How 2020 forced me to begin my fitness journey, and completely changed my view of the future.

by Max Fisher

2020 might have been brutal, but like millions of others, it forced me to change when I couldn’t procrastinate any longer

The doctor said I had high blood pressure. I was 24 in a sterile hospital room, having just heard the loud exhaling breath of the cold piece of machinery that gave me the bad news. I hate doctor’s visits. They always make me nervous, ever since I was a kid. I have a mild case of cerebral dysplasia, which affects the motor function in my legs. Ever since I was a child, doctors have been telling me something was wrong with me, or I needed to fix something about myself. I understand that the doctors throughout my life were only trying to help when distributing their medical advice, but if you keep hearing something’s wrong with you enough times, you start to think, “what’s the point of trying to fix it?”

They said I would need pills to keep it under control. I was admittedly a mess, as I always am when I go for a doctor’s appointment, just a bundle of raw nerves and sweat masquerading as a functioning human being. I said it was because of nerves that my blood pressure was so high. They understood, and I got a blood pressure monitor for home, under the pretext that I’d be calmer in a home environment, but that wasn’t the case. The machine, choking my lower arm, just gave me the same sense of tension and misery that I always found at the doctors, familiar surroundings or not. Frustrated for many reasons and not willing to accept the prospect of being 24 with high blood pressure, that just wasn’t an option. I knew I needed a change.

Putting in The Work

“I started by doing 3 hours of stationary bike cardio a day … I saw results in about a month.”

I never considered myself overweight or chubby or any other word to describe someone who could, but doesn’t necessarily feel like they have to lose weight. For all intents and purposes, I always thought I was relatively fit. Looking back, I can say that I wasn’t. I didn’t exercise (I always thought, “I am what I am. No amount of exercise is going to change that, so why waste time?”), I didn’t overeat, but I wasn’t mindful about what I ate. A burger, in my eyes, was just as nutritious as a plate of broccoli. “I’m 24. What do I have to worry about? My metabolism will take care of it.”) That’s what I used to think.

Knowing that some sort of transformation to get me out of my current predicament wouldn’t just happen overnight, I started to do long walks down Elmwood at night, but after a few weeks of doing this, I didn’t see any meaningful results. Sure, when I got home and heard the dreaded loud hiss of the machine, the numbers would come out normal 120/80, 118/78, but it was due to the euphoric wave one gets after doing a bit of cardio, far from the concrete health benchmark I was looking for. The doctor recommended taking my blood pressure when I first wake up. “When I’m the most relaxed,” but the anticipation of the hiss and the digital numbers staring back at me always made me unbelievably nervous, as if I was reaffirming to myself the sentiment of “What’s the point of fixing it? It is what it is.”

When COVID hit, I, like millions of others, had lost my job. It was my first legitimate job, and the literal week before it shut down and let nonessential employees go, I was going to get more hours. A few weeks passed, and COVID was in full force. Everything seemed to be unraveling, and it appeared to me that I had 2 options. Succumb to the pressures and uncertainties of the moment, or really work on yourself. I choose the latter (It’s not like I wouldn’t have enough time on my hands). I started by doing 3 hours of stationary bike cardio a day. It was the equivalent of my midnight walks down Elmwood, but this was in March so it was easier. I saw results in about a month. I was looking thinner. I used my mirror as my road map to track my progress, but one can only do 3-hour cardio sessions for so long before you hit a wall and the progress stops, and then you’re just doing cardio for the love of cardio, and I didn’t love it. What I wanted, what I needed was visible results. So I called up a dear friend to my generation who goes by one name and one name only: Google (or Mr. Google if you want to be formal about it) and proceeded down a rabbit hole of fitness.

Real-time Results

“… through diligence and deep-reading, I was able to find the information I was looking for and create a workout and nutrition plan that best works for me.”

I can’t tell you how many videos of shirtless guys spewing nonsense about the best exercise technique or the best ways to get a killer six-pack I’ve seen (the answer is way too many). Still, through diligence and deep-reading, I was able to find the information I was looking for and create a workout and nutrition plan that best works for me. I even found a shirtless trainer guy on YouTube who really helped me in the early stages of this process (who will remain nameless due to the simple fact that he’s not paying me. #nofreepromos!)

Armed with the necessary information and the work ethic I established from doing 3-hour cardio sessions for a few months, I was able to see real results. I was able to really think to myself for the first time, “I can really do this. I can make a genuine change for myself.”

I’m 25 now. Despite all that’s going on now, I’m doing better than I was before. I no longer have to worry about high blood pressure or pills; I’ve worked too hard on myself for that to be the case. Admittedly I still get very nervous at the prospect of machines and hospital visits, but I’ve been working on my breath control to calm myself down.

Bring on 2021

I don’t know much about life. In all honesty (like most other young people) I’m pretty clueless, just fumbling into one day and then another until the year passes. I awkwardly get off the floor, brush myself off and unconvincingly announce, “I made it through another one!” But if this experience has taught me anything, it’s that life is all about stamina, and as long as you don’t give up, you’re still in the race. So my New Years’ resolution is just to take some bigger strides forward! Thank you to everyone who has been reading my articles this year and to everyone who works at Welcome 716 for allowing me to have such a great creative outlet. Happy holidays and here’s to a better upcoming year in 2021!

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