Starting a new path in life is really, really hard.

This is the story of someone looking to start getting healthier and live longer, as they told it to me. “Jim” is a pseudonym, and he doesn’t like the internet, or writing, or even talking about himself. But this is his story, through his eyes. Missed the first one? Start here.

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A couple of things happened this week. First, I gotta tell you this joke:

 

“How do you know someone does CrossFit?”
“Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.”

 

It’s true. No wonder people call this a cult–we’re like a bunch of guys dressed in robes on the street corner, beating drums and handing out flowers. It’s like the opposite of Fight Club. The first rule of CrossFit is “Talk about CrossFit.” The second rule is “Talk about CrossFit.”

 

I went to play pickup on Tuesday night. I’ve missed a lot of this year because–well, CrossFit. But I’ve been feeling good, and my coach told me to ease back to three days per week during the Open, but to add in a sport or easy cardio. I’m not jogging, so I’m back at Tuesday night hockey.

 

I went out of the gate hard. I got a couple of laughs out of the guys in the first period: “Hey, pace yourself, kid. Did you forget your age?” But I was able to keep it up until the flood after the second period. Then we had to go into the change room together. I was soaked in sweat but feeling good. Sometimes I get some lower back pain when I’m skating hard, but I felt fine. The guys made a couple of jokes about how much I sweat now (I never used to sweat before) but two of them commented that I was full of energy. Like, “Where’d you get all this energy, Jim? You got a new girlfriend?”

 

The funny part: I almost said “Yeah, my wife.”

 

I won’t go any deeper into that because I know she’s reading this.

 

Anyway, I had an idea. At CrossFit, the coach always calls us “athletes” even when we’re way out of shape like me. When I log into the app to track our workouts, I press the “athlete” button. So over the last few months, I started feeling like I was feeding an athlete, training an athlete. I’ve never been an athlete (or never thought of myself as one, anyway) but I started thinking that way. And when you think “I’m an athlete”, you start treating your food differently, and you don’t miss your workouts. I even say I’m “training” now, even though what I’m training for is pickup hockey and–well, CrossFit.

 

I also never thought I’d want to compete at fitness. Last time I went to the gym, competing at fitness meant standing on stage in a Speedo with a spray-on tan. Now it means something else: like more of a game. I’m doing the CrossFit Open with a team of others from the gym, and basically I just show up every Friday and try as hard as I can at the workout. Then on Sunday I go back to the gym to cheer other people on. Just writing that out feels ridiculous, but really we wake up on Sunday morning, go to Tim’s to get a coffee, and then stand in this gym for two hours cheering for people we didn’t know three months ago. Because we’re athletes and they’re on our team.

 

My wife has stayed consistent through her workouts. That was her goal until tax season is over. One month to go. She says it hasn’t been as bad this year. Less stress and she’s more focused. I think the little “treats” we were having in the evening in past years were probably hurting her. Hindsight is 20/20. We’re going to snowshoe this weekend with some of the Catalyst gang.