There are days where your mood is so positive and so upbeat that pretty much any storm (metaphorical or literal) will fail to dent it.
Over the last couple of days I’ve had something of an extra spring in my step, and have caught myself smiling throughout the day. It’s a nice feeling to have such a sunny disposition when the weather is so grim and cold – particularly in the lead up to Christmas.
On Tuesday the weather was absolutely crap. It did nothing but rain.
I didn’t mind however.
It’s only weather and currently it can’t dampen my spirits.
On Monday morning the sky was a totally different colour though. When I left the leisure centre at about 9.15am (already feeling pretty awesome after my swim) the weather seemed to be reflecting my mood.
The day looked like it held a lot of promise.
When I’d hit the pool an hour and a half earlier though I’d initially felt rather tired – so instead of trying to go increasingly faster I just carried on at (what now seems like) a rather sedate pace.
In short I just resolved to enjoy myself.
The great thing was that rather than rousing my head from bed with an alarm (which I usually need when the mornings are so dark) I’d woken up darned early and arrived at the leisure centre with plenty of time to swim.
The distance I’ve been doing lately usually takes around 45 minutes.
In this time I can do about 50 lengths of the pool continuously and afterwards I feel like I’ve had a good workout.
After a few lengths though (and knowing that I had a longer window to play with) I wondered whether I could keep my sedate (but perpetual) back and forth going for over an hour – and if so how by how much?…
It turns out that I can keep it up for quite a bit longer.
I’ve found that once I relax into the rythmic nature of the task and focus on just breathing my mind slowly begins to wander.
I no longer look at it as effort – but relaxation instead.
Since I’d had a pretty great weekend on Monday morning my mind had plenty of places to go in this mood.
My swim passed by at light speed with practically no effort required on my part at all.
For the first time (without realising it) I stopped looking at the clock or checking the number of lengths on my watch.
I just focused on the ripples on the water and the people passing by while I drifted along. As I did so a glorious golden light was streaming in through the huge windows and reflecting from the surface of pool onto the walls.
The water was pleasantly warm and so was I.
Surprisingly the time window to swim finished (the local schools take over the pool at 9am) before my arms or legs began to tire.
In the space of just one month I’ve made some really tangible fitness gains!
I’m just wondering why ten or twenty years ago I couldn’t see any of this.
I really don’t get how I’ve moved from not understanding how anyone could not only regularly participate in, but also ENJOY exercise to someone that continually plans his day around getting enough of it.
I mean – I know the effort that it took to get here and I know the points at which I did things. I know what I had to consume and I know how much I needed to move to become the man I am today.
I understand the dietary mechanics behind how I’ve changed.
It’s the pivot from ‘negative me’ to ‘positive me’ that I find so confusing.
How on Earth did my mindset change in such a wholesale manner?!
What amazes me even now is that the struggling and downbeat way of thinking I used to have is alien to me when I compare it to the person currently typing this.
I genuinely no longer recognise the man I was, despite occasionally being reminded that I inhabited his mind and body for most of my life.
Yesterday – at the suggestion of a friend I created this comparison shot for Instagram, and although it doesn’t represent the largest I was it does show me once again in emotional free fall – although you’d probably not know it to look at me.
I’m looking happy in the bottom photo because this friend has purposefully sought me out (she was seated on another table and came looking for me) so that we could get a picture together.
That friendship persists to this day and over time (in many ways helped by my changes) has matured continually.
We keep in contact far more than we used to and we now share quality time with exercise that benefits both of us instead of just instant messaging or drinking coffee.
The before and after picture is therefore less about weight loss in my mind and instead represents happiness.
It shows something that I consider to be permanent in my life and reminds me that what I’ve done has continued to make that possible.
The picture is multi layered though.
When I look at the old me I also see the glassy look in my eyes and feel the spiritual burden of the glass of wine in my hand.
Shortly before this was taken I’d been trying to lose weight, had been doing ok – and then a few months prior to the Christmas party had started putting it all back on again.
Mostly because of the shame of this (I hated looking continuously bigger each time I caught up with people I rarely saw) I was drinking to get drunk that night.
My strategy proved successful.
By the end of this party I was both hammered and bloated – and when I awoke the next morning felt like crap.
This morning though that man was barely even a memory.
He exists now only in photos and even then when I look at ones he’s in and create these comparisons I don’t really recognise him any more.
In January I’ll be celebrating three years without a hangover – and I can say that with supreme certainty because I know who I am now.
I may not understand fully how I can be so separate from the person I used to be but I know how happy I am currently and I love that today I wanted to get out of bed and do this.
I managed to swim sixty lengths of the local pool in under the time it previously took me to do twenty one month ago.
How flipping cool is that?!
The old guy is gone. His failures and weaknesses are almost all in the past and every day in every way I strive to be a better person – showing anyone that cares to read these posts what’s possible if you just try.
It’s good to be alive and healthy.
It’s good to be me.
I like me.