LGN 106: My Fourth Fitness Anniversary

It’s that time of year again. I’ve been training at Underground Athlete for four years this week. Or next week. My calculations are off here because I’ve been training twice a week recently and doing something outdoorsy on the weekends. I did Mental Toughness for a while, too. I ride my bike to the gym sometimes. Lots of variables here. Bear with me and I’ll keep the calculations simple.

3 times a week * 52 weeks/yr * 4 years = 624 workouts

That’s 624 times, give or take, I’ve gone to the gym and gotten my butt kicked. On average I burn between 750 and 900 calories per workout, according to the heart rate monitor I used to wear during my workouts. Let’s call it 800.

That’s 499,200 calories. Almost half a million calories burned.

If one pound of fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories, I’ve kept 142 pounds at bay. I know that’s not how it works; I’m just playing with the numbers.

That’s not too shabby either way.


The good news is that I’m getting so damn strong.

Okay. I’m going to confess something here. This is true fitness karma at work.

I signed up for the kettlebell class tonight so I could avoid the pull up Satan set: four sets of 18 pullups (6 regular, 6 loaded, 6 assisted). Mason adjusted it for me: 6 regular, 6 neutral grip, 6 chin ups. Assisted, of course. I seriously thought I injured myself after last Thursday. My arms have been in pain for a week. I could barely straighten them. I want to be able to move my arms when I go snowboarding on Sunday so I figured I’d put off Day 3 training to next Tuesday.

Little did I know that my efforts to avoid the Satan set would lead me directly to a kettlebell class taught by the one and only Justin Case. I love working out with Justin. It’s complicated. It’s intimidating and can be overwhelming at times but it takes you to new levels. It also lets you know where your weaknesses are. So…

The Good

I’m getting strong. I just one-hand cleaned and front squatted a 79lb. kettlebell with no problem. Okay, the left was a little shaky. That was a battle. (Meanwhile, Justin is one-hand, bottom up cleaning and front squatting a 72 lb. kettlebell.) I’m getting big trap bar deadlift numbers: 425 lbs. I haven’t barbell deadlifted in a long time, though. I still can’t do many pull ups but I can do some, which is a huge improvement over zero. I’m not sure how many I can get in one shot these days. I’ll have to give it a whirl.

As far as I can tell, I’ve solved my muscle cramping, charlie horse problem. Sure, it may pop up some time when I do something requiring intense endurance in the heat. Maybe. Maybe not. I’m able to train more intensely and take on bigger challenges now. But damn It feels so good, y’all. You have no idea. Like Vinnie Jones once said, “It got emotional.”

I’ll have to try some trail running and see what happens.

I’ve done long hikes. 16 miles is the longest and it was a chore but it got done. Did an 8 mile, overly fast hike the next week. Well, fast for me isn’t fast compared to some people. I had to run in order to not quite keep up.

I went on long bike rides. 60 miles was the longest in one shot. That was gnarly. 70 miles over two days on the REI C&O Canal cycling trip.

I’ve kayaked nearly 15 miles over two days on a kayak camping trip.

I’ve done a half way decent job of staying active throughout Winter. I hate being cold so I’m just going to go ahead and give myself a pat on the back for making it happen. It’s all about the layers, baby. And hand warmers. I was this close to buying electrically heated gloves and socks.

The Bad

I get stronger every year and I get fitter every year, but I still have blatant weak spots.

If I don’t do something for a month it takes a while to get it back. I’m sure that’s normal but a month without bench presses and I lose it. A month or more without pull ups or chin ups and it shows.

I need to start doing yoga again and stick with it. All of this tightness is not good. Where’s that aspiring sports massage girlfriend when you need her?

My lower back hurt like hell tonight. It got up to a solid 8 out of 10 on the pain scale. Much disappointment. I didn’t realize that I had gotten that unstable again. All that stuff I did over the Summer really helped and I thought I was past it but I guess I’ve been sitting a lot (and with bad posture) while working and not doing any paddling or bike riding. I don’t walk or run enough. One long hike every week or every few weeks isn’t enough to counteract daily bad habits.

So the bitch is back, so to speak.

The Ugly

I’m still slow and my aerobic work is sporadic. I want to do a 5K with my nephew at the end of March but I don’t know. I haven’t been putting the work in. I’ll try a little running, though. I haven’t exactly been sitting on my ass all Winter. Too much but interrupted here and there with epic adventures. It’s been a good Winter in that regard.

However, I’m still overweight. Sometimes I could swear that I’m leaning out but then … sometimes not. Even so I don’t get lighter. That is unacceptable. I’ll be so much more fit when I drop ten or fifteen pounds, otherwise I’m just stagnating.

When you’re 42 going on 43 and have never been in a relationship, i.e. chronically single, you can’t afford to be mediocre. Never had a girlfriend (or a boyfriend if that was your next question). When your last dates were six years ago and bad (totally my fault, too) — well, the clock is ticking. Weeks turn into months. Months turn into years. Years turn into decades. Then I die trying to figure out what the hell happened and wishing I could have another go. Don’t look at me like that. I keep telling you I’m a social misfit.

I have to be above the cut. According to OKCupid’s statistical number crunching I am the least desirable demographic and the least likely to get a message or response. Basically, I have to be bigger than society to counteract expectations and preconceived notions.

It really is true what they say. You have to be twice as good.

I’m strong and getting stronger but there’s a whole level of strength that I can’t touch yet. I’m a pretty fast sprinter but not for long. Any significant distance and I can’t hang.

That’s not a subject change. If you’ve been paying attention for the past four years you’ve noticed that these fitness goals are also working metaphors for other aspects of life: personal, professional, financial, etc.

I want 2015 to be the year I figure out my fitness. Watch it be something weird. “Oh, I just stopped eating anything brown between 8 and 10pm on Tuesdays and Fridays and the weight came right off. Just melted away.”

Actually, it probably won’t be that esoteric. More like keep the carbs below 120g per day, cut out dairy, and other common sense habits. We’ll see.


I know it seems like I’m being hard on myself. Like most of us, I’ve got a lot to offer the world. It’s just a matter of finding equilibrium, being intentional, and always moving forward with patience and an open mind.

It’s so easy to give in to inertia. Isn’t it?

Writing this made me think of an episode of “The Nightly Show” about obesity. There was a Fat Acceptance proponent on the panel. I don’t agree with the Fat Acceptance movement. That’s my personal opinion.

I believe in self acceptance and love. I’m incredibly more fit than I was four years ago but I’m still overweight, maybe still pre-diabetic, and isolated. (Damn. I’m years overdue for a checkup.)

These are not healthy or desirable conditions but they don’t make me a bad person or unworthy. I shouldn’t have scorn heaped on me, right, or be shamed into oblivion, whether by myself or others.

Those are conditions. They’re … adjectives. I’m saying that we can love the noun, the subject, even when the adjectives aren’t all bright and shiny.

Then we define ourselves through our verbs — through our actions. Through the choices we make.

So I won’t be too hard on myself during year five if you aren’t too hard on yourself — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Deal? Deal. Pinky swear.


I’m going up to Liberty this weekend. It’ll be my fourth attempt at snowboarding. I’m looking forward to it and I’m glad that I’m making the most of the mountain passport deal. I think I’ll start doing some clandestine missions up there. Spontaneous trips. It’s cheaper if you go at night.

I bought a longboard. Snowboarders often skateboard the rest of the year. I figured it would help me work on my sense of balance and the sensation of gliding. I also kind of fell in love with the longboard that I bought because it’s freakin’ beautiful. You really do have to see it. The pics don’t do it justice. All the curves and contours plus the vibrant graphics and the grain of the red-stained wood.

I just realized that it’s literally an ass hat now.

I’ve only been out twice because the weather hasn’t been cooperating. I take it down to the garage every now and then. Very self-conscious but what can you do. Otherwise, I put it on the carpet and get used to being on it. Feeling the balance points and the give of the trucks. Then I put it on the hardwood floor in the kitchen area and practice kneeling and standing while on the board. I’ve got wrist guards but I need sliding gloves. This is what longboarding is supposed to look like, by the way.

Some people freeride and do tricks. There’s longboard dancing. And then there’s downhill. I don’t see myself doing the 50mph downhill runs, though. I just want to be able to get to the grocery store or the gym and back without any disasters. Eh. I just want to ride down some hills and have a chance of surviving. A little exhilaration without courting death.

Why are skateboarders so skinny? 99.9% lanky.

Oh. You’ve got to check out some of the longboard and skateboard fail videos. Holy crap.  So many broken wrists. Concussions. A lot of nut cracking. Aw, this poor kid’s balls are bleeding. A few involved fractured vertebrae judging from the screaming. I’m amazed that there are so many people who do this inherently dangerous sport and wear no protection. Some of them are in shorts and that’s it. Don’t even have any shoes on. Welcome to Head Injury Theater!

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