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 ESPN.com. 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.