Thursday, April 9, 2009

How much fight is in me?

I had a lovely moment tonight at the gym. A woman who saw me doing a kickboxing class at on Tuesday night, stopped me to tell me how impressed she was with my technique, and how hard I was working in the class. We got to talking a little bit about what was motivating each of us to get in shape, and I was thrilled to share with her how much weight I've lost. I was even more thrilled with her reaction and words of support. I smiled, and felt good... for a moment. I've been getting lots of feedback lately -- people stopping me and telling me how good I'm looking, how I'm inspiring them, how my punches and kicks are "pretty wicked". And it's an odd feeling, 'cause I've never been a physically combative person. I've always been predisposed to a fight based in words and principles, but never in punches and kicks. Which makes the fact that Sebastien and I have started sparring during our workouts that much more ironic. However, I've been in a bit of a funk as of late, and in spite of this woman's kind and generous words, and those of many others, I continue to feel that it would be so very very easy for me to give up right now. So, as I sat on the bike cranking out the last 20 minutes of my workout tonight, my legs spinning and heart pounding, I couldn't help but ask myself, "How much fight do I have left in me?"

I've been feeling a bit beaten down lately. That's likely why it's been a wee while since I last blogged. There are moments that I feel like this space should be about sharing all of the positive stuff that I'm going through. But I realize that I've got to put the bad out there with the good. I'm tired. I'm cranky. I think I'm having my 'manses'. Yes, I'm still going to the gym every day, powering through a minimum of 1200 calories in a workout, and experiencing the endorphin rush and adrenaline high, though brief, that everyone says should help a person to dig himself out of the dumps. But it doesn't seem to be working right now. I'm still asking myself, "Have I gone far enough? How much further do I have to go? How much further can I go?"

Things at work have been pretty stressful lately. It's the end of term, and students are going into crisis left, right, and centre. That means that my days are filled with trying to manage complex situations, come up with reasonable solutions, and help people who are struggling in their lives to keep on track. The irony is that I feel like I could veer off my own track without much effort. Furthermore, the economy sucks, funding at work is scarce, and I have moments of vulnerability at a time when I fear that my boss is struggling to piece together enough funding to keep me employed. Let's just say that my stress level is running high, my energy is running low, and every time I see a student on campus taking a bite out of a Tim Horton's Canadian Maple donut, I want to tear it out of their hands and shove it down my gullet to dull the stress, worry and angst that I'm feeling. I realize that at this moment in time, in spite of all I've done and accomplished, it would be really easy for me to give up.

I figure any one person only has so much fight in him. There are more and more days when I feel like I'm fighting at work -- for the university to do the 'right' thing, for my boss to realize that I'm valued. Not a day goes by when I feel like I'm not fighting myself (and my 'demons' as one student described his own addiction this week) to keep on track with my health and fitness goals. Hell, last night I was fighting with my dog -- to remind her that even though daddy was a bit late coming home from work, that taking a stinky crap in the dining room is a passive aggressive
(albeit effective) way of expressing her dismay and feeling of neglect. But really, after you fight so much against forces, perceived and/or real, that you feel are keeping you down, at some point, you're gonna crack and throw in the towel.

So I have to shake my head and realize that my fight isn't as tough as I think. I think. I have been dealing with a student at work over the past few days, who has been struggling with drug addiction. But he's trying to deal with it. I think. I met with a student who, after his third attempt at taking his life, finally entered a treatment program and is going to face his demons head on. I think. There are so many more people who struggle with issues that are far more complex and complicated than what I struggle with in my own life. So, why am I feeling like it's so difficult? Is that selfish of me? Would giving up be doing a disservice to people who have fought more profound fights, like my aunt who lost her battle with cancer, or my uncle who won his? Am I really that ready to give up???

I'm not quite there. Yet. But it wouldn't take me long to turn that corner and wave the white flag for a while. I mean, I've done a LOT of work in the past 10 months. I've lost close to 90 pounds from working out 6 days a week. I've turned into my worst nightmare -- I'm a friggin' gym rat!!!

I'm pushing my body to its physical limits, resulting in aches and pains in places I never knew existed. I'm pushing my mind to think about myself and my relationship with food and fitness in a healthier way, sometimes making me a tad obsessive about analyzing calories, sugar and fat content in food. More than anything, I'm pushing my soul -- the essential core of my being -- to be in the world in a whole new way, leaving me feeling vulnerable, exposed, and uncertain about what lays ahead.

I've done a lot of pushing.
I've done a lot of fighting.
But I remain committed, albeit sometimes by a thread alone, to getting one last punch or kick in on the fight. I'm pretty sure I've got it in me.

That said, I'm fascinated with the fact that even though I'm feeling like I don't have much fight left, and that I'm fed up with combat -- at work, at the gym, with my dog -- that the only thing I can think of that will help me feel better is tossing a few punches and kicks at the punching bag in the gym. So tonight, I did a 40-minute run (cranked up my speed by .5 km/hr), a 20-minute elliptical run (at level 13), and a 20-minute bike ride (at level 12). Then, before returning to the locker room, I walked over to the back of the gym, and tossed a few good punches and kicks into the bag. No gloves. No pads. But I felt better. Not totally better, but a bit better. And I walked away kowing that I do still have some fight in me. And that's what will keep me moving, keep me punching, keep me kicking.

Fight on.

Kia kaha.
Stay Strong.