Tuesday April 5, 2005 marks the 1 year anniversary of my departure from my old life. A life consuming bags of fried pork rinds, liters of Mountain Dew, a salad every now and then and way less activity than a person should be able to get away with. I thought it would be good to take a little time and reflect on how far I've come in the past year, while reminding myself of how far I have yet to go. And while I'm reflecting and waxing philosophically, I figured why not share it?On off-season injuries...In December of last year, I sprained the tar out of my ankle during a 5k running race. I was reduced to walking with a cane for about 2 weeks and it took another week before I dared to attempt a long walk let alone an easy jog. During my recovery time, which just happened to be during the holidays (I couldn't have planned that any better), I gained 14 pounds. I was so incredibly bummed and ticked off - I was downright frustrated. I pretty much quit on myself for a few days. I don't even remember what it was that got my head back in the game, but I was so embarrassed that I had even considered quitting. I realized that I'm better than that. I'm better than a sprained ankle.
I'm better than a bad bike wreck or a torn muscle. I'm better than "quit." Generations and generations of my ancestors didn't make it through their lives, their trials and their hardships just for me to get to this point in my life and quit. No way, no how. On a side note, I allowed myself to heal and returned in March to set a 5k personal record on the same course.On racing vs. participating in a race...Seriously, I'm a participant. I don't "race" because I'm not looking for a podium spot. I tri in order to test myself. If I DFL, then I DFL. At 8:00AM when that starting horn goes off, way too many people are still laying bed convincing themselves that they need to get out of bed - if for no other reason than to go to the bathroom and maybe get something really unhealthy to eat. The fact that I paid my fee and I'm toe to toe on the same starting line with amazing athletes that will most certainly throttle me out on the race course is all the glory that I will ever need.On diving...There is a reason I'm doing this crazy stuff. There were many times in the past year that I practically forgot that I am a scuba diver. I'm not sure how or when it happened, but at some point, I stopped doing valve drills while running. Of course I looked like I had something seriously wrong with me, but it helped to solidify the muscle memory - and doing it while being occupied with something else (like not tripping and breaking my neck), has helped improve my ability to multitask underwater. While the quantity of my dives fell dramatically last year, the quality of the dives I did improved significantly. My air consumption was much better and I remained calm during some hairball moments that would have had me more than a little bit tweaked not that long ago. I'm looking forward to racing my brain out this summer, but I look forward to getting back to lots of diving.On scales and other devices of psychological warfare...Plateaus stink. Big time! Nothing is more frustrating than eating less and less and working out more and more with no apparent progress. I got frustrated saying, "Well, I've only lost 50 pounds," over and over again to everyone who asked, "So, how much weight have you lost?" I thought my friends and family were just being nice when they told me that I looked even better than the last time they saw me. It took me all that to realize the following: I am more than the effect of gravity on my body's mass :) I am muscle. I am fat. I am water. I am bone and connective tissue. There's a brain somewhere in there too, but I'm still looking for it. What I didn't notice was that even though my weight stayed the same, my slacks and shirts seemed to be getting bigger and bigger - even as my weight remained unchanged.
Once I punched the 3rd aftermarket hole in my belt, I went back to look at some pictures that I took a year ago and compared some body measurements. As of today, this is how the numbers have played out - I've lost 5 inches in my chest, over an inch off each thigh, 8 inches around my abdomen and 7 inches in my waist. So while the scale tells me that I've "only" lost 57 pounds, my skinfold calipers tell me that I've dropped my body fat percentage by over 10%. That means that I've lost about 70 pounds of fat and gained 10 pounds of muscle!! I no longer need the scale to tell me what I'm made of. Plateau, schmateau - I was just undergoing a metamorphosis.On the road yet to be traveled... I've taken lots of steps so far, and I have plenty to take yet - but the first one was the most important. Before last April, I measured my life by the completion of achievements and the occasions that marked them. Birthdays, graduations, my wedding day, project completions at work, etc. Now, I'm enjoying the journey itself. Each step, each direction change, every moment is important in its own way. There's something to be learned and cherished. By living my life for the end of a journey, I ended up with one day of accomplishment and a whole pile of yesterdays that I couldn't account for. Now, every day is a do-over. I live life in 24 hour slices that I had better make the most of every time. Some days are better than others, but each day is what I make of it. I am the one responsible for steering my life as I come upon challenges that try to sway me from my path.
There's a Chinese proverb that says that it takes four ounces to move a thousand. By being flexible enough to roll with the punches, you can take what life throws at you and use it to your advantage. But only if you take the time to live in the moment and listen to what life is trying to tell you. Look far enough ahead to see what's coming, but not so far ahead that you're being distracted by things that may not even matter.Well, that should just about cover it :) It's my hope that next year I can write an article called "The Empress and the Beefcake," but I guess that I'll have to take it one day at a time and see how I do, huh? Remember - no quitting, no excuses, no limits!See you on the starting line,-Frank (scuba-punk)
Scuba Diving, Multisport and Chinese Martial Arts.