Monthly Mix Tape

New MOOD by Onnit

Monday, March 12, 2012

This past week...

someone e-mailed me and asked "Have you ever, personally, gone through great amounts (more than 25#) of weight loss? Or strength training to gain muscle/weight?" The firt part of my response was something along the lines of "wow, no one has ever asked me that!" Ever. And I have no idea how or why thats never happened because as I thought more about this past week, it's probably one of the most important questions someone could ask.

I think the question and answer help develop a communication line. In coaching, it's always been important to me that the players know and understand the thought process behind everything. I also feel it's important that they trust the "coach," could play. That he knows how to compete and has an intensity. On the flip side, when talking to high school kids about larger issues that surround them in the classroom, at home or with friends, I think it helps having an element of "yeah, I've also been there." I never knew if my coach was all-state or played big college ball, but I could see it in his eyes, he knew what it took to make us great. So again, in the questions asked above, I feel that the answer is a definition that says "Yes, I've been on the same path you're on and actually still working that path."

I might have been 22 or 23 years old and somehow gained a considerable amount of weight after high school. I think it was partially due to alcohol, maybe some depression and general lack of activity. I remember going to find a pair of jeans at the mall and literally couldnt find a decent pair. I had an event to attend and needed something new to wear and because I couldnt find clothes to fit, I didnt go to the event and missed out on an opportunity. I weighed around 315 lbs.

I very clearly remember the following weeks. I remember being very angry with myself and i'm not even sure if 315 sunk in. At the time, my issue was being too big for the clothes I wanted. So I decided to join Ballys.

I had some workout experience from high school but not much. Ironically, I was never really into the weight room. No clue why. I think I was lazy and complacent. I was one of the those dumb kids I now bitch at... kind of a big fish in a small pond. I knew I'd start on Friday nights without the weight room so I didnt care... which was a very large mistake. So I pulled some generic workouts out of a magazine and started my training. Monday was chest, Tuesday legs, blha blah blah boring workout. I remember my cardio was very, very lame. I thought I could hop on an elliptical for 20 minutes and think I was burning "x" amount of calories and be great. I would swim maybe twice per week as well.

One day two guys came up to me who were in very good shape, turns out they were Marines. One asked what I was trying to do and and I told him "lose 80lbs." He asked to see my workout routine and I handed him my notebook. He said "I'll give this back to you tomorrow. Til then, run. Just run. Dont try to be cute and mix in all these toys, go buy new shoes and just run." The next day, I came in and he handed me my notebook back with 7 new routines. He told me rotate through and run every day. They took me through the workout a couple times to show me the form and that was it. They also said to cut carbs and alcohol and to eat alot of protein.

So I listened. I wasnt a great runner and ever really ran more than 1 mile per day. (Maybe because it sucks counting 16 laps at Ballys to get to that mile.) Every morning was a shake, every lunch was a salad and every dinner was 1 chicken breast, 1 cup of brown rice and some vegetables. Thats it. Every single day, all winter long.

5 months later, 225lbs.

I dont think it was that hard because I wanted it so bad. It's all I wanted. Nothing could distract me.

I remember weighing in every week and thinking "Damn, 5 lbs this week!" I remember when I dropped under 275, then 250, then 240... then things slowed down but I stayed with it and got there.

I never even knew the guys names that stopped me and told me "run." I would see them everyday and they would watch me, but I kept my headphones in and just worked (plus I was shy and I dont think they wanted to bother me.) Thinking about it now, its probably why i say some of the things I say. Maybe why I train how I train. I learned firsthand why cardio is so important... actually why running is even more important. Can it be done without running? Yes. Could I have? I'm not sure. Everyone I train, I say "Get a pair of running shoes," or "That treadmill is our goal, so get comfy with it asap."

If you're reading this and wondering "Can I lose 40lbs?" Absolutely, you can. I know you can. But its not easy. It takes sacrifice and discipline. And I'm even throwing myself in the equation and not as a trainer. I let things slip late in 2011 and I'm back at it hard right now. Im back to shooting for 225 and I know i'll get there. I'm back to that mind set of nothing stopping me. And I know I have to run and I have to be disciplined and I'll have to sacrifice.

Its not a mood. Its a life decision. I think thats the difference. I think people get into a mood where they think "Jeez, I need to lose 15lbs. I feel chubby," or anything really. "Jeez I need to improve (fill in the blank)." But that mood fades and then it's gone. When you make a decision and commit to yourself... then thats it. It's happening.

Every say "I'm going to (fill in the blank)." Did you do it? Did you commit to it? What happened? Success or failure?

Another season is coming... the weather is getting warmer and soon it'll come and go all over again. Will you be sitting in that same seat in one year wishing you did something different?