I didn’t want to write this because I have no desire to share my before picture with the world. It is a shameful part of my past that I’d prefer to put behind me. However, I think it’s important to be honest about where I started on my fitness quest. When it comes to physical fitness, we all have low points in our lives. When we reach that point, we can either wallow in our misery, or use it as a catalyst for change. I chose the latter.
For most of my adult life, I have always been fit and trim. There were even points when I was ripped—college and the Marines. Things started going downhill after I left active duty service. A combination of a sedentary job that had me jockeying a leather chair for 8-10 hours a day, poor eating habits, the demands of raising a family, and non-access to a gym took their toll on my body. I didn’t check out completely because I still ran 3-4 times each week to keep in shape. However, I did almost no resistance training. My running probably stopped me from ballooning overnight, but the pounds nevertheless accumulated year after year.
The low point came during a family vacation in Jamaica. My wife took some photographs of me shirtless in swimming trunks. I did not recognize the person in the photo. The chiseled physique that I had worked at for years had been completely replaced by a bloated, flabby, undefined mess. In my mind, I had turned into the most pitiful of all creatures: the middle aged dude who’s lost his mojo.
I was not ready to resign the rest of my life to this condition, however. A motivation for change kicked in. I don’t like to let anything kick my ass, including fat. I started to run harder, longer, and further. Two months of this and I was able to shed a few pounds, but nothing truly dramatic.
I’ll be honest and say that I am a workout snob. Having gone through one of the toughest physical conditioning programs in the military (Marine Corps Officer Candidate School), I thought I knew a thing or two about working out. The idea of getting a home fitness product would never have entered my mind. I came of age in the 80’s, and associated “home fitness” with people like Richard Simmons, with his boy-toy shorts and crazy hair, Tony Little, with his spandex tights, helium voice, and ponytail, and Suzanne Summers, with her Thigh Master contraption that promised a firm body if you just squeezed your legs together enough times. To me, these home fitness programs are more useful for comedy than getting into shape.
One night while watching TV, I caught a P90X commercial. Mesmerized, I watched the whole airing from beginning to end. A few things piqued my interest. First, I was familiar with many of the exercises because I had done them in military training. Good old fashioned calisthenics have been around for a long time because they work. Second, unlike other home fitness programs, P90X promised to be tough—“The most EXTREME workout ever put on DVD.” The commercial was daring me to try. In so many words, it was telling me that it would kick my ass. I’ll give credit to BeachBody’s marketing department because they certainly had their pitch dialed perfectly to a guy like me. I don’t want easy. I want tough. I know for a fact that a ripped physique doesn’t come from pills, potions, or Tinkerbelle training, so I’ll sign on to any program that promises to kick my ass. I couldn’t wait to begin.
The rest is history. I have to be honest and say that P90X is not as hard I expected it to be, but that is beside the point because it delivered the results I wanted. The layers of fat have been banished and will remain that way. In my 40’s, I have the same physique that I had in my 20’s. I got my mojo back.
Best of all, I did it without having to spend a single dime on a gym membership. Everything that I thought limited my ability to stay in great shape became a non-factor. I still struggle with a sedentary job, raising three kids, and a busy schedule, but none of these things will ever serve as an excuse for getting flabby and out of shape again. Through this blog, I’m going to share with you the things that worked for me. I’m not a fitness expert or a nutritionist. I’m just a busy person who decided to make time for fitness. That’s why I entitled this blog “Fitness for Busy Hardbodies.” If you have time to train for Ironman triathlons each season, or you spend more than two hours at the gym each day, you’re probably not my target audience. If you lead a busy life, however, and want to maximize your results in the least amount of time, then join me on this quest to be the fittest and healthiest that you can be.