Thursday, February 16, 2012

02/16 (Pushing 40) Quickie

Today is my birthday. Two years ago today, I was flying to Seattle to see a billionaire about a company I wanted to found. A year ago today, I was up to my ears trying to get that company off the ground (no billionaires included). This year, I’m still hammering away.

One year from today, I will turn 40. That means today is less about me turning 39 than me launching a year-long countdown to exiting my 30s. The 30s have been good to me. I married my wife, became a parent to two kids (three, as of two weeks from today), bought a house and had a satisfying (if jagged) career path.

But I feel like I need to look ahead. If anything has marked the past year, it has been that the “founder” lifestyle has led to physical atrophy -- I’m in the worst shape of my life, both weight and fitness. My goal for the next year, then, is pretty simple: On my 40th birthday, I want to fit into the suit I got married in.

It’s not just that I have to lose 30 pounds -- I also have to get back into some semblance of physical shape, particularly when you account for a metabolism that has come to a screeching halt over the past few years.

The “fit into the wedding suit” thing is a gimmick. The real reason wakes me up every day and brings me such an overwhelming amount of joy I can barely articulate it: My two little boys, plus -- any day now -- their little sister.

I want the energy to keep up with them. And to be the best possible partner for my astonishingly patient wife. And to feel as good about myself as I did back then when I was a year from turning 30. And -- in something you think about a lot as a parent -- I don’t want to keel over any more prematurely than I have to.

There are a lot of ways to get there. I am a pretty big fan of Weight Watchers For Guys (high five up top, Charles Barkley!) and had a successful run with it last summer, until the move from NYC to DC just obliterated my diet and fitness habits. I have taken up playing basketball one night a week with some other old guys, but I mainly lumber up the court and sit around the outside winging up bad shots. Maybe I need to try yoga or swimming or something more ass-kicking, like P90X. Maybe that new Nike wristband exercise-counter (or some other kind of technology) will help. Maybe it takes leaving New York City for me to finally run the New York Marathon -- which would be the ultimate gift to myself heading into 40. Maybe I can just stop eating Cheez-Its by the box and ice cream by the pint; hey, there’s a start.

I’m not going to bore you with updates by blog or through my @danshanoff Twitter feed. I have set up a special Twitter handle (@danshanoff40) to keep track of how it’s going (with a bit of inspiration from the New York Times’ Brian Stelter, who created a similar campaign as he was heading into age 25.) Maybe I’ll do some writing about it elsewhere; maybe I’ll earn a sponsorship from Weight Watchers (or Chipotle! No, wait....)

Ironically, I have found that birthdays lose a lot of meaning as you hit your 30s -- certainly as you have kids. It’s usually a good excuse to get your friends together at a bar -- that’s more than enough reason to celebrate. But maybe this year I can channel it into something a little more productive (if still appropriately narcissistic).

Tonight my birthday dinner is a kid-friendly trip to the local Five Guys with my family, followed by inhaling at least a quarter (OK: half) of a Carvel ice cream cake. I’ll make it a celebration send-off into an effort to really change how I look and feel, so that I can enter my 40s with all of the verve I had when I entered my 30s.

Back then, it was about finishing my MBA and newly dating this amazing woman and figuring out how I was going to turn this idea I had into an awesome daily national column for Now, it’s suburbs and soccer practice and having a third kid and making the next 10 years of my career the best yet.

I’ll need all the verve I can get.

-- D.S.


Geo B said...

Good luck. Having just lost 40 pounds over 18 months in my mid-40's, it looks like you've already caught the real way to start - cut out the junk food. Highly recommend the Men's Health magazine e-mail lists - especially the ones that tie into their "Eat This, Not That" line - so you can see where you get lots of calories and how to avoid them. Really learned for me how to eat meals that filled me up (more protein, less carbs in my case) and kept me from snacking. Finding an exercise you will do and is convenient is part two - we got an elliptical rider and now I'm doing more cardio on my own.

El Harro said...


Jeff said...

Happy Birthday Dan! As a father of 2 approaching 39, I feel the same way. May the next 10 years be better than the last. Keep the posts coming!

Jessica said...

Long time reader, first time commenter - I have had the most success in weight loss and getting my energy back by following a Paleo diet. Check out Gary Taubes book "Why We Get Fat" and check out the Whole30 program. It's some effort but worth it.

ThorpF said...

Dan -
Long time reader, first time commenter...

I've loved your stuff since the Quickie, and have always felt a sense of deja vu. I'm a UF grad (but originally from upstate NY), Harvard MBA, married to a rabid gator fan (she knows more Gator football history than I do!), entrepreneur, Tebow fan from the beginning, etc etc.

I'm 44, and faced the same physical challenge you describe several years ago. The only thing you have to do is this: find an established CrossFit box in your town, and give it your full commitment for 3 months.

You'll never look back...don't bother with WW/P90X/anything else...CrossFit is such a healthy community (my wife and 2 teenage boys do it as well!) that it quickly becomes more than a workout. Like Gator Nation, it is a good cult...

Plus, I'd love to have you add CrossFit to the topics you write about!

Good luck, and I hope to read about your CrossFit adventures soon!