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"Who here thinks they're in the best shape of their life?"

Monday, April 22, 2013

So I had an interesting day today....actually my life is a string of interesting days, but today had some more than usual interesting points.

I had the opportunity to speak to a crowd of 60 to 70 up and coming 20-something professionals about leadership development, job prospects, managerial expectations, getting ahead, yadda-yadda-yadda. I can be somewhat motivating and get asked to do this on occasion and I enjoy it.

I usually talk for about 10-15 minutes, then take their questions about anything and everything that's on their minds. When there's a lull, I start asking them questions, and, just like any good law professor, start grilling them on their answers.

Today, just for the hell of it, I asked, "Who here thinks they're in the best shape of their life?" Maybe 5-7 hands went up, 2-3 of them were pretty tentative.

I held my hand up and told them I'm 53.

Interesting, huh?

Then I went hunting.

"So those of you who didn't raise your hands, you're telling me you've peaked? Are you telling me that your best days were in college or maybe even high school?"

A few uncomfortable chuckles.

"Who thinks they're going to get in shape in the next 6 months?" A few hands. "How about in the next year" A bunch more hands.

"OK, that's promising.....How many of you think you're going to get less busy as you move up the corporate ladder?"

Everyone looked at their shoes.

"Who here is married, or thinking about getting married? Who has kids, or is going to have kids?" A few hands....some of the same ones who said they'd be getting in better shape this next year.

"So if I understand this right, you've been too busy these last few years to stay in shape, WHILE YOU'RE IN YOUR 20s" I shouted, "and, since you're in this leadership class, you expect to be moving up in responsibilities, and by the way, you're about to start families, but you figure you're OK putting off getting in shape till next year some time, because then there will be more time"


"I think you guys need to start hitting the gym tomorrow!"

"I don't think many of you are likely to get there 'next year sometime'. I think you may want to, but if you keep putting it off till next year, you may just find yourself 10-20 years from now, reasonably successful, but in fairly poor health. Unless you start now, it'll just get tougher and tougher, you'll get busier and busier with work, with life, and then......"

So I told them my story (you can read it on my SP page if you're not one of my SP buds; smoker, overweight, non-runner, turned into non-smoking marathon-man, then morphed into trim and strong adult-onset weight-lifting fanatic) and said that I can honestly say I feel in the best shape of my life, and I'm 10 times busier than any of them....but today I make the time to workout and treat it as importantly as any other meeting I go to and need to do it so that I can be a strong husband, father, and that order"

I was one of them for a long time, working my ass off 60-80 hours a week to do well, but the wear and tear on my body, eating a diet of crappy food to "get some energy" during the day got me 30-40 lbs heavier, with a waist size 5-6 inches bigger than I have now, and no stamina for even climbing a flight of stairs or running after a bus.....yet, that was OK, because I was "successful"

I didn't want to go through life thinking that the healthiest time in my life was in my 20s.....and I didn't want these 20-something kids (Yeah, their kids dammit!) to go through the rest of their lives thinking they peaked in high school....and that it was just downhill from there.

Th rest of my day was a little less interesting....tons of meeting, had to get an estimate to get my car fixed ($2,000 freaking dollars!!! But I love this car!), and my always dreaded hi-rep leg day.

After talking smack like that I couldn't bag out of leg day. I got myself motivated for 3 sets of 15 reps of squats at 185 lbs (5 more lbs than last time....woohoo!) and 3 sets 15 reps of deadlifts at 250 lbs (another 5 lb increase!) and all I could think of was, "Why the hell did I say all that scheisse to those I can't quit no matter how much this hurts!"

Have a great night Spark friends!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • PROT358
    As a twenty-something, I really needed to hear this today! I already figured out that now is the time to get healthy before marriage and kids and added responsibilities. The stars will never align perfectly, but like you said life does get busier. There's no time like the present!
    1787 days ago
    Methinks your subconscious slung the scheisse to remove even the remotest possibility of bagging out on hi-rep legs day!
    1790 days ago
    I think when we're toddlers, that is when we're in the best shape of our lives. We have perfect form when squatting, running, walking, sitting....
    1790 days ago
    Yes! More "kids" need to hear this message. They need to know that they are at a critical point in their life. Make fitness and health a daily habit now. I waited until my kids were in college to rediscover my inner athlete. Yes, I'm in the best shape of my life NOW at 47.
    1790 days ago
  • BOB240
    Neither mentally or physically :(.................................
    1791 days ago
    Nice observation. I've found the same to be true in my activities.

    I belong to a rec sports team. Our members range in age from early 20's to mid 60's. The 20's have youth on their side. But when they get up into the 30's, working 9 or 10 hours a day, starting their families, all that goes away. The older members have better muscle strength and more stamina. Our masters team (40 and older) trains against the "youngsters" and we routinely beat them in head-to-head competition.
    1791 days ago
    At 63 I'm fitter than I've ever been. The shape is not quite what I'd like, but I'm healthier and stronger.
    1791 days ago
    So true, and a great way to reframe it in a way that they might understand. We all feel invincible in our 20s, so hopefully this was a wake-up call for the rest of their lives. Wish you had been my motivational speaker about 2 decades ago! hah :) Thanks for sharing!
    1791 days ago
    That's really fantastic and you are exactly the type of person I really look up to. I want to just keep getting better. I tell my mom at 50 I am going to be in better shape than I am now and she just laughs and tells me that's "not how it works". *smh*

    I can honestly say I'm in the best shape I've ever been in, right now. When I was in high school and 120 pounds heavier I could not do so many things I do now with ease. So I am on the right track!
    1791 days ago
    Love it! At 42, a father of 4 small kids, and a senior army officer, I can say that I am the best shape of my post college life. You are absolutely right though, fitness doesn't happen through wishes or by mistake. It takes prioritizing your health and wellness consistently. A great message for those youngsters!
    1792 days ago
    I am taking part in a further education on "leadership development" for school... We did not get such a speech but while reading your blog I kept thinking about how it would be for our group to get such a speaker!
    At least, I am no more a total kid and am in the best shape of my life.
    You are a great motivator and leader!
    1792 days ago
    Great message to share!
    1792 days ago
    And that's what I call spreading the Spark :o) Awesome!
    1792 days ago
    LOVE IT - and let's hope that some of those *kids* heard the valuable message!

    1792 days ago
    Yup, you set yourself up real good! Happy Leg Day!

    1792 days ago
    Great approach -- great talk -- and great follow through!
    1792 days ago
    1792 days ago
  • JO88BAKO
    mentally yes, physically no
    1792 days ago
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