Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The making of an action hero pt4

Entry #3 I’ve always been a big guy. When I was younger it was due to over-developed muscles. Now I still have a lot of the strength plus a bit of extra padding. Weightlifting, strength training, whatever you want to call it was fun when I had inordinate amounts of free time. There are as many power building philosophies as there are diet plans—with just as many proponents. In the beginning I lumped them all together. They were designed to make you stronger. Some specialized in competitive events, some focused on overall power, but back then they all fell into the same category more or less. Now I know better. Each plan has a different purpose, a different style, a different target user, and different risks. People talk about the gym the same way they talk about the bar or the club. Sure, you go there to exercise. But it’s also a place to show off, to meet, and exchange phone numbers. It has become an iconic social networking location for the best and beautiful. I don’t want that. For one thing, just walking in the door would lower my self-esteem by a healthy margin. Stumbling through exercises I used to do as a warm up—much less using the showers with everyone watching would do more damage than good. The idea here is to make me feel better about myself, to improve, to build the mental and physical tools to live a better life. Guilt and self loathing do not figure into that plan. There’s also the question of time. Currently I get up at 5:30 in the morning so I can make it to work by 8am. I’m home by 5ish. I need to eat dinner, take care of various tasks, and get to bed at a decent hour. An hour long session at the gym plus an hour of travel time would mean that I wasn’t getting home till 7 at the earliest. It isn’t that I can’t do it. It isn’t that I can’t afford the time. It comes down to choosing between living my life and going to the gym. Four days a week would mean that I’d have to cut out time with the brunette, friends, family, and very necessary personal down time. I’ve tried similar strategies before—short term sacrifices for supposed future gain and they have always failed. Another factor is that I don’t want to build bulk per say. I was surrounded by football players, wrestlers, and other flavors of athlete in college. While their regimens were aimed at improving their performance, their individual focus in the weight room was all about “how much?” The goal for them was to move the most amount of weight possible. I fell into the same competitive mindset. I wanted to put bigger and bigger numbers up. Now I’m paying for those years of steel bars bending over my shoulders. My back and knees, while not permanently damaged, won’t ever have the youthful flexibility and resilience I took for granted back then. The lesson I took from those years is that there’s a difference between power and strength. Power is the ability to move really big weights. Strength is the ability to employ great power in the real world—functional muscle if you will. I want strength not power. At some point I’d like to get back into free weights, but for now it’s a lesser priority. I really would rather start with something simple I can do at home that works on usable fitness, not bulk muscle. So I came up with a list of requirements I need for an effective workout. Keep in mind that these are based on what will work for me mentally and physically. Others will likely have different needs. • I need to be able to complete the course of training in 30-60 minutes. • The exercises must focus on a standing position. • The program and equipment must be something I can handle in my living room without complex machines. • The program should focus on practical strength and movement. • The plan needs a twist, something that will keep me going at 5am. Enter the steel mace workout. I first heard of it while reading an article on the art of manliness at: It fits all my requirements. In particular, I can do it without having to crunch over (a difficult task with my gut as big as it is right now.) Supposedly you can do the same workout with a sledgehammer. I have a ten pound sledge so may try out the basics first before going all in on a mace. Today I had some wins and some losses. I ate well through the afternoon, got to the store and exercised restraint, got home and made some pasta salad. I also opened up a box of crackers by accident (thought it was a box of pasta) and snaked a few more handfuls than I should have.) The scale came in today so tomorrow we start the morning confessional. If today has taught me anything it is that victory will only come with conviction. I’ll write up something about motivations later but it’s time to get some sleep. Intake for today: Breakfast=a small bowl of fiber1 with raspberries, a glass of cranberry juice, and a banana. Work meal=a ham and Swiss wrap, a container of Greek yogurt, an apple, and some unsalted almonds spread over 8 hours. Dinner=a moderate bowl of pasta salad (mostly veggies), a glass of water, and snacking on crackers and the leavings from making turkey and cheese sandwiches for the brunette. I need to drink more liquids before and after meals to curb the need to snack.

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