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I was driving home from the gym a couple days ago. The sky was a funny colour of grey and white and black. The clouds didn’t so much blend into one another as they sharply contrasted and layered upon one another.

It gave the impression of looking at an old Tom Thomson painting and it reminded me of a morning long ago when Pad and I were driving to a hockey practice as dawn broke.

Clouds hung over the far side of Lake Ontario and reached down to the horizon. Pad was in the back seat and said, “Hey dad. I’ve never noticed those mountains before.”

I looked again and he was right. The clouds looked every bit like a distant mountain range — dark and ominous and inviting all at the same time. I’m pretty sure I didn’t take that moment to inflict a geographic lesson on him — it was just too pure a moment of wonder. By the time we emerged from the rink the mountains were gone. But I never forgot the sky that day or my kid’s take on it. Patrick’s mountains return every now and then, usually in the morning. I always smile at the memory.

He got it right, even if there are no mountains outside Rochester or Syracuse or Utica. I’ll always know they’re there. My kid showed them to me and every now and then I’m lucky enough to see them again, if only for a few moments.

We put Pad on a plane back to Halifax on Monday morning. I could piss and moan about hockey being a relentless task master but after eight or nine days home, he was ready to go back. We were not quite ready to see him leave. But he loves his life the way it is.

I asked him Sunday afternoon how he felt about leaving and he gave a politically correct answer. He’d have loved to stay for a few more days but he was looking forward to skating with the team and seeing the guys.

Life goes on and not just in our house. One of Coach Dave’s boys is heading back to Western. And at ATC, every day this week young athletes are saying goodbye to Richard as they head back to Laurier or Queens or wherever their lives’ next chapters await. They smile and wave and say, we’ll see you in the spring!.

I don’t do goodbyes very well. I’m definitely a more “hello” kind of guy.

Our Christmas break was really excellent. It usually is but this year it had a little extra snap — for me anyway. I can’t define why. Maybe it’s just the comfort of having the boys home, maybe it’s being able to relax and enjoy all the effort Laura put into the house over the holidays. Maybe it was the food she prepared, which was aimed at the kids but there’s no denying I caught some friendly fire. I ate too much; I regret nothing.

Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas dinner were highlighted by the boys’ regaling us with Tales From Away, scary but entertaining stories not shared via text or Snap Chat in the previous months. Some things are better left unsaid when it comes to parenting, at least for a little while.

A personal highlight was my  Dec 24th attempt to recite The Night Before Christmas from memory. It’s harder than you think. Laura prompted me at some of the tough spots and gave my effort a seven out of 10. The boys are looking for a perfect score next year.

I managed to sneak in a workout every day over Christmas. Even Christmas Day. There comes a point in the day where everyone goes to a corner of the house to nap or read or whatever. I used that hour to keep my routine going.

I thought I was doing okay until ATC reopened and we resumed the adult training programs and I realized those are still far more rigourous than anything I attempt on my own. But, I did something, which is better than nothing.

Now almost 10 months into my “new” commitment to fitness, I don’t need to make elaborate health resolutions for Jan 1. I’ve already made — or started making — changes.

All of that is — barring an injury or some other unforeseen event — part of my lifestyle now. After this weekend I do intend to double down on correcting the lapses in my diet over the last couple weeks (yes, I love chocolate. Sue me.)

But I have a number in mind for my weight — which is quite a modest improvement on where I got in 2015. I want to reduce my visceral fat (that’s the internal fat around your organs) and I want to reduce my body fat percentage and increase the percentage of muscle I carry.

If you told me a year ago that those sorts of things would be a higher priority for me than just losing a lot of weight, I would never have believed it. But the major part of the weight loss is done.

At my age I’m never going to be the strongest or fastest but I can still show up every day and try to meet my own goals and expectations. And that’s fine with me.

And it bears repeating that personally, a massive part of the motivation comes from the people I work out with. It’s group training; you meet a lot of people and you suffer and succeed together. It is so much better than wandering around a gym by yourself.

There’s a great introductory special on at the Athlete Training Centre right now. 60 per cent off for the first month of unlimited sessions. If I can do this, anyone can. Click here to learn more.