LGN 116 My Fifth Fitness Anniversary

Inside: Regression confession | Photopia | Life goals

This one kind of snuck up on me.

Five years. Year five has been … Different. I wrote earlier about regressing. For the first time in five years I missed a lot of strength training sessions. Let’s say that I did 75% of what I’d normally do. Let’s do the math here and see what we come up with.

That’s 2.5 times a week * 52 weeks * 0.75 + the past four years (appr. 624 workouts) = 721.5 workouts.

That’s about 720 sessions or hours of prime, programmed, handcrafted strength and conditioning training. Let’s say an average of 700 calories per session.

721.5 * 700 = 505,050 calories.

Over half a million calories burned over the past five years. This doesn’t include the extracurricular activities: kayaking, hiking, backpacking, cycling, mountain biking, indoor climbing, caving, blogging.


I was looking back over my LGN and Underground Athlete related posts. What a journey. I confess that I feel pretty lame about falling off the wagon. Some of my posts are so upbeat and motivational and then a few times a year I’m struggling.

The fact that I gained weight this year is demoralizing. But again, like I often say, I don’t mind admitting my failings because we all have them. Most of us are just smart enough to not publicize them.

But it makes me think. Did I fail? What the hell have I been doing? Will I ever look good naked (LGN)? It’s like I’m letting people down. I mean, when someone new at the gym asks how long I’ve been there and I say five years, I feel compelled to explain that I stumbled big time in 2015. I have a lot of Underground Athlete shirts in rotation but I don’t want to be rocking them when I’m on the backslide.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still fitter than I’ve been but I lost ground and momentum and I did gain a lot of weight. I’m still strong or it comes back pretty quickly. The endurance comes with more work but dedicating some time to DROPIn:35 helps a lot. But I do have a lot of work to do to get to where I want to be.

Then I looked at a graph of my weight loss over the past few months and I had a revelation. Look at this.

Progress is not linear. Life is not linear. Achieving anything looks like this (except maybe vertically inverted depending on your goal). Those seemingly counter-productive trends are investments even though they sometimes are hellish. Look at how there’s a slight rise before every drop. (I don’t know what that recent uptick is about. Still trying to figure that one out. ETA: Oh that’s right. Part of it is from post-surgery swelling.)

The thrill of coasting downhill with your hands off the brakes and your feet off the pedals requires a sweaty, burning climb to the top. Leaping over obstacles and challenges and entering the zone of effortless perfection requires momentum. Energy, tension, chaos precedes the satisfaction of resolution. You gotta get up for the downstroke.

It’s the long game and it’s not over until you get there.


Lest you think I did nothing at all in 2015, here’s some of what I got into in the great outdoors before I hit the wall. I have a negative view of 2015. At least I did until I looked at these photos. I was struggling deep for a while there. I wonder why and then I realize it’s because with few exceptions I’m on my own. Even in groups. Especially in groups. Regardless, these photos move me because even at my lowest my life is amazing. I’m going to have a photobook made from these pics and meditate on them in the mornings to set the tone for my day.

The only thing missing … is you.

These photos remind me how good life is. I did this. I’m geared up to the teeth; enough for me and a few friends. I know places. I learn something new every day.  The only thing missing … is you.

I did a lot in 2015. But it doesn’t hold a candle to what I’m going to do.


I’m also recovering from the knee surgery right now. It’s driving me crazy sitting around. The gym is pretty much my only social outlet, as brief as those interactions are, so I’m in isolation mode, which is, wouldn’t you know, the exact same mess I’ve been trying to avoid. Definitely have cabin fever. Even though I can walk and drive I don’t know what to do with myself. Thanks to Sara for taking me for a ride. You’re an ace.

I walked down the stairs to go get the mail. I used the handrails. When I got to the bottom I tried some step ups. Not ready. But I get around aside from stairs. I still don’t know exactly what the doctor did in my knee. Did he remove the displaced cartilage or did he repair it somehow? Is it too soon for stairs?

ETA: He cleaned things up, which means he smoothed out irregularities in the cartilage. I’ve got about two weeks of taking it easy to do and bunch of physical therapy to do.


There are things I’d like to accomplish this year.

  • I want my knee to heal and be reliable again. I want to run, jump, and lift heavy as f—. Ass to grass squats. Dead lifts. Plyo-crazy. No more show-stopping back soreness and tightness during circuit-type workouts.
  • I want to get back into the outdoors. Crank my endurance and stamina for adventuring. Go strong and long when called for.
  • I want collaborators. That’s critical.
  • I want to hang out outdoors or anydoors, really, with people who are as excited to be with me as I am with them. You know? When they actually want to be seen on social media with you. Not that I want to post every moment online but just to have that mutual appreciation and enthusiasm. When you’re hanging out with someone and smartphones aren’t quite as important because you’re where you want to be? Like that. Do people do that? Is that even possible these days?
  • Photography-wise, I got some new light modifiers for my kit. Big 60” octobox for gorgeous soft light and full body shots. Grids for the 60” and the 36” octoboxes (to control the light direction and avoid spill). Collapsible 5′ x 7′ portable black/white reversible backdrop so I can do head shots and portraits on a clean background on the go. I am so ready to make magic. I am aching. Now all I have to do is find collaborators.
  • Make music again. That’s on the list.
  • I want to write and actually finish a few short stories or novellas.
  • Learn to swim. I almost signed up for swimming lessons and then my knee starting malfunctioning and I figured I should get it taken care of first.
  • Hammock camp. I got an ENO JungleLink Hammock Shelter System, which is the whole shebang (hammock with built in bug net, rainfly, stakes, straps), for Christmas and I’m excited about it. All I need now is two trees. And practice.

Do I know anyone in NoVA with property that has two trees about 12 feet apart?

Dude is chillin’.


I’d like to say that so much of my life — all the good stuff, people, adventures, and even photography — have come about because of Underground Athlete, a small but growing independent gym in Fairfax and Sterling, VA.

I have my ups and downs. That’s life. I’ve got things to work on in myself and in my life. That’s being human.

But for the past five years I’ve been building a base, a solid foundation, of fitness, health, and mental drive. The community is full of driven, dedicated people with a thirst for living and — what the hell, there’s a ladybug in my blueberries.

Anyway, I made a point of finding activities outside of the gym community since it’s never good to have all of your eggs in one basket. I always return to home base, though.

Thanks, Justin, Matt, Germán, Mason, Goose, Antwon, Patrick, Caleb, Rachel, Susanna, Sara, Cristal, Veronica, Sierra, Brie, and Kiara(sp?), Charlotte, Katie and all of my training buddies.


This time with willful intention. It’s gonna be lit, y’all.

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