The last 3 postings were some reflections, introspection and self-analysis so I could start moving forward. I am re-posting them here as one post, but I will leave the titles intact. I hope you find them helpful, and you too can take time for some self-reflection to help you move forward.
Key West (Photo credit: GarySlinger)
Some days I really feel like just dropping out. I want to get in my car, drive south and stop when there is no more road — which would be the end of U.S. 1 in
Southern end of US 1, Key West (Photo credit: djaquay)
Key West. I could live with that. At a time when income was plentiful, I went to Key West at least twice a year. That was back in the day when even my bad decisions, worked out for the better.
These days, I can’t even make a good decision about which brand of coffee to drink. It is strange, a year ago; my life was finally back on track. After some very bad decisions and bad luck, things were again looking bright. I was in the best physical condition of my life, my new practice was starting to materialize, I was doing interview after interview on weight loss and fitness, and my book, Obesity Undone, was beginning to sell.
Then, I made one of those bad decisions. Unlike the olden days, this bad decision snowballed, and the stress and tension caused my once strong back to buckle. As I dealt poorly with the stress, my fitness level plummeted and my body plumped up. Now, a year later, I have given grim consideration to just giving up.
Since my weight loss, I became a positive person, and I always consciously focused on being positive. I projected that attitude in my writings, interviews, videos, etc… I never allowed negativity to overtake my positive spirit.
Ernest Hemingway-Memorial (Photo credit: HenryFigueroa)
Edgar Allan Poe (Photo credit: chucka_nc)
Most times, it was easy — but other times, not so much. Whether it is nature or nurture, I have a deep-seated fatalistic streak. After watching my grandmother suffer and eventually pass away when I was twelve, I became immersed in the writings of Edgar Allan Poe. It was a hell of an influence after my first experience with death; the writings of the dark master Poe were a dominant guidance as I started to develop my own rudimentary writing skills.
As my tastes changed, I became a fan of Ernest Hemingway, not so much his writings, which I do enjoy, but the man himself. For those who don’t know, in addition to his larger than life persona, Hemingway had a lifelong obsession with death, which culminated in the taking of his own life. It is odd, because even though I never knew the man, I understand why he did it. I understand so much so, that his suicide is an important chapter in the novel I wrote, America Enslaved.
I share the same obsession with my own death that both Hemingway and Poe possessed, but more importantly, it was my dream to follow in their literary footsteps.
However, as I have allowed too often, other influences discouraged me from following my dreams and goals. Those bad decisions trapped me in a life I never desired. And, as I found myself on the precipice of escape, I would fall back into the abyss.
As is the norm, my recent woes are my own doing —- bad choices, wrong decisions, and mostly — flat out fear, have kept me from following my dreams.
Part of my problem lies with the one truth of my life — I don’t feel home in the region which I reside. I have never been connected to Northeast Pennsylvania; its lack of vitality, its awful climate and the despair that is engrained into so many of us at young age are factors I can’t embrace. I always tried to feel at home, I even ran for Congress in an attempt to make the area a better place for future generations. Still, I feel disconnected, worse — I feel trapped.
I have only felt at home once in my adult life — the two years I lived in Hawaii. I never dreaded a day, even the bad ones. I was not only at home, I was filled with joy. To this day, I will never forget my last moments on the island. My friend Doug’s wife prepared a lasagna dinner that we enjoyed as we said good-bye. It was a grand time with close friends, as we left for the airport, driving off the base, I peered up at the sky — the light puffs of white clouds against the deep blue was more artwork than nature. I began to cry; I knew I was leaving my true home and I was aware that I would never return.
Why didn’t I simply stay? A combination of fear and guilt — the duo of emotions that have sabotaged me on more than one occasion — held me back even then.
For all practical purposes, for a long time, that was the last moment I felt alive. After leaving Oahu, I simply existed and remained that way for a long time. I tried to adjust, but always I was looking for a way to escape.
Finally, I achieved a modicum of professional and financial success which afforded me the opportunity to vacation several times a year in South Florida. On those trips, that feeling returned — the feeling of life. I’m not sure if it was simply the climate, the proximity to the ocean, the differing attitudes or a combination, but again, I was connected. I get that same feeling when I visit my sister in Southern California, I guess to me, the sunshine, ocean and warmth are part of my innate intelligence.
I am writing and sharing these feelings for a selfish reason — the power of writing helps me mend. As my fingers dance along the keyboard, putting the words to paper, okay computer screen, the despair exits via my fingertips. Moreover, it allows me to be thankful for what I have. I recall the reasons I have stayed in the past — they are not trivial, they are part of my heart.
So, once again, I will pick myself up, brush away the crumbs of disappointment, wash clean the stench of failure and start moving forward.
My obsession with death allows me solace, comfort, and yes, acceptance of its inevitability. However, I am in no hurry for that certainty to become reality, and I have no desire to simply exist. Of the many disadvantages to being unfit and overweight, the primary drawback is the simple fact that life is not as pleasurable. There is no joy in sucking wind climbing a flight of stairs, or dressing in baggy clothes to conceal the heft of one’s body.
Being healthy, fit and strong of body gives the mind the same benefits.
I am back on track.
I am coming back.
I will be fit, I will be healthy, and I will be successful.
If you read my most recent posting you are aware that I have a very fatalistic outlook on life. I don’t know if it is good or bad, but it is what it is, and I use it to my advantage.
Recently, every morning when I wake up I ask myself a couple of questions.
The first is —“Do I want to be alive today?”
The answer is always yes.
Then I ask myself — “Do I want to really live life today, or merely exist?”
The last several months the answer would have been the latter, and, that is what I did. I skipped my morning workouts, or if I did make it to the gym, my efforts were half-hearted.
I simply went through the motions.
That is also how I spent most of my days, just going through the motions; doing nothing more than merely existing.
The last few days, since I have finally gotten back to taking responsibility for my health, wellness and fitness — when I answer that question, I have chosen to genuinely, passionately and intensely live life.
What that translates into is hard, concentrated workouts in which I give not only my full effort, but my full devotion. I don’t engage in wasted conversation, sometimes I even wear headphones to block out any and all distractions. I pay attention to what I am doing. I feel the muscles as they move the weights, I get in touch with my breathing as I jog, and I get into rhythm with the rope as it passes under my feet. Furthermore, I take that attitude, effort and resolve into the rest of my day.
At the end of the day, I pose to myself, “If I was certain my life was going to end that night — how would I answer the question; “What didn’t I do with the gift of life?”
I know the answer, and at the end of my time, I don’t want the reply to be the same I would give right now.
As wonderful as much of my life has been, there has always been something missing —- the one great dream I gave up because I was consistently told it was NOT realistic.
I was told, “You need to go to school, college, maybe further.”
I was told, “You need to get a job, one with benefits, maybe save a little money.”
Sadly, for the most part, as much as I hate to admit it, I did just that. Now, as I am closing in on the half century mark, the last question I ask myself is “What was it all for?”
The reality is that I am going to die whether I had a good job, whether I saved any money, or whether I had benefits. Because I chose to fall into a negativity trap — I am going to die the shell of the man I could have been; no — should have been and still can be.
Is it too late? It better not be, but even if it is, I don’t care — I am forging ahead and no matter what the naysayers say — I will do what I have dreamed of since I was young. I will do it with all the drive and determination I can muster — and if I pass before I have accomplished, at least I will have the peace of mind knowing that I was pushing forward.
The above quote is attributed to the one and only Bernarr Macfadden. Who was Bernarr? He was eccentric, driven, passionate, influential and whole lot more, but most importantly, he was the father of mass media physical culture and for better or worse, a large influence in much of my own thinking concerning the attitude of physical culture.
I despise weakness, mostly in myself, but in general I am not a fan of it in others. There are many weak attitudes and actions that get under my skin. One of the big ones is germaphobes and the whole hand sanitizer bullshit. Not only because I really question what germs everyone is so afraid of, but also, because it is weakening us as a whole, and causing many microbes to evolve and become stronger, more resistant.
But, back to my own weaknesses; I have several and I hate, despise, loathe, scorn, abhor, detest…. okay enough of synonyms; each and every single one of them.
The big two, those that have prevented me from realizing my life’s desires are FEAR and GUILT. Much like Dickens’ want and ignorance, these two weaknesses have held me back, but the one I must beware the most is FEAR — FEAR has stopped me cold in my tracks much more often, and with much more power, than GUILT ever has.
It’s funny, because even though I had FEAR in my youth, it didn’t stop me, if anything it may have encouraged me. As I have previously written, I have never felt connected to my hometown. When I was seventeen, I couldn’t wait to escape, and although it was only temporary, I did.
I graduated high school on June 16th; on June 21st I was at the Recruit Training Center in Orlando Florida — Navy Boot Camp. Yes, I did miss my family, but I was away from Northeast Pennsylvania and all of the shackles associated with life there. I felt FEAR, but that FEAR wasn’t going to keep me down. And, for five years I was free — I had escaped.
What the hell happened?
I was on my last tour of duty, when the Navy decided that we should part ways a few months earlier than planned. I was caught off guard, and from the time I received notice, to the actual event, only a matter of days had passed. I had every intention to stay in Hawaii after my enlistment ended, which would have been in November, but the suddenness of the discharge in late July left me reeling. That insurmountable FEAR reared its ugly head. I didn’t know what to do, so I took the safe and secure option — I left the beautiful blue skies of Hawaii for the dankness of Northeast PA and went back to my family and the repressing manacles of the Northeast Pennsylvania mindset — I have allowed those chains to bind me ever since.
It is hard to describe this area to those not from here. Those born and raised here don’t see it unless they too have escaped, but the unfortunate transplants comprehend the pestilence which has settled over the region.
If you desire to get a sense of the despair that pervades Northeast PA, all one needs do is tune into the local talk radio station WILK. It doesn’t matter the host’s particular political bent or ideology, they are all prefect examples of the mentality that crushes the spirit of the young — forever oppressing them into the station into which they were born.
The morning show hosted by Nancy Kman and John Webster, is nothing but a week long beer commercial, culminating with the Friday Beer Buzz. A show, where at 8:30 in the morning, the hosts, and what sounds like attendees of a college, frat kegger, imbibe beer, and if you listen closely, you can hear the tell-tale speech patterns of people who are buzzed. I don’t drink alcohol, the beverage has no place in a healthy and fit lifestyle. However, what bothers me so much about this inane and asinine programming, is the fact that Northeast PA has such an immense alcohol problem —- which is only highlighted and encouraged by our local, supposedly serious, news talk radio station.
After the beer swilling is over, next up is the glumness of Sue Henry. Her flat out sadness makes one long for the cheerfulness of Debbie Downer. I can’t recall the last thing Sue said that promoted happiness, joy or even a little hope for that matter. Her show is a three hour-long monologue of just how awful the world is, and I believe her goal is to make her listeners as miserable as she appears.
Then there is the afternoon host Steve Corbett; a man who never sees the light at the end of the tunnel, who if asked if a glass was half empty or half full, would simply pour any remaining water out onto the ground and then blame you for the fact that he had to waste it instead of giving it to some poor soul who was entitled to drink it.
Another prime example would be local weather people, primarily Joe Snedeker and Dave Skutnik — no matter how beautiful the forecast, these two David Letterman wannnabes will always throw in, “but don’t get too excited, because it will get bad again soon.” Heaven forbid anyone just enjoy what is here at the moment — no the NEPA mantra of it will be bad must be added.
All are representative of the area in which I was born — entitlements, resentment and bleakness. This environment I desperately tried to escape, but kept getting dragged back to, until eventually I was trapped and suffocated.
However, in the end, I do realize the choices were mine — always made because of either GUILT or FEAR. Well, I’m done with that. I will pursue my dreams, and I won’t miss another opportunity because of either emotion, for as I have said, life is finite.
Physical Culturist and Chiropractor, Dr. Joe Leonardi is the author of the life changing book, “Obesity Undone” and a contributor to NaturallySavvy.com and CarbSmart.com. He is available to appear on any talk radio, internet podcast or television outlet.
He has appeared on 94.3FM’s The David Maderia Show, What’s Weighing You Down, w/Dr. Marilyn Gansel on FTNS radio, Nurture and Nutrition on Blog Talk Radio, Low Carb Conversations with Jimmy Moore and Friends, BlogTalk Radio’s Toni Harris Speaks, Internet Radio: Cathie’s Talking, TV -35′s Storm Politics with Tiffany Cloud, WILK’s The Sue Henry Show, Magic 93′s Frankie In The Morning, WBRE’s PA Live, SSPTV’s News 13, Public Television WVIA’s State of Pennsylvania and Call the Doctor; Entercom’s Outlook on Northeast PA with Shadoe Steele, Citadel Broadcasting’s Sunday Magazine with Brian Hughes, Lisa Davis’ Your Health Radio; Hank Garner’s Podcast, Dr. Robert Su’s Carbohydrates Can Kill Podcast; and the one and only Jimmy Moore’s Livin’ La Vida Low Carb podcast.
Dr. Joe Leonardi also will come and speak to your group; to learn more about his motivational speaking fees and availability contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out his website http://www.obesityundone.com/
************The information contained herein is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease or disorder. The posting and videos do not apply to those with an underlying medical or hormonal condition. I advise anyone embarking on a weight loss and fitness plan to have a thorough medical evaluation. You want to be sure that you are physically able to exercise and you don’t have any underlying medical conditions No guarantees are made or to be implied.************