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Phil Moncel 04-03-2006 06:59 AM

Didn't really know where to post this one; 'Community' seemed appropriate...

I have been exercizing all my life and while not a great athlete, I was in decent shape (CFing, running 20K, Olympic distance triathlon, you get the picture).

I was laid off just before Christmas and a period of high stress level ensued. My loosing my job was the last straw in a series of very stressful events in 2005 such as my mom being diagnosed with breast cancer and my brother with epileptic seizures. I have since undergone profound changes and I hardly recognize myself: I started drinking more heavily (beer) and packed on 20lbs, started to be uninterested in working out... The relationship with my wife also got strained as she was getting on my nerves even though she was pretty much behaving as usual. Plus, I have had no patience with the kids lately.

I am 37 (38 in July). Could I be going through an early mid-life crisis? How do you go back to exercizing like before? My motivation is at zero right now.

If anyone as gone through such a time, I'd be interested in hearing your testimony.

Thanks much!

Frank DiMeo 04-03-2006 07:09 AM

My wife and I have both lost parents in the last few years; also we had some serious unexpected career changes.
Cancer, drug abuse, and alcoholism have taken their toll on a few of our family as well.
All these things are really rough, but we pray and go on.
Sometimes it feels like a kick in the stomach when you get really bad news, but hang in there.
Besides, mid-life crisis I think is brought on by our own thoughts and is a "self-inflicted wound".

Joseph Hart 04-03-2006 07:44 AM


I did / am going through the same thing almost to a 'T". I will post and send you an email. I just can't do it right away. Hang in there it sucks but it will get better.


Allen Yeh 04-03-2006 08:02 AM


I know I'm a mere 26 but the last year has not been great due to a variety of factors and I'll list a few things and now I'm back on track.

I was doing pretty good up until the late spring last year with training, I had been experimenting with CF but still doing my regular bodybuilder routine and then a couple of things hit at once, my grandfather died of pancreatic cancer, my then-fiance told me she wasn't sure if she wanted to get married in May like we had planned along with moving to the DC metro area to be together. So after a few weeks I basically told myself ok it's ok not to get married we'll just keep doing the IL to DC thing for now and when my son was born I'd thne maybe move to IL if I could find a decent paying job there.

I saw her in May as we had planned anyway and she told me she did want to get married and she was sorry it was the pregnancy hormones/mood swings. At this point she wanted to get married but not move until after the birth of my son (July). A week later she tells me she doesn't want me to go back to DC without her and wants to move (at this point I had stopped looking for a house/apartment weeks ago) so in the space of 2 days we pack up all her stuff along with my 2 stepsons stuff put it into a truck and move out of her place. We drove from IL to the DC area with and frantically search for a place.

Those first few months were hard with the her and the stepkids trying to adjust to their to new life. Along with remodeling the condo that we got at the last second (it was a bit of a fixer upper). Then the end of the pregnancy, at this point I was lucky to workout once a week. (2-3) months so once a week turned to 0 times per week. I was trying to get to work by 5:30am so I could be home by 2pm and take the stepkids out to do summer stuff while helping my wife with the newborn.

I didn't start training consistently again until September and even then it was 4-5 times a week if I was lucky. Then the holidays and wham back no training in a blink of an eye.

Now in April with things around the house remodeled and the stepkids more adjusted and the baby older I have finally begun training 5-6 times a week consistently for 2 months now. I've found that working out makes me less stressed out from everything else and that in turn makes the stress level of the house go down a bit also.

I read this quote recently and it made a lot of sense to me and I had never thought about it quite like that before.

"Your body can't differentiate between stressors. Stress is like water from hundreds of taps flowing into a bathtub. Financial stress, relationships, health, and training stress are all different taps. When all the other taps are flowing full blast, turn down the training tap a little bit so your tub doesn't overflow." -Alwyn Cosgrove

My suggestion is to get outide or the gym or the track or the pool and get to cranking. It is torturous at first but you may find that it will help decrease how much the stress affects you and that will help things at home with the wife and the kids also.

Best of luck and I hope this helped a bit.

Peter Queen 04-03-2006 09:40 AM

Adapt or Die!
That’s your own quote. You don’t want to die or throw in the towel. If you did you would not be here talking to us. So that’s tells me already that you are a fighter.
• Hang in there (patience)
• Pray for strength and guidance.
• Train when you can as often as possible….this will be a great emotional release valve.
• Create game plans for yourself that are obtainable. Plan them out for over the next few months and few years and work steadily towards achieve them….baby steps one at a time.
• Keep a note book or PDA with you and write down every time a good idea pops in your head that can be applied towards making your life better….it worked for Leonardo De Vinci and other great thinkers. (Well De Vinci probably did not have a PDA but you get the point.):happy:
• My personal suggested readings:
o Unleash the Warrior Within- Richard J. Machowicz
o Unbeatable- Jack Schropp
o Attitude is Everything-change your Attitude & Change your Life- Jeff Keller
o This earlier post which was about another individual who was feeling down and some of the suggestions that were given.

Keep in mind; that if your wife will stick with you, then that will be the best anchor you can ever have. It worked for me and still does. If not then again, there is always the man upstairs.

Good luck and keep us posted.

Bill Ripley 04-03-2006 09:46 AM


If you are the reading type check out one of the "Passages" books by Gail Sheehy.

Also, if you can I would heartily recommned talking to a professional therapist. I am just now coming out of the back side of the same kind of experience and that has made all the difference in the world.

Joseph Hart 04-03-2006 10:24 AM


I am in a similar situation. I resigned from my job in October of 05. My father is in the middle stages of Alzhiemers. I just turned 37. The job had caused tons of stress on me, my family and especially my wife. I felt that she was not supporting me. I was an angry a-hole and short with my kids (2 and 4 years). They were just being kids and I wanted them to be something else. After I quit things were better, but not much. I was still an a-hole and things started to be bad. I was seriously worried that I would be divorced if things did not get better. I felt horrible about the way that I acted towards my kids. I was also worried about depression. We gutted out the Holiday job hunting doldrums. I talked to a doc about depression and that did not seem to be the problem. I only drank occasionally, because I was the one that took care of the kids most of the time. I think if it wasn’t for my children I would have hit the bottle. I also noticed that when I blew up at my wife or kids I would be ashamed and angry with myself afterwards. But, I would vent that shame and anger at them. Bad circle. I have found shame and guilt can make me act very stupidly (anger).
I went to career counselor and we talked. It was very helpful. I was taking the failure of my last job out on my loved ones. I was taking the failure (shame) as completely my own and not seeing that it takes two to tango. It seems obvious, but it wasn’t at the time. Prior to talking with a counselor my wife had talked and talked and talked, but it didn’t help. We were just too angry at each other. It helped a lot to be able to talk to adults other than my wife. I do CF and started the Zone diet. I was going through the motions but not really getting anything from it, at the time. I just couldn’t really keep my mind in it and as you know CF takes some focus.

So after that drama…

I have done A LOT of self investigation, praying, talking to adults and what not. I have found that talking to some one other than your spouse can be helpful (maybe that is why bartenders get an earful), I am also seeing a psychologist (I really want to fix this), the St. Francis prayer helped me (if that is good for you). I TRY to realize when I am ashamed of my actions and not take it out on my loved ones. I think now that I have my head screwed on a little straighter (not all the way, yet) I have improved my relationship with my wife, kids, and the weights. So much so that people have commented on it. That tells you how much of an out of shape jerk I was.

Post on the board. Everyone here is very helpful and supportive. I see you live in Paris so a phone call could be spendy. Email me if you want just chat or ask questions.

Good luck and hang in there.



Kevin Roddy 04-03-2006 12:47 PM

I'm eighteen and I have no way to even fathom what you're going through right now. I can tell you, though, that a huge reason I like to train is to let out anger and pain. It's intensely therapeutic.

I'm praying for ya, bro. Good luck. ;D


paul arestan 04-03-2006 03:49 PM

So is life.
Nothing can be taken for granted, nothing is permanent and everything is always changing.
My younger brother fought a tough battle against cancer for 3 years and I spent terrible days waiting for my mum to call and give me the latest bad news.
During this period of time, I divorced, moved, left my job and started my own business.
Recently my brother's situation degenerated and I had to rush back home (I live in Australia but my family is in France, 10000 miles away)and got there just before he passed away, at the age of 27.
During heartbreaking period of my life, exercise was what kept me sane and I actually exercised harder.
Now, I am back on track and working on different projects but I am not the same person and never will be. My priorities have changed and I realise what is really important: Love, family, close friends and to make the most of what I have now because nothing will last forever.
Hopefully, I am now a better person, wiser, more patient and more loving and I wish all of you who are going through tough times will feel that way.

Phil Moncel 04-04-2006 12:55 AM

Thank you all so much!! I did not expect so many responses; I am overwhelmed by your support and friendship.

I will check out your suggested readings and other suggestions. I will also talk to a doctor/social worker as some of you have done or suggested.

Thanks again!!!

Larry Lindenman 04-04-2006 05:25 AM

Phil, when your in good shape all things become easier. I used crossfit to rehab myself when in similar situations. Hard to think about bad things when storming through WODs. Your not having a mid life crisis...I usually associate that with weak people, guys who want to relive the glory years by using the money they now have to buy the trappings of youth. I'm 43 and people always tell me I look's not because I wear a Rolex, dumped my family for a 20 something, wear low rise jeans with my underwear hanging out, and drive a Porsche (well sometimes my underwear does hang out...but it's an accident) it's because most guys in their 40s - 50s give up on fitness. Live this lifestyle, it cures many ills.

James R. Climer 04-04-2006 12:15 PM


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!

--Rudyard Kipling

This may help in some small way to understand that while your situation is entirely unique,
you are not alone in your struggles to maintain
an even keel in your life. I've been through two
such 'troughs' in my life, and I found some meaning from this poem in both instances.

Adapt and overcome.

James R. Climer 04-04-2006 12:21 PM

Oh, and the booze has NEVER helped me, only hurt.
The last thing you need when you want
a sharp, clear (able to adapt) mind is a mind-altering depressant. Alcohol in moderation enhances celebration, that's about all it's good for.

Barry Cooper 04-04-2006 02:18 PM

You're just undergoing stress. Stress is a form of pain, and is not different from exercise in that it can help you if framed properly. Your body is smart enough to recover from exercise cycles, but what happens with your mind is you change your opinion about things. There is no emotional pain from which you cannot recover, provided you don't lose hope.

Imagine if your body, after Dianne, said: "That's it; it's all over. I'm not even going to try and recover. I'm going to ramp everything down, lower the metabolic rate, and permanently alter my chemistry for the worse."

It doesn't, does it? It says: "I'll be damned if I'll let that happen again without being prepared. I'm going to become stronger and make no apologies about it."

The beauty of suffering is it creates the perception of the need for movement. Absent random bricks hitting us in the forehead, we get stuck in patterns of feeling and behavior that tend to persist without qualitative change, for the duration of our lives. It is difficult or impossible to learn qualitatively new things in that condition.

You have trouble. You also have an opportunity. Me personally, I drink more than I can justify for health reasons, but I can also go places emotionally few people can, and I always come back with diamonds and pearls.

I have found writing poetry to be very therapeutic for me. I would encourage you to take this time to create something new. Build something. Express yourself.

Alex McClung 04-04-2006 05:12 PM

Got the news this morning that my beloved uncle died after a very brief fight with cancer. After spending the afternoon with Mom & Dad I stopped at the gym and did Fran. Made a world of difference. We're pullin' for ya Phil.

Tim Weaver 04-04-2006 10:45 PM


Stress sucks. Life can suck. I won't go into the "what happened to me" litany, but life can suck hard.

I wallowed for a while. Nearly alienated a lot of people who cared for me.

Adapt or die says it best.

Since I started working out regularly, however, all things have changed.

It's when you don't feel like that date with Helen (my favority WOD) that you really have to.

Wishing you the best,

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