You wouldn’t know it from looking at me now, the fleshy man-sack I’ve become, but I was a total gym rat last year.
Stop laughing. Seriously.
I did the research. I downloaded the fat loss regimens and muscle-building doctrines fitness experts swear by. I subscribed to the low-fat fitness lifestyle – no candy, fried foods, table sugar, white bread, et cetera. And circuit training quickly became my favorite workout routine. I was all about boosting my heart rate, liquidating calories, and eating healthy.
As testament to my dedication, I even looked into becoming a personal trainer. I was at my gym, offering guidance and tips to others, the whole nine yards. So, why not? I was self-motivated to look and feel better, to get bigger and stronger yet leaner and meaner. And that’s what I did. It was great.
I lost weight, gained strength, and found my confidence. Being shirtless wasn’t the equivalent of watching The Exorcist alone at night anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t morph into Channing Tatum, but I had an athletic look going for the first time in my life. Clothes hung on me different. Jeans were snugger. My posture improved along with my endurance and musculature. So, I was feeling a lot like Mr. Tatum, or rather, what I think it feels like to be Mr. Tatum. (He’s chased by beautiful women everywhere he goes, right?) I sized guys up now. I felt capable of defending myself in hypothetical situations against nearly anyone; typical testosterone-fueled thoughts that put a glide in my step better than Travolta in his prime. I had the Chuck Norris aura.
But, a very untimely M.S. relapse audited my accomplishments. My left hand and leg started to go haywire. That pins and needles sensitivity you get when a limb “falls asleep” seemed stuck on me. It had been progressively worsening, occasional flare ups, but I shrugged it off as a side effect of a sore body after an intense workout. Soon, though, it was preventing me from lifting heavy weight, and later, it made basic movement challenging. Still, in my glorious stupidity, the other side to my testosterone-fueled thoughts, I attempted a bare bones circuit, just burpees and push-ups. The results were heart-breaking. The bottom line was I had no business exercising. I could barely balance myself down a flight of stairs much less perform a total body workout.
Skip ahead three months, the numbness has mostly subsided and I’m left with the collateral damage – a blank drawing board that is my flaccid, muscle-less body. Gone is the tone and conditioning that once made me frighteningly confident, not to mention that Tatum-esque appearance. I have arrived back at square one and it sucks.
I know I need to quit bitching and just get my ass back in the gym. But, it’s hard to find the inspiration. The YouTube pages and Instagram accounts I follow are predominantly fitness-oriented and push me in the opposite direction. Every video and picture is just an insult, a tease, a bitter reminder of the progress I’ve lost. I saw the story of a mother of three turning her life around via exercise and just wanted to berate her.
“Where are your kids while you’re busy taking selfies at the gym? Huh? You selfish bitch?!”
Attempts at humor aside, it’s been a disheartening time. Picture completing a novel that took you all year to write. You type it up but before you can save it, the computer suddenly shuts off. You’re left with nothing but the memories. Those damn memories. All you can do after you flip over the table and kick your cat in the ribs is to set up shop again and go back to work. But, the hardest part is that first step. Upon moving forward, you find out exactly how far you’ve fallen and it’s rarely a pleasant experience.
Needless to say, it’s a mandatory experience. It’s all downhill from there. And that’s the good part. Since I’m no longer a mindless rookie, my starting point isn’t as further back as it may seem. Muscle memory will kick in and I’ll be back in shape in a much shorter time frame than it took to initially see results. See, for every gut punch I self-inflict in my bitterness, I know I wouldn’t be half as upset if I hadn’t actually accomplished something in the first place. Every time I quit on my goals in the past, I wasn’t upset at all. I didn’t achieve much aside from trimming some baby fat. This time I feel I’ve lost so much, retrieving it is too daunting an objective. That means I’m on to something, here.
So, this sucky step I shall take back to the gym, sweating with the meat-heads and staring at myself in the mirror for far too long after my workout. Fair warning, be on the lookout for this future post: “How I Got Back on Track: A Formerly Fat Guy’s Guide to Fitness.”
Dude, it’ll be awesome.