Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The making of an action hero--Something different edition.

A year ago I started seriously training for the next alien invasion, dinosaur reanimation, or Ninja world domination plan. I began eating better, exercising, and generally trying to get more active. A couple weeks ago I severely sprained my ankle. Dealing with this has caused me to review my priorities.

Fitness is less of a race to a goal and more of a life-long adventure. It’s easy to get focused on eating organic, building muscle, losing weight, increasing energy…etc. It’s satisfying to point to that one aspect of fitness and say “yes, I’m winning” even when laser focus on one priority is causing everything else to suffer by comparison. At the end of 2013, I’d lost 40 pounds, started exercising, and begun eating better. By March 2014, foot problems stopped me exercising…which lead to a drop in motivation…which lead to eating worse…which meant that even when I started exercising again I wasn’t able to gain back all of the lost ground or lose the gained weight. I’ve spent the last six months seeking a balance between frequency, intensity, and diversity of activity. Unfortunately, while seeking that balance I let the diet go. I have a health shake for breakfast most mornings. I order out less than in the past. I often seek healthier options. That said, when we do end up eating fast food, I rarely pick from the healthier choices. Often, when I can and should turn down eating out, I don’t. I’m better off than I was a year and a half ago. But, I’m not as well off as I’d like to be either.

The challenge is that fitness, weight loss, making you into a better version of you, requires hundreds of small decisions every day for hundreds of days. It is an ongoing process subject to the vagaries of life and human weakness. The bigger the deck stacked against you, the easier it is to fold and walk away from the game. To continue the metaphor, the more times you walk away from that table, the less likely you are to return for another hand. I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to make some structural changes to my approach. It’s easy to prevent my ankle from being sprained again—I just have to get my boots refurbished. That addresses the short term issue while ignoring the larger problem of momentum though. I lost a significant measure of drive over the last couple months. My goal shouldn’t be to make up lost ground, it should be to accelerate. I don’t know if I’m saying this very well. I feel I’ve fallen into the trap of dealing with the little problems, exercising a few times a week, and eating somewhat better and calling that victory when in reality there’s no way my current pace will get me to my goals. I’m pretty sure they call that complacency.

Yesterday Squish and I joined a gym. I love exercising. I hate finding the time to do it. I hate bouncing, jiggling, and sweating my fat ass in front of a bunch of young toned millennials. It’s like high school all over again—with the additional potential to run into a coworker or member of senior management. On the other hand, they don’t matter. I’ve been putting this off because I couldn’t justify the expense in time and coin until I could actually do more than 20 minutes of sustained exercise. As of the last two months I’ve been able to maintain 45 minutes of intense cycling on the stationary bike. Squish wants to get back in shape. We have similar goals. The gym has daycare. The price is reasonable. I get a corporate discount through work. The more I looked at it, the more I convinced myself that not jumping on this opportunity was hypocritical—either I was serious about getting in shape or I wasn’t.

We walked in, dropped MX off at childcare, signed the papers, paid our memberships, filled out a survey, and…started working out. It was like coming back to an old friend. I lifted free weights in high school, college, and even a year after college graduation before exercise fell to the bottom of my to-do-list. We wandered around, tested out the equipment, and talked about a routine. I got 15 minutes on an elliptical, 15 on a recumbent bike, 20 minutes of upper body work on the stack machines, and another 15 on the elliptical while Squish tried out the pool. It felt normal—as if I never quit in the first place.

Today I’m sore. I need to get some dedicated workout shorts and shirts. I need something better than a cloth grocery bag to carry my gear. I have to put together a program. I will be revising my diet. If I’m going to spend 2+ days a week at the gym I need to make sure I balance that with private time with the brunette. There’s a lot to be done. I’m scared that I’m making a big gesture that will end up with Squish and I losing interest and squandering money. But, for the first time in a while, I have hope. I’m savoring the novelty. It feels like I might, just maybe, be able to make this thing work.

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