As I reflect on my lifelong pursuit of physical health, I can boil the timeline down to four distinct eras. And each one has successively opened up new worlds for me. 🌍
Out of the gate, era number one is the era of baseball. ⚾️ Baseball was my first love of athletics, and I was hooked from the beginning. I was good enough to be recognized and accepted as part of something bigger. I started following the Texas Rangers though I stayed a devoted Yankees fan. I was obsessive with my card collection (I had several Ken Griffy Jr. rookies, Stanley). 🤓 And I honed my skills, realizing I had an athletic foundation. Baseball is where I built my self-esteem and self-confidence. I was receiving approval from peers and adults that I had something of worth. This era was also punctuated with the ups and downs of becoming a teenager. There is so much I could write about this era, though the most crucial reflection I have is that the beginning of my late stage maturity (still late to this day) mapped the same trajectory of my recognition for athletic prowess. Identity: Athlete.
The second era started in college. I had long given up my baseball identity by the time I hit my freshman year. I always found myself pragmatic about my capabilities as an athlete. I came to school ready for the blossoming to take place in all ways. I call this 'the bonkers' era. I wish I could think of a better name, but it's just so apropos. I drank excessively, was a bookie for my fraternity buddies, and had too many run-ins with the law. None of this, of course, was about my physical health, but it would prove to be a critical precursor to the mental and emotional health I needed to address. Luckily I still viewed myself as an athlete of sorts playing intramural flag football, basketball, and softball. I found enough satisfaction in being able to party and be a superior intramural college athlete. 😂 I could still see myself as an athlete, which helped balance the risky behavior of drinking and gambling. And it also set the stage for endurance racing and coaching. I honestly never saw triathlon coming. I had just figured out the basics of not succumbing to a life of booze while excelling in the life of a fit impressionable kid. The latter half of the bonkers era was the first half of a decade in triathlon. I loved it, and I was instantly enthralled. It very much resurrected my obsession with sport and fitness. I received so many gifts from a multitude of sources. This piece would be a mini-novel filled with triathlon training, racing, and coaching reflections (they will show up throughout the blog in advanced 'episodes'). 😉 More importantly, this era was named bonkers because I could see I had a gift for high risk and high tolerance. I could endure physical and associated mental pain. Identity: Persevering Fit Amateur.
Next came the era of the single-leg deadlift. ☠️ People generally hate this exercise. This particular exercise was assigned to me in PT nearly every time I had a leg injury. It was the beat to my balancing drum. I knew I was prone to pushing edges, but it wasn't until I'd break that I would indeed get the lesson. SLDs were at the heart of the lesson in how to develop balance. I slowly and surely stopped and reversed the issues with my feet, ankles, and knees. I teach them; I use them; they are pretty effective. By learning that my foundational physical health balance could correct my numerous injuries, it opened a new door. If I could fix something that was causing me pain, damage, and limiting my abilities, what else could I do to address health limitations? I continued to focus on the baseline of my musculoskeletal health as I veered slowly away from endurance and paved the way to the next era. Identity: New Teacher.
Do you want to know how healthy your emotional life is? Get in a deep squat. You'll see plenty, real quick. My deep squat era (I'm currently still in) is marked by the beginning of addressing the lack of mobility in my hips, knees, ankles, and lumbar spine. And I was also opening the flood gates of my emotional health. Thus far, I've shared several emotionally grounded reflections in my blog, from the 1st Daily to Crying for Health. It's fantastic that I still discover new bounds of physical health after three decades of obsessive investment, and I'm only about half a decade into the emotional foundations. I have many chakra clearings in my future. 🔥 In all seriousness, I see my current era as a much bigger journey and a significant undertaking. It's hard for me to put to words the hurdle that I believe I need to overcome to reach the next era. They have all magically appeared to me when I look back. I felt like they all chose me. I feel like the next era will occur in conjunction with an unshakeable feeling of self-acceptance. Identity: Forever Student.
Thanks for reading today. 🙏🏽