For the past three nights, I've been covering volleyball at a local college. Being on a college campus inevitably brings back memories of my own college days, which really weren't anything wild, memorable or anything. I was a pretty tame college boy, I suppose.
But I walked past something that made me feel some pangs of regret... and no it wasn't the groups of young ladies I saw.
Right next to the parking lot I settled in was a gigantic fitness center. It had windows everywhere and you could see from one end of the gym to the other. There were rows and rows of elliptical machines, treadmills, you name it. I didn't see any free weights and I wondered if they were somewhere on the upper level.
Now, fitness was something I was most definitely not interested in when I was in college. I wasn't big then, a little overweight but certainly not to the levels I would reach later on. I was active somewhat and used to play basketball every now and then but running for distance was something I had absolutely no desire in doing.
When I walked past the gym, past the handful of people taking advantage of the treadmills and such, I couldn't help but shake my head. I wasted my life for so many years, wasted valuable years that could have been spent getting fit and staying fit, looking better, feeling better and laying the foundation for a life of fitness and health.
Instead, I did nothing of the sort. I ate whatever, didn't worry about fitness, figured I was healthy enough, the usual early-twentysomething stuff.
I thought about my life then and how it had evolved, where it had taken me in terms of my health and appearance and how drastically different things are now. I don't just mean professionally or with my family - I'm a family man now and I've come a long way in my professional life as well.
But in terms of health, fitness, cooking, everything of that sort has undergone a major face lift. Where I didn't have the desire to go to the gym and run when I was in college or even three years ago, now I long for the time I have to run. I didn't care about nutritional facts and my food choices reflected that. Now, I ponder the amount of calories in each bite of food I take - it's always in the forefront of my mind.
But despite all these sorts of negative thoughts I had, I kept my composure. It would have been easy to let those negative feelings linger, let myself feel bad about the type of person I was. In fact, just a few years ago I probably would have let my guard down. But now, I'm different. I am strong mentally; I forced myself to be that way. When you have a bad workout, you have to have the ability to bounce back. When you fall short of a goal, whether it's to run a race in a certain time, to stay under a set amount of calories for a day or simply just to go work out, you have to be resilient. Setbacks are important, really. You need them to help you maintain your focus and keep you honest.
So when I walked past the gym, when the first thoughts to arise were "Man, you could have been there, you could have been kicking ass on the 'mill back in the day," I squelched them immediately. Okay, well, maybe not immediately but I certainly didn't allow them to linger too much.
All my bad habits are in the past, and I don't live in the past. I live in the here. I live in the now. I look at what's ahead of me, try to forge a new path. Sure, my old self was an embarrassment in many ways but there is nothing I can do about that now. None of those thoughts of regret linger anymore... well, maybe one. Maybe I could have been more social with the ladies. But I guess that's neither here nor there.