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  • Writer's pictureNate Johnson

Cargo Shorts, Converse, and Stick Shifts

I think it’s time to re-introduce myself.

Of course if you’re reading this it means you know me. You might even know me fairly well.

But turns out I forgot about some of the things that make me tick. The things that get me excited for no other reason than I’m naturally drawn to them.

A lot has happened in my life since I opened Steel in 2015.

The business has grown and matured during that time.

I’ve lived in 5 different apartments/houses.

Shelby and I went from 0 kids to 3 kids with another due this summer. (This is my very late but official pregnancy announcement)

We went from 0 dogs to 2 dogs.

Shelby and I have both dealt with ongoing health issues.

Our social circles have changed.

Change has been a constant since 2015. Of course, change is also just a fact of life.

But we’ve had a lot more change than we anticipated. And a whole lot less consistency than we had hoped for.

If I can be honest, when I turned 28 in April 2021 I was uncharacteristically really down for a few days I have so many good things in my life. Especially my amazing wife, kids, and clients. And I’ve achieved a few things too.

But I hadn’t grown the gym as much as I hoped I would. I no longer had any hobbies. And we weren’t spending much time with friends.

I realized I’d spent the last 7 years just trying to survive. Many of the dreams I had for my business and my life were forgotten along the way. My passion had all but gone away.

I was just Trying. To. Survive.

I’m not angry or upset or resentful about the last 7 years. I have so much to be thankful for. In fact, all in all they've been a wonderful 7 years.

But I’ve decided to make a point to make some time for myself. More specifically, making time to do the things I like simply because I like them. Something I tell clients to do frequently.

About time I followed my own advice huh?

It’s definitely a work in progress but I’ve started to:

  • Prioritize My Health

  • Get More Sleep

  • Make Time to Eat Good Food and Not Rush Meals

  • Schedule All My Workouts

  • Not Worry About Body Composition, Instead Focus on Being Healthy, Strong, and Energetic

  • Not Let the Gym Take All My Energy and Mental Space

  • Spend More Intentional Time With Shelby and the Kids

  • Spend More Time With Friends

  • Do the Things That I Like For No Other Reason Than I Like Them

I want to talk about that last one for a bit:

Doing the Things That I Like For No Other Reason Than I Like Them

Last year, Shelby and I heard someone say it’s important to not lose yourself when you have kids. It’s so easy to pour every bit of your resources into your kids and in the process you stop doing anything for yourself.

Shelby asked me if I felt like I had lost myself in a sense.

It was a great question, and it shows how wonderful of a wife I have. She cares about every part of me. And she wants me to be fulfilled. I love her!

As I thought about it, I found it funny I had never considered it before. As I contemplated her question, I saw 2 major themes over the last 7 years.

First, I gave up a lot of things in order to be a good husband, father, and business owner.

And I was perfectly happy and willing to do so. I love my family and will do everything I can for them.

Second, a not so great thing...I took my passion- the gym- and became way too obsessed with business success.

The sacrifices I made for my family are normal. I think that’s especially true when you have young kids. I’ve seen all my friends do the same. I know my Dad, my Uncle, my Father-In-Law, and my Grandfathers did the same for their families. It’s part of my role as Father and I’m so happy for the privilege of being in that role!

I’m glad I made sacrifices for my family.

But the business obsession…that wasn’t good. I took a good thing and made an idol out of it. And the ironic thing is, the more I obsessed over it, the less it gave me what I wanted.

As I continued thinking about Shelby’s question about losing myself, I realized the answer was yes.


In a sense I had lost myself.

Not completely. But certain parts of myself.

And while I have no regrets about losing myself for my family, she encouraged me to start doing more of the things I like again. Simply because I like them.

And so I did.

We started spending more time with friends.

Then I did some crazy things…

I went out and bought some Cargo Shorts.

Because I like them.

I bought a pair of Converse.

Because I like them.

And at the end of last year, when it was time for me to replace my old car, I got a new one. And most importantly, one with a stiff suspension and a manual transmission. Because that’s how I like my cars.

When you ask me who I am, I would first and foremost tell you:

I love Jesus, I’m Shelby’s husband, I’m a father of 3 with another on the way, I’m a friend, a son, and a gym owner.

These are the most important things that make up my identity. I never lost this.

But if we go more surface level, you’ll find I really love:

Throwing on a great pair of Cargo Shorts, Lacing up my Converse, hopping in my car and enjoying every minute of feeling the tires gripping the road as I hug the corners, my torso pressed against the seat, foot rolling onto the gas pedal. And right before the tac hits the redline, pulling my foot off the gas as I mash the clutch and toss the stick from 2nd to 3rd gear.

Woohoo! Man I missed my stick shift. I honestly forgot how much I missed it.

(I had one before Grey was born in 2015 but it was already on its way out so I got rid of it and got a family car instead. #dadlife)

My little driving scene might sound like something out of the Fast and Furious movies. And while I can assure you I drive responsibly (I’ve matured a lot since I was an absolute idiot behind the wheel 10 years ago), driving a car isn’t just transportation to me. It’s an experience that makes me feel alive.

As far as the cargo shorts and converse go…well, I know cargo shorts aren’t in style and converse aren’t supposed to be worn with shorts but…

What can I say.

I like what I like.

And doing what I like has done 2 interesting things for me:

First, I’m happier. Simply because I enjoy those things!

Second, I’m showing up better in all the other areas of my life. Making some time for myself has let me show up in a more relaxed, creative, and confident way in my marriage, as a father, and at the gym.

I tell you all this because…

First, this has been on my mind for a while so I thought I'd share it with you.

Second, I want to encourage you to make some time for yourself if you aren’t already! What are the things that you love to do? Go do those things and see if other seemingly unrelated areas of your life improve!

Third, I wanted re-introduce myself. I’m still me, but maybe I’m a little bit more myself than I have been the last few years if that makes any sense.

Take good care of yourself and those around you and we’ll talk soon!

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