I had always been a skinny little kid, the sort that might blow away in a harsh breeze. The word ‘lanky’ would have made a good description for my teenage self. But when I started college, everything changed.
American universities use an expression known as the ‘Freshman 15’ to describe weight gain that happens during the first year of college, set at 15 pounds (for no real reason). I may have gone for the Freshman 20. Away from home for the first time, I had complete freedom with my schedule and my meals. Turns out, too much freedom leads to a full plate. One of my favorite snacks during my freshman year, the thought of which makes my heart break into a cold sweat now, was mozzarella sticks dipped in nacho cheese sauce. That’s right. Fried cheese. Dipped in melted cheese. I couldn’t get enough of it.
Needless to say, all that cheese decided to hang around and settle on various parts of my body. My friends remarked on my more filled out frame, but I didn’t believe them. I was still the scrawny young man I’d always been. My pants had just shrunk in the laundry or something. It took a few months for me to come to terms with the fact that I was overweight. Attempts were made at a healthier diet. I even started jogging…in the fall. Once the temperature dropped, so did my jogging routine.
As I got closer to graduation, I decided that enough was enough. I needed some sort of fitness routine, one that I could stick with. My brother suggested taking up karate, as he’d done a few times in the past. I’d always brushed it off. Karate? Kicking and punching and fighting people? No thanks. But it could be the key to helping me drop a few pounds. I only had one semester of college to go, and I still had a health and fitness course pending as part of my graduations requirements. My brother urged me to choose a karate class for that. Maybe I’d like it. If nothing else, it’d get rid of that pesky course requirement. It was win-win either way.
So, on a chilly January morning at the start of my final semester, I found myself in one of the gymnasiums on campus, about to embark on a life-changing journey. Nerd that I am, I was in a buttoned down shirt and jeans. Perfect workout wear. I was ready to rock.