Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I can see 15 ways to kill you from this position. But I'm not going to kill you. I'm here to bring you to justice.

I spent the latter half of last week alternately puking and being lazy. I did go for a few runs, but because of my torpor—and the combat gym being closed on Saturday—I didn't make kickboxing again until Monday.

But hey, this week has been terrific so far, and I'm losing weight again and feeling light and strong and healthy. Monday and yesterday, my kicks were hard and fast and I was balanced on the balls of my feet even as I was peppering the mat with droplets of my sweat. I ellipticalled and pumped iron and did circuits and in general pushed myself, and I'll continue doing that until I find another reason to be lazy.

My wife read Born to Run (and I'm actually re-reading it now, I loved it so much) and she went onto Amazon and ordered a crap-ton of books about running. She wants to run marathons now, and I want to join her until we are a nut-brown pair of wild-eyed running psychopaths, fleet of foot and possessing 1% body fat, our hair and eyelashes bleached white from the time we spend under the sun. We'll see how this works out.

I need, need, need to make a full five kickboxing sessions this week, to blast through the five-or-so pound region I've inhabited for the past few weeks, just sort of bobbing up and down in it as I lose and then regain the weight. I get through that, and I've only got 15 pounds left to go. My belly is being stubborn; although I've lost a lot of midsection fat, it's the beer roll that continued to stubbornly resist the ridiculous amount of ab work I've been doing. I shall defeat you yet.

So I'm sort of at a crossroads, training-wise. The fitness kickboxing I've been doing is very, very good for me, yes, and I'll continue doing it. But if I want to get better, I need to get more intense muay thai and MMA training. The question is: do I want to? I have very little interest in fighting anybody, in the ring or otherwise, and while the self-defense aspect would come in handy if I ever found myself in a crumbling alley in the Reagan-era Lower East Side, I'm doing all of this for my own health and well-being, not to prove anything or to compete with anyone. Taking additional fighting classes would set me on the competitive course, I think. I'll mull that while you prepare for my impending 31st birthday.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I'm a detective. If I worship anything, it's logic.

My quads and triceps are killing me today, thanks to a pretty awesome workout yesterday in which we did circuits and then roughly 10,000 squat/touch-kick combos. This followed an extremely packed Monday night kickboxing session, with a ton of adorable newbies who were aghast at the things they were being asked to do. That aghastness fades into mild surprise, I wanted to tell them.

I just finished reading Born to Run, a Christmas gift from my sister. Now, I have to admit that I wasn't at all excited to read this book; I've always gone running for necessity only, and nobody has any business calling a book Born to Run unless it's about Springsteen. And I've always taken issue with runners' culture, which, like much of Colorado outdoor culture, focuses on gear. "If I can only spend thousands of dollars on equipment designed to heighten my enjoyment of the outdoors, I'll really enjoy the outdoors," goes that credo. "And how can someone possibly enjoy the outdoors without ripstop nylon and Gore-Tex and a North Face colostomy bag and fly-fishing gear designed by astronauts?"

Running is, in other words and like the hippie-industrial complex, a pastime or avocation that fetishizes the equipment you use to do it. I think it's horseshit, and my assumption was that Born to Run would make me roll my eyes and throw it away after ten pages. But goddamn if my sister wasn't correct—and I found myself doing something I only do with books I really love: limiting my reading to a few dozen pages a day to make it last longer. It's sort of a life-changing book, and it did exactly what my marathoner sister hoped. It made me want to run. Like, not just two miles around the track in the morning, grumbling the whole way. Not five miles or ten or twenty six point two. It made me want to run hundreds of miles at a clip, because that's what my body was designed to do.

That's the central thesis of the book—that humans were engineered from our evolutionary origins as a running species, and that we do ourselves disservice by ignoring that. We are supposed to be lithe, sinewy creatures, trotting lightly with bare feet over tracks hundreds of miles long. Our bodies function best this way. Our psyches function best this way. Our societies function best this way. And you'll forgive me for drooling the way I am over this, but for the present I'm less Batman and more The Flash.

So. I'm going to run. Or, more specifically, I'm going to run again, and reincorporate this into my workouts—which, although I've been doing religiously, have seemed more and more sort of humdrum and normal over the past few weeks. I'm not going to buy expensive shoes or marathon nipple-tape or carbohydrate gels. I'm just going to run, barefoot if need be, and then I'm going to run some more.

And then I'm going to quit smoking.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Brave new world, which has such yutzes in it.

Back from the regular gym for one of my lunchtime sessions, elliptical and Ratatouille. Had a brutal kickboxing session yesterday during which I almost passed out—which might have been from either the lack of food I'd had that day or the vodka I drank the night before at pub quiz. Generally, a hangover is entirely banished through the sweating, but it didn't seem to work that way yesterday.

I'm still losing weight, which is terrific; I stepped on the scale yesterday morning and was shocked to see "192" looking back at me. I think it was a fluke, though.

Tonight: kickboxing, then some comfort food, as it's still cold as balls.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

You are part of the night, just like me. We're not afraid of the dark—we come alive in it. We're thrilled by it.

Forgive the radio silence. A new year, and the new me still continues to percolate up. I'm happy to report that I'm now back where I started before my long Christmas holiday; despite big meals, long junk-food road trips, my Great-Aunt Dolly's lasagna via my sister, Christmas ham and riced potatoes and gravy, gooey Chinese take-out, beer, whiskey, short ribs with sauerkraut, port-wine cheese, chicken a la king and a trip to Matt's Bar (home of the Jucy Lucy!), I gained only four pounds. Not bad, and definitely not as much weight as I feared I'd put on.

But I did keep busy while on vacation, and tried to keep myself as physically active as possible. There was the snowboarding and the skiing and the ice-skating, all of them with a surprising dearth of wobbliness given that I've done none of them in over a decade, and then were the floor exercises. Jackie from PPCS was nice enough to email me a workout—something I could do without a bag or proper equipment—and my wife was nice enough to yell things at me while I sweated and groaned on the floor in front of the Christmas tree while the dog slapped me in the jaw with his wagging tail and Man Vs. Food played in the background.

I didn't do any running in Minnesota, since it was alternately blizzarding or cold as hell, and since neither my run-crazy sister nor my run-crazy cousin goaded me into it, for reasons of pregnancy and hangover, respectively. A good trip home, all in all, and I'm glad I came back only incrementally more pudgy than when I left.

Because I drank so often while in Minnesota, I haven't really felt the urge to do so since I've been back, which meant that I was the boring sober guy on New Years Eve who, instead of having fun, whined and went home by 11 PM in order to watch Back to the Future. The wife and I went out on Saturday for a fancy-ass steakhouse meal, and I did have a few glasses of wine then, but malbec is a far cry from bourbon shots. Oh, and I had a mimosa on Sunday and then took a nap.

I'm back in the groove workout-wise, with my goal being five kickboxing sessions a week. I'll need a few weeks of this—and a number of muay Thai classes—before I'm ready for Combat Conditioning, I've decided. We'll see how that goes.

I have 20 pounds to go, which may be an ambitious estimate, but one that I think I can accomplish in the next few months. It's hard for me to say what my ideal weight even is these days, since I've yo-yoed so much in recent years. At my skinniest as an adult, I weighed 150 pounds, but that was stupid skinny—Aaronrexic, my coworkers called me at the time. I also had no muscle whatsoever, just willowy fatless limbs onto which I could pull the teeny-tiny women's jeans I wore. My hipsterdom deserved a good slapping, and I got it, in a way, through completely fucking up my metabolism by never eating. I've been gaining weight steadily in the six or seven years since then. So 150 is too skinny, especially given the considerable amount of muscle I've been growing like some creepy sweaty petri dish. I'm shooting for 175. When I hit 175 on the scale, we'll take another look and see what needs to be done. I imagine that throwing villains off of cathedrals will be part of it.

Oh! Before I forget, I've obtained several Batman-helpful books over the past few months that I will now tell you about, because what are you going to do, stop reading? The first of these, which I ordered from Amazon about when I started, is The Batman Handbook, a truly goofy read which has helpful little sections on, say, how to fight someone using a whip or how to drive on two wheels or how to bulletproof your car. In that similar vein, my mother-in-law got me The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook, which is really handy if you want to know how to escape from a locked trunk or ask someone, in French, to hand you a towel to mop up all the blood. The last was a terrific memoir by former Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni, Born Round, in which he talks about his lifelong struggle with weight. Yeah, I know—Lifetime movie blah blah blah—but it's engagingly written and Bruni thinks about food in much the same way I do. (He also got, like me, super-fat.) These have been my dorky little companions.

Today: a regular-gym workout during lunch and then, possibly, a muay Thai class before pub quiz. We'll see.