The author at age 64

Every time I hear this, I feel like responding with extreme prejudice.

“You’re just lucky to have a body like that.”

“Well, you’re just lucky to have such great genes.”

“Well, you’re just lucky to have a fast metabolism.”


My gene pool set me up to be heavy, and develop 54" hips. Been there.

My gene pool set me up to have to work my ever-loving butt off to drop 80 pounds, and after than, work like a banshee to keep it off decade after decade. The discipline never stops. This year makes thirty years that extra baggage took a long, well-deserved leave of absence. Never coming back. Not on my watch.

My gene pool set me up for a very slow metabolism, which means that if I indulge in bread products and my beloved Krispy Kremes, I can pack the pounds on in a matter of days, not months.

How Does It Feel?

Have you ever had people tell you how lucky you were, after you had worked like a dog to achieve something? As though it somehow landed in your lap without any effort on your part at all? That’s what I’m referring to here. Each one of us who has put our collective noses to life’s grindstone to get something done- be it lose weight, get in shape, earn that promotion, achieve that degree- it took real work and effort. Luck is a perfect combination of very hard work and timing. So when someone accuses you of being “lucky,” it can be a little insulting.

This Body isn’t Luck. It’s Very Hard Work

It is an insult to the 45 years I’ve spent at the gym, the countless hours of dedicated training, the untold miles I run, the tens of thousands of steps I jog, all the sports I do from kayaking to paragliding to cycling to hiking to well, you name it. Shy of skiing, which I don’t much like, I’m out there. That’s what it takes. That’s not lucky. That’s kick-ass work. If I want to be healthy as I age, I have to work doubly hard. So do most folks. Aging is very, very hard work, and there’s no turning back.

The insulting assumption that my 36–25–35 body, at the ripe old age of 65, is pure luck is enough to make me want to scream. I have guns because I blast them. I have a great rear end because I’m willing to whittle it down via hours upon hours of hard work. I have a tiny waist because I don’t eat crap food. That’s lucky?

All due respect, but screw lucky.

I’ve been obese. I’ve battled four decades of eating disorders, suffered some very badass injuries. I have gotten up and walked away from a fractured pelvis and a broken back. That’s not luck. That’s up to three hours of hard physical work six days a week.

The author at 60, training for Kilimanjaro

The Lazy Person’s Excuse

The interesting thing is that there are a great many very sick thin people in this country. Folks- like my big brother, for one- whose metabolisms allow them to eat all the bacon grease they want and never gain an ounce. Many of them do just that, to the damnation of their hearts, lungs, arteries and far more. The assumption that a fast metabolism can let you gorm any kind of garbage is a recipe for disaster. We all need to respect our bodies with a decent diet, adequate exercise and a healthy attitude. It’s all about finding a balance and what works for your unique body. That also takes work. It’s a lifetime journey to learn what your body prefers, in what amounts, and what kinds of exercise you like and will do consistently. None of that is particularly easy.

What’s annoying is that people who clearly aren’t committed or care to put the time in accuse me, and others like me, of being lucky. Pardon my stating the obvious, but that’s just lazy.

Luck didn’t give me the determination to do what was necessary to work off some eighty pounds. I had to go digging for that determination. Luck didn’t land me with a severe, multi-decade eating disorder. Getting raped did. It took years to solve that problem, with all the side effects and issues that came with it.

Someone told me once that she “wished she could be anorexic just for a few months” so that she could lose a few pounds. That’s a breathtakingly ignorant statement. The assumption that you can just turn on and turn off a vicious illness that kills far too many of us every single year just makes me want to spit in her face. Lady, up to 20% of us DIE from these diseases. That sound like fun to you? That sound lucky?

Kiss my tight tiny muscular 65-year-old ass.

The author in Africa, getting ready to raft the Class V rapids on the Nile at 63

Yes I AM Annoyed

If I sound annoyed, you’d be right. Because for every single one of us who has put in the time and dime to get to a certain level of fitness, especially at this age, there are hundreds if not thousands who accuse us of being lucky. For every pound we have lost, we had to delve deeply into our reserves, find the latent muscle that needed to be developed in order to acquire determination, discipline, and dedication. We built that muscle over time. We fell down. Lapsed. Gave up. Ate an entire cake and washed it down with a gallon of ice cream and then went back for an entire bag of Chips Ahoy. Went after it again. Over and over. It is a never-ending battle. Til the day we die.

That’s not luck. Not by any measure. I am deeply moved by those obese people who pound out the stairs right next to me at Red Rocks. I admire the hell out of obese people who ride bikes, suffer vicious attacks on line, yet sweat it out every day. I have been there. They are me and I am them. It takes real character to get out in public and be photographed, laughed at and ridiculed by low brow professional assholes who have no clue about character.

The author in Australia at more than 200 pounds

One time I was with my mother on a ferry, crossing from North to South Island in New Zealand. I was very heavy at the time. My mother poked me in the ribs and pointed to several male Japanese tourists who were photographing my double-wide ass, pointing and laughing uproariously.

Kindly, tell me I don’t know what it’s like. Please. Tell me how lucky I was right then. I feel in my deepest heart of hearts the greatest empathy for anyone who has ever been sliced apart on social media. Screw you, is my answer. These people have character. They are at least doing their best.

Then when we get to a high level of fitness, people accuse us of being lucky. As though the Magical Fitness Fairy showed up one night and turned us into athletes without any effort on our parts. My arms bulge because I am willing to do sixty men’s pushups Every. Single. Day. For starters. Now that I’m recovering from rotator cuff surgery I am doing fifteen one-armed pushups on my non-dominant arm. That’s not luck. I have to earn every single rep like anyone else.

Do the Work, Get the Trophy

My 49-year-old BF was a Jersey redhead who grew up with an abusive father. He regularly got harassed by black-haired Italians. That all stopped when he started lifting. He not only lifted, but he won major bodybuilding championships in his early twenties- no steroids, all natural. He told me once that he beat out much bigger men with far larger muscles simply because he’d put in the work and dedication to get a superb routine down. The other men simply assumed that all they had to do was go out and show off their pecs. Peculiarly, the BF walked off with the trophies because he was willing to do the real work. That’s not luck. He still has that work ethic. Today at six feet and 205 lbs of solid muscle, he’s a pleasure to look at in every way. Not lucky. Hard damned work- including all the days he just doesn’t feel like it.

Photo by Edgar Chaparro on Unsplash

There are people who are graced with good genes. What you do with them is not luck. Those genes only take you so far. Far more important is your commitment to doing what it takes to get the most from what you’re given. The world is littered with people who abused their genetic gifts and who now are overweight, have severe health problems and frankly, look like shit. Just look at how many NFL players, who beat the odds and made it to the show with their enormous athletic gifts, are now an absolute mess. Want proof? Just witness what has happened with Bears great William Perry, who at 55 is in horrendous health, grossly obese, and drinking himself to death. Lucky? Right. He had everything and squandered all of it, like so many NFL players do. They are hardly alone.

Lucky? No. Not in that regard, at least. I’m lucky that I have had people around me to push me to do my best. I’m lucky that I had enough health issues and body problems that those very things pushed me to do something serious and permanent about it. I’m lucky that I put myself into situations where, if I didn’t do something, I’d have been dead years ago. I’m lucky that somewhere along the way, I found a well that exists in all of us. I dipped my ladle into that, drank deeply, and found what I needed.

Even then, that’s not truly luck. We’re all born with that well if you’re willing to go searching for it. It’s called potential.

Photo by morgan sarkissian on Unsplash

What I have is earned through blood, sweat, tears, loss and determination. Don’t you dare insult all that by telling me- and all the others just like me- how easy it must be since we’re all so lucky. I’ll show you luck. How about you lace up your runners and join me at 5 am for my early morning three miles? My 45 minutes of kickboxing? The 40 minutes of yoga? The hour of hard core bodybuilding? Running 2400 stairs out at Red Rocks at 6200'?

Please. TRY to keep up.

When we’re done with my workout day, I’ll be happy to entertain precisely what you now think about luck.

Over a big green salad, a bottle of water, and fruit dessert. If you’re lucky you can have some of my pineapple pieces.

You want to get lucky? Then make different choices. Change your habits. Say no to the donut and yes to the yogurt. Put in the time and the dime to get it done. That’s what luck looks like. If it were easy we’d all be in perfect shape, be high achievers. It isn’t easy. That’s why we work so hard. I’m talking about every fat person, fat but fit person, nearly fat and never fat again person who has the gumption to get up before work and punch out a run and choose the fruit and not the pancakes. It’s hard. But we’d love to have you join us.

Best of luck out there.

The author at 64