Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company. This blog is a unique perspective of one persons journey into fitness. Not all clients and participants at Parsons Training undergo the same training, and each person makes his or her own decisions regarding dietary discretions.
By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
November 24, 2016
I know a lot of people have a rather negative view of Thanksgiving. It is that rather contentious holiday that a lot of people choose to bypass and say no to, mainly because it seems to be nothing more than an excuse to eat a lot, let out loose aggression against your family in a booze inspired environment or a way to carb load before you eventually battle 20 other people for that crock pot you really don’t need at some crummy Black Thursday gathering (I’m just wondering when they will eventually become Black Wednesday and we forget this whole thing of Thanksgiving!). Within the groups of people I kind of associate with, there is a lot of mixed reaction to the idea of Thanksgiving, mainly due to the political storm that is happening on Native American lands in North Dakota in regards to the DAPL. Personally, it is a travesty and it seems to get very little publication, unlike those idiots that were calling for grazing rights in Oregon and got away with their actions despite threatening armed resistance and destroying public property (which the public was stuck with the bill of course). Anyway, I understand why many of my fellow vegans are kind of resisting the whole idea of Thanksgiving, and that is certainly their choice. But I look at it in a different way. Not only is it a good day off for me, it is also a way for me to share my way of life with people, mainly because of the misconception of what I doing. Being healthy and eating healthy can be tough on people, especially in this go-go-go world of ours that is perfectly suited to make us bleary eyed consumers of fast food and calorie dense restaurants. Why go through the trouble of making your own delicious pizzas when you have a few dozen options at your disposal? Now the pizza I ate at Veg Box Cafe was divine, but I had not eaten any pizza before hand since July. Yeah, I might have to wait a few months before I snack on the greatest piece of Italian-American ingenuity since the term “fuggettaboutit!” was coined (or something close that spelling, for their is no real way to to spell such an amazing piece of slang, hehe), but I am grateful that I have managed to maintain such a into grip on my pizza eating habits.
I see a lot of people I know in the digital world resisting the very idea of eating with their families for the fact they let their veganism get in the way of connecting with their family. I don’t really know if I should feel bad for them or not, because I can’t imagine doing that to my family. We ain’t perfect, but the last few years have been an enlightening period for everyone. I knew when I made my choice to change my eating habits back on October 22, 2012 that it would be a difficult transition for everyone. Suddenly the biggest eater at all the family functions was no longer a steak and potatoes guy. The selection reflected that, for all I had was some mashed potatoes and rice at my disposal. Four years later, the menus is much healthier and colorful. We still have some ham and turkey (which I refuse to have anything to do with anymore), but now we have a greater assortment of vegetables, salad and healthier options. We have fewer pies and less fatty foods. While I will be altering that perception this year with a plethora of replacement meat options (it helps to have money to afford all this stuff), our Thanksgiving will be much healthier than normal. I would like to think I have been the driving force in this change in my family, and I say this without ego. I mean, the selection at all of our family parties have improved over the years, for much of the unhealthiest aspects of our lives have been switched over. There has been a lot that has happened in my family over the years due to the collective health and the realization that bad health is sneaking into the ranks, I would have to say that my transformation has been a rather hard driving force for this change. I was the fattest guy at the party, eating three or four helpings and drinking a six pack of beer in the course of the day. And I would drink the hard stuff, like the Guinness Extra Stout or maybe some hoity toity stout I would get from Plaza Liquors here in town. Either way, I was surprised I never suffered from some sort of health related issue on Thanksgiving (or Christmas for that matter) whether it be massive indigestion or maybe some heart problems. I mean, I steadily gained weight every year! Either way, I will bring the vegan meats, some couscous and possibly some vegan friendly stuffing in as well for my family gathering. This year the waistline is taking a hit.
I of course can say that I am carb loading, for I have another great announcement. My yearly sojourn to Phoenix is once again on. I will be doing Ragnar Del Sol for the sixth straight year, and it will be a bit exciting this year. The course has been revamped a bit, mainly to compensate for the fact the event is in March this year and it will be hotter than hell. There is only one “runner” in the race that will be a real beast to deal with this year, and guess who is gunning for that one….you guessed it. With the revamped course, only one leg has 20+ miles, and the 12th runner is that particular leg. The first leg of the race will be difficult, for it stretches a rough 11.3 miles, which will constitute half the leg. I looked at the leg map and figured it would be doable no matter what time of day it is, for much of the leg is downhill. If I could survive that leg, then I might be able to survive the toughest Ragnar yet. Either way, I am pretty excited about the venture, mainly because I will be seeing some familiar faces from the team that finished 66th at last year’s race. Hopefully we can be as good this year as we were last! Anyway, this will also give me a chance to really push my training, for I still want to do the Arizona Distance Classic, which is ironically a week after Ragnar Del Sol. So yeah, I might be doing a lot of running that particular month. Now, while I had a setback this past week due to my calf giving me some problems, I have started the first steps in regards to strengthening my ankles and calves. Tuesday I did some standard bench pressing to help improve my arms as usual, but the rest of my workout was very calves and ankles centric. I did some standard jump pull-ups, calf raises by using my toes to elevate me into a higher position, and doing some heavy overhead squats (even though I was pretty tapped from the bench pressing). I discovered I still have some work to do, for my arms and my shoulders are seeing some negative side effects of working on computers all days. I nearly blew my arms out from doing one pull-up, which is still my nemesis in regards to my fitness. I sometimes wonder if I will ever be able to do it. I’m still not as strong as I want to be due to my work schedule messing with my fitness. I’ll finally get word on my future schedule in a couple weeks at my job, and it is looking pretty good for the moment as I will most likely be getting Sundays and Mondays off while starting work at six in the morning. We shall see what happens for me in the coming weeks, for I will be looking for another job soon enough now that much of my debts have been kind of settled.
Anyway, in spite of all my setbacks and my personal misgivings about myself, I still feel happy about all of the decisions I have made in my life. I still feel content with the fitness lifestyle and the food regimen I conduct for myself. One thing I have become extremely happy about is the fact I forced myself to try so many things along the way, to be a better human and a much healthier human to that matter. I used to look at death in such a positive light back in the day, for I was so miserable that I prayed for it to hasten. That was why I ate so much, along with the idea of covering up so many ill feelings about myself. I wanted my lift end and I was too scared to do it the presumably “easy” way. The old mindset was to eat myself to death, for I figured I might as well enjoy the ride down into darkness in a hail storm of different tastes and pleasures. No longer do I think like that. While this Thanksgiving I will be dining on Gardein Turkey Cutlets, Field Roast Celebration Roasts and Chai Spiced Ale from Blue Moon, it will be mere exit from the usual food that I normally eat, not a typical Thursday.
I think one thing we should all be thankful for, regardless of what is going on with your life, is to be thankful you still have something. Honestly, the main reason why I was spending so much for the Thanksgiving festivities this year is because I wanted to, for my family didn’t judge me and they catered to me in the process of my major life changes. While I have been politely invited to some strict vegan gatherings, I felt it was just better to join my family. Eventually we may all be spread to the wind some day and have very few participants in the future gathering….so I might as well just stay with my family. I know we will have some good participation this year, and I know we will have plenty of leftovers for me to munch on. That is the great benefit of being one of the few vegans in the family. We all have different things to be thankful for in this life. For me, it was getting my debts paid and getting the various credit companies off my back for the moment (but just for a moment, hehe). It was about getting square with my bills and actually get ahead of them. It was about not being stressed out when my little pup Scarlett started experiencing some explosive diarrhea, for back in the day my lack of money would have been a very stressed filled week of wondering and scrambling. I am not rich right now but I am now even to say the least. I can actually start looking at things evenly now, like replacing my car and even looking at potentially starting a triathlon regimen (okay, I still need to lose some weight first, hehe). I finally got to see one of my favorite bands of all time last week, for I have been blasting their music all week and remembering the reason why I loved them so much to begin with. Reaffirming your reason to live is a good feeling, and I can say there has been a lot of that for me lately. There is still some difficult times ahead of me, but I am getting better at dealing with them so to speak.
It was kind of funny this past Tuesday at the gym, for Jon was rapping about how happy he was for Thanksgiving this year. Not because of the good food that Christa and his mother in law were going to spoil him with, but the fact that all three football games on Thanksgiving were quite watchable. I had to agree with him on that one, for Detroit and Dallas are actually decent this year and somewhat deserve their exclusive billing rather than the recipients being of long dead traditions. He even spoke positively about a game that involved the Pittsburgh Steelers, a team he still hates to this day (just ask him about the 2006 Super Bowl…trust me, it’s like what JFK’s Assassination is to conspiracy theorists in regards to Seattle Seahawks fans). I probably won’t watch any of the games, mainly because I don’t watch football all that much anymore. Heck, I don’t really watch sports period these days. Maybe I will sit back and watch along with some of the male family members, mainly because they all love watching sports during the family gatherings while I seem to hang outside or with the women more. I know my dogs will enjoy the day, for they usually get some leftovers as well. Yup, it should be a relatively decent holiday this year, and I am actually looking forward to it. While my ultimate goal is to make it 100% vegan friendly, I will settle for the 60-70% that is going right now. For my family, that is a pretty long way for us to make a full circle!
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Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the company.
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.
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