Survival of the fittest.


I’ve been exercising since sometime late this Summer. Before that, I hadn’t intentionally done any exercise at all since… shit, like 1999 or something (aside from a couple brief seasons playing in the Art Fag Basketball League). Back then I had a gym membership and spent several days a week training at a Kung Fu Academy. But that was a long, long time ago. And the years since then have been filled with a whole bunch of pizza, chicken cheesesteaks, and sitting on my ass. And while I’ve certainly never been some morbidly obese person, I had certainly fallen out of shape in a big way. That’s what happens when you get older, right?

Well, no. That sucks, and I don’t want to be fat. Being fat looks bad, feels bad, is unhealthy, and assuming a person doesn’t have a serious handicap/disability, is a symptom of mental weakness. And that’s not me pointing fingers or namecalling, I fall into it too. As humans, we have moments of weakness. But it has to be rectified, or else you lose. Now, people that have known me for a while, or read this blog, have probably heard me drift into one of my “life is pain / life is war” rants. And this falls right into that. Most aspects of my life are in some way connected to my adherence to the Life Is War philosophy; the way I walk, the way I dress (especially the shoes I wear), my straight-edgedness, etc. Hell, my own artist statement claims that “…meaningful successes always require significant effort.” Deeply rooted in all this is my physical fitness. What could be closer to me than the very body that defines my existence here? It would be irresponsible of me to allow myself to walk around this treacherous war-zone in anything less than the best fighting shape I can be in. Especially with my son by my side. Do I desire to be some muscled-up body builder guy? Hell no. That’s not very functional, and I want to be fit for the most utilitarian of reasons… and to look good in my tight pants.

Anyway, when I started over the Summer, I was just going for a run around the neighborhood with a goal of reaching 1 mile without dropping dead. I ran for probably less than half of it and walked the rest, with a time of something like 12 and a half minutes. I did it several more times over the next weeks, gradually decreasing my time almost every time I ran. Later I moved over to the track around the High School to avoid the random suburban terrain and get a consistent measurement of my progress. It was on that track that I had the “This is totally mental!” epiphany. As I started running one day, I told myself that I would do it in 8 minutes, despite never running an 8-minute mile in my entire life, at any age. And I did. Fast forward a bit, and I joined a gym after riding the guest pass with my friend Krystal for a few weeks. I start my days at the gym with a 40-minute (sometimes 60-minute) “run” on the elliptical machine. I do this because my primary goal is to increase my metabolism and burn fat. After my run, I do some weight training, depending on how much gas I have left in the tank after my run. I also drink a horrendous protein shake for breakfast and round out the whole deal with some wacky supplements.

I keep track of my time/mileage, and as of this morning my best is 6.22 miles in 40 minutes. I have no idea how that stacks up against your average person, or your average athlete, and I honestly don’t care. For me, that time is awesome. I know it’s awesome because it’s incredibly difficult, hurts like hell, makes me feel like I want to die… and yet I live through it, and come out stronger mentally and physically than I was before I started. Cool, right?

So, what kind of progress have I made? I can see changes in my body, although nothing drastic. Its probably harder for me to notice that than it would be for someone else looking at me. I notice the biggest difference when it comes to how my clothes fit. I’m back to comfortably wearing smaller shirts and pants that I haven’t been able to wear for quite some time. And while I don’t really care much about weight or have any target weight in mind, I guess it’s a simple way to check progress at this stage since my focus is more on losing fat than gaining muscle mass. The most I ever remember weighing was somewhere around 190 pounds, if not a little more, and according to the very possibly inaccurate Ikea scale in my bathroom, I now weigh between 160-165 pounds. But again, I’m not sure why I even bother since the total weight of my skeleton, organs, fat and muscle combined don’t really tell me much about my health or how I look or feel.

As usual, I’m just kind of looking to document this process. I don’t dare say that it’s a permanent change or some major turning point in my life, as much as I would like it to be. I could get lazy, my life-altering back injury could halt my progress at any moment, or I could get run over or something. I’m going to do my best to keep pushing the limits of my mind and body, and I’ll use some of the jealousy-fueled comments that I’ve already heard from several of my out of shape peers as motivation. Survival of the fittest, motherfuckers.

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