I was a fat kid for a very long time. Trying to think back to it now is like looking through the soaped-glass storefront of an out-of-business bookstore; cloudy. I don't recall why I was indolent, or physically inactive, or averse to sweat. I hated physical education class in elementary and highschool. I sucked at sports. I played right field on a little league baseball team and never hit, spent a lot of that time languishing on the bench. The coaches made the right decision.
It wasn't until a couple of years of being strung out on drugs that I managed to attain a healthy weight. Ironic, yeah? The body was in great shape while I relentlessly drilled holes in my brain until it had the consistency of Swiss cheese. In all those years of slinging and consuming dope I never suffered physically. I managed to get laid, something that the taped-glasses, pot-bellied nerd who stammered and sweated any time he was around a member of the opposite sex could never have imagined in his wildest dreams. The problem was that the lifestyle was killing me.
When I got cleaned up I got fat again. Not grossly obese, but pretty bad. Roly poly. You couldn't call what I had hanging off of my bones husky, even though that had been the endearing term that dad had used for it, both on the pre-adolescent me and the then young-adult version. It was fat. It was the manifestation of overeating and underexercising. So I decided I wanted a gym membership, and I wanted to get in shape.
The idea of being healthy had been something I'd been clinging to for a long time, prior to ever getting clean from the drugs. I'd gotten Arnold Schwarzeneggar's "Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding" and devoured it, trying out some of the basic exercises in the twilight of my days as a drug addict. I'd started running. That had all been more of a self-preservation effort than an actual attempt to get strong, some subliminal messaging from the soul that I'd better start taking care of myself before it was too late. But Arnie's book and those short, sweaty lengths on Dallas Road laid the foundation of what was to come, once I'd finally gotten organized.