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Carpe Diem

Updated: Apr 8

As a child that grew up in the 80’s, when the movie Dead Poets Society with Robin Williams came out, every kid I knew in the neighborhood and at school was running around screaming “Carpe Diem!” Seize the day!”

There have been so many ways that I have heard that idea said: “Make every day count.” Van Halen’s song “Right Now.” “Live for today.” Many ancient religions are based on the idea of being present in the moment. The list of phrases is endless, right?

The way I saw it growing up and as I moved into adulthood, as I worried about every moment past and future, was that idea of living for today, and staying in the moment while putting all the failures and disappointments as well as keeping away the worries for future events that may never come, was an ideal that I needed to strive for.

As with most things worthwhile in life, any variation of the mantra “Carpe Diem” was much easier said than done. While I went through life with worry as well as regret, I always thought about some combination of those students from the movie on top of their desk saying “Captain, my captain” as well as some monk deep in meditation.

I have been practicing meditation since I was in high school, because I always had this feeling that it was important. There have been times when I have been more regular with it than others, but since I made the decision to change my life, and take care of myself, meditation has been a regular part of my routine and the difference in my daily life is real.

SO, what does any of this have to do with exercise?

Follow my train of thought, and humor me. This all may end up being some long-winded tangent of some deep look into my soul and motivation, so let’s take the ride together.

I was having a conversation with someone yesterday. This person is extremely obese, and was telling me about all of his health problems and chronic pain that he lives with. He went on to talk about how much he loved drinking soda, alcohol, and ate whatever he wanted. He continued to tell me about all the medical procedures that he had lined up so that he could “function.” Maybe this person’s lifestyle is his version of “Carpe Diem.” Unfortunately, this conversation is way too common these days. I hold no judgment of this because for years, I lived the same way. As a former problem drinker, ex-smoker with a sweet tooth and a love for salty foods, I can understand that mindset on a certain level.

I had the thought process that “If I am going to die anyways, then I may as well enjoy the ride.” I literally used to say that. As I said those words, this hollow feeling always came over me. The part that I didn’t say out loud, but always came to me, was that this lifestyle was flat-out wrong. I was lying to myself or justifying my own nonsense. I was straight-up dishonest about the life I was living. Deep down inside of me, I have always had that little voice that knew right from wrong. It has to be instinctual because every since I was little, I knew that it was there. Some kind of primal survival instinct? Perhaps.

Needless to say, while I was NOT living any version of my best life, I still knew it was wrong. That’s the part that I judge with people that say that they don’t care, because I knew that I am not unique. I am pretty sure that every other person on this planet is some shape or form has that little voice too.

When I come across people where the answer to their lives is so obvious, I share my experience about how my extremely unhealthy lifestyle brought me close to death’s doors. I tell them that I stopped drinking, quit smoking, cut out ALL the crap from my daily eating, and exercised as best I could EVERY day. I have beaten the odds. I have done what I once thought was impossible. I tell them how my fear and excuses kept me stuck for a long time. I own my terrible decisions. I share my experiences of how I changed my life through my own daily actions and decisions.

Unfortunately, though, their reaction is all too common as well.

“I could never do that.” “I couldn’t give up (insert any self-destructive habit here)”

The tragedy with that line of thinking is that: THEY ABSOLUTELY CAN!”

I am nothing special. I am just a guy that decided to choose life over death.

Look, I know we are all going to die. There is no escaping it. Death is a part of life.

Knowing and truly accepting that fact is critical, but here is where it can go either way. I had to ask myself one simple question, as I sat there in the doctor’s office, overweight, sick, and afraid while he talked to me about the signs of a heart attack and what I needed to do WHEN I started to feel them.

I had to ask myself “What kind of life do I want to live with the time I have left?”

From that simple question, more questions arose:

Do I accept the state of my life and my bad decisions as “just the way it is?”

Or do I fight?

Do I step towards my fears, and change my actions and attitudes? Or do I just roll over, watch my quality of life continue to decline, and accept my fate?

I chose to life my best life. I chose to stop making excuses. I chose to stop lying to myself.

I choose to make every day that I have left count. For myself. For my loved ones. For those who can’t.

I don’t always know what that means or how best to make each day count. I still have to fight off my inner demons of self-destruction, laziness, and depression.

I also know that I am not alone. I know that plenty of other people have their own daily battles to fight.

I hope from the bottom of my heart that the work I do with clients of as I type out these words on the computer is that I can be a part in making someone’s life better. That something that I write or say or do will be that last little push that they need to make a decision and take action to try to live their best life each day.

I want to live each day feeling the best that I can. I want to be the happiest that I can be. I want to be as useful and helpful as I can to others.

I genuinely make an effort every day to stay in the moment, as some days I am much better at it than others. In doing that, I make an honest effort every day, to make each day count. My general philosophy in my life today is “To do the next right thing today, and let tomorrow take care of itself.” I guess this is my version of “Carpe Diem.” I say that phrase to myself constantly all day long. It helps keep me focused and grounded.

“Okay, okay. But how does this tie into exercise?”

I have always known that I need to make an effort to be happy every day. As I have acquired more experiences in life, I have also acquired more tools in my tool box so that I can continue to build my best life.

Exercise. Training. Fitness is my best tool.

This morning as all kinds of daily thoughts, past, present, and future, rolled around my head, I was trying to figure out what kind of day it was going to be.

There have been a lot of life changes recently, and I am still settling into new routines while trying to find my groove. I haven’t been sleeping well, and I have had a lot on my mind. Most of it is great stuff, and super positive. However, there is always that other side of things in my mind. Mainly I have been worrying about things that aren’t even here yet that are waiting for me in some phantasmal future.

Instead of sitting there thinking about what kind of day it was going to be, I decided to knock out sets of high repetition squats and push-ups. I had already completed my scheduled training goals that I had written down in my journal, but I still felt off. My mind was still racing. I know from experience that when that happens, the train can easily go off the rails.

It seemed an impromptu training session was in order in my living room. I didn’t even think about it. I set total volume goals of total repetitions that I wanted to hit, and I told myself it didn’t matter how many sets or how long it took, I was going to reach those goals. I didn’t even think about it. I just went after it. In under thirty minutes, I had crushed hundreds of squats and pushups. I was drenched and life was good.

I finished up by practicing my meditation. Made some breakfast, and sat down to do some writing.

I took the morning by the horns, and set a solid plan for the rest of my day. Most importantly, my mind is at ease, and I may even be smiling.

I know that no matter what else happen today, I got it. I am not even thinking about the past and the future.

I am putting one foot in front of the other, looking for the next right thing to do.

“Do the next right thing today, and let tomorrow take care of its self.”

The beauty of life is that one good decision tends to lead to another good decision, then another and so on.

Maybe the issue is that I spent too much time in self-reflection? What if action replaced thought?

Sometimes I just need to stop analyzing myself or my life and just do some damn pushups instead.

I am calling this “Carpe Diem”

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