Friday, December 20, 2013

To Look Like A Fox, You First Must Sweat Like a Pig

A little background information first - for those of you that know me personally and see me from time to time, you know that my fitness level correlates very closely with my mental health.  I have a mental pathway that tells me that I have to "look" good to "feel" good.  Not right I know - I should "feel" good which will lead to more "feeling" good regardless of how I "look".  My mental condition has not led to an eating disorder (unless you count eating like fucking garage during my mentally low cycles) thankfully but it has led to a weight management issue.

If you know me, you are also aware of the ability for my weight to yo-yo from being fit to fat in a matter of months.  Luckily, I also have retained to ability to pick an athletic event and then go from fat to fit over the 6 months or so of training.  This cycle has dominated my life ever since I left college and the athletic rigors of collegiate soccer that kept me fit there.  Do you need some examples?  Here you go:

College self outside of soccer season
Serious weight gain post college (I guess my freshman 30 came a little late) and my move to Florida for grad school - ballooned from 185lbs of lean muscle (I carried more muscle during soccer than I do now) in 1997 to 203 lbs of softness in 1998.

Beached Whale with Heather in 1998
I am missing a set of photos digitally that show a dramatic transformation back to fitness in early 2000 - I dropped almost 30lbs and was working out like a fiend 6 days a week.  I was eating very clean and felt better than I had in years.  My depression was in check even.

In 2003, I ballooned back up to 203 lbs (no digital photos).  When I am fat, I do not allow photos to be taken of me very often.

In 2005, I completed my first iron distance triathlon (140.6 miles total: 2.4 mile swim; 112 mile bike; and 26.2 mile run) at 183lbs (muscle mass is about right but still a layer of belly fat).  I also ran in a 200 mile relay with a bunch of friends from around the country as part of my training leading up to the 140.6 mile race.

Coming into T1 at the Great Floridian Triathlon - Nice Quads!
Running in the Reach the Beach 200 mile Relay
In 2006, I trained for the Chicago marathon in hopes of landing a Boston Marathon qualifying time (3 hours 10 minutes).  5 months of hard training and I came very close.  I was right on pace at the half marathon mark and all the way up to mile 17 when the urge to pee overpowered my urge to run hard.  I stopped, peed, and then ran slow for 3 miles trying to find the pace again.  I found pace for the last 10K and PRed the marathon distance in 3 hours 19 minutes but this was sadly too slow for a Boston QT.

Racing at a lean 175lbs 3 weeks before the Chicago marathon at the 17.5 mile Big South Fork Trail Race.
In 2007, I half-assed my training for a second Ironman.  My training was hurt by a big move to Colorado which made me give up my cycling training club and great running routes I knew would prepare me for the race.  I went into Ironman Louisville at 185 lbs which was 10lbs heavier than I needed to be.  MENTAL STATE EQUALS PHYSICAL STATE.  I had a great race despite having to manage cramping quads for 70 miles on the bike and walking most of the marathon.  

Ironman Shuffle in Louisville
2008 and 2009 were spent in depression and fatness.  I did nothing.  I barely ran.  I barely moved.  I moped around.  I was depressed. (No photos - I was fat)

2010 was a better year.  I trained for Ironman St. George and finished the race with a new 140.6 personal record.  I hit 183lbs before the race which still 8lbs heavier than I wanted to race but I will take it.  After the race, I was laid off from work (economic downturn affected the oil and gas industry in a big way) and my mental state took a plunged and my weight sky-rocketed.  I was fat again in 3 months.

I then started a job that I soon learned was completely incompatible with who I am and taught how much shit I can take from total dumbasses.  I eventually got the dumbass fired for his horrible behavior and lies to everyone but it was way too late. I was FAT and DEPRESSED.  2011 and 2012 were spent fat and very unhealthy.  This continued until March 2013 when I gave myself an ultimatum - get fit or eat myself to death.  I am choose to get fit.

I did GREAT all summer long in 2013. I dropped from 212lbs (my heaviest ever) in March down to 186 in August.  I did not change my diet at all.  I just ran, and ran, and ran, and ran (some weeks up to 35 miles).  This helped me drop weight but I was still not happy.

March 2013
August 2013
That brings me to now.  I have been running off and on since August but I have no direction, no drive. December has found me doing nothing.  This is not surprising as we approach the winter solstice.  December and January are VERY tough on me since I barely see the sun.  I am at work an hour before it rises and it sets right as I am getting home.

So - I have gained almost 10lbs back since my August weight (back up to 196lbs).  NOT GOOD!  It is time to put my current physical state and my goals out there for all to see and for those who care about to help keep me accountable if they want to.  It is too easy to blow off a run when it is cold.  I eat like a pig.  I am not lifting weights.  I have so many habits that are hindering my progress to the new happy me.  But with people watching, I know my psyche and it tells me not to disappoint people.  

So what am I looking for?  I am looking for TOTAL FITNESS.  There is a phenomena sweeping through the world called CrossFit.  I don't think I ever want to join a CrossFit gym because some of the things they do are downright dangerous.  That said, I really like the CrossFit philosophy to fitness. 

Greg Glassman, the founder of CrossFit, defines fitness in a way that speaks to me.  Fitness is not just the way you look or how athletic you are.  Fitness is having a whole body and mind, mental and physical strength, and even includes what you put into your body.  His definition for fitness is:

      "Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to level that will support exercise but not body fat. Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips,  splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast. Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense. Regularly learn and play new sports."  

So looking forward, here are my immediate, short-term, and long-term goals for my 40th year on this planet:

Immediate Goals (the rest of this month):
  • Start a strength training program
  • Meet my weekly run mileage goal
  • Eat clean
Short-term Goals (next 3-6 months):
  • Reach and maintain my weight at 175lbs of lean muscle with a body fat percentage between 16-18%
  • Run a marathon under 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Increase flexibility and agility
    • Relearn basic gymnastic skills (handstands, somersaults, balance exercises)
  • Continue building strength and eating clean
Long-term Goals (Before my 40th birthday)
  • Lower body fat percentage to between 13-15% and maintain it there
  • Personal Record and Boston Qualify during a fall marathon (Chicago again?)
  • Master basic gymnastic skills
    • learn to do a front and back flip
  • Continue building strength and eating clean
  • Enjoy my life fit and happy
So what is the point of this blog?  Talk about my fatness over the years?  NO.  It is to point out that "To Look Like A Fox, You First Must Sweat Like A Pig".  The trouble is that pigs don't really sweat. Pigs (or swine as they are properly called) have very few sweat glands and the ones they do have are not very efficient at keeping the pig cool.  Pigs keep cool by wallowing in mud or water which then evaporates giving the same cooling effect as sweat does on a human.  Pigs also wallow in mud to help protect them from the sun just like wearing sunscreen.  

Sweating Swine
So the question now becomes how do I become a fox if pigs don't sweat.  Well - the saying "sweat like a pig" does come from a real thing so it is not just a made up expression.  The real meaning is actually better than pig sweat for burning calories and building muscles.  Actually that is almost exactly what pig sweat is - iron cooling after it has been smelted.  Once the smelted iron begins to sweat, it is cool (hard) enough to move.  Think about working out (smelt the iron) - you sweat (iron sweats) to gain lean muscles that are hard (iron hardens) so that you can move efficiently with power and grace (iron is ready to be moved).  I think this is a pretty good and direct analogy.  Trouble is that I like the pig's way of cooling off much better that smelting iron.

So I am the pig right now (fat, soft, and ready for slaughter).  I want to get hard and sleek like a fox so I am going to have to sweat.  Actually I am going to have to sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat,and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat, and sweat.  It is going to take a lot of sweat to harden this body of mine but I am willing to put in the work.  

CrossFit relies on muscle shock to make lean muscle mass that burns fat which in turn transforms you into a fox.  Pig dirt is a great way of thinking about this.  When things get hot and heavy for a pig, they seek out mud and water to cool off.  It doesn't matter what type, where, or when they find water or mud, they are going to get into it.  I am going to think about my workouts the same way - Basically I am going to get dirty! 

Pigs get it any way they can
I am going to work out with friends, with my ass (squats), in a public bathroom (really?), while driving, in an alley, in the kitchen, in the shower, in a hot tub (I wish I had one of these), in a pool, in the living room, hell why not every room, on a plane (if I fly this year), with my face, at work, at my desk, with strangers (at the gym), with ropes, in odd positions (yoga), in the backyard, in the front yard, on top of the bed, even while handing someone weights, while watching someone lift, with my tongue (eating right), while shaving, with every lifting position known, with my friends (oh, I already said this), have contests, dips between the washer and dryer, when friends are over, in the back seat of the car, with the vibrating machine that no one knows what it does (abs maybe), with fancy workout clothes, on the stairs (already done this one - see 300), on a balcony, on a roof, with a lap dance (you never know!), with machines, on a swing, on a train, while getting a massage (I never get these though), at a pick-up game, in the ocean (think triathlon), on a dock after swimming in the lake, in Australia (I wish!), make workout video or two to publish on youtube like everyone else, isolated muscle workouts, somewhere unexpected, in an empty house (might get arrested for working out in someone else's house though), in a canoe like the karate kid, while standing up, make another video, watch a workout video, talk about it while on the phone, wax my body to look like a muscle freak, check myself out in the mirror, and all of this in 9 1/2 weeks before marathon training really starts.

Wow - that is a lot (and strange) but the basic premise is to workout as often and as much as possible.  Just get dirty like a pig trying to cool off.  EVERYWHERE AND AT ANYTIME.  I think this is the real key. In order to transform from a pig to a fox, I must stay active and be active all the time.  No breaks - stick to the commitment.  It will be best if I can find a workout, get dirty, partner to help motivate and inspire me and in return I can help them with their success journey.  Unfortunately, I am going to have start without a partner for a while until I start working out with someone key my success.  I have succeeded without a partner before (see history above) but everything you read says it is easier to succeed with one. 

When I am done sweating, there will be a fox in place of that pig.  I will have to keep sweating to stay a fox but that is how you enjoy your life as a fit and happy person (at least from my viewpoint).

My Motto for my 40th year

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