By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training, Tucson, Arizona
August 13, 2015
Within the local Catholic faith here in Tucson, Arizona, there is typically a special prayer that much of the Latino community has taken as a way of celebrating the answering of their prayers. Personally, I am not into religion at all and completely disbelieve it, but it is something quite interesting to me. You see, when someone needs a special prayer, they will make sort of a pilgrimage to the San Xavier Mission that is located deep on the south side of Tucson. I believe my grandfather Manuel did it once when one of my aunts was sick, way back in the early 60s or the late 50s. When my aunt got better, he took a walk that was more than 10 miles to the mission from his home. Now this was more than 50 years ago, and Tucson at the time was pretty dusty. The road to the San Xavier Mission was a long two-lane road with virtually no houses and no businesses and especially no sidewalks. Plus he didn’t sports shoes in those days, much less duo dry technology clothing that would make your clothes more breathable. It is a little easier these days, since most of the path has sidewalk and the sides along the road has some space to walk as opposed to just having brush and open desert. I always wondered why someone would put themselves through such a thing, especially now that I have done something as nearly crazy as that.
Call it a vision quest or a pilgrimage or whatever, for the very idea of such journeys are quite common in many cultures and religions. Finding out a little bit about yourself is really the main key to the journey, and in the case of the Catholic faith here in town, the walk to the San Xavier Mission was more of an affirmation of your faith. As you can imagine, the previous few days have been pretty rough on me, so much so that I was pretty down on myself. I vented on the last blog, exhibiting my frustration for just about everything in my life. But that is just part of the journey of life. You see, so much nonsense is happening in my life, that I don’t care to indulge in all the details due to the fact so many others have bigger problems. But for me, the issues revolve around the idea of having to cope with them, because right now I can’t really use food to escape my condition, and therefore have to find other ways to settle the bad vibes rotating in my head. I’ll admit, I was binging a little on Stacy’s Bagel Chips, eating them with copious amounts of hummus, but apparently it wasn’t something too serious (more on that later). It all began Sunday night when I heard a weird rattle I wasn’t used to hearing from my ridiculously old car. The best way to put the sound into description….it was like putting a very hard baseball card into the spokes of your tires so you could get that cool sound. Trouble is, it was not a sound I wanted hear. So I skipped out on work Monday, not wanting to take the 30-mile round trip to and from and getting stuck in the middle of nowhere. I carefully drove my car to the mechanic the next day, but I was in a real bad situation. The bus union in the city had gone on strike, and the limited routes that were going would be a royal pain. Not to mention I needed to stop by my work to get my paycheck, which is something I usually do on Tuesdays. So here I was on Monday, sad, bitter, pissed off and wondering what the heck I was going to do in regards to getting my money. I thought about the bus, which would mean I would have to walk a couple miles to the nearest stop, hope there was enough space to get on and then take another, which would also require another hour of walking or so. I was looking at nearly four hours of travel just to get a stinking check. But that was when I started playing around with Google Maps.
The office for the staffing company I work for was “only” 7.5 miles away from my house, and it was easily accessible via the Santa Cruz River Walk. I had this crazy notion, a fleeting one at that, that even though I hadn’t run in nearly a week, I could make the first half with a slow run and then walk back. This was all happening in the middle of the day mind you, but the sky was overcast and the temperature was hovering in the mid-80s. So I said “Fuck it!” and got my Camelpack, and extra shirt and started on my way. The first five minutes were great, and then all hell broke loose. The sun came out, knocking the temperature up to 100 degrees or so, and with the humidity at roughly 40%, you can imagine how bad it quickly became. I stopped running after 3.4 miles, knowing full well the heat was just going to get worse and there would be a good chance of me passing out. The whole path is made of concrete and asphalt, and walking it in the middle of the day is not something I would recommend. I could have turned and walked downtown to the main transfer station for the busses, but I stupidly went on. The brain frying portion of my “Vision Quest” had already started. So I walked another four miles to my office, surviving the midday sun like it was nothing and using up all the water in my Camelpack. I had to reload when I got to the office, and thankfully the water there was chilled enough to make it palatable. Truthfully, I should have just called it a day and walked the two miles or so to the nearest bus stop, but that's too easy. I kept telling myself I need to do this, but I couldn’t figure out the reason. So I walked the 7.5 miles back home, without so much as a break. For a while there, I was pretty delirious, for I actually took my shirt off in public. Me, the guy with the saggy stomach and the slightly enlarged man breasts. Sure, it was on the most remote part of the path, but it was still in broad daylight! I eventually got the shirt back on after a couple of miles and continued on my death march. I actually ran out of water and had to stretch my legs every 20 minutes or so, merely to the effect my legs felt a little tight at certain points. It was strange so to speak, being the only person using the path at that moment. There were no other people to speak of, save for the occasional homeless person sleeping in the shade of the underpasses. I felt sorry for them, because I understood I’m not much further from their reality. It was also surreal as I walked the path in regards to the unused workout equipment along the way. I guess the planners for the path thought people would use them regularly, but the flaw in that plan rested in the fact there was no lighting at night, so anyone wanting to use them without the threat of burning their hands were out of luck. The signs that showed you what exercises to do had worn off many years before from the looks of it.
After six hours in the sun, I had finally gotten home. I was burned, tired and dizzy from all the walking. I crashed instantly and took an hour nap before my body started screaming for nutrition. Even after a hearty meal, I was still feeling like dirt and then went to sleep early that night. In a lot of ways, doing that walked cleansed me. I wasn’t concerned with money, my car, my failed job inquiries, my singleness or the fact I live in a pressure cooker aptly called a house on occasion. All I cared about was sleep, and getting plenty of it. When I awoke, I felt pretty refreshed, even though I had another long day ahead of me. I got my car to the mechanic, got a quick ride to the first bus transit center and was on my way. Here is how weird weather is in my town. It rained that morning! Well, it wasn’t bad enough to need a jacket, but still. When I got Parsons Training, the first thing Jon wanted to do was do a new assessment on me. He wanted to get some new measurements and see how I was going. Well, the results were good. I lost another inch on my stomach and my chest lost another couple inches as well. The fact my butt measurement is now bigger than my stomach is apparently a good thing. It truly means I am losing some circumference. But the biggest argument we had was about the scale. I hate the scale at Parsons Training. It is such a detriment to my well being that I never even wanted put one foot on it. But Jon demanded, and so I obliged. You can imagine my shock when I saw 245 show up. Of all the binge eating and lack of exercise I had been doing the last few weeks, I thought I would have snuck back in to the 260s and derailed my quest to hit 230 pounds for Ragnar Las Vegas. To put it in perspective, that is the equivalent one of my favorite fighters in the UFC named Benson Henderson, who trained out of Glendale, Arizona. The guy is 5-10 and 155 pounds at weigh-in, which is the equivalent to what I have lost in total weight. My quest for 220 pounds is still a work in progress, and this was all in spite of a bad day at the gym. You see, Jon wanted to see if I made any improvements with the weight lifting. But here is the problem when you reduce your three-day workout schedule to two….you kind of lose some gains. I will admit, it was a little disappointing, but not the kind of soul shattering stuff that would have sent me into a funk. You see, my first goal is lose weight….the weight lifting stuff would be the cherry on top. But I also had to throw in the other factors. I was losing sleep regularly, my schedule was diminished and I was still recovering from the six hour sojourn I had the previous day. I’m sure all of those things contributed, but eventually I will get back on the horse as the temperatures get cooler. I think that day at the gym really exemplified some of the issues I have been running into, and this means I might have to get serious and actually join a regular gym in order to keep my weekend fitness up and ready. I will just have to add it to the docket of things I need to do.
So what do I take out of this whole situation? Well, for one, I felt a lot better about everything while things seemed to shape up. My car was fine, for it was a loose dust shield on the tire along with the bumper getting a little loose that was causing the noise. Nothing wrong with the wheel so to speak. So instead of worrying about a huge bill I just had a little charge for labor and that was it. I know some people would take a loss of gains as a horrible thing, and I was a little disappointed about it, but I have to pick my battles right now. The fact I walked and ran some 20 miles over two days and also plugged in a full workout was pretty good in my book. No, it wasn’t about settling or anything, for how good would you be after walking six hours in 100-degree heat? But it is always about finding the silver lining to the situation. I was happy that my weight loss progress is still on track, for I was pretty angry last year when I found out I was 288 pounds last December. Heck, about a month ago, I was still 255 pounds! Now, I’m not going to recommend you do what I did and take a “Vision Quest” so to speak. I will admit, it was dangerous and stupid and I paid for it with some good sun burn (and I used sunblock!). But I will admit that challenging myself to something so completely out of the norm was a benefit for me, for I once again proved to myself that I am still improving everyday. Now I have walked long distances before, but usually in the neighborhood of eight miles and in a much milder climate. But like Adam Sandler and his choice of movies, you end up making stupid decisions that you either own or deny. I’m sure that long walk messed me up for a couple days, but hey, I now know I can do it in case I ever get stuck some 10 or 12 miles away from a help, and sometimes that confidence is enough to keep you going.
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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.