32 and going Strong(est)

4 years ago, I took a photo.

In this photo, I’m wearing a black tank top with bright green lettering. I’m flexing my bicep, and I’m also smiling like I’m positively insane. I look like a tool. Those who saw it likely questioned my sanity. I knew what the reactions would be, but I took it anyways. I had just finished a workout, and I felt strong for 28. My thirties were perilously close, and I figured that this might be the strongest I would ever get. I assumed it was all downhill from there.

I don’t normally take photos like that, and I caught some flack for it at my birthday dinner. After a large meal at a barbecue restaurant, everyone around the table struck a familiar pose, one I recognized right away. I could have pretended to be offended, but I had brought this on myself. Rather than feigning outrage, I was in on the joke. I’ve always been able to laugh at my own ridiculousness, and for that I’m grateful.

After dinner, most people headed home, a little full and a little groggy from eating too much. My stepbrother, who was crazy late, joined me, and we went to a bar around the corner to grab a drink. I’m not sure who else was with me, but it might have been the person I was seeing. Maybe another friend was also in attendance; the memories are hazy.

I enjoyed the second portion of the evening. I was glad that someone was willing to have another drink, even if I was feeling sluggish. I wanted to spend time with the people who had made New York so special, when it could be lonely and isolating. I knew I didn’t have much time left there. I knew that a change was coming.


After my workout today, I took some time to reflect.

With my thirty-second birthday less than a week away, I thought about that picture, about how it was taken a presidential term ago. I thought about why I might want to take a photo like that, with that massive grin on my face, when so many things were not going well. Physically, I was strong, but I was also whistling past the graveyard. The summer after graduation had passed, and I was still unemployed. Aside from one informational interview, there were no prospects, and seemingly no hope.

With school now finished, I had an overabundance of free time, which I’ve always had trouble filling. My anxiety was running wild, and there was a period of about a month where I only got a few hours of sleep each night. Each day, I woke up feeling burnt out and raw. My mind was fried, and just wasn’t sure how to fight back, or how to get myself feeling normal again. I also was in a relationship that wasn’t working, that was about to end, and I knew that I had to end it, but I was terrified of the aftermath. I played out numerous scenarios in my head, trying to get to a place where I could feel a little bit better about the damage I was about to do.

It was not the best time in my life. It also wasn’t the worst, but I was struggling. Maybe I took that picture because maintaining my physique was the one thing I had accomplished that summer. Even so, I knew I wasn’t at full strength. I could have used a lot more sleep and a lot less going out. I could have used a healthier lifestyle and more balance, but I just couldn’t get past the limitations that existed in my mind. There was so much clutter. We are not always kind to ourselves, and I have never been easy on the person that I live with each and every day.


You’re not supposed to get stronger as you get older.

I sit here and write this knowing that four years after the fact, I’m feeling much better about everything in my life. However, that feeling has nothing to do with physical strength.

The sweet irony is that I’m the strongest I’ve ever been, and it matters the least to me that it ever has. What does matter is that I’m establishing a good path for myself, that I’ve found peace, that I’m building a life, a life that could be amazing if it’s realized. It could be so great, but I also know that I am happy where I am. I’m happy to wake up each day and get after it.

Fitness was one of the first things that I fell in love with. I became a student of it, and it taught me things like discipline, the value of doing something you love, and how to live with failure. I’ve learned to adjust and adapt. I’ve also learned the value of setting your sights higher, and I’ve gained confidence in my body and myself. These are lessons that completely transcend fitness, but so many of them were learned when I was either running outdoors, or training indoors.

The last four years have been physically transformative, but the most important change has been the realization that even if I stopped working out, even if I lost everything, I would still be something of value, that I could still love myself, that I was not worthless. I felt like I was falling apart when I was 28, like I had no clue what I was doing, and that things were about to go south in a hurry. I no longer feel that way. The breakup happened, I admitted failure and moved home, but the feeling of defeat didn’t linger. I knew it was time for a different approach, that I needed to take the lessons I’d learned and to leave everything else.

32 is about finding a new way to live, a new headspace, a healthier mindset. I love to train, but my mental wellbeing no longer depends on it. 32 is about doing all things out of love, and hoping to spread that love to as many people as possible. It’s about knowing that my life is much better than it was four years ago, that I really do feel healthier, and that I am showing no signs of slowing down. I’m only getting stronger, and I look forward to the years to come. Thanks for reading.


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6 thoughts on “32 and going Strong(est)

  1. Adam, I’ve fallen behind in commenting on your posts. I did read your two previous pieces and felt/acknowledge your omnipresent authenticity. You more often seem to find ways in which to overcome that which challenges you. Kudos!

    This post, however, has an even greater air of confidence and continued growth. So much, it sounds, has come in your most recent years. I’m smiling that you thought it was going to be a downward slope at 28. And now, at nearly 32 young years, you’re seeing that it is truly – new beginnings. 😊

    I’ve shared this before but I love your insights and increasing self-awareness. May mindfulness and significance be yours, in abundance.


    1. I very much appreciate the sentiment. After 30+ years, I’m finding some solutions that really work for me, and that are helping me to grow in the process. Some perspective goes a long way.

      Much of it stemmed from the decision not to be in pain for the rest of my life, but to find a way to be happy, or maybe just be at peace. Trial and error continues to be a large part of my approach. I think that at 28, I really felt like if life didn’t start to get better, I was in some real trouble. Life was so uncertain, and I couldn’t see a road ahead, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t exist.

      I always welcome your genuine feedback and wisdom. Thank you for taking the time to read my posts, and keep sharing yours. It’s always appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hear and seriously applaud you. To your (four years ago) remark about the road ahead, whose to say we need to see it or know where it might take us? If you want journey clarity, that’s fine. Then again, I believe there’s something to be said for what the unknown and some uncertainty can yield… provided we’re open to a bit of discomfort. I sense you can handle that. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

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