A Flashback to Reality

So far, most of what I’ve written on this blog has been advice/encouragement. Because, as I wrote here, there is no secret to what I’ve done to improve my fitness, health, and physique: I exercised more and took in fewer calories. It’s an extremely simple formula, though practice is obviously hard. The struggle is real, as the kids say, so most of my posts have aimed to put everything in perspective: think long-term, it’s a marathon not a sprint (wow I linked to three old posts and I’m not even done with the first paragraph. This is the blog equivalent of a clip show!). I can spin that advice a bunch of different ways, but it’s not going to change.

But as someone who’s been pretty successful at reversing his fitness fortunes, let me tell you–the struggles also don’t go away even when you think you’ve “made” it. They just change. After I got to largely where I wanted to be weight-wise, I still wasn’t happy–I felt like I should lose more. Or be stronger. Or, or, or. And when I caught myself thinking that way, I had to remind myself why, exactly, I was trying to get into better shape. Remember my goals, in other words (OK, last time I will link to a past post, promise). This battle is ongoing, even today. Here is a story about it.

Last week, some friends and I did some hiking in Berkeley. After taking fun pictures at the top of some hill, we decided to  eat lunch and hang out near the Cal campus area for the rest of the afternoon. Super chill, brought back some fun memories of when I was a student there several years ago. However, as I tossed the football around with my friends on Memorial Glade, I couldn’t help but think: “What if I was a student NOW?” Or, “What could have been if I was in good shape THEN?” And that led down a very slippery slope indeed–all the potential opportunities that I missed out on, all the girls I could have met, all the … Well, to be honest, I stopped there and focused mostly on the girls I could have met. And I started feeling down on myself for a bit–why was I such a bum in college? Why did I not care about my health and physique? Why, why, why?

After feeling sorry for myself for a while, I forced myself to think logically. I had no counterfactual to prove my life would have been “better” if I was as active and healthy then as I was now. (In case you don’t know, a counterfactual is an example where the situation is completely the same but you make a different decision and could see how it played out. Like, you may wonder what life would be like if you chose a different college, but unless you’re able to rewind your life and play it out again knowing only what you knew then, then you won’t ever really know what it’s truly like. I think I did a bad job trying to explain that, but the term can be confusing). So, nothing really productive could come from such an exercise.

Is it tempting to think of what could have been? Sure–I do this with sports all the time. What if the 49ers ran one time instead of throwing several fades to Michael Crabtree while in the red zone against the Ravens? What if Kaepernick didn’t underthrow Crabtree against Seattle? What if Kevin Riley was able to call timeout against Oregon State in 2007? (Sorry, a lot of bitterness still. Go Giants and Go Warriors). And afterwards, you likely feel worse than before.

But at the end of the day, all that matters is reality, not hypotheticals. Here’s my reality: I was overweight for most of my life. In 2013, I decided to change that. In 2014, I made some significant progress. And in 2015, I’m writing about what I’ve done, partly for myself (because I like writing) and partly for friends/readers who may find my experiences helpful in achieving whatever goals they want to achieve. Some “woulda, coulda, shoulda” is inevitable, but pointless too. It tells you nothing about where you are now or where you’re going next–that is largely in your control.

Keep on pushing the pile, friends!

– SS

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