By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
September 15, 2016
Tuesday and Wednesday were one of those times that reminded me that as long as I remember my electrician skills, I will always be able to retain my abilities. Last week, Jon and Christa got a nice spa for virtually nothing, and the owner didn’t want to hire someone to come and disconnect the sucker. Well, that is where I came in, and in just a few minutes time, the spa was disconnected and ready to move. I even skillfully managed to disconnect and remove the wiring at the panel, making sure no one ever accidentally turned the sucker on. And to make matters worse, it was in this old GE panel that was one of the worst designed pieces of junk ever conceived, so yeah, being able to work it without getting shocked is a skill. Anyway, I was extremely confident the entire time I was there, for I instantly knew which breaker it was, but I had to check anyway because assuming stuff with a 50-amp circuit can lead to a nice little snapback. Some days even death. I say it was easy because whoever installed the circuit put in the wrong type of breaker, using a Cutler-Hammer brand that matched the spa disconnect. I smiled when I saw this set-up. Typical pool installation guys. They usually have a very high opinion of themselves but they never realize how stupid they could be. You see, if the panel ever did disintegrate and it was under warranty, it would be void if it came from the Cutler-Hammer breaker. First rule of electrical work…never mix and match the breakers. I ultimately had to have a little more ingenuity when I went back on Tuesday, for the type of junction box I needed didn’t seem to exist at a standard retail construction store, so I improvised. I got this irrigation box, punched a hole in the back and then mounted it over the spot where the pipe was jutting out with the leftover wire. The job was done, looked aesthetic and no one except me would have known it was a gerrymandered mess that I just happened to make look good. Like doing a really nice make-up job or something. I then helped out my dad a bit the next day, doing some more electrical work with these big outdoor lights. One of them burnt up so horribly that it left carbon stains all over everything and was getting over my hands, mainly because of a little fire. But not to worry, as long as you get the quality fixtures and not the pieces of crap, your building will most likely survive…not to mention all of the various safety we have today to make sure such a situation would never take place anyway. The only downside of course is I smelled like burnt up pencil.
So I mention this why? Well, even though I have been out of the electrician game for nearly two years, I still have some chops in regards to the little stuff. I will be doing some harder stuff down the line when I install the main power source for that very same spa that Jon and Christa bought. It will be an all day challenge, and you know I will probably lament about it all over my social media stuff (keep an eye out for it!). I mainly write about all of this because Jon posted a pretty good article for aspiring athletes and people that wish to get better at their craft. In order to be good at something, you have to really puttee time into it. Since I put a lot of time into being an electrician, doing the small electrical stuff is a breeze, and if the weather permits, doing the bigger stuff won’t be so bad either. I mean, I did that type of work for a good seven years, and I learned quite a bit due to the fact that my father made me do a lot of the work during our time together (which was kind of the main reason why he had me join him). Either way, it is pretty hard to forget all of that stuff mainly due to the grafting of the knowledge into my brain. Things were repeated so often inside my head that it became second nature to me over time. It is one of the few things I could really boast about.
Now back to the skill and the development of said skill. I was never that great of an athlete because I never really developed into one. In a lot of ways, I was rather jealous of some of the other kids that were really good in a sport, mainly because they had that combination of skill and ability and parental vicariousness that turned them into what they were. I liked playing sports but it was never a huge thing in my life because I ultimately knew my body wasn’t strong enough to handle the rigors of such a life. Already, my feet and ankles were a massive problem in those days. If anything, I willfully retired. Yeah, that is what I will call it. But when you think about it, it takes a lot of practice and work to get anywhere in your own personal pursuits. Before the money problems, the body problems and the foot problems, I was gunning for a sub-nine minute per mile average over a 10-mile run. It was important to me, and I was so damn close. I had been pushing and pushing for weeks and when I see myself now, it is rather earth crushing. It was different time for at that moment. I was able to see a chiropractor and a massage therapist every week, and it is rather predictable what has happened to me ever since. I am just not the same person. But I know I was there at one point, and this hot weather has really made me sick and gross due to the fact it just not sync with my goals very well. I am trying to be better at running and be better in the gym, which are my two main goals right now.
I know I can do this. I know I can get back eventually and be a decent runner again…I just have to make the necessary changes needed to get back on track. I have to lose more weight. I have to get more fruits and veggies back in my diet (which is the good thing about being back in the workforce) and I need new shoes. Either way, I just have to be patient because I was doing so well in everything I really set out to do. I know there is patience to be had in this situation. In order to be exceptional at something, there is always that crazy calculation that you need 10,000 hours to really get good at it. Well, I can attest to that number, because I certainly put a whole lot of hours into becoming a fat planetoid. I can’t even imagine what the calculation would be, but I estimated that I probably put abut 9,000 hours into honing my daily bad habits of eating back in the day, mainly just from the sheer enjoyment of making the “food” I ate and then eating the food I bought. I didn’t throw in the travel time, for that would easily put it over 10,000. However, let’s just say I was a master eater and drinker regardless, considering the amount of drinking and snacking I did as well. Thinking about this detail in my life makes me realize that even though I have put a good four years into the rebuilding of my body, I still haven’t reached a level that would make me the rock hard adonis I so desperately want to be.
I do have some confidence in myself in one respect, mainly in the fact that I have been a pretty fast learner in the realm of being a vegan and cooking. I’m very savvy with my lists and heck, it is an automatic response for me to look at the label before I put anything in my mouth. I have become quite repulsed by ingredients like Red 40 or fish powder, and even try my best to avoid stuff like soy lecithin and caramel color. Some days it is unavoidable due to some inner turmoil or a urge, but I do well for the most part. I still haven’t gotten over that binging urge of mine, which still comes out every now and then mainly because there has been so much agony in my life being unemployed and all. So yeah, I may hate my job right now but at least I will have a chance to get some things straight in my life and ultimately devise a plan to get the hell out of this hellhole known as Arizona. But that is all down the line, and that leads to another issue that I really need to work on.
You, aside from being good in the gym, being good at running, being at good at being vegan and doing well in the kitchen, the ultimate issue for me is always following through on something. I think this is the toughest obstacle I have in my life, for I want to be leaner and healthier but I just can’t seem to get over that hump. I have been lazy about it as well, not looking up some things in hopes of trying to control the food intake myself. But of course, the stress and the loss of energy just compels me to go back, pushing me over the edge once again and derailing everything. It has been a tough time for me, and I know you all may be getting a bit tired of me saying all this stuff. But that is the whole thing. Learning how to be a different person takes a lot of time and effort, and I really haven’t put that much time into the endeavor. I know, it seems like I have put a whole lot of time into this quest to be a better and healthier man, and I just don’t seem to have enough energy or time to make this happen at a faster rate. If anything, I am extremely impatient, and it is really getting into my head these days. Think about it, even with all of the problems I was having this past year, it feels like I will never reach the level I reached in January when I was on the cusp of greatness. I had just ran 9.45 miles at a 9.40-per mile clip. My best run ever. I was training to possibly do a trifecta of races here in Tucson, one of them being a half marathon. I was even looking at the idea of doing the Lake Powell Half Marathon again. Since then….I got lazy after Ragnar, then I hurt my ankle, then it got hot, then I got sick, then I dropped a weight on my foot, then it was too hot and humid to even run, and then the injury came back, and now my entire body is out of whack. I got lazy and content and those problems translated into easily giving up in the running department. I have to admit, I am on the cusp of giving up running right now due to the frustrations. I’m only hanging on because I know I haven’t been able to do all of the things I need to do to stay healthy.
The only thing I can do right now is to keep pushing forward. As the coming weeks materialize, I know I will have some more setbacks as I adjust to waking up at 4 a.m. on a regular basis once again. I like running at night, and this is seriously going affect how I approach my fitness from here on out. Here is the good thing though, fitness is perfectly adjustable. The only real bad thing right now is I stuck on a schedule for the next 12 weeks, which means I will get no weekends off. So I will have some time to hone my craft in the gym, though I might not be able to do it as often as I would like with work interfering. However, this is just my life I guess. Always having to compromise. I wish it didn’t have to be this way. I still don’t understand why they make me come in as early as they do. Seems counterintuitive. Either way, I need to figure out a good running schedule and fix my heart and my body. I’m hoping within the next month I will get some new shoes, and we can see if my intuition is correct in regards to my body not recovering well enough. Right now, I just need something, something to make the work worth it because it feels like I am going backwards and not improving because my body is just breaking down on me. I feel I let myself down by letting some weight get back on and letting the heat get the best of me. I think one thing is for sure, I don’t want to live another summer in this state. The heat is just making it too difficult for me and it is a huge reason why I keep suffering setbacks. Hopefully the winter brings some solace.
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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.
When you read this blog you are reading through the eyes of someone who is winning the battle of real weight loss. Steve is not a fitness professional, but he is someone we can all learn from.
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