My Best Life

My Big Not So Fat Pandemic Birthday

Leave it to 2020 to toss me one more challenge in its final days. A milestone birthday in a global pandemic. All those plans thought out have been put on hold. But it’s the personal introspection that it will affect most for me. It is in fact where fitness meets my life.

2020 has thrown me what I hope will be one last test. It may not seem like a big one to others, but it’s a personal one. It’s been a year that has thrown countless people many challenges as it has flung many obstacles in my direction as well. This isn’t a whingeing piece or one that I plan to fill with complaints and moans about the year and how tough it’s been for me. I’ve kind of done regular posts on that. However, it’s something that I really hoped wouldn’t happen and actually surprisingly looked unlikely to happen as the year was drawing to an end, but well alas it’s 2020.

To many this may seem such a small problem, and in the broader scope of things and how others have been affected this year, it really is miniscule. But as I said this is isn’t a grumpy post. It‘s more of a personal part of my journey that I would like to share, how it’s going to be effected, and how I hope to overcome it.

I can’t remember the last time I missed a training session on my birthday. With fitness as a focal point of my life and personal development which I use in my daily life, it is a main stay of my birthday routine. I would usually spend at least a good two hours of heavy training in which I would work to push myself to start my new personal year off strongly.

For me it is a day where I like to reflect on my previous year. What I’ve achieved, and what I set out to achieve. I try to look back at the things that I gained and those that I missed. My mistakes, what I did wrong and what I did right as well as the opportunities I took and missed. My experiences that I could learn from and the things that happened around me that were part of my circumstances and can also learn from.

The other thing I like to do is start thinking about the year ahead. What me goals are for the coming year, where I want to be at the end of it, and how I will go about achieving them. As fitness is a big part of my life and personal development. It is an essential element in this introspectiveness and, therefore, a good strong training session is a crucial part of the day and birthday routine.

The birthday parties and celebrations are a nice part too. Getting together with friends, having a few drinks, sharing some memories, and making new ones are always a nice addition to the day. But with regards to my personal celebration, I enjoy my day of reflection and self-work just as much and find it to be fundamentally more important.

This year it will be different. I was thrilled because it looked like London would remain in tier 3 over this time period. And although a traditional party or get together likely would have been out of the questions, at least the gyms would still be open and I would be able to do what is most important to me.

However, as the big day has drawn near as well as the Christmas and New Year’s period, a new strain of the virus was discovered and consequently, restrictions have been tightened and London immediately went into a newly fashioned tier, tier 4. In this tier, London is pretty much in a lockdown in all but name. In short, gyms are now closed for the next few weeks.

As a more consequential challenge and impact on many others, Christmas plans were cancelled at the last minute. People who had planned to see family and friends they hadn’t seen all year as restrictions were proposed to be lifted over the short few days of the holiday period, had to dejectedly figure out new celebrations mostly alone without their loved ones. This of course is a much larger distress on a macro level than my measly little personal problem of gyms being closed. However, on a micro and personal level, tier 4 has thrown a challenge at me that I hoped I wouldn’t have to deal with.

The thing is it’s not just any birthday. It’s one of the milestone birthdays that as a society we seem to consider how we are faring in life and as checkpoints to where we are at in this world. While I still can’t get my head around the fact that I’m actually turning 30 this year (I know I’m making it sound like I’m about to turn 50), it is inevitably happening and on a side note any plan of extravagant 30th celebration have basically been inhibited due to the pandemic.

While I partially reject the premise that once you hit 30 your life is basically over, or that if you haven’t achieved all your goals by it, it’s mostly too late, I do still believe that it’s a big birthday. It’s a big one because it means that I am entering into a new stage in life, a more fully developed chapter I would say. Well at least I sense so.

Predictably, I am questioning my achievements and am looking at my direction as well as decisions I have made to see if they line up with those that I had envisioned for myself. It’s a question that we are asked over and over of where we see ourselves in five or ten years throughout our youth and early lives. It makes us determine our marker points for how we plan to map out our lives and when we reach those markers query where it all went wrong if indeed it did. But if 2020 has reminded me of anything, it is how little control we really have on events around us and even much of our lives.

Although this year has not been a right off for me in any way. It has brought me several different things. I made some big decisions and changes in my life that had to be made, but were tough and were easy to sidestep for a long time prior. I feel probably the most physically fit I have felt in years. I am nowhere close to my strongest, but definitely close to my fittest and I don’t mean just aesthetically.

Even with the gym being closed on and off for most it, I recently hit some of my best training sessions of the year and probably the year before as well. Just a few days before we went into tier 4, I pushed myself to hit some of the heaviest and cleanest squats of the year. Again, they were no personal records or anything, but definitely some bloody good sets. I also started to find enjoyment in running again, and yesterday hit my first ten kilometre street run with ease for years after only a few runs.

It’s been tough, but I think my wellness is mostly intact as well thankfully, so looking back on the year I would say I can’t complain. And thankfully, I, my family, and friends are all safe. Most of those I know who had Covid, recovered. Some people that I know though had it very rough, and there have been sadly been deaths. I guess I will look back on my personal year with mixed feelings.

With all this said I was hoping to continue with my usual birthday routine especially on this momentous one, the dreaded 30th, and get in that strong mindful training session. But it really is okay. If you’ve seen some of my previous pieces, you’ll see that I wrote about different ways to stay healthy, fit, and well even without the gym and the tools it offers. At the same time, there are other ways I can work on my introspection and look at the past year as well as evaluate my life, achievements, and decisions.

Of the many lessons fitness has taught me that I try to incorporate into my daily life, is the need or ability to adapt. This year in itself has been one of adapting. I’m actually thankful that my training has enabled me to be okay with it, to do so and be comfortable with it and the uncomfortable. There’s a whole world out there of tools that can be used for all of this. It is definitely further out of my comfort zone than I would usually wish for. It’s doable. It just requires a bit of adapting. I’m prepared for this. I’ve trained for this. I fit for this.

So as I said, this isn’t a bit to complain and moan. In fact, I guess it’s turned into more of a thankful moment now that I think about it. While what I thought I would be doing may have to be altered, I am thankful that I can adapt as such. I am thankful that there have been good things this year and for the health and wellness of myself and people that I care about.

I have more to achieve, but I don’t think it’s close to over. Yes, I’m getting older, but I don’t believe it’s ever too late. While I haven’t achieved all the many things I had hoped to by 30, I will continue to strive for greatness. Of course I would prefer to have a good traditional training session. But you can’t always get what you want. And as fitness is important to and an important part of my development and birthday routine, I will train with the capacity I have and tools that the world overall is made available to me to the extent that I can no matter what.

Founding partner at LIFE ON FITNESS. I'm a fitness enthusiast (not a fitness 'professional'). Being massively obese, I started my fitness journey at around the age of 14. It wasn't the cool thing to do yet, and didn't even know what my life was missing. It only got better as I researched, tried, studied, and tested evermore fitness elements and knowledge. I write my thoughts with the hopes of inspiring even one person to achieve their life goals as well as their fitness goals. But most importantly enjoy and get the best out of life.

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