The Dark Secret of Fitness (shhhh)

I write a lot about momentum, sometimes more and sometimes less explicitly. Momentum is something I take for granted a lot of the time, even though there are those times I set down my flag and say, “Yes! Nothing is more important!” And that’s largely true. At the same time, nothing is more difficult to maintain unless you plan on maintaining it. (A failure to plan…)

This musing about momentum arises from me having not written anything here in several weeks. I lost my momentum – through both external stresses as well as just my failure to plan ahead – and so this fell off my radar. It shouldn’t have and I’m returning to it to attempt to rebuild that.

So, a little story about momentum:

I have some good news and bad news here along with my little story. First the bad news: the dark secret lying at the heart of health and fitness. There is no resting on your laurels. Ever. There is no point where you look at yourself and say, “OMG Finally that’s over. I can stop now.” There’s no stopping. There’s no finish line. There’s no top to this mountain.

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January Q&A

This is the first in a series of Q&A spots I want to start doing for the project. Over the course of December I had several people ask me questions that I answered individually but I thought might benefit readers at large. And since I suspect I’ll continue to get questions, I may as well use it to fuel my writing. So here it is: your questions and my responses!

Q: I’ve given up on trainers because they never seem to help me. What should I do to get motivated?

A: Well first, if you haven’t read my post about finding a good trainer, that’s a good place to start. But apart from that, find someone who will go to the gym with you: someone reliable who you know can hold you accountable for your goals. Self-motivating can be hard at times, and it isn’t strictly necessary. There’s nothing to say you can’t lean on a friend here and there!

Q: What should I do if I’m just starting out losing weight: cardio or weights?

A: That shouldn’t be an either/or question! This isn’t a game where you have to just focus on one thing, because your body will benefit from both. Building muscle will help metabolize fat, and cardio will burn energy directly. There is a tendency to believe that you have to focus extra hard on cardio, but believe me: when you lose all that weight you’re going to wish you’d put on some muscular shape in the process.

Q: What is the first thing I should give up if I want to lose weight?

A: Sugar. No contest there. Sugar – be it table sugar or high fructose corn syrup or any other very simple carbohydrate – is the #1 contributor to weight gain. If you have simple sugars in your diet you will see a dramatic improvement by eliminating them.

Q: I need to lose 20 lbs this month. How do I do that?

A: By getting an eating disorder. Unless you are seriously obese – like contestants on The Biggest Loser – a 20 lb drop in a month is alarming. The only reason those people can do it weekly is because 20 lbs is such a small percentage of their mass. They may lose half of that just in water weight the first week. We all have to set realistic goals for ourselves and 20 lbs is probably a 8-10 week goal.

Q: Are you going to follow up on [suchandsuch post]?

A: Definitely! I have a backlog of stories and posts that I’m working on now, and anything that was left hanging will be wrapped up soon. Several of them, like “Poisonous Positive Reenforcement” are just the first step in a series of related posts. So stay tuned!

And if anyone has more questions, I’m delighted to answer any of them. Just drop me a line, either in the comments or through the Contact FFB link in the menu bar. I hope to hear from y’all!

Picky Eating as a Kid

A short story here that occurred to me while I was writing my previous post about Family Dinner. It’s sort of funny the things you remember about your childhood once you sit down and start writing about it.

One thing closer friends know about me is that tastes don’t really bother me all that much. I can handle almost any taste and will try anything new. But it’s textures that really put me off of something. I’ll try tripe or entrails or tentacles or organs… but try to feed me a honeydew and we’ll hit a wall. Just something about texture is really disgusting to me. Or grits. Or okra. Or a raw carrot… vile. I’ll eat a cooked carrot all day, and carrot cake all week, but force me to choke down a raw carrot and it’ll be a rough day for both of us.

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On Process

The thing you may learn about me throughout this project is that I’m still a work in progress. And I think that’s a pretty big thing to remember about us all. If you’re at the beginning of your journey, you may – like I did – imagine that there is an end point. There will be a day where I am completely happy and I can rest on my laurels. I mean, look at The Rock or former fat guy Evan Centopani: they’re jacked! They’ve reached the top! Well… yes and no.

I mean this is the most positive way possible when I say it: you’re never done. There is no finish line.

Now if I heard that when I was a fat boy I would have completely despaired… because I would assume that it means I’ll never reach my goal (because for most of my life I felt like I could never reach that). But the truth is that the process never ends because you never stop improving. There is no finish line because it isn’t a race and there are always higher goals to aim for. You’re never done because fitness isn’t a state, it’s a life lived. And anyone with any appreciable level of fitness will say this to you: fitness isn’t an achievement in itself, it is evidence of momentum. Constantly moving forward, constantly improving yourself, and constantly finding ways to challenge and better yourself.

Acquiring this kind of perspective is part of what going through Step 2 in my last post is about: setting short term goals that you can achieve. Because once you get in that habit, after a while you begin to do it automatically. You become the person that is always achieving. You become that guy who seems to effortlessly move forward, get stronger, get fitter. You may or may not be there right now, but I remember a time in my life where I envied the fit because they seemed like they didn’t even work to do what they did: they seemed just to embody a life I didn’t think I could live. This change, this shaping of our own perspective, is the first step towards embodying that life.

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As an aside, this post grew somewhat wildly out of my sense that I am always in the process of learning about myself… and I should have known that if I went on vacation without some writing implement (besides my iPhone) that I wouldn’t get much writing done. But I’m back and I won’t make the same mistake twice!

It’s begun!

I’ve started. That’s what this is. The first step of many in what is hopefully a long and incredibly fulfilling project: Former Fat Boy. The road ahead on this project isn’t quite as daunting as the road to a healthy body was when I was a 320 lb teenager, but still… it’s hard not to have similar feelings! What am I supposed to do? What can I achieve? What will my life look like much further down this road? Can I get all I want out of this? And do I really know what I want out of it?

We’ll see. For now, I know a few of the answers and the others will present themselves in time. The main thing to do is to take courage and press on! I am building something here – just like I was building something with my weight loss. And while I can’t know what that looks like at the end of the road, I do know that I will have built something along the way. Something amazing.

Let’s go!

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