Fifty to 30


Fear the beard.

As far as I’m concerned, turning 30 simply means entering another year in which I can challenge myself, and grow to be someone better than I was at 29.

– Coach Jethro

I learned [that] before the hot flame came the spark.

– Rakaa Iriscience (Dilated Peoples)

Some months ago, I went to Pan Am Boxing for the lunch hour class. At one point, the trainer had us all do a front plank. A bald, heavily tattooed, muscular, middle aged man whom I had never spoken with before – and who I have never spoken with since – was to my left, also in a plank position.

I’m not sure how long the trainer was having us hold the plank for, but just as I was about to drop to my knees in the middle of it, Bald Tattooed Muscular Dude looked over at me and said, “Philippians 4:13.”

This is a Bible verse I had written out in my journal at some point before that day, but for some reason, at that moment, I couldn’t recall the passage.

“I’m blanking on what that verse is,” I told him.

“‘I can do all things through him who strengthens me,’” he replied.

I’m not sure why Bald Tattooed Muscular Dude spoke to me at that moment, but it was some encouragement right when I needed it. I held the plank until the trainer told us to stop.

*   *   *

Fifty days from today I turn 30. I want to use the next 50 days to challenge myself when it comes to all aspects of my health–physical, mental, spiritual and emotional. This is inspired in part by Jethro, one of the coaches at the place where I train, who recently undertook what he called his “30 in 30 Challenge.” (You can read about it here.)

Jethro put a concerted effort into challenging himself in the 30 days leading up to his 30th birthday. His goal was to present himself with a new challenge every day and build some new habits to positively propel himself into the coming year.

I’m not going to take on 50 challenges in the next 50 days, but I do want to discipline myself and try some new things. I’ll describe what that looks like in the coming days and weeks.

Today, my goals were to meditate for 10 minutes, do my daily Bible reading, eat clean, get in my workout and challenge any negative thinking that made its way into my head during the day. I got all of that done.

As I walked through my building to my apartment after my workout earlier this evening, I thought about how difficult the next 50 days might be, depending on what I choose to take on. I haven’t been super disciplined over the last few months, so the idea of dialling things in seems daunting.

As I got to my apartment door, I could hear my neighbours playing the song “This Way” by L.A. hip hop group Dilated Peoples on their stereo.

Released in 2004 and produced by Kanye West (who also raps on the track), “This Way” is one of my favourite songs. I listened to it often during my first year of going to the gym. It has a catchy hook and a positive message about making changes in your life.

The video depicts different people being freed from some of the things that have burdened them. Although the imagery is heavy-handed at times–by the time you see the “Burden Blvd.” sign, the video has definitely made its point and you kinda feel like you’re being hit over the head with the message–it’s pretty great.

The next 50 days may be challenging, but I’m up for it. “This time, I made up my mind / This time, I’m back on my grind,” as the song says.

Just like the time Bald Tattooed Muscular Dude spoke to me, it seems I got some encouragement today right when I needed it.

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