Long post today folks… sorry!
Well, things were going swimmingly. I’d been going to the gym for just over a month now, and was still enjoying it. Ok, I wasn’t losing too many kg’s, but I was definitely improving my stamina and some strength.
Life was busy, but in a good way. At home the last set of handrails were now in place on the new
back deck, and my father and I managed to get the new clothesline locked into place. A good result. Just a couple of sets of stairs to build and this project will be nailed…
Why was I running? Well, my motivation came from the Craig Harper website, (if you haven’t visited it yet, pop in and have a look, well worth it, http://www.craigharper.com.au). Craig wrote a post about going for a run one night after doing a workout, and it really struck a chord with me. I remembered what it was like to ‘just run for fun’, and I got a yearning to be that fit again (even if it was 30 years ago!).
Back home, during one of my afternoon walks I stunned the dog by bursting into a run. For 20 metres I ripped up the footpath and onto the track that lead into the nearby bush. At the 25 metre mark I leaned against a large gum tree and waited for the spots in my eyes to disappear, whilst making noises similar to that of a steam train tackling a steep hill. Maybe running wasn’t my ‘thing’.
“No,” I decided, “I’m going to run again…, just not today.” The dog scratched his ear and looked at me hopefully. Well, at least my training partner was keen to help.
I mentioned my new found desire to run to various people and every one of them pointed out the dangers of running: ‘You’ll bugger your hips and knees!’, “Do you know how many joggers die of heart attacks?”, ‘Are you mad?!!’ etc. Their inspirational words lifted me to dizzying heights. Nevertheless, I ws actually enjoying myself. Jog, walk, run. Jog, walk, run. I could get to like this.
So, with all the exercise I was doing, gym, dog walking with the odd jog, run every now and then, and working my arse off around the house / yard, you’d think the weight was falling off me wouldn’t you?
To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. So I hit the exercise bike, rowing machine, and the elliptical trainer at the gym with a vengeance, I was sweating my way to weight loss 4 times a week. I booked another assessment for mid-April, and was determined to see some changes.
At work things had changed a little as well. There was a vacancy coming up for a control room job in the middle of the year. Basically it’s a position where you sit in an air-conditioned room in front of a row of screens and try and keep your section running. A bit like Homer Simpsons’ job, but with a stack more stress. While you’re dealing with crashing conveyor belts, train and shipping schedules and several hundred phone calls during your 12 hour shift, you’re also trying to get out of your chair at least once an hour to avoid deep vein thrombosis, numb legs, and an aching lower back. All this makes for a potentially life shortening experience. And I was first in line for the chance to get a full time job doing this permanently…
The bloke who trained me to operate the panel was also a member of the gym, and worked out pretty hard for 51 y.o. He pointed out that if he didn’t he’d be the size of a whale in no time at all. He also told me to watch what I eat, and how much, because the job is sedentary, and there isn’t much chance to burn off any calories like we could when we’re ‘outside’ running around in the plant. “Mind you, the stress would chew up a few calories,” I thought…
So, at work I was sitting on my date punching buttons and generally eating between phone calls and alarms. Time to look at my diet.
A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips…
Let’s face it, my diet was crap. Mostly dead animal for tea with lashings of gravy, vegies, and desert. At work it was dead animal on my sandwiches, sultanas, packet of chips, muesli bars, some fruit and about 4 coffees a day.
Drinking too much as well. I had developed the habit of having drinks before and after tea every night. As well as that, I was drinking after nightshift as well, having a glass of port at 7am after finishing my shift, then hitting the sack is not a good thing… apparently. It helped me get to sleep, but woke me up at 10 am for the obligatory toilet break, after which I’d have a bugger of a time getting back to sleep. So by 4 pm I’d be as touchy as a bear with a sore head prior to the last night shift.
I clearly needed to get my diet in order. I stopped drinking in the mornings, no worries, and to help with the diet I turned again to Craig Harper.com and ordered his little booklet, “So You’ve Decided to Get in Shape… Again”. It arrived, I read it and thought, “Bloody hell, I’ve got to make some changes!”
So, I put together a rough diet. It was pretty rough alright. Sort of the same as before, but a bit less of everything. Quantity, not Quality. I was wary of making too many ‘big’ changes too soon, because the moment I felt deprived of something, then I would crave, then I’d eventually give in and have a pig out. Which would usually be followed by a crashing and burning sensation, which would then lead me to throwing my hands in the air and giving up altogether. Oh, the joys of being an ‘All or Nothing’ sort of personality. Not this time though. Slow and Steady. One change at a time. Cement in one good habit four weeks at a time, then look for the next bad habit to nail (Top Tip that one Craig!).
The Good Life
At this stage I was also doing a lot of reading on Happiness. This had been bought on by watching one of my wife’s favourite series over the past year, “The Good Life”, (great show from the 70’s about a couple who decide to become self sufficient in suburban London). It was a great show the first time round when I watched it as a kid, and must have had a bit of an impact as I married a woman who looks very similar to Felicity Kendall 🙂
Anyway, where was I… yes, I kept thinking about that show, and how good it would be to work from home, to be the master of my own destiny, to be completely satisfied that I was on the ‘right track’, that I was doing my “Thing”, but never did anything about it. How could I? I had bills to pay, a job to do, kids to raise, etc, etc.
In Feb 07 after Googling “Happiness” I stumbled across Craigs site (really, check it out… after you’ve finished reading here that is!) After a year of reading his, and other peoples’ stuff, I’d done pretty much ‘Bugger All’ to change. Slow and Steady is one thing, procrastination is another. Finding an answer to the great question, “What would make me happy?” was proving harder than I thought. Was I already happy, but just didn’t realise it? What would be my ideal career / lifestyle?
I’d been given a couple of great books by Barbara Sher, which helped me identify what was making me unhappy, but I stopped short of doing all the required exercises to change things. Apparently I’m a Scanner. I like to swap and change as ‘things’ take my interest. Great. I bore easily, so I NEED constant change to keep me motivated. This would explain my chequered resume’.
The promotion at work was looking good, just a matter of waiting for the bloke to leave the position mid-year, but was that what I really wanted? Would getting the panel job make me happy? Would getting fitter make me happy? What about my dreams, what were they? Where did I want to be at 50, or even 60? Well, apart from still alive and healthy, I didn’t have much of a clue. Was I thinking too much? Why couldn’t I just be ‘normal’ and get on with life, and not worry about ‘stuff’ like this? This was cause for concern.
Meanwhile on Craigs’ site in Feb 08 he was off to Fiji, then off to the States to attend a conference and go ski-ing. “Good work if you can get it! Some people have all the luck.” I thought a tad reproachfully. Luck! Was that the key?
The Fickle Finger of Fate and the Dirty Digit of Destiny
I don’t think I’m lucky. I’m certainly blessed, but definitely not lucky. I’m blessed with a great family, pretty good health, certain talents and skills, but for some reason seemed to be ‘just missing out’ on that elusive job, goal, or stroke of fortune that always seemed to be out of reach.
For example: Numerous times I’d seen jobs I could do standing on my head go to less deserving individuals, who I then had to assist… why? Years ago I started to get fit by exercising at home, and was doing really well til I popped my gut and had to have surgery to repair the hernia. No more exercise for me! It seemed that the more I wanted something, the more determined the world seemed on not giving it to me. WHY? You can get pretty bitter about this sort of thing…
This was the year all that changed. This year, instead of bouncing round like a marble in a spin dryer, I was going to break this pattern and make some long term life changes. This year, instead of giving up at the first, second or third stumbling block I was going to keep going. I don’t know who wrote the quote, but basically it goes,
“Walls in our path quickly determine who is the most the determined.”
All I had to do was think about what Changes I wanted, then PERSIST, and the How would take care of itself… hopefully.