As unsettling as the image that title depicts, truth be told I do feel like a zombie. Sometimes I even convince myself I am one of the undead. I spend my days in an office chair at a desk, getting up maybe once an hour. The last time I truly felt fit was last year in a disciplined course run by the NZDF. Since then I’ve been putting about (although I did find a job), probably putting on weight though you couldn’t tell. My days of press ups, wall squats, and prone bridge were over.
I still get called skinny but I just don’t feel it. My stomach feels tight and bulging when I’ve got my work pants all belted up.
I still bike everywhere I need to go, and walk on occasion, so its not as if I’m a total slob. But I definitely do feel gross when all I want to do in my free time is lie in bed and watch television. I don’t snack much but I do have over-sized meal portions.
Last week I made a change. I chose to flex my ailing muscles, and get that red dust pumping through them veins again.
So what made me decide to give exercise another shot?
Well, besides feeling particularly flabby I was reading some rather motivational words by Joshua Milburn of The Minimalists. I may as well pimp their work since they are quite an inspirational pair and worth reading up on. They exercise for their health, to feel fit, to live life, to have excitement. I always thought people went to the gym just to bulk up to attract the opposite sex, or to some way prove their dominance.
I thought working out was a waste of time. But now I see it as so much more.
I’ve started going to the gym regularly thanks to a friend. It would be a funny sight to see us work out together; him a bulky tank, me a shrimpy leaf in the wind. I have no upper arm strength. I can’t do a single pull up. I can barely hold up 10kg weights. Just forget about the bench press. He is well seasoned at the whole exercise thing, and as pathetic as I may look, I still try to achieve something. Anything. Sometimes the pain is too much or the mental barrier kicks in so I give in early. It’s a long ways to go my friend concluded.
Yesterday I woke up at 6.15am, half an hour earlier than my usual wake up time. I climbed out of my bed, turned off the alarms, got ready and jumped out the door. I took off down the street in my shorts and sneakers (t-shirt too if you were wondering), and jogged around the block. I struggled to breath in through my half-blocked nostrils, and a rush of air heavily blurted out through my mouth. My shoes slammed against the pavement in quick succession — a few centimetres off the ground as I always (but incorrectly) do.
There were no people about, just machines racing up and down the road. I began the final closing of my circuit and then I was home. The route I planned out barely took seven minutes. I wasn’t exhausted, but I was a little puffed. I stopped outside my door and put my hands behind my head, slowing down my breathing and my pounding heart.
The next day my shins hurt. My thighs hurt. My back hurt. My belly was closing in on itself. I had been exercising the week before, even the treadmill, but the shock of the pavement on your body really does a number on you. And of course just when I thought I had a good thing going, this morning I convinced myself to take a day off. I think I was using Joshua’s excuse that you don’t have to run if you don’t enjoy it. I haven’t figured out yet if I love it or hate it, but I do know I despise the painful side effects.
On the same day I did the run I also tried Josh’s 18 minute exercises for the second time. I found squats the easiest so I started with that. Three sets of ten with a quick flail of the arms and legs in-between. I tried push ups, but I collapsed on the second lift. I tried to push through the pain but my stomach exploded in a thousand angry nails from all the exercise that previous week. I did the shoulder press lifting improvised weights, a 3L and a 1.8 Just Juice bottle filled with water. They weren’t even of equal weight! But it was all i had, and as light as they were I could begin to feel it after the seven lifts mark. I did another three sets of ten changing bottles after each set.
I still want to exercise every day. I felt surprisingly alert and energetic on that day I worked out. It’s just the muscle growing pains I need to grit my teeth through. The day after I couldn’t lift a toe off the ground without some sort of pain emitting from my nervous system.
It’s all in the game. If I stop before I even truly begin I will be disappointed with myself. No question. I don’t want to fall back into self-hatred. Into rigor mortis. I don’t want to be that guy slurping on dessert in his PJ’s (as much as that guy loves his dessert).
I may be a wuss but I know deep down inside that I can do it. But I have to really want it, and I have to show myself that I want it.
Here’s to living life in the jungle gym.