By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
October 9, 2016
I got to tell you, it is hard to put on a show for the masses. Being a performer takes a special kind of knack that has been a void in my heart my entire life. For all intents and purposes, I am pretty much a behind the scenes kind of guy. I’m pretty good at getting things done for other people while staying in the back ground, making sure the coffee is hot and the electrical work is kosher. I have been this sort of person my entire life, such is the life of a typical middle child. Wedged between three sisters, a family business and dozens of dogs, it was always hard to get stuff in edgewise. Now I will not say I was always left out of the conversation, but it was easy to be forgotten on most days not ending in “day.” For the most part, I developed a pretty good ear for listening, for I often times had to listen to a great deal of information (whether I remembered it of not is a whole other question) and utilize such things to my advantage. The toughest part about my new job is trying to reestablish that sort of thinking. I work customer care these days, and I will soon be full time even though I am incredibly slow and still not fully trained (just remember this when you feel like yelling at a customer service rep…they literally throw us in there and have us learn on the job!). But this is where the old me has kind of gotten a good leg up, where my listening skills and my ability to keep my voice at a monotone and non-offensive level has helped with my service, it is still a bit unsettling how well I have managed to pull this off. I mean, I struggled through a couple of calls, and despite my overwhelming incompetence, I still got good surveys out of it! Just goes to show that being courteous and helpful can ultimately help you in the long run. So yeah, I will keep up the good work in this regard.
It was even funnier that day when we went back into the classroom and started practicing some ways we would position ourselves to “deescalate” a certain individual from going completely nuts on you and everyone else up the chain. You see, even if you have to send them to a supervisor regardless, the point being is you have to get them calmed down enough to logically talk to them. So that means you have to be the pin cushion, and some people got a chance to test their skill in the class room. For some reason, I was chosen to be the guy that was irate. Much of the classroom giggled, for they felt I was the least offensive and least capable of getting ticked off about anything. I found it funny, so I had to really dig deep to make them believe otherwise. I went off on a tirade about people mispronouncing the name “Stephen” and going off on Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, while citing the original Judeo-Christian pronunciation and the historical reason why people started using the name “Steven” (which I assumed was started like all other weird names…yuppie parents wanting to name their kid with a unique spelling to help them stand out…whatever suburban yuppies). Needless to say, the class was laughing their butts off and the demonstration pretty much went to hell in a hand basket. But I kind of liked that moment. Everyone had such a full on expectation of me that seeing me outside of my so-called element was almost funny.
Now of course, I have already had to deal with some pretty mean and miserable people, and the way I tend to get through the anger of yelling back at them is empathize in the meanest way possible….they are obese, miserable and shut off emotionally. You know, like I used to be. I have no real proof of course, but I can almost guess the health of a person judging by the way the react to the simplest of pressure pushers. One guy got angry at me because he had to update his credit card info, conveniently forgetting about the fact that when you get a new chip enabled debit card, you have to update the information on the card regardless if it has the same card number. A three minute call turned into a 10 minute call. I kid you not. He was from Phoenix, so I just chalked it up to the miserable heat that the people who live in the Valley have to deal with. Either way, this is the toughest part of the job I am slowly getting used to. Being able to brush off the negativity is something not easy for an empathic person like myself. I saw an interesting article the other day that kind of talked about the psychology of positivity, and if anything, it basically said it might be best to let people be angry and let them do their thing. http://www.newsweek.com/2016/09/23/positive-thinking-myth-498447.html Of course, you cannot allow someone to get you down or let some jack hole berate you and rip off diatribes that are offensive and unprofessional, but it seems the idea of just listening without brushing someone off can be a good thing. Think about all of the fights you have ever had with someone on the internet, and you can easily see what happens when people just don’t acknowledge your frustration or pain in a positive way. Sometimes saying “just smile” will not be the proper solution. So in a lot of ways, I have become a de facto psychologist in my job, for no matter how angry someone seems to get with me, they cannot stay angry because my voice is so darn soothing when I put my mind to it. I should be hosting a painting show on PBS as one of my coworkers said to me one day. I should get some kind of emblem for the nickname they hooked me up…Liquid Velvet.
Trust me, thinking in a positive manner and thinking in a negative manner can have its good times and its bad times. Today, I cannot wait to go for a run, mainly because I ate like a pig last night and then ate like a pig today, partaking in a massive sandwich idea that I got off the internet. This is the downside for me in regards to having a little cash…being able to try some crazy foods. I intend to make this layered potato casserole thing that looks amazing. I will post pictures of course. One of these days I am going to try making Fruitshi, or heck, just finally try my hand at rice paper spring rolls. If anything, that is a form of positive negativity, mainly because I know I went a little overboard on the food and thus need to get my butt in gear for the run the next night. If anything, having a little extra food for the 5+-mile runs I have been doing lately is good, for I have not crashed due to effort but have nearly crashed due to my body just not being strong enough at the moment. And of course, you have your negative positivity. Trust me, I already went through this phase and it nearly lost me all of my gains and all of my health. When you gain back 30 pounds or so due to personal incompetence, it can sure make you pissed off. At least that is the way I felt way back in 2014. I felt so good and accomplished in my effort until I learned the real truth. Now you can flip the script however you want, calling something negative positivity or positive negativity…whatever. You just need to know that balance when it comes to your fitness journey.
To this day, I still have my goals to shoot for, even if it seems like I have been stagnant for the most part in the wight loss department and on some days, the weight training. But as I get back on the hump and start healing my body, I have to start balancing the good and the bad. Right now, the fact I was deadlifting 275 pounds and bench pressing 165 on multiple sets doing my Thursday session was a very good moment for me. But if I am still doing those weights in the next month, there is going to be some personal accountability hell to pay. It’s not really a bad thing for me to get on myself about not progressing. If I have the humility to step back and accept my limitations, then I should have the same gumption and foresight when I know I should be doing better. I know I can deadlift more than 275 on the triple sets I was doing on Thursday, but that day was all about reaffirming my commitment. I wanted to make sure that I have not slipped to the point where I have to redo everything and start from scratch. So yes, this is the lesser of two evils, which is the sad state of affairs in regards to our political process. Ugh, don’t get me started.
Now what the heck am I truly talking about? I really don’t know, mainly because I am still trying to figure out what I need to do with my fitness. I want to get that little gym membership at the Chuze but I am contemplating on not doing so, mainly because it might not be worth my time to do so due to the lack of time I will have. I mean, I have already been under pressure the last few weeks trying to figure out how I would shape my new life right now and the fact I wish to do longer runs is affecting very decision I make. Eventually, I want to be able to get those long distance runs, for I now have the hopes and dreams of running Ragnar Del Sol in March (in spite of the ridiculous temperatures) for I have been thinking of running the infamous Runner No. 9, which has a 13.5-mile leg right at the beginning. It seems rather crazy to think that, but if I hunker down and get my mileage up, it will definitely help. That’s contention of the positive versus the negative. Increasing my mileage means I have to put more time into running, which would mess up my personal life (as if I have one right now! hehe). But that means I can run longer and better races, and the longer races typically are more cost effective. Yup, that battle will always remain my mind. I guess I am a lot like my customers in this regard.
Like all of my steam of conscious blogs, there is a real “unknown unknown.” If you have never heard of Donald Rumsfeld, then you are pretty darn young or possibly ignorant. Either way, the idea revolves around the fact we know little about our future and the results. I want to get healthy, and while my eyes may be tricking me into thinking I am getting a little leaner, the scale refuses to cooperate. This is why I keep going forward with my life and philosophy, because I need to find out what that end game is. I would be incredibly upset if I stayed a little chunky and never really progressed toward the body I ultimately wanted. ButI also have to make that move in a fashion that will not kill my body and alter my body chemistry to the point where a slice of bread would turn into a five pound weight gain. It is so hard to find that good balance in regards health and fitness, and that is why it is a complete unknown to me how this is all going to work out. It is a little scary and a little unsettling, for what happens if none of my dreams really happen in the interim? I think I would be pretty devastated in the long run if I failed, but then again, what I have done with my life cannot be labeled as a failure. Just the aesthetic I guess.
It has not been easy so to speak, for the times are changing rapidly and I am still adjusting to the massive changes in my lie. Will I end up like many of my co-workers and start smoking or drinking energy drinks. I certainly hope not, for I really don’t enjoy either. There was a good indication of just how far I have come in regards to my health journey the other day. The company I worked for held a barbecue of the employees, and while everyone was happy, they seemed rather perplexed by me. I told them the “food” they were eating just did not look appetizing at all, and left it at that. I could have gone full vegan warrior mode and told them the disgusting truths about the cheap meat the company used and the processed cheese slices…but I didn’t. I got my own thing to worry about, and besides, the cinnamon apples I had were far superior.
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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
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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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