The Best Days of my Life

It makes me sad when I read Facebook and see people I went to high school with or served in the Marine Corps with talk about their glory days of “Back then.” They make it sound as if those days long past were the pinnacle of their lives. For some, they readily admit that their lives have gone down hill since then. That really makes me sad for them.

I’ve prodded a few of these folks to tell me why they think things like work, school, marriages, even the birth of their children and other accomplishments don’t match their past experiences, and one thing struck me: many of these people see the past as their glory days because of the physical condition they were in. Whether it was the former high school athletes or the former active duty Marines, the thing they miss the most is their physical conditioning.

When I ask these very same people why they don’t just eat right and exercise, they tell me that it’s no use: they can never get back to their former perfect selves. Well, that is true. No matter how much I’d like, I will never have the body of my 21 year-old self. I may be able to run farther, faster, and be physically stronger, but my body looks older. My skin, my hair, the wrinkles; heck, all of it. I’m just an older guy now. And that’s perfectly okay with me. But back to the issue: why do they think they can’t get back in shape and get fit?

A lot of it has to do with the diet and fitness industries telling us time and time again to eat low-fat, grain-rich diets and get more exercise. People of my generation tried that, and the vast majority of us failed. Sure, there are some who can, regardless of their diet and exercise, stay thin. Those people are very fortunate, and quite rare. The rest of us pack on the weight when we eat lots of carbs and don’t get any exercise. The good news is that can change.

I hate reading about another classmate or Marine losing their life due to health problems that were either caused by or exacerbated by being overweight. This is something that is completely fixable and avoidable. I started at age 48, and I am now 50 and in the best shape of my life. I will turn 51 this year, and 51 year-old E.J. (that’s me) could definitely kick 24 year-old E.J.’s butt, both figuratively and literally!

My glory days are right now. I am happier now than I’ve ever been. I have an amazing wife who loves me, two great kids I adore, and a network of family and friends who make my life worth living. I am serving our community, our state, and our nation in the National Guard, and I am surrounded by motivating soldiers who keep me on my toes. To think that my life would be the postscript to any glory days in high school or the Marine Corps is laughable to me. They were, if anything, the prologue to an exciting, love-filled, and adventurous life. It may not have been the easiest road, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Sherry and I at the Marine Corps Birthday Ball in 2017. This was a candid photo taken by friends.

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