Several years after I was bitten by the fitness bug, I remember getting a phone call from my mother (circa 2007). At the time, I was living in South Carolina with Jackson’s mom, Megan, and she would have been pregnant with him at the time.
My mom, who had always been a very private person, called to tell me that she had finally decided to hire a personal trainer to help her.
Mom survived a cancer scare in 1993 and has been in remission ever since. However, that cancer took the last six inches of her left femur and has been replaced by artificial parts.
By 2007, she was starting to notice that her body wasn’t moving as well as she liked and she felt that if she could start with a personal trainer in more of a private atmosphere, that she might be able to get her body stronger.
Neither my mother or myself have ever dealt with weight loss. Like me, Mom is fairly small-framed. So, for her, seeing a trainer was about mobility and strength.
She loved it.
When I moved back to Ohio after Megan and I split, I had about a month of time before I would officially be opening the doors to RevFit. My father, who had let his weight creep up little by little over the years said:
“You work out. Your mom works out. It’s probably time I get started too. I need to get my weight under control.”
At his highest, Dad was maybe 30lbs overweight but he didn’t like how it looked or felt. So, as I would with any other client, I got him started with a calorie plan and Monday through Friday, he and I would go to the gym at 530am to work out.
At the time, Dad was having issues with carpal tunnal syndrome in both of his wrists. This made it difficult to do any gripping work like a bench press, dumbbell work, etc. So, he was limited to mostly cardio, some machine work and some ab work. It wasn’t ideal but it got him moving and feeling accomplished.
Of the many great things about this scenario was that I got the opportunity to be with him every morning. Seeing my Dad take care of his health and having the honor of being asked to help him was a really awesome feeling for me.
And, as these things tend to go, Dad’s weight trickled down.
It wasn’t anything dramatic but he dropped somewhere between 1-1.5lbs every week.
One day, I asked him how everything was going with the weight loss. He wasn’t the type to gloat about things so he wouldn’t always volunteer the good news.
“Everything’s going well. I know that weight loss isn’t linear and I plug my weight into a spreadsheet so I can graph the numbers over time. As long as I know I’m basically trending the right direction, I’m okay with slower progress.”
And within that conversation came the line I titled this article after:
“When it’s down, I work harder. When it’s up, I work harder.”
For Dad, the beauty wasn’t just the result of the effort. The beauty was in the process. Any fluctuations in weight were just more motivation for him to either stay consistent with his plan or find small ways to make adjustments.
For instance, maybe he would add distance to his treadmill runs.
Or, maybe he would do a few more crunches.
Or, he would pull his calories back slightly and watch the scale for a few days.
No matter what that scale said, he was going to make incremental adjustments to see what he wanted to see. There was nothing fancy. No hacks, no pills, no rapid loss.
Everything was systematic.
And he loved it.
There was no shame, no guilt, no binge behavior. He wasn’t perfect with his diet but he had a goal, he had focus and he stuck to his schedule.
When Dad lost those 30lbs he was in the best shape I had seen him in roughly 20 years. We even took part in a 5k together (which is where the picture below was taken.)
As many who know me and have followed my work know, my father’s own battle with cancer did not fare as well as my mother’s. He was diagnosed after he went through the surgery to fix the carpal tunnal syndrome in his wrists and doctors noticed his recovery was not going as they had expected. Multiple myeloma took my Dad from us in the spring of 2011, approximately a year after the 5k we ran together.
He was my hero and I miss him dearly.
Much of what I see affect my clients is their complete undoing if the scale doesn’t show them exactly what they feel they need to see. Granted, the scale doesn’t show the whole truth but when you track it enough to see trends and have the data points to follow it, it does make sense.
Mostly it comes down to perspective.
How will you let the ups and downs affect the decisions you make?
Will you go faster, farther, put in more effort, or simply get calories in a better place?
The choice is yours. So are the results.
You are in control of both.
“We Make Great People Greater”