Ups, downs, and figuring out where one starts and the other begins.
Last March, I ran the LA Marathon. Here I am at around Mile 12:
I was in close to the best shape of my life. I registered very late, undertrained and uncertain if I'd be able to complete it. Somehow, I beat my 2003 time by six minutes.
Back then, I was running races every weekend. Tough Mudders, a sprint Triathlon, bike tours, 5Ks and 10Ks and 10 and 12 mile trail runs. Something about turning 40 made me want to be the best I'd ever been, physically.
And then, beer.
Slowly at first, rewarding myself after races with the Michelob Ultras provided at the finish line. You run 26.2 miles and you can convince yourself you deserve a beer. That excuse can drag on for weeks. I stopped exercising every day. I slowly lost my conditioning and slipped back towards the guy I had been before being a bit of a health and fitness freak. I got into this downward slide that made me feel like all the work I'd done was wasted. Negative brain started taking over.
That alcohol. It's a dampener. It deadens my creative urges. It sneaks up on me and tricks me.
It's not that I stopped drinking forever on January 1 of this year. It's that I need a break to catch a breath and remember who I am. Can't keep pouring evenings away and washing it down with TV and Twitter.
I think we all know, individually, how to live to make ourselves happy. If you asked people to really isolate the things that inhibit their personal happiness and self satisfaction, they'd know. Whether it's overeating, not exercising, too many pills, too much weed, too much booze, not enough effort, loneliness caused by living in a situation that isn't working, crummy job, or any of countless other things, most people know deep down what their issues are.
The astounding thing is just how few people actively make changes to create an equation in their life that equals happiness. For me, that equation is complex. So many variables. I do know from past experience that if I eat healthy food and subtract alcohol for a while, I'll at least have an easier time seeing how to get there.
In marathon mode, I was alcohol/drug/caffeine free and I was eating almost vegetarian. That came in slow, unplanned phases. Bad news is, it evaporated in much quicker, unceremonious phases.
Here's to getting it back.