The importance of sustainability

This is my Achilles Heel.

I’ve gotten psyched up on a new training plan, nutrition plan, or combination of both. I mean… gung ho. Planning my day around it. Increasing everything. Making spreadsheets. Sitting up in bed until 3:00 in the morning thinking about it, googling, revising, planning.

All of the sudden, I’m in deep. Four, five days of firing on all cylinders. Then it hits me.

I’m doing too much. Way too much. It’s a flaw of mine. I go all in when I don’t have to. I burn really fucking hot, really fucking bright, and then I burn out.

The weekend will be here soon, and Fridays I’m stuck in Supply Chain class for eight hours. Well, what to do? I sit in traffic for 45 minutes thinking about how I’m going to run into my house, change, and go back out the door for the gym. Then I start to think “Shit, traffic is really bad… maybe I need to let it clear out before I head to the gym” I sit down on the couch for a little while. “I already ate shitty because of the catered doughnuts and sandwiches for lunch… is today a write-off?” The next thing I know, it’s 8:00 and my gym closes in an hour. “Goddammit. If I even make it there in time, I’ll be rushed, and I won’t be able to BLAH BLAH BLAH EXCUSE EXCUSE”

Saturday is a blur. My girlfriend had a rough week (need I mention again how she manages to pull off a full class load in med school AND work 40 hours a week in a stress-packed environment? Fucking incredible. And she got a 4.0 this semester) and wants to relax on Saturday. Done. We spend some well-needed time with each other. Saturday fades into Sunday, and we’re at her parents’ house eating a bunch of food we shouldn’t be eating. Then, Monday morning rolls around, and the leftovers are beckoning from the refrigerator.

When all is said and done, I managed to blow this week because of burning out after the crash-and-bang mayhem of last week and the justification of bad food this week. It’s Thursday night, and I’ve managed to make it to the gym twice, and eat at least relatively well.

It’s not enough. I know I need to do better.

Tomorrow, I’m in class all day. I have two options after.

Option A: Get my shit together, go to the gym as soon as I get home, then return to my house for a P90X session later in the evening.

Option B: Be a dickhead, procrastinate, get nothing done, and piss myself off.

Saturday, my girlfriend is busy all day. I can:

Option A: Do P90X early, then go to the gym later.

Option B: Be a dickhead, procrastinate, get nothing done, and piss myself off.

The solution is obvious. Also, I mentioned earlier that I’m moving into the YouTube world to supplement my writing here.

Here’s a short edit of my gym commute. Enjoy the (relatively light) traffic.

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Do something.

Note: This is version two of this article, which I had already gotten halfway through and then scrapped, because I didn’t like where it was going.

I realized something on a Sunday in October of 2010. It took me a long time to arrive at this conclusion, but it changed my perspective.

I was alone, riding a trail I had built a few months earlier. It was warm for October, maybe 60 degrees. The sky was bright blue and the leaves were falling. I heard the rush of leaves scattering behind my tires, and marveled at how tacky and fast the trails were riding, due to the light rain the night before.

The message, sent out on social media the night before was one inviting my friends and riding acquaintances out for one of the last few days before the bike park would close for the season. And out of the 50+ people I rode with regularly, only a few even bothered to respond. “Sorry man, Steelers are on.”

I was the only one in the bike park, and conditions were amazing. At first I was pissed off at them, but this feeling passed almost immediately. I lapped the park for hours alone. Each jump, each drop, each near-miss or perfect execution witnessed only by myself.

“My friends are missing this moment so they can watch a bunch of other guys go out onto a field and do something they love.”

I thought back to the beautiful Sundays I had spent sitting in a climate-controlled room, shoveling pizza, chicken wings and beer down my throat while staring and yelling at a screen, and felt a surge of anger rising up at myself.

“What a stupid fucking way to waste this beautiful afternoon.”

And how many had I wasted? Too many to name. Too many Mondays through Fridays wasted sitting at my desk, waiting for the clock to strike 5:00. Saturdays spent sleeping until 2:00 in the afternoon because I was hung over. Sundays flushed down the toilet killing time in front of the TV when I could have done anything.

Go out and do something before you’re too old to remember how to.

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The author in the summer of 2012

Revising the cardio strategy

Call it A.D.D. but I love tweaking and re-shaping my training schedule.

I want efficient.

I want effective.

I want adaptable and flexible.

And I think I’ve managed to come up with an unbeatable system for my goals (lose body fat, retain muscle mass).

But before I get into that, there’s another variable I need to bring to light, a weakness of mine, and something I hoped wouldn’t rear its ugly head, but there’s simply no getting around it.

Exercise Induced Asthma

This video sums it up pretty well:

Long story short, if I am outside when it’s below 55 degrees (pretty much spot-on), and exert myself to the point of heavy breathing, I find myself wheezing, coughing, and I can’t get any oxygen. The simple solution would be to get an albuterol inhaler, but like a lot of people, I am without health insurance, and cannot afford to pay for a doctor visit and prescription out of pocket.

Lucky me.

This basically means that I can’t enjoy things like snowshoeing, fatbiking, or simply going out for a ride if the temperature dips below 55. I have all of the necessary clothing, but it’s not that I get cold, it’s that I can’t fucking breathe. Downhill skiing and snowboarding is about as much as I can do before the wheezing kicks in. I don’t visit our local “resort” very often, so from mid-October until late April, I’m more or less stuck inside.

If that’s the case, so be it. Because I’m back to sipping the P90X Kool-Aid.

And it’s fucking delicious.

The best part about the videos, is that once you have them, you can do what you want with them. There’s no substitute for lifting weights, but cardio is so adaptable. I’m not bothering with the discs for specific body parts, as they’re more or less body-weight strength training. I have the gym for strength training.

I’m using them SOLELY for cardio, stretching, and flexibility. They work incredibly well for these purposes, I should add.

I love going back and looking at what “worked” for me in the past. In 2011, I did about three weeks of P90X before DH season kicked in. I lost a decent amount of fat, even with how poorly I was eating, but more importantly, the Yoga, stretching, and balance techniques of the program made me a MUCH better rider that season. I could comfortably throw moto-whips over 40-foot jumps that year, and I don’t know if I’ve ever felt as comfortable on a bike as I was that season. This time around, that’s just going to be a bonus, as I’m more concerned with the fat-shedding aspect of P90X.

I’m really only using a few of the more cardio-focused discs, but thanks to being able to interpret this program as I please, there’s no reason I have to stick to this.

Enjoy:

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Cardio X, fasted as fuck.

Choices

Common questions I used to ask myself:

Why am I fat?

How did I gain so much weight (100 pounds over 12 years)?

Who is to blame for this, and who can fix me!?

The answers are simple: You are fat because you make easy choices that make you feel good in the short term. You gained so much weight because you had zero will power and gave in. You are to blame for this. No one forced you to eat Big Macs and pizza, to guzzle beer and Mountain Dew, to sit on your ass and watch some dumb fucking TV show or troll the internet. And no one will fix you. Modern society gives us an unbelievable array of choices. I can click on any product I can imagine, and it will be at my doorstep two days later. I can click on any TV show or movie, and it can be on a 46 inch screen with 5.1 surround sound in seconds.

My choices led me to get fat. My choices made me pasty, disgusting, ugly disgrace of a human being. Not some pleasantly plump, “healthy at any size” snowflake, but a living embodiment of all of the terrible things that choices can give us.

Tonight, I have a choice.

I worked for ten hours today. I took a verbal ass-kicking from a customer because I had to. I dealt with idiots. All I ate today was two Quest bars and a bowl of chili. My traps hurt like a motherfucker. I want to rest. I want to sit on the couch, watch The Fifth Element, eat a pizza and breadsticks, have a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, and pass out from the inevitable sugar crash. I have that choice, and making it would require next to no effort. My phone is inches away, and there’s a great pizza place that will deliver it to my front door. I could get in my car, drive to the supermarket five minutes up the road and get the ice cream and maybe even some Wheat Thins and some cheese dip. I mean, I had a hard day, and I deserve to treat myself.

My choice is this.

Even though today is an “off” day for lifting, I’m going outside in the rain, getting in my car and driving to the gym for an hour of intervals on the recumbent bike. Instead of ingesting calories, I’m going to burn them. I am right about the fact that I deserve to treat myself, I’m simply choosing to treat my future self with the rewards of my actions tonight, and on many other nights when I did what most don’t have the discipline or focus to do.

Stop being such a fucking weak-willed pussy, stop succumbing to the easy choice, the choice that most people make, and start making choices like the one I’m making tonight. Stop taking the path of least resistance, making excuses, and being a whiny little bitch. Weeks, months, and years from now, your future self will thank you for it.