Fitness: Lost and Found

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We’ve all been there! You wake up one day,  get on the scale, then get off the scale, then get back on…and you realize it’s right.

Here’s the first in a series of blogs about one man’s journey back to jock!

Fitness: Lost and Found

by Derrick Curtis

“Hi!  My name is Derrick, and I am an addict.”

I am not your typical addict though; I don’t do drugs, I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t drink coffee, and I don’t smoke.  For me, it’s not any of your traditional vices.

I’m addicted to fast food, junk food, Diet Coke. (Seriously, Diet Coke! I swear, some days, I drink it by the gallon!)

Do I know this stuff isn’t good for me?  Yeah, I know it. But I like it … and I like it a lot!

Thing is, I’m a jock.  Well, I used to be, I guess.  I’ve often joked about being on a full Military Sports Scholarship.  From a quick guestimate, over a 27-year Military career so far, I think I’ve  participated in no fewer than 50 Regional Championships for soccer, hockey, ball hockey, badminton and golf.  I’ve also played softball, basketball and bowling for various Base Teams.  I’ve also competed in about a dozen National Championships and even had a few tryouts with the Canadian National CISM soccer team back in the early to mid-90s, so I’ve lived an active lifestyle.

The problem is, despite how active I’ve been throughout my life and how much physical training (PT) I do on a weekly basis, I still play the weight “yo-yo” game.  You all know what I mean:  One week my weight is down, the next week my weight is up… it’s a constant struggle to not only find that comfort zone, but much more importantly, to stay in that comfort zone.  For me, I’ve always thought my comfort zone is somewhere around 200 pounds, but I’ve been as low as 178 lbs. (which I really liked!)  What I really didn’t like was the day, just a couple of years ago, when I realized I was now tipping the scales at (gulp) 246 lbs.

Over the years, I’ve played this “yo-yo” game, and I can tell you, it’s a lot easier going up than it is clawing your way back down, especially if you’ve lost control like I had.   And we all know this can happen to anyone.
Now biologically speaking, at my age, I know my metabolism isn’t the same as it was when I was younger. None of our metabolisms are. When I go for a run now, the miles appear much longer and the weights seem much heavier in the gym, but I still enjoy working out and I still put in my time on the road and in the gym.  But there was a time, not too long ago, when I lost track of all of that.

I retired from competitive soccer, played Hockey mostly for fun, so my active lifestyle took a huge hit.  Factor in to my new “life of ease” the fact that I didn’t change my eating  habits one bit, it wasn’t long before I went from “Medium” clothes to “Extra Large.” That was my first wake up call, followed by two other incidents that caused my rude awakening to the realities of where I was as far as my fitness goes.
The first one was when I was picked up by my old team to play hockey in the Ontario Regional Championships in 2007.  I bent over to tie my skates and I couldn’t catch my breath.  Seriously, all I was doing was tying my skates and I couldn’t catch my breath!!! This was before I even got on the ice!

The second was when I went shopping for a new pair of pants. For the first time in my life I went through the checkout with a size 40.  When I got home, I weighed myself for the first time in about a year. I had ballooned to 246 pounds!!

I was in total disbelief, I was shocked, and I could never have imagined I would be so heavy, but here I was, 246 pounds. I collapsed in my easy chair and sat in stunned disbelief for what seemed like an eternity all the while thinking “How could this have happened to me?”

So I assessed the past couple years of my life and I realized I had  gone from playing sports several times a week to “watching” sports, usually as a spectator for my children’s activities.  Coupled with the fact that I hadn’t changed my eating habits one bit, my intake far exceeded what my body was using. The natural outcome was not only gained weight, but also gained “girth”.  Looking back at photos, it’s unbelievable that I couldn’t see this when it was happening.

Thing is, none of us see it as it’s happening, then we just get used to it, or even worse, we accept it.  And trust me, this can happen to anyone.  But on this particular day however, this was way “too much” for me to accept.  (Pardon the pun.)

So, I made a decision right then and there, if “today was the first day of the rest of my life” I was going to get fit, again”.

Ha!  If only it were that easy.

After literally squeezing my fat butt into an old pair of PT shorts, I dusted off my running shoes and convinced myself I was going to go for a run, a 5k. How hard could that be?

Obviously I’m not telling you this is the answer for everyone but it was my solution. This was the answer for me; this is what I did.

It was a beautiful Monday morning and the sun was shining brightly.  I felt good about my decision to get fit. I warmed up, for a lot longer time than I really needed to, talking to myself: “You can do this! You have to do this!”  With each stretch, I was telling myself that I needed to take accountability for my fitness.  As determined as I was however, I still needed convincing to take that first step.

That is the most difficult step to make when trying to regain your fitness.  That very first physical step, the putting of one foot in front of the other, it is such an enormous step to make.  With one last stretch, I whispered to myself, “There’s no time like the present!”

Off I went.

When I was younger, I measured miles in five minutes, that day I calculated my 5K run (3.1 Miles) would take about 25 minutes: 5-minute Ks. I’d be happy with that. Seven or eight songs on the MP3 player, I’d be back home in no time!

I pushed off, and as I rounded the corner off my street, about 300 yards from where I started, I was already breathing hard.  When I was at the 6-minute mark, just over a half mile into my run, that’s when it happened. I keeled over, at first it was just a dry heave, but then I vomited.  Embarrassed, but more determined than ever, I started up again and ten very long minutes later, just as I reached the halfway point of my run, I threw up again.

It took another 15 minutes or so to finish my 5 K run, for a total elapsed time of 33 minutes.  I vomited twice during the run, dry  heaved a couple more times, and as much as my body was protesting from the self-inflicted torture, when it was  all said and done, in a strange way, I was happy.  I had taken that first step towards regained fitness, and though it hurt like hell, it was actually the best gift I could ever give myself.

All I had to do now was convince myself to go out again the following day. Though my spirit may have been determined to do it, I was concerned that my aching body may not want to cooperate.

Next blog, the days that followed and more fitness related issues.

Derrick Curtis (“DC”) is a Sergeant and Lead Instructor for Pre-Deployment Training for the Canadian Forces (Canadian Army) currently stationed in Kingston, Ontario. A member of the Special Forces and Airborne, he has served in the Middle East, Africa and former Yugoslavia, as well as having served as a bodyguard for military VIPs. He also was a popular part time DJ at several of his assignments.

Father of four, DC is a skilled hockey, soccer and badminton player and has been known to do a mean karaoke when he’s not DJ’ing at local pubs.

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