Hey buddy, can you spare a paradigm shift?

There’s a great quote about running that relates to the voyage I’m on. It’s accredited to ultra-marathon runner Ray Zahab, a man who once ran across the Sahara Desert.

“Running is 90% mental, and the rest is all in your head.”

And that is what my situation is. The exercising is important. The physical act of getting up and moving my body.

But, that is minor compared to the work involved in focusing my mind on changing my lifestyle. Some days it can be a grind, that’s for damn sure. And some days I’m crooked as sin, even though I try hard not to be — covering it up with witty banter and the odd joke.

Every week I discover something new about myself. Which is something that really surprises me. You hit 37, and you figure you’ve got a grasp on who you are.

Here’s an example: I’ve been working hard lately on the physical part. And, as a result of that, I now view what comes into my body a lot differently. I have such respect for the work I’m doing at the gym and elsewhere — why would I undo that hard work by shoving a heaping mound of Easter chocolate down my gullet?

And to me, that’s a biggie.

When I realized that I was thinking in these terms — Viewing food, not as a crutch, or a comfort, but as fuel — well, I literally welled up.

For years I didn’t care. I didn’t give a shit about the result of my fast food addiction, or anything else detrimental that I’d put into my body. Which is a reflection of my self-esteem. I thought I wasn’t worth looking after. Caring for. And when I ate, it was to plug the holes that needed plugging, or numb the pain that needed numbing.

Now, I see it all differently. For the first time in my life, I feel as though I am worthy of care. Now, I know that sounds a little dramatic, but it’s true. I was walking into a store over the weekend. And as I was crossing the parking lot, I realized something:

“Jesus, I’m walking tall,” I thought.

And I was. I used to walk in such a contorted way. Always so self-conscious. Trying to hide with each footstep – to somehow not be noticed. Which, when you’re as big as I am, it’s impossible.

It took me back to my Jr. High days when my Mother would give me pep talks in her Crysler LeBaron outside IJ Samson — I was bullied rather terribly. “Go in there, walk tall, stick your shoulders back,” she’d say. “Walk in like you own the place.”

And, well, it took 25 years, but I guess the pep talks finally paid off.


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