5 Months and 50 Days

While sitting around the dinner table on July 15th 2007 my wife said to the family "Daddy is going to the gym tomorrow."  She even got up to write it down on the calendar.  I actually just tried to find the calendar to take a picture of it and I was saddened to be informed that July fell out and was thrown away.  I do have the next day and many more captured on twitter though!  She had issued a direct challenge to me in front of our kids, one I'm thankful that I accepted.  I know she'll stick by me through thick and thin, but I know she prefers the thin.  I can't blame her,  I was less than happy with myself on many fronts.  Most of which stemmed from being totally out of shape and the poor self image associated with such a state.

I'd received a few hints here and there along the way.  One of the most memorable was a trip in March to the Sun offices in Mexico where my host didn't recognize me.  He only knew my face from the picture that I had on our internal employee directory.  He said my picture looked much different and I was much "bigger".  No Spanish to English translation needed.  He meant that I was fatter than he expected.  ¿Qué?  Thin Guy es muy grasa!

I knew it was time to get serious as a few days before my wifes proclamation, my daughters Maggie and Delaney had a joint birthday party at the water park.  I was "that guy" who wouldn't go swimming.  It was July in Las Vegas, in other words it was HOT.  Despite the heat I was too embarrassed to take my shirt off and I didn't want to be "that guy" who swam with his shirt on.  If you're overweight and swimming with a shirt on, you are only fooling yourself.  Just like I was fooling myself keeping a five year old picture of myself in the corporate directory.

When was the last time I was comfortable without a shirt on in public?  Well, that's been a while.  Probably between 2001 through 2003 when I was really fit.  Pics here if you care to see what I used to look like back then.

I'd say the last time I wasn't embarrassed to even have a photo take of me even with a shirt on was around the birth of my 5th daughter, September 2005.

Since then I've steadily let myself go.  Numerous excuses, none of them good.  No excuses ever are.  Prior to July I tried to get back into shape several times, most recently right after spring break only to get sidelined with pneumonia.  Good excuse for not going to the gym, but a poor excuse for blowing off proper eating habits.  The minute I was better I should have gotten back in the saddle from an exercise perspective but I didn't.  5 weeks of hard work wasted.  Sadly that's been story of my life since 2002.

Here's me Christmas Eve 2006.  Fat.  I'm glad I'll be able to stomach the pictures from this year (pun intended).

Here's me at the opening day of adult soccer season (March 2007).  Fat.  I'd guess about 265 pounds at this point.  I hate this picture and almost deleted when I first saw it.  I'm glad I didn't as it provides me with motivation.

If you've followed my fitness journey thus far, you saw the pics from Hawaii.  Ugh.  I think I was fatter in March.  The March picture looks worse anyways.

Here's me this morning, 5 months after my renewed commitment.  Nice and sweaty from a grueling leg workout.  I weighed in this morning at 223.1 pounds.  My wife says my clothes are too baggy in this photo so I'll try to get something a little more snug and update this section later.  And I'll shower and smile.  Promise.

What's the 50 days about?  Well it's been 50 days since I've had a drink.  A hangover from a Halloween party made for an extra hard workout the next day.  I looked at myself in the mirror and said "if you drank to the point that you are hungover then getting back in shape must not be that important to you". Then I asked myself "how bad do you want this?"  Bad enough to forgo something that aided heavily in gaining over 40 lbs in 2 years?  I answered yes and have not touched a glass of wine or even a light beer since October 27th.  It makes for interesting nights out that's for sure and I've been accused more than once of being a bump on a log.  I take it all in stride and remind myself of my goals and the ones giving me a hard time are not the ones whose alarm goes off at 4:30 AM.  Will I abstain forever?  No, I like wine, beer, whatever as much as the next person, probably more.  Right now however it's not important to me.  When will I have a drink?  How this: When I see a six pack, I'll have a six pack.  Seriously though, I'll probably enjoy a glass of wine on Christmas.

What's next?  Well I've still got a ways to go until I'm satisfied.  When will I be satisfied?  Hopefully never.  The minute you stop trying to improve, bad things happen (see fat pictures above).  Am I happy?  Absolutely.

To wrap up this rather lengthy post I'd like to give one piece of fitness advice.  While you never know what tomorrow brings, muscle is like money in the bank fitness wise.  The more you have, the longer you can weather the bad times.  Those bad times can be illness, injury, or even poor lifestyle choices.  While cardio fitness is very important, don't neglect strength training.  I'd hate to see how bad it could have been if I wasn't in really good shape a few years ago.

See you at the gym.  One more thing...Thanks Tom!


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My name is Craig Bender aka ThinGuy. I'm a Principal Software Developer for Oracle's Virtual Desktop Engineering group.

I architect and evangelize the use of Oracle's Desktop technology including Sun Ray, Secure Global Desktop, and Oracle VDI.


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