Derailed early, but on the right track for 40 years

by Dick Ulmer
(Sarasota, FL, USA)

I was a little suburban butterball in my early childhood in the '50's. My parents got me into age group swimming around 10 years old, I grew like a weed and leaned out, remaining athletic through my high school years.

Then college happened. A four year pizza, beer and cigarette front came through and I found myself completely out of shape at age 22. Not much progress in my first working years, either. At 25, I went water skiing at a company party and was almost in traction the next day. I could hardly move. I felt ashamed that I had let myself get this way and resolved to do something about it.

I then lost my job in the sucky 70's economy, so I went back to school, worked part-time and returned to swimming in the Masters program. I worked out religiously and competed for nearly 10 years until chlorine sensitivity forced me out of the pool.

Now in my 30's, I took to the gym and running - the traditional resistance and cardio program. Approaching age 40 I met a group of guys at a gym and we formed a little club, pushing each other to improve with support and encouragement. I peaked physically a couple years later at 6 ft., 210 lbs, 33 waist, 48 chest. I could bench 225, squat 335, and run 10K races.

The success I experienced in physical training spilled over into my "other" life, I attained a second degree and went to work in computer systems. I've been doing both for the last 25 years.

I've also been lucky. No major injuries or illness, just the usual peaks and valleys everyone experiences. I'm now a 65 year old grandfather and am approaching retirement in God's waiting room in southwest Florida.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not ready to cash it in yet! Far from it. I work out at a small fitness club near my house and have recently started swimming laps in our community pool. I'm a little thicker in the waist and my iron pumping numbers are lower, but I still enjoy robust health. I take no meds at all, just a multi-vitamin and fish oil. My diet could be better, but I don't overeat. I eat only when I'm hungry and then just enough. I hate to feel stuffed after a meal.

I can't imagine my life without some form of challenging exercise. It's become ingrained in me and I'll keep doing it until I can't - and then not without a fight. I feel lucky to have inherited someone's good genes (I'm adopted), but also feel I've done my part to use them well. My family comes first in my life, but I'm also quietly proud that I kept the promise I made to myself when I was 25.

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