My Fitness Journey – The Beginning

Young MeSo growing up I was always very, very skinny. Not slim, not slender, but skinny. I wasn’t very athletic at all, I didn’t play hockey or baseball (which made me a black sheep in my family) and wasn’t interested in participating in most of the crap they had us do in gym.

Frankly, my reticence to do so was based on the fact that I knew I was weaker than most everyone else because I was so much skinnier.

As I got a little older I participated in a fair bit of martial arts, and definitely built a little muscle and endurance, but was still ridiculously skinny. During that period, I could do pull ups all day long and not really every hit the wall and doing 50 push-ups in a set, unbroken, multiple times, was nothing for me.

I met my wife and she eventually started feeding me, and I went to the oil patch and did a very physical job that required a fair amount of physical strength. In about six months of working there, I put on about 60 lbs. of lean muscle and in most ways was quite a bit stronger than I had ever been before.

Then, I decided I wanted to go to school to become a Pastor. You can read about how well that went here.

I didn’t really have a fitness routine as much as I did a very physical job and was super young, so I ate like crap (and I ate lots of it) and got away with it. I felt good and looked good, I thought.

One major factor in all of this was that I was in a pretty big roll-over while at work in the oil patch wherein I broke a couple of ribs and hurt my back quite badly. During the recovery process and the subsequent injuries and re-injuries that happened multiple times each year for the coming years, I found out that I had scoliosis (curvature of the spine, hampering recovery efforts, and ensuring that the healing process from any injury takes far longer and is less successful than with the average person) and osteoarthritis (painful calcium/bone shards that build up, usually on the joints and feel like someone is stabbing you with a needle if you move wrong).  Both conditions meant that my back was always going to be bad and weaker than it was, and they were degenerative, they were just going to get worse with time.

What does all this back stuff have to do with anything? Well, it made any physical activity extremely painful, and if I forced myself to do something (help someone move, bend down to pick something up, hold my daughter for too long, stand for too long, sit in an uncomfortable chair, sleep in a bed that wasn’t exactly perfect) my back would likely get re-injured and I would be in terrible pain and unable to do almost anything but lay on the couch for days at a time. Not only that, but I was in chronic pain ALL THE TIME. Like, taking so much Tylenol and muscle relaxants and whatnot that my doctors were worried about the continued toxic levels of these drugs on my liver, but I needed them just to get through the day.

I talked to a pain specialist and my doctor about my options, and they suggested surgery, but the surgery might not work and would eventually mean that my back degenerated even faster (think wheelchair) than it already was, and when discussing drugs, when I mentioned that I wanted narcotics as only a last ditch effort because I was a recovering drug addict, they simply wrote “drug addiction” in my file and at each subsequent meeting wherein I spoke about my pain, they assumed that this was drug seeking behaviour and didn’t even want to help me.

So, I did not want nor did I have much of an opportunity to stay active, but I continued to eat like I was a young buck working the rigs every day. So, I packed on the pounds.

Each academic year I basically only ever lifted a book, and each summer I would try and diet and exercise like mad. But I was fighting a losing battle. A couple of summers I injured my back so badly that I couldn’t exercise at all.

So I got bigger and bigger and bigger. At my peak, I was (at 5’10”) and crested around 240 lbs. To put that into perspective, when I started working in the oil patch I was 127 lbs. (no, seriously) and I left the patch at about 185 lbs.

Fat MeAnd frankly, I hated myself.

I hated the way I looked.

I was super fat. And I was in so much pain that I was a super-giant asshole to pretty much everyone, with my own family bearing the brunt of the crap. I was just angry and aggressive all of the time.

And I couldn’t do anything physical at all anymore. If I did, I would always have to weigh doing that thing against the fact that I would likely be completely laid up for around a week.

I couldn’t play with my daughter very much because I couldn’t bend and I was so out of shape that I didn’t have energy to run or whatnot. As she got bigger, I found that I ran the risk of throwing out my back just carrying her to bed.

So that’s where this begins.

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