I’ve been on quite the fitness journey these last few months. Here’s my story.
How it started
I didn’t grow up athletic. I didn’t play any sports, exercise, or spend much time outdoors as a kid. I enjoyed indoor activities like video games, legos and computers. When I got into my 20s, I got into cycling and rode with friends for fun and as a way to commute to work. It was hobby first with beneficial exercise as a side effects.
Eventually I stopped cycling. I began eating more and more junk food and started gaining weight. My attention wasn’t on my health and over time the negatives began to manifest. I got fat, which caused back pain when I would sit for hours on end at work. My poor posture also exasperated any issues, and compounded any back pain. At night I would be listless, staying up late and waking up early for work. Overall the effect was just generally feeling crappy, lethargic, and moody. It was subtle, not huge changes to how I felt, which was the most insidious part. Getting unhealthy was a long drawn out process that became a normal part of my life.
I realized the benefits of being fit far outweighed the startup and maintenance cost of getting the habit in place. I was partly inspired by Wes Bos and Scott Tolinski in an episode of their developer focused podcast, Syntax where they discuss the benefits of working out and living a healthier lifestyle. At the same time, I also began to realize that there was a relationship between obesity and the impact it could potentially have on career opportunities in the future.
I realized that being overweight can be a negative signal in the professional world. There is a negatively skewed bias against overweight individuals in society where people associate poor self control, discipline, and other negative traits with obesity while subconsciously associating positive traits to fitter individuals. This led me to a theory which I call the “No Fat CEOs” theory (which is completely unsubstantiated and not backed up by any facts) where corporations are more frequently led by individuals who are not overweight. Being overweight and unhealthy in my opinion is a liability to my career and I wanted to turn my fitness from a liability to an asset (or at the very least have no effect).
As I slid into my 30s, I began noticing aches and pains and a general lethargy as I gained weight. Frankly, I felt like garbage. Walking up stairs would get me winded, bending over wasn’t easy. My body felt and looked like crap. The impact of being overweight on both my health and my psyche compounded the more overweight I became. It was easy to get stuck in a loop where I ate crap, felt like crap and looked like crap. I needed to break out the cycle.
I had never set foot in a gym before and for a newbie like me, it can be quite a scary experience. I had no idea what exercises to do, how to do them and even where to start. I had learned recently that if you’re not an expert in something, the fastest and easiest way to obtain knowledge is to get help. So I hired a personal trainer and started going to a training session once a week.
My trainer talked to me about my fitness goals, created a program for me, taught me the exercises, and has kept me accountable. She helped me overcome my fear of going to the gym. Once I was comfortable, I set a goal of going to the gym at least 3 times a week. I made time during my week and treat going to the gym as a top priority in life.
Since undertaking this fitness journey, I’ve noticed numerous benefits:
- I haven’t lost weight but I have lost fat and gained a lot of muscle.
- My back doesn’t hurt any more.
- I sleep better at night. Im going to bed earlier, sleep well, and wake up feeling rested.
- I noticed I’m more productive at work, I feel more focused.
- My posture is much better.
- Overall I feel strong and healthy.
- The feeling of accomplishment after a good session at the gym is itself a great reward and motivator.
There is a startup and maintenance cost to investing in my fitness and health, but I’ve already started collecting the dividends.
Deadlift 1 rep max at 300lbs with a goal of 400lbs by the end of 2019.