My Fitness Journey – Getting Over the Hump

Kettle bell side to sidesSo to recap, I had a pretty terrible foundation for fitness and then I started to do a Boot Camp style workout four days a week. I started dropping weight and feeling generally better, and people starting noticing a difference in me.

I kept on going to Boot Camp, even after my beautiful and adoring wife chose not to. I was having fun still, and I had made a couple of workout buddies that were helping me to stay motivated. A few months went by, and we had to move indoors as the weather turned to fall.

Then it struck me: aside from martial arts, I had never stuck with any kind of workout regime for more than three months. I stuck with the martial arts because I was pretty angry as a young man and I got to hit things and other people without consequence. But nothing else had stuck. Everything had a shelf life of about three months, give or take. After that, I ran out of willpower, got bored, lost focus because I was starting to look and feel better so I started to tell myself that skipping workouts wouldn’t matter, etc. Then one workout would turn into two, which would turn into three, and down it would go.

BurgersThis is part of what contributed to my yo-yo dieting and exercise. I would gain weight, try the latest workout video, try and develop a training regimen based on what I knew from martial arts, diet a bunch (the more extreme the better – it only counts when you hate your life), and lose a bunch of weight. I routinely lost 30-40 lbs in a summer, I just could not keep it off. And by this point I was so beaten down by the effort that I just assumed that I would gain it all back again this time as well.

I was resigned to my fate, you see, I now saw myself as a fat, unfit, person. When I closed my eyes and pictured myself, that is who I saw, what I pictured, and in all of my dreams of the future that is who I was. I was going to have chronic back pain, be fat, and hate myself and be miserable about it. My only pleasure would be in my intellectual pursuits and the rush that came with eating.

Oh and there is a rush, especially when the food is junk or decadent. As I was wolfing down that hamburger and fries as fast as I could, only pausing for breath, I could forget how shitty I felt about myself for a few minutes. And when something was going crappy in my life, I could snack and feel pleasure for a few fleeting moments. But it was a roller-coaster, even as I was cramming my face with food there was always the feeling of dread that ruined it, the knowledge that I was making the problem worse, and that later I would be enveloped with a crushing guilt. So those of you who have never struggled like this before, think about it; eating is our only pleasure, and even that pleasure is tainted so that we cannot fully enjoy it. Fun, hey?

Medicine Ball Push-upsBut I digress. I started to find that I didn’t want to quit right then. I wanted to keep going. It was bizarre. Why? Well, it was social, for one. I like talking to people. I got to meet up with people and we started to become friendly. I looked forward to seeing them.  They shouted encouragement from time to time, gave me someone to set my times and progress against, compete with, and crack wise with. Most importantly, we could talk about this shared experience together, I wasn’t going through it alone.

It also has a trainer that would keep on top of you, correct your form, push you when you were lagging behind, and tell you what you were going to do that day. This is so important, as the trainer will have you do things that you wouldn’t do yourself, but probably should, and can give you advice as you go along. You build a relationship with your trainer. You start to feel comfortable, and they get to know all of your quirks and issues, and can help you around them. For example, I sprained my ankle early on and if I hadn’t had a trainer, I would have quit. But she helped me to train around it.

I found that having a schedule was important to me, knowing in advance that I would have a class at a certain time allowed me to plan around it, and so I could make arrangements. Also, working out in the evening, after work, was huge. I had done the early morning thing so many times and it is just so easy for me to sleep in. I know all the clichés (it sets up your whole day, makes you feel great for the rest of the day, gets it out of the way so you have your whole day, etc.) but it doesn’t matter if I don’t go. I also find that while not all, a large percentage of people who say that early morning is “the only time I can work out” never do work out.

And variety…oh man, variety. Not knowing what the workout was going to be, not getting sick of it, was so important. I always got bored or just straight up hated the workout regime I was doing. I would get to the point where I would dread starting it because I would know it was something I just had to grind through. Especially those damned workout vids! I would get to the point where if I had to listen to that lame joke that guy on the vid said one more time I was going to become homicidal.

Ring dipsSo long story short, we moved inside and I kept on working. Months started to pass. I still felt great. I liked going, I invited my friends. The winter dragged on, I lost some more weight. At this point I had lost about 45 lbs, down to about 190 from the 235 that I started at.

Something still nagged at me though, I had hit a wall in terms of how much improvement I was getting, and there seemed something a little…..unmanly…a little “not quite rock and roll” about the whole thing. I mean, I didn’t care that much and my life was changing, even if I still did pretty much eat like crap (just less on workout days) and I felt great and looked much better. I thought I would do Boot Camp forever.

Then, with no warning…about a year into Boot Camp, our trainer went out of business. And I had nothing.

Now what was I going to do?

I knew I wanted to keep working out, but I couldn’t afford a personal trainer and I didn’t know if I would like some other Boot Camps based on the horror stories I heard.

So now what?

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