001 250+ lbs, thought I was going to get back in shape|
Cut forward another 6 years:
All of these pictures and videos were on that thumb drive I browsed today. Seeing them was like a hammer between the eyes. It was a klaxon horn of a reminder that the present holds no guarantee of the future no matter how certain one may be. I have made some decent progress since November 2007 but I still have a ways to go before I'll be taking any more shirtless pictures. Even more important, at almost 46 years old, I know that there is still time to re-live this whole cycle of fitness to fatness to fitness if I drop the ball now.
A lifetime is a long time, especially when imagined through the eyes of a twenty-something. It's still a long time when viewed from my current vantage point. Having gone through this process once, it is my intent to not have to do it ever again.