Climb the Mountain

I have a lot of things to be thankful for this year. I have a wonderful wife, two amazing children, and a group of friends and family who have been with me every step of the way in this journey. I am also immensely thankful for the new followers and critical parts of #TeamDrew. But this weekend, I got the chance to do two things. First, question how thankful I am for one of my brothers, and second, find thanks in yet another lesson this Fit2Fat2Fit journey has taught me.

During the fantastic Thanksgiving holiday, spent with my in-laws, I was lucky enough to have one of my brothers come in for a visit. He is from Huntington Beach, and is one of the early influences on my obsession to get healthy. He’s a very active guy that likes to run marathons/triathlons in his free time. When I was still fit Drew, we would make a concerted effort to do something active while he was in town, and I could usually hold my own (granted, he didn’t take me on a brisk marathon just for kicks, but he still pushed me).

Even three weeks into my Fat2Fit stage, let’s just say that my body has become accustomed to the “Minimalists’s Approach to Exercise”. You know, the one where it’s exercise to reach for the remote control more than 3 times in a sitting. But I had a visitor in town, and I didn’t want him bored (I didn’t think he would give into watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade as a study of group exercise routines), so I accepted his recommendation for a nice hike.

In the past, I’d probably grab some water bottles and a good pair of hiking shoes and be on my way. In my current state, I had to channel my inner Boy Scout, and be the epitome of the “Be Prepared” mantra. And these days, that consists of two parts – lubing up and brainstorming.

Before the entire Fit2Fat2Fit community heads to the gutter with the “lubing up” (okay, so everyone’s already there, but anyway), let me explain. I am now very used to chafing. I have more body fat, and movement leads to uncomfortable sensations. By the time I was ready for the hike, half of my ointment bottle was empty, and I probably resembled Ahnold before one of his early bodybuilding competitions. The second part was easier (you could say I’m a brainstorming expert). You see, I had to come up with a list of subtle excuses/diversions for when I ran out of breath and needed a break. In such a short time of ointment lathering, I came up with, "Wow, this is a great view. Let's sit here for a while and think about how great of a view this is", "I have to tie my shoe again for the 3rd time” and "I wonder what kind of plant this is?" If nothing else, if my brother didn’t see through my poor excuses, he’d think that the processed foods had made me an avid botanist.

So how did I do? Overall, the hike was fun. It was good to spend time with my brother, and I did better than I thought I would. But I’m not going to lie – it was exhausting. The air seemed to be thinner than usual, which is probably why I was out of breath (it couldn’t possibly be because I’m out of shape!). My legs were burning as we hiked up what I lovingly referred to as “the hiking trail with no end”, and my legs got pretty wobbly. With every step, I could feel the “sore” I was in store for the next day. However, when I tried my “brilliant” diversions/excuses for breaks, my brother didn’t let me off the hook. He kept pushing me to higher points on the mountain.

Which led to my two observations. First, I wonder how much my brother enjoyed my panting and struggling. Maybe it’s a “tad” too much to say I’m not thankful for him, but he was pushing it. In all seriousness, though, I did have another learning experience.

When you’re fit, you’re attracted to hikes like the one I was subjected to. I think your body almost craves them, as a unique avenue for exercise. I know I will get back to being fit, and I’ll look forward to the next hike my brother takes me on. But here and now, I understand the desire to not want to do it, and that the physical difficulties (out of breath, chafing, wobbly legs, etc.) make you dread the experience altogether. This was the first time I pushed myself to exercise, even though my mind was telling me to pop a can of Pringles and enjoy a Mountain Dew on the couch.

Listen, I get it. Maybe never to the degree some people deal with it, but I understand how hard it is to push. I used to think it was just that people were lazy. I now know that the combination of self-doubt, physical fear, and lack of desire are all working against you. And in this case, if my brother hadn’t pushed me, maybe I wouldn’t have even pushed myself. But I did climb the mountain; wobbly legs and all.

This journey and my followers have taught me so much about what it’s like to be overweight. So now it’s my turn to tell you something, from someone who has been fit. As hard as it is, and as difficult as it sometimes seems, take the next step up the mountain. It does get easier. I promise.

And if not, get a sibling that revels in your own pain and agony and he’ll make you do it anyway.