I remember my first suit-wearing job. I was 18 years old at the time and the father of the most beautiful and fun-loving little girl in the world. I was also skinny. If I stood sideways and stuck out my tongue I could be mistaken for a zipper. What I lacked in stature, wisdom and overall impressiveness, however, I made up for with imagination, impatience, and an abundance of naivety.
Fresh out of high school I had been sorting pop bottles for a living at a Coca-Cola plant and yes, that was a job back then. I went to the bank and applied for a loan to buy a car and they turned me down. They didn’t send me away empty-handed though. In an unusual twist of fate, the bank offered me a job as a loan officer.
I needed a suit.
I had been lifting weights for a couple of years by then, without much to show for it, but I had just read an article in Flex Magazine that had me convinced I could change all that. The article assured me that I could make my shoulders look like boulders, my back as wide as a barn-door, I could put mountainous peaks on my biceps and turn my legs into oak trees. I remember something about the whole shebang only taking eight weeks. I was sold, lock stock and barrel.
I was a couple of weeks into the program when I got the bank job and went suit shopping. I had made some gains, I was sure of it, even though I was the only one that thought so. This program would work, I just knew that any day I would start growing like a weed.
As I squeezed through the double-wide doorway of the menswear store an optimistic gentleman approached me smiling. He had a tape measure around his neck, glasses perched on the end of his nose, and the look of a man that had been on the job a few years. I said I needed a suit, that I was a banker now and would need something respectable and business-like. I told him my budget range and suggested we start looking for suits nearer the low end. Truth was that’s all I actually had. He stared blankly, masterfully containing his enthusiasm, the mark of a true professional.
Being the seasoned commissioned salesman that he was it took the briefest of seconds for him to find a suit I could afford. It fit me like a glove, a very inexpensive glove but a glove none-the-less. This would do the trick I thought and was ready to settle up and leave when it dawned on me that if this suit fit me now there would be no way it would fit in a couple of weeks, after the program kicked in.
I illuminated my dilemma for the salesman. I was a bodybuilder, I explained, and I was on this special program and it would only be a matter of days before this suit would be bursting at the seams under the powerful force of my swollen musculature.
He was speechless.
I reasoned that he probably hadn’t dealt with many customers like me. Perhaps none at all. A man with the raw talent and unbridled potential as mine was rare. I assured him that the gains would happen and that I would need a suit at least two sizes bigger. He shrugged, moved a couple of feet to the right and pulled the same suit off the rack just two sizes larger. I was going to look impressive my first day of work, that was certain.
I was absolutely right, the gains did come. But it was almost a decade later. I rode the bus to work at the bank every day for almost two years wearing that ridiculous oversized suit. I looked like a kid that had borrowed it from his dad.
I didn’t make a career out of banking but I did stick with the training, and many years later I was a guy writing articles for Flex Magazine. I made sure, however, that I left any prospective young bankers that would read those articles with reasonable expectations about their training and gains.
As I sit here today, a month away from my 58th birthday and forty years after I bought that suit and humiliated myself, I am still on the grind.
I’ve done some competing in a couple different sports, even set a powerlifting record once, and learned a thing or two along the way from some outstanding people. I’ve also had the privilege of training countless elite and professional athletes in a variety of sports for the past 30 years and I’m still sorting out my own training programs crafting the perfect plan that will get me to the next level. I’m still hoping and dreaming, but I know better now what I can expect, what I have to do, and how long it will take to reach those goals.
Just like 40 years ago, I want to make some changes. It’s not about getting bigger anymore, or stronger; it’s about trimming a little off, getting in better cardiovascular shape, improving flexibility and endurance, and not looking 58 when I turn 58. It’s time to set some lofty goals again, time to push myself beyond what’s comfortable and to believe with every ounce of my being that I can make it happen.
I’m still breathing so it’s completely possible. I just have to choose it. I have to choose to do the work, be disciplined, and embrace the reward that is earned through discomfort.
I’m going to share that journey over the coming weeks, probably months. I want to tell you about the dreams, the why, and the work. I’ll also talk about the problems and the bad days because everyone has them. I’ll be posting the story here on my website, and I will be Vlogging the process and posting it on my Youtube channel. Subscribe if you like so you don’t miss any of it.
I still love to dream big and still push things to the limit and beyond. That’s where the most exciting stuff happens I think, the living part of life.
I can’t wait to get started. I’m already thinking about what I’m going to be able to do and how much fun it will be when I get there. I suppose you could say there’s still a lot of that skinny kid in there, buried under all those years.
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