Last Saturday, I turned 40 years old.
When I was younger, I always thought when people said, “Age is just a number,” they were saying that because they couldn’t come to terms with the fact they were aging. I believe that age is all relative to how you feel and the way in which you continue to steer your life toward either complacency and settling or pushing yourself toward long-term health.
At 20, I had no idea what person I would become when the calendar rolled forward to my 40th birthday. I’m sure in some way I would have wanted to be wealthy, have a house, wife and kids, and be doing something that I loved. While the “wealth” aspect is becoming more of a matter of perspective than numbers in an account, I certainly am content with achieving my other goals two decades later.
I was a pretty typical college kid, living a nice little college life. Like many of my peers, fitness was not really a concern or a major part of my routine.
Exercise back then meant captaining various intramural sports — soccer, basketball, tennis, volleyball, pickleball, etc. — for my fraternity. From time to time, we would hit the weight room on campus for some bench press, curls and cable crossovers. On a rare occasion, we would run for a bit or hop on our mountain bikes and ride a couple of miles.
It’s crazy to think about how drastic my life has changed, not only in the last 20 years but also specifically in the past five. When I walked into CrossFit at 35, I had done so little in terms of real fitness training. For thousands, myself included, starting up a new training lifestyle was an overwhelming task, one I wasn’t completely sure I could handle.
Since making that move, I have accomplished so much. I can do pull-ups (both strict and other kinds) and deadlift properly. Not only can I properly execute both Olympic lifts (snatch and cleans/jerks), but I also actually enjoy doing them. I run more, box-jump, perform dozens of unbroken double-unders and so many more things I’d never even heard of in my first 35 years. I’m now a certified CrossFit Level-1 trainer, and this summer, I began the process of learning how to properly coach and teach others how to do these complex lifts and movements.
I can say with all honesty, I am far fitter at 40 than I was at 20. I’m no superman or anything special. I’m just a grinder who goes in four times a week and does work. I love my family and friends, and if I have a chance to keep myself healthy to increase my time with them, why wouldn’t I?
This is just my story and there are so many more out there. Anyone can start CrossFit or whatever exercise regime and lifestyle makes you happy and healthy. I read somewhere that “sitting is the new smoking” in terms of what sucks people in and deteriorates their health slowly over the years without them even really being aware of it. The more I get out and move and the more I see others doing the same, the more aware I am that sadly this quote is very accurate. While I still struggle with the nutrition side at times and have been known to occasionally skip WODs because I don’t always feel up to them (this is rare), I know it’s important to at least put the effort in to make the next 40 years better than the last 40.
Just as I couldn’t have known what life would hand me at 20 or 40, I’m sure I don’t know what to expect when I hit 60. Who knows? If all goes well, I might still be on here, sharing my grinder tales with all of you.
I’d love to hear your stories of fitness milestones on our Facebook page or email me at JTolgrinder@gmail.com.
Stay on the grind.