The Search Continues!

I went to the gym recently. Everything appeared normal as I approached…

Until I rounded the corner and approached the front doors. Normally, I feel a little intimidated walking into the gym.

Doors are heavy!

For whatever reason on this day, I tore my eyes away from my feet. I like to mind my steps, because falling down would hurt. Also, I tend to become easily distracted by attractive and unattainable men.

What I saw when I looked up filled me with a minor sense of optimism…

We’re Hiring!

Well, sure.

Why not?

I went inside, making sure to smile at the check-in biometric machine that was on duty…just to leave a good impression. Then I did my little fitness thing.

When I got home, I went to the gym’s website to apply for my next dream job!

Alas…it wasn’t listed as available. Which means that someone out there has my job!

But I’m going to go back, obviously. When I do, I’m going to keep my eyes open for the person with my job.

If I see them, they’d better hope it’s not near the top of the stairs. Now that I’ve set my mind on it, I won’t be satisfied until I can hold my head high as a member of my gym’s team.

As the Before Model.

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The Search Continues!

Fitfy 49:39

Missed these little check-ins from the final year of my fifth decade?

Fret not, they’ve not been pushed far from the front of my mind…they are only a trip past my bathroom mirror away, as a matter of fact.  But, this final week of the third quarter of this trip around the sun for me seemed like a good time to check-in again.

First some obvious accountabilities:  exercise and diet.

Exercise:

I’ve quit my gym.  That may not seem like anything but a big step backward, but I think it’s not.  Sure, this was initially a financial decision, the money I spent on gym membership could be better spent on wine, after all!  

I kid.

What I came to realize, though, was that at this time in my life, lifting weights was problematic.  More of a tether or a crutch for my old fitness mindset of recreating or restructuring my physical self…making it into something it’s not.

I have some 4-25 lb dumbbells at home that I can use for a variety of toning exercises when the mood hits.  Overall, that’s what I want to rediscover: tone.  My arms were as thick as my neck in my 30s – don’t get excited, I’ve been called pencil neck before. My chest and ankle measurements might make you wonder if my “father” was, in fact named Frankenstein.

What happens to that forced physique when you stop feeding it iron plates is not pretty.  Over the past three months, as I’ve changed my exercise regimen up – mostly changed it to “rest” – is that those muscles have softened.  My chest does not have as much in common with a 35 year old man as it maybe does with a 50 year old woman.

And that’s ok…for now.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want either of those racks.  But it’s a stop on the way to slimming down.

So, what’s this new regimen?

It’s more intense cardio based, as far as structured exercise goes.  Spin class.  God bless RevoCycle and the Filipina Fox for getting me back into spin!  I really love it…it’s prohibitively expensive, so I’ve been on a little break for the last few weeks, but the time commitment vs results impact is exactly what I want as I try to return to a slimmer silhouette overall.

The remainder of what I’ve been doing outside of mini weight workouts at home and spin class is lifestyle exercises.  Things designed not to get me out of the house and into the gym, but rather to get me out of the house and outside.

Hiking, mostly.  I live in the Pacific Northwest…God’s Country.  I have 40 miles of trails in Forest Park, a quick two mile urban hike away.  I live on Park Ave – between 8th and 9th St in Portland’s Alphabet District.  My stretch of Park is between Everett and Flanders – do not  stalk me…you’d be gravely disappointed.  Forest Park has an entrance at about 28th and Thurman.  That’s 14 blocks over and 19 blocks up.  

Easy.

Until you see this, anyway.

We all need a little touch up now and then, eh?  That’s what this year-long theme is about!  But I found an alternate entrance a few blocks further up the hill and have had myself a couple of nice 10 mike hikes over the last few weeks.  It rained almost all of last week, but today on my weekend agenda…yeah!  More hiking!  

Now

Diet:

Ugh.

Remember, what I didn’t want to do was overcorrect here and go radical self-deprivation by only allowing myself chicken and broccoli for dinner.  That usually leads to chicken and broccoli for most lunches, too.  And that leads to Unhappy Xtopher.

Also, I didn’t want to not drink.

I wanted to eat real food, have real junk food and get my drink on when I wanted to.  Be that when hanging out with friends or doing a little self-soothing after work.

I’d say the one thing my diet is missing right now is protein.  In eschewing chicken, I’ve become cognizant of the fact that I’m not chewing enough of anything that used to be alive.  Almonds, peanut butter, lunch meats and tuna ain’t cutting it.

Non-Dad-Bod Xtopher needs some red meat.

Shut up, Diezel.

Other than too much pasta in my diet, I’ve been happy with my intake.  Oddly, I’ve found myself craving kale lately.  I should definitely give into that, I bet my body is feeling less nostalgic than it’s actually trying to tell me it needs something.

My alcohol consumption is steady, I know you were worried.

I find that my drinking has become less…binge-y and more consistent.  Neither in a bad way.  When I was drinking before, I’d drink for several hours, ignoring the fact that I was setting records with how many drinks I could consume in an hour.

I’ve gone from drinking 2-3 drinks an hour for several hours to drinking 2-4 drinks a night.  Maybe I drink 5-6 nights a week versus 3-4 nights a week, but I’m not waking up groggy after and I find myself deciding to have another beer versus just giving into habit or simply being handed one by an attentive bartender.

All this came to the front of my mind during last week’s acupuncture appointment.  My Needle Man had been diagnostically probing my abdomen and when he was done, instead of quickly pulling my shirt back down and making a comment about covering my shame, I began absent-mindedly playing my belly like a drum.  He smirked at me and when I realized what I’d been doing, smiled sheepishly and apologized.

He made a comment about enjoying seeing such self-acceptance in today’s body shaming culture.  Someone just innocently enjoying their body without realizing it – literally, in my case, he said – was refreshing.

I told him that I planned on enjoying my body in not so innocent ways later, which gave us both a chuckle.  That may sound a bit depraved to you, but we talk about my sex life almost as often as we talk about my digestion.

If we’re gonna talk shit, nothings off the table.  Plus, there’s a couple of treatments he does that have a great reproductive side effect.  It may not be strictly necessary in my case, but that doesn’t mean it still can’t be appreciated!

The conversation eventually led to – well, directly led to – how self-acceptance was kind of the theme of 2017 for me.  I described how nothing I did physically replaced running in my life, how I could run in the rain but cycling and hiking in the rain were no-goes for me.

“Why don’t you run anymore?”

So, I gave him the back story and then short-handed it to “bone density issues in my lower legs”.

I’ll short-hand his response to “There’s a needle for that”.

Me:  Do not get my hopes up.

Not at all, he told me, cautioning me that it will take time and be something I have to build up to, but there’s probably no reason I shouldn’t count on running again.

So, as I enter the last quarter of this Fitfy (mis)adventure, I find myself looking forward to an unexpected and welcome gift for my 50th birthday…an evening jog to close out my work day.

It’s just what I wanted.

Fitfy 49:39

Fitfy: 49.33

I originally set out to make this theme a weekly check-in for this final year of my 40s.  The larger goal was to motivate myself into finding a balance between a reasonably healthy physical self and mental and emotional satisfaction with how that state of physical being manifested itself.

Y’know, to ditch the body-negative mindset that I’ve been emotionally kicking the shit out of myself in pursuit of for the last 20 years or so.  I didn’t quit this theme so much as I took a hiaitus in order to refocus on that goal when I found myself falling back on the same habits that had delivered me to where I found myself on Jan 22 of this year: injured, eating emotionally, physically and mentally depressed…your basic nightmare.

So, that’s what I did.  I put down my phone, walked away from the laptop and WordPress app – at least as far at Fitfy was concerned – and focused on collecting myself mentally to re-engage with diet and exercise.

I addressed diet first.

Before it addressed me.

Also, because I’d gotten comfortable being physically lazy.

I’d been having a real challenging time at work with a really unhealthy emotional situation with Capt Can’t.  I’d been drinking too much and too often to self-soothe instead of dealing with the situation.  I went 29 out of 30 days with more than four drinks in me.

In addition to the drinking – as if that much alcohol wasn’t enough of a red alert – I’d been eating crap.  Candy and coffee for breakfast and chips or popcorn with my alcohol for dinner.  

It’s a wonder I survived the month.  Luckily, I had my righteous rage to sustain me.

But, changing the diet was hard.  I needed some crutches.  Like sharing my bottle of dinner wine with the Silver Fox instead of hiding out in my living room overfilling my own glass.  

See?  That’s a 50% reduction in consumption right there.

Ok, 60/40 since I’m kinda tricky.

Fine!  70/30 because he’s more disciplined than me to begin with…but, still – a reduction in consumption!

Other nights, I would switch to a diet soda overdose to distract my way through a couple days of not drinking.

Then there was reintroducing real food to my diet.  I focused on significantly reducing my “reward days”.  Actually, the goal was more to flip the ratio of healthy meals with bullshit junkfood reward meals by 180 degrees.  I had to be willing to allow myself to waste food while doing this, because normally I will resist cooking at home under the auspices of not liking leftovers.

Step one here was a win-win because I challenged myself to cook food that created leftovers I can tolerate eating, like Italian food.  The bonus here was that I had a couple days of lunches afterward.

What I was most proud of with this first step was that I was eating friggin’ Italian food.  This isn’t something I would have entertained back in June after slipping back into my old food punishing ways of plain grilled chicken and broccoli for dinner.

And lunch.

I was making fun, carbolicious food that felt like a mother’s hug in my belly.

It was a treat, but still healthy-ish.

It wasn’t popcorn.

There were a few nights I’d steer myself away from eating take out for dinner and cook up some tasty red meat protein at home, not great for me…but good enough.  Yet on other nights, I’d order that pizza and then only allow myself one reasonably sized meal off of it.  No eating the entire thing in one sitting or breakfast pizza the day after.  Wasting food isn’t my favorite thing, but I needed to force some discipline into my diet while fending off a potential binge by making myself feel deprived.

If a few slices paid the price, so be it.

Ok, enough of my public diet shaming…it’s making me crave chips for dinner.

The other piece I needed to address was exercise.

I’d already gone butt-wild at the gym early this year and ended up reinjured for my troubles.  The healing break that caused in my gym goings came at a not awesome time:  right on the heels of my Capt Can’t work stress and subsequent medicinal regimen of booze and comfort food.

I think I put on 15 lbs in 30 days.

That also didn’t help with my healing – carrying around a bunch of extra weight.

So, coming off the bench, my mind was set on cardio to slim down versus focusing on those gay muscles.  A nice chest and arms is aesthetically pleasing, but I’d have to look pretty hard to find anything darker than a dotted line between my Fitfy Mission Statement and chesticles.

Complicating the matter, the cardio machines at 24hr Fitness tended to tweak my knee injury pretty easily.  This is something I wished to avoid.

Cycling, it was.

Sadly, I wasn’t getting home from work until around 5 each day, which made getting on the bike for a couple hours hard. Particularly when you factor in that I’d need to come home, shower, make dinner and hopefully be in bed by 8 for work the next day.

I was averaging one ride a week.

No bueno.

Fortunately for me, The Filipina Fox had just started her new spin instructor gig at RevoCycle, just a few blocks from my house.  She taught Tuesday and Thursday nights and encouraged me to use the first two free gymcentive – Chrisism – to try the gym out.

I was skeptical.  

I loved the results that spin produced as a workout, but these classes are in the $13-18 range.

Too rich for my broke ass and its paycheck to paycheck existence.  I’d already let my 24hr membership lapse in arrears, though, so in this particular moment, “free” was just inside my price range.

Of course, I loved the workout.

It was all the usual good stuff about a spin workout: intensity, intervals, instruction, motivation…but their equipment was unique, too!  Their bikes are free-wheel affairs, like a real bike versus the typical weighted wheel you usually find on spin bikes.  The free-wheel meant no added stress on my knee.

Being able to walk pain free the day after class:  priceless.

After my week of free classes was up, it was time for an overdue vacation and time with the fam.  I swear, I will get around to writing about it, but for now, just know that I spent plenty of time on my bike.  And, my parents being the awesome folks they are, they slipped their broke ass boy some walking around money before putting me on a plane.  I swear, this whole “walking around money” phenomenon that happens in my family before someone gets on a plane?  I’ve always been a little jealous when I’m not the one traveling. 

But, thanks to the parentals, I had a few shekels for some spin classes.

And that’s where I’ve been putting my exercise effort, 2-3 times per week.  It’s nice, most of the classes I take are 40 minutes of spin and 20 minutes of what they call body sculpt.  Basically, that’s a 20 minute barre class…which is just enough to finish kicking my ass.

It’s been a great few weeks – this is the last week of my pass, so someone start a GoFundFatty to raise money for my next pass!  I’ve dropped enough fluff to fit quasi-comfortably into my 33″ waist shorts.  That’s a nice benefit…one that doubles my shorts wardrobe, too!  I’m still closer to 200 lbs than I’d prefer to be, but I’m moving in the right direction and I also know that some of my weight loss is camouflaged by lean muscle gain as I begin to regain leg muscle that has eroded over the last year of poor exercise.

It’s nice to see some definition peeking out from the shorts I now fit into again.  I call those muscles my eighths but people who are not cursed with chicken legs would call them quads.

Best part?

The last month of exercise has been largely pain free!  Like I said earlier, I can walk without soreness the day after class. That’s a huge plus.

My one instance of suffering was not so much a result of my exertion in class as much as it was a side effect of my usual gracefulness.

I’d been pushing myself hard in this particular class.  It was my second of the week and I’d noted the drop off in performance compared to the first class of the week earlier in my month-o-spin and wanted to push through it.

Mostly, I succeeded.

Mostly.

We were doing climb intervals.  Slowly increasing resistance until you were forced out of the seat to finish the interval, then repeating the process – the climb, if you will – about three times during a song.

It was the second song, second climb.  I already felt like I’d left it all on the last climb, so I was struggling…but determined.

Once that second climb ended and the Filipina Fox gave us permission to return to the seat…I sat.  As a matter of fact, I didn’t just sit, I fucking sat.

Hard.

Right on poor little lefty, if you get my drift.

No idea what he was doing hanging out back there, but I’ll tell you this…I didn’t pedal right for the rest of the class.

Meh.  It’s ok, though…it’s not like I’m using those muscles anyway, so I guess it could have been worse.

Fitfy: 49.33

Fitfy: 49.11

Nothing to see here, folks.

Move along.

Not only did I skip an entry last week – after my finest week of the year, too – but I compounded that by quite nearly doing nothing to report on during the week past.

I am a big believer in down weeks to let your body rest and also create a bit of a jolt to get you past a plateau when you resume exercise that next week, but let’s face it…I’ve hardly been doing anything consistent or impact-worthy that my body would need a down week.

Yet, here I am.

That said, I did manage to drag my old ass to the gym yesterday after my standing coffee date with The Silver Fox.  I had planned to lift and then do cardio, but his Foxiness is not back to lifting yet, and when we don’t both follow similar routines, it’s difficult to sync up our arrival/departure times.  Not that our routines are mirror images.  He prefers to do cardio and then lift, I am the opposite.  But time-wise, it marries up well.  If I lift and he doesn’t then I usually only get a half hour of cardio in before he’s ready to leave.

Which is odd, since I would normally prefer to avoid cardio altogether.  But, after a down year, my body needs cardio to burn that fat.

Anyhoo.

When we go for an hour of cardio, we generally try to grab side by side machines.  There is exactly one set of our preferred machines that fit this side by side mold, so it’s not always possible to make that happen, which was the case yesterday.

I walked upstairs while he grabbed a locker and our sweet spot was half occupied by a woman on the treadmill he would normally use.  Instead of conspicuously grabbing the machine right next to her when there were eight of the machines I like sitting empty in a row, I went to the opposite end of the row.  This had the added benefit of allowing me to watch The Masters while I huffed and wheezed instead of some new channel showing the batshit craziness that is haunting our White House these days.

Of course, my machine had some sort of hitch in its giddy-up and I could make out some weird click-snap-pop on the right side as it articulated, even over my headphones – Annie Lennox, in case you were wondering – but I was just glad it was the machine and not my body making the noise.

I turned up my music and huffed merrily along.

I looked casually over twenty minutes into my workout, longing for the silent companionship and smooth-working-sussurations of my normal Fox adjacent machine only to see that The Fox had somehow taken up residence.  It’s unlike me to move from one cardio machine to another during my hour, especially if it’s only from one broken down machine to the exact same model that is in full working order, and this was no exception.

Hey, I can commit, ok?  Just look at the embarrassment of romantic riches in the broken down boys I have dated in my life.

So I stayed put, texting The Fox, “You were a great white whale when I walked by that machine earlier” or some equally angry for no real reason other than to point out that I had at least looked to see if our machines were available when I came upstairs.  I then began text-complaining about how lackluster my workout felt.  Probably because of the wonky machine.  Also because a breakfast of iced latte just wasn’t giving me the energy to exercise with my normal faux enthusiasm.

Also, Annie Lennox isn’t an artist that inspires a lot of moving around…lesson learned.

Of course, this morning The Fox indicated that he hadn’t slept well last night, which usually means we are just grabbing coffee and not working out afterward.  Which is fine since I woke up with a soreness in my usual knee and an added return of an old injury in my left toe.

Gotta love waking up with random injuries.

Sometimes I miss the good old days when I would wake up with a disco related injury on a Saturday morning from the prior evening’s goings on.

Who knows?  Maybe I’m sleep dancing now.

But, not going to the gym after coffee gave me time to come home and pop out an exercise blog entry about – basically – not exercising.  Now, the big question…to post a retroactive entry about my best week of exercise year to date or just go to the gym and do something constructively physical to close out the week?

Facebook seemed to be suggesting that I day drink by posting this photo of me doing just that five years ago in Seattle with my one worthwhile ex-boyfriend…

But I’m really trying to balance my work-night drinking, and tomorrow is my Monday.

Ugh.  Big-boy decisions…guess you’ll have to check in next week to find out what I decided!  (Hint:  it’s probably Netflix on the couch!)

 

Fitfy: 49.11

Fitfy: 49.8

It’s time for a dry week.

A)  I don’t think I have had one this quarter/year, or at any rate, actually completed one in quite some time.

B)  Fitfy, I realized this morning as I was taking my weekly recycling progress pic to monitor my alcohol consumption, that this blog could also be called “What I’m Drinking” since it seems to be composed of equal parts sweat and booze.

Obviously, sweat and booze would be diametric opposites as far as how they contribute to the physical goal of this blog theme, and I have had a week where I pretty much skipped the gym…so this only seems fair.  Also, beneficial.

That said, here’s the recycling pic from week 49.7.

Not pictured: a growler of beer.  No, wait..two.  But they were shared.  Although, I admit to being the better lubricated of my growler companion (The Silver Fox) and I.

Now, witness the results from this past week – excluding the Monday Night Supper Club wine from last night, since my week seems to be running Sat-Fri.  I know!  It used to be a Friday-Thursday thing.  I’m a procrastinator.  Now, look…I’m publishing Sunday.  Where will it all end?  Also, yes…I know that last night was Saturday, not Monday, but Monday Night Supper Club has moved and I don’t have a set acronym-slash-name for the new night.  Diezel and I are working on it.  

I’ll take two bottles of wine and not quite a six pack as a week over week improvement.  Also, I was too busy/tired to excel at drinking last week.

Ok, enough of the negative – see also:  therapeutic – from last week.  Let’s get on to the exercise portion of this accountability blog.

My work-week was chaotic, to be sure.  But, in all that work mayhem, I still managed to clock 32.7 miles of schlep-walking while at the airport.  I call it schlep-walking since I’m generally pushing a cart or rack of something as I make my frenzied way around PDX between my five locations there.

BTW, for all of you curious about my sleep walking, I can report no further incidents.  But four nights in a row was plenty for this bout.  My sleep walking PR, as best I can attest.

Anyway, schlep-walking gets me a pretty good sweat and heart rate, especially since PDX has got to be the best heated airport ever.  But it’s nothing compared to what I accomplished at the gym this week with my cardio.  I made friends again with my favorite machine, I’ve been steering clear of it while my knee healed – and I’m still a little wary, but I just couldn’t resist.  It’s as close to the ballistic feeling I got from my running workouts, and I need that.  Not just physically, but mentally, too.  That pounding rhythm I experience in running just clears my mind.  Mental shit just bounces off of me when I run, and well, this machine closely emulates that same effect.

There’s barely any time to ogle cute guys working out near me when I use this machine, it focuses me on the goals so much more than the other cardio machines.

But don’t take my word for it.img_1887

800 calories in just under an hour?  Yes, please.  That knocks a bottle-plus out of my recycling bin!

Don’t judge that 2-setting.  I prefer the longer stride – obviously, with these ostrich legs I’ve been given – to the stair stepping motion of the higher 5-setting, but I do mix it up during my workout.  I was so motivated and proud of that 800 calorie burn that I went back the next day for an “or die trying” repeat.

Took a few seconds longer to accomplish, but I pulled it off.  I admit, I was a little distracted by a guy on to my right in the row ahead of me.  But it wasn’t just that he was a HGN (Hot Gay Nerd) but his workout was a bit odd and I was trying to figure out his rhythm.

Outside of those two Festivus-unworthy visits, my week at the gym was pretty lackluster.  I told ya, I was busy at work!  Sheesh.  Let it go.

I did feel the physical and mental changes missing the gym created in me over the course of the week.  To keep them slightly at bay, I did a couple of dumbbell mini workouts at home, just for the little endorphin push.  They even included some ab work, which I desperately need.  I’ve been avoiding my abs as my back pain hasn’t completely subsided and I know I cheat with my back when my abs fatigue.

But, I think my back pain has crossed a line.  Now, instead of my back pain being exacerbated by the cheating I do when working out, I think the pain is equally – if not wholly – due to the overall weakness of my core.  It’s a phys ed catch-22.  My Needle Man has been encouraging strengthening my core, so this week I caved.

Back still hurts.

The last accountability factor from last week is food.  It’s so good!  Why, why must it be so good?  While being busy and drinking less might make one suspect that I ate more emotionally, I have to say…that wasn’t the case.  Sure, I failed to take lunch to work with me last week, but what I ate was slightly better than basic burgers and ‘za.  There’s that, I suppose.  But also, I just ate…less.  Eating more is essentially where that emotional eating takes place.  It’s never more salad.  Maybe salad dressing shots, but not more veggies.  It’s always – and I hate using emotionally charged words like that – but it is always chips and popcorn and crap like that.  Last week, on my one emotional eating evening, I managed to pair my wine with hummus and carrots instead of chips.

So.

There’s.

That.

Less booze, better exercise, less and better food.  I’ll call 49.8 a win.  Now, it’s time to lather, rinse and repeat that bitch.

Off to the gym before dinner at #DanweiCanting with the parentals.

Fitfy: 49.8

Fitfy: 49.2

Well, what a week.

I mean, for me…it wasn’t that big of a deal, or anything.  Not compared to the week our country has had.  But, for me it was simply a much needed good kick in the butt.  Who knew I was flexible enough to do that to myself?

Fine.

It was a figurative kick in the butt.

I came back from the gym all high on endorphins last Friday and tapped out the first of what looks like a 52 entry commitment – from the guy who couldn’t successfully complete a tryptich blog entry.  It surprised me how much input that first installment received across all of my social outlets.

The support was motivating.

I am happy to report that I was able to complete my accountabilities last week, returning to the gym to lift the next day and even making it through an hour-long session of cardio during the week.  But it was a much more cathartic and ever so slightly entertaining week than just accomplishing those goals.

As I mentioned, Saturday I made it back to the gym – after coffee with the Silver Fox, natch – and did back, biceps and legs.  A good follow up to the prior day of chest, abs and triceps.  I’ve always enjoyed splitting my workouts up by muscle groups or push/pull rotations.  If I did full body workouts, back to back gym days would be inadvisable.  The whole goal of this fitfy adventure isn’t to bulk up so much as get fit (aka:  trim some of the fat) and get comfortable with the white ape looking back at me in the mirror every day.

He’s so judgy.

Splitting up my lifting days by muscle group will just allow me to go to the gym more frequently to lift versus going and plugging into a cardio machine, something I still hesitate to overdo because of my knee.  That said, getting out of bed at 3 am on Sunday morning for work was…a reminder of both why I need to do this and why I dread doing this.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.

My poor chesticles.  I was a little stiff in the back, which isn’t entirely abnormal after a good 8 hours of sleep, but my chest.

Oh, boy.

Raising my arm to pull back the shower curtain and then again to wash my hair?

So tight.

It felt like fire.

It was awesome.  Crippling, but in an awesome way.

To add to the delight of rising early Sunday morning for work, the Silver Fox and I had indulged in some Chinese food for dinner the night before to celebrate the Lunar New Year.  To say it was a tasty treat was to downplay the yum factor of a food I don’t indulge in too often…generally eschewing the walk to Old Town/Chinatown to get my Golden Horse for the walk down the stairs of my building to get some Thai.

The added delight?  A Make So Good hangover.  One that had me up to use the bathroom and hydrate myself three times during the night.

But, by Monday afternoon, it was all pretty well settled.  The DOMS and the MSG hangover…luckily Monday wasn’t leg day, though.  No need to tempt fate.  Recovery after a workout is motivating in and of itself.  So, Monday afternoon I leave work and go to the gym.

I hate Mondays at the the gym.  Pretty much Tuesdays, too.  Everyone is there paying for their weekend sins.  I hadn’t had any – aside from the Chinese Food Fiasco – this particular weekend since I was in bed between 7 and 8 both nights so I was particularly not looking forward to the Monday/Tuesday gym bunnies.  The gym starts getting busy by 3 those days and I was aiming to get there before it got really bad at 6.  The Fox had planned to go at 3:30, but when I told him I was leaving work at a reasonable time and planned on getting to the gym at around 4:30, he decided to wait and go with me.

It wasn’t too busy when we arrived.

At 4.

You know, this Silver Fox guy…never late.  Definitely never late.  Usually because he’s early.  So when I tell him my plans, I can usually expect him to follow up in what would be considered timely if it weren’t so preemptive.  At 2:35-ish, I get a text that says, “I’m dressed for the gym”, which of course I have to respond to with the observation that he’s just gonna be chilling in his gym clothes for two hours.

Alas, this is The Fox’s way.

So, I’m completely unsurprised to get another text at 3:45 saying, “You must be getting close to home”.  Yeah, yeah…sure, sure.  I was, but I was also writing a blog on my way home, so I had back burnered my bestie and put him on mute while I finished it up.

Like I said, though…we arrived at the gym at 4:01 on an original E.T.A. of 4:30, so I forgive myself.

alien-cardioThat earlier arrival was still not early enough to merit two cardio machines next to each other.  He likes the traditional treadmill and I prefer this machine that kind of reminds me of that hydraulic lifter that Ripley uses to fight the Alien queen in Aliens.  Well, but for the legs.

We have an unmatched pair that we can usually get together, but not today.

Monday.

It was really fine, though, that machine is a little more stressful on my knee than I wanted to endure, so I grabbed an elliptical.  I was surprised by how well I performed after a long break.  The hardest part of cardio for me is usually shutting my brain down for an entire hour.  I’ve never figured out how people actually read while working out on an elliptical, so I am stuck listening to music and watching whatever is on TV without and sound.  It’s hard to not get bored.

And watching everyone else exercise.

My heel started aching in the final 10-15 minutes, but otherwise, it was a nice, successful 5 mile and 600-ish calorie return to cardio. The next day was my acupuncture day, so I felt like I could make it past the heel pain.  In addition to my acupuncture to treat my general decrepitness, I’ve been trying out a pill that is an herbal blend that reduces lower body pain.  I had been off of those for a full week and figured that they could be a useful crutch as I transition my body out of healing mode and into a more active mode.  Ironically, I was shoving this cardio session down my own throat simply because I wanted something to bridge the days between working out on my days off.  I walk a frantically paced 5-8 miles a day at work, so I get my cardio unofficially in on a weekly basis.  But my heart fitness and waistline don’t particularly match up, so more equals not worse in this case.

After the gym, The Fox declares he’s going to the Safeway to get some stuff for dinner.  I tag along, but only after lamenting that I hadn’t brought my wallet with me.  He promises to front me, so I tag along intent on getting some chicken for dinner.

I go butt wild while we are there.  I’ve been resist-attempting to take my lunch to work.  I started at the new year – the other one, not the lunar one – with salads, but ended up eating them for dinner the night before and buying lunch at the airport.  Still, I was eating salad.  At Safeway, I decided to take a page out of my boss’ book and try taking a sandwich.

Or two.

I end up owing The Fox $60, which I discovered last night he has forgotten about.

Tuesday morning I spring out of bed like a near 50 year old who thinks he’s 30 and get to work by 6.  It’s a close call…my 6 o’clock mornings start at 5 am and are pretty much a carefully timed routine that gets me reasonably presentable and on the 5:39 Max to the airport.  I call them my 6 o’clock mornings, but I get there at 6:10.

Sue me.

The amazing part of this isn’t that I managed to cram some barely competent sandwich making into the 39 minutes between my alarm going off and hearing “The doors are closing” on the Max…it’s that the 5 minutes that took had reduced my normally fast paced 9 block morning walk that I allow ten minutes for to a frantic and awkward 6 minute jog.

Which, of course I bragged about to my Needle Man that evening.

So, here I am…telling him that I’m working out, eating slightly better and experiencing much less pain.  Actually able to jog, FFS.  I think he was proud of one of us.

Maybe both.

Maybe surprised?

Wednesday begins much the same, but my sandwich making game is much improved.  A moot matter of pride given that my boss declared he was taking his assistants out to lunch that day.

Chinese Buffet.

<gulp>

I rallied.

Fat, old Xtopher can knuckle down when the going gets tough.  I managed to keep it to a respectfully packed two plates.  Plus, I could eat my sandwiches on Thursday.

Speaking of Thursday…not to brag, but I had a kombucha.

I don’t know what’s come over me.

Kombucha is a pretty tough sell for this E.O.G. guy.  After trying it and absolutely hating it ten years ago and then watching Rib make it in our kitchen when we lived together…well, I come by my lack of enthusiasm pretty honestly.  Despite the olfactory flashbacks to smelling the fermentation happening in our kitchen and seeing the floating “mother” in our fridge and assorted kitchen cabinets as Rib moved his concoction from place to place, I suspect just to catch me off guard, I graciously forced myself to try another ‘buch last summer…and liked it.

When I showed up on Thursday to one of our vendors bringing in samples from the same brand that I had tried last summer, I figured it was a safe endeavor.  It was a different blend, but still drinkable.

And did I die?

Nope.

Not all week.

Only 50 to go…I guess that makes this T-minus 50 to 50, eh?

Fitfy: 49.2

Fitfy: 49.1

In true procrastinator’s fashion, I’m getting around to executing my New Year’s resolutions about the time everyone else’s start to crumble.  But, to be honest, I’m not a fan of the New Year’s resolution…nevertheless, I had committed to myself to find a fitness balance in my life in this last year of my 40s.

Well, my birthday was last Saturday, so it’s time to get that party started.  The 2017 snowmageddon is behind us, the flu to beat all flus did not kill me before my birthday…so, I’m left with no choice but to honor my commitment to myself and get back to the gym.

I knew this was coming.  I took most of the end of last year off trying to let my myriad piddly injuries heal up in so-called preparation for this effort.  I finally sought treatment for my physical maladies in actual preparation for this year of embracing my physical self before the big five-O.

Nothing left this morning but to just do it.

I went back to the gym.

I probably should have called ahead to warn them so they could evacuate, since the collective intake of shocked breath as I re-entered the building nearly collapsed the walls.

There I was, though, ready to get my fitness on.

Wait, I should back up a little.

Back when I started working at PDX, I was pretty fluffy after a few months of inactivity.  I spent many days at work sweating through my clothes as I put about seven to eight miles in walking at a breakneck pace around the airport each day.  My focus being Human Resources, I was a little surprised at how much time I spent schlepping merchandise between my warehouse downstairs and our five stores in the airport.  Being a retailer for 30+ years, I enjoyed every second of it.  I was looking forward to the HR training I needed prior to diving into my primary focus, while secretly worried I would lose out on the opportunity to indulge in the physical side of retail I so enjoy.

I didn’t need to worry, as it turns out.  I probably spend two full days involved in my HR responsibilities and the other three are mine to support the platform pretty much however I want – or in true retail fashion, however the business dictates I must.

In that first month or so before I went to Boise for HR training, I probably walked off a pant size.  Less fluff, hoorah!  Over the holidays and my birthday, I probably put a good chunk of it back on.

Such is life.

See?  I’m already finding balance.

Last week, I was at my acupuncture appointment and chatting with my Needle Man about my physical self as I got weighed in, as is the norm at this clinic.

194.

Again.

Fully clad in my winter coat and shoes, I feel compelled to add.

Defensively.

My back pain had gone from a “waking me up at night 6-7” on a scale of 1-10 to an occasional 1 on that same scale.  My knee pain had gone from a feeling that it might buckle walking up stairs to an awkward ability to actually walk up friggin’ stairs.  My heel pain had been the last injury we started to treat and was still present, although was no longer the type of pain that made me worry that I might fall over when I put weight on it while getting up in the middle of the night to pee.  My hobble is much more infrequent, even though the pain is still probably in the 2-3 range.

Beats an 8, though.  I seriously did not know how I kept walking, other than simply telling myself that I had to just keep on doing so.

After that recap last week, I proudly (cautiously) declared to my Needle Man that I was ready to get back to the gym that weekend.  His response was to move into how my sleep was.

Ok.

Well, it was great.  I had been sleeping a good seven to eight hours each night, even though I was still getting up around 2:30 to pee each night.  The good news is that I was able to get to and from the bathroom without much pain and able to get back to sleep afterward.

Good, he says, transitioning back to my statement about exercise by recommending that I keep focused on resting up for another week and get back to the gym after the Chinese New Year, which is this week.

Hey, I’m a procrastinator.  It doesn’t really take much more than that to keep me away from the gym.

But then there’s this looming commitment I made to my favorite person…so, I wait another week for the Chinese New Year, but not until after the CNY per se.

The Silver Fox was over last night and mentioned that he wanted to go to the gym and I figured that was as good a sign as any that I had waited long enough.  Coffee in the morning followed by the gym after was the plan.

I woke up at 7:00 and zombie-walked around the house for a couple of hours before texting him that I was getting ready.  We made a plan for coffee at 9:30.

Dressed for the gym, he stressed.

Yes, mom.

And we did it.

Each of us with our individual old man pains, damn them all…we went.  I lifted while he found a cardio machine to make his bitch.  I had entered with the caveat that I wasn’t doing cardio, just lifting, and even then would probably only be there a half hour.

He expressed his surprise at my planned short stay.  I defended myself with the fact that – optimally – I only needed a half hour to lift.  All things not being optimal wasn’t going to change that.

No need to overdo it.

We both made it to about the 45 minute mark and left…planning a return tomorrow, which I take as a good sign.  I shared that the only discomfort I felt was emotional, not physical.  Specifically, that I felt fatter than ever around all of those fit folk.  Those folk that used to be my people.  Of course, he p’shawed that and told me that they didn’t matter.

I know…I know.

Trust me, if I’m ever judging an overweight person…it’s certainly never at the gym.  At least they showed up.

Today, I showed up.

I had told The Fox at coffee that I had decided the way to keep myself accountable to my commitment was to post a weekly blog update on my progress.  So, that is the naming paradigm you see in the title here; each Friday’s post will have a new 49-point-whatever week it is in my 49th year.

49.1 was the less than glamourous return to the gym.  I did chest, triceps and (fl)abs.  My plan is to return tomorrow for legs, back and biceps and to find at least one evening next week to get on a machine and do some sort of cardio.  I’d like to take that fully clad 194 and drop it by 10.

That will likely be the toughest commitment to keep…cardio.  Simply because of timing.  Not that there isn’t enough, more that the most optimal evening – midway through my work week – is Tuesday and that’s my acupuncture evening.  I think Wednesday is my newly minted “whine evening” with the Silver Fox, which we all know he’d gladly change for me if I asked.  Thursday is my Friday and I have no problem going that night, but then I’m basically at the gym three days in a row, which isn’t ideal.

That leaves Monday evening.

I hate going to the gym on Mondays…it’s so packed and the only thing that gets a workout is my rage – er, my early onset grumpiness.

I guess I’ll let you know what happens next Friday in 49.2.

Oh, and I had pizza for breakfast today.  Woo!

 

Fitfy: 49.1

Dry Week

Every now and then, I decide it’s time to give the old liver a break and take a holiday from booze.  I call this a Dry Week.

I’d say on average this happens about every three months.  Sometimes it’s six months between Dry Weeks and other times my Dry Week is three days.  Sometimes it starts on a Sunday, sometimes it starts on a Tuesday.  It just depends on me and my gut feeling.

This past Sunday, I woke up and felt it was a good time and declared to myself, “This is a good week”.  It was the start of the second week of a two week guest pass that the Filipina Fox had given to me to the gym she instructs spin at, so this would just help me with not just pleasing my gut feeling, but my actual gut as well.  Win-win.

I was wrong, of course.

About this being a good week time-wise for a Dry Week, not the appropriateness of the practice overall.

Sunday is a tricky day to start a Dry Week, because Sunday Funday.  But it’s not the middle of summer, so it wasn’t like everyone was thinking about getting outside and having some fun, which is a cake that is almost always iced with an adult beverage.

Hell, I can talk myself into just about any day being a tricky day to start a Dry Week.

This past Sunday, though…it was rainy and drizzly, so it was a pretty good day of laying low for old Xtopher and passed without incident.  Just a little side-eye from the partial bottle of wine on the counter.

Monday morning, I start getting texts about a happy hour that I agreed to with the Silver Fox and another mutual friend of ours.

<eye roll>

Of course.

You’d be surprised how often I inadvertently paint myself into corners like that.  It’s not like my phone/calendar wasn’t just chilling there next to me in bed when I thought, “This is a good week”.  Oh, well…I can handle a happy hour.

Plus, it will shock everyone.

Always fun.

From those texts, in support of the two week pass, I headed on into the gym for day two of exercise of the week.  I just popped into 24 Hour for some lifting and 45 minutes of cardio.  The day before I did a full hour of cardio.  The spin class gods were not smiling upon me so far this week.  Best of intentions for the 6:00 A.M. spin class at Muv to exploit my pass, but…6:00 got the “screw that” vote when my alarm went off at 5:15.

After the gym, I have a protein shake and back it up with some gross cottage cheese – great source of protein, disgusting food.  Then, I met up with The Fox and we drove over to Ex Novo to meet the now growing party.

There I am, ordering a soda and no food, not only am I not drinking at happy hour, I’m also – unsurprisingly – now not hungry.  Way to look weird, Galby.

Hashtag:  planning.

We all chat and have a good time, one of the guys had brought his toddler since his wife was traveling for business and the lil guy added a little extra fun to the conversation.  I barely noticed that people kept eating and ordering more beer since I was enjoying the conversation and environment.

I observed on the way to the car that $2.50 had to be the cheapest happy hour I had ever attended.  Realizing that where I had had only one soda, if I were drinking I would have had three beers, easy.

The Fox drops me off at home as I verbally pat myself on the back for clearing this hurdle in my Dry Week.  “See you tomorrow for drinks and strippers with The Kerby Boys!” he says as I climb out of the car, obviously enjoying planting that scheduling dagger.

Alright…it wouldn’t be the first time I pull the plug on a Dry Week because of bad scheduling.  Hell, I’ll pull the plug spontaneously for the right situation!

But the next day is packed with activities and before you know it, I’m pedaling like a maniac and getting nowhere at the 5:30 spin class that the Filipina Fox is leading.  Afterward, I feel jazzed and just end up not wanting to undo what I just accomplished.

I’m supposed to have dinner with The Fox beforehand to burn a groupon at a local shellfish restaurant that he raves about, but they’re closed.  We end up at a River Pig – a local pub-type place – ordering salads, of all things.

But I resist the siren call of their IPA and order a soda!  The Fox is crafty and grabs the bill before I can offer up my share, saying “If you’re not drinking, you’re not paying”…I think he’s a little proud of me.

The plans we have with The Kerby Boys were made about a month back, while we were having dinner at a local Cuban restaurant to debrief The Fox’s trip to Cuba.  I was the only one who hadn’t been, but listening to the three of them discuss their visits gave me an appreciable familiarity with the culture and their experiences there.   Not quite like I was there, mind you, but it is always fun to witness someone speak with passion about any topic.

I can’t imagine how this came up, probably just discussing the neighborhood that the Fox and I share, but The Boys mentioned that they don’t get down to town very often and hadn’t heard of nor been to this new gay strip club called Stag that we mentioned as a neighborhood “landmark”.

Ergo, we simply had to take them there.

We planned a Tuesday for many reasons, most importantly to me that the crowd would be minimized.

That said, I hadn’t planned on being outnumbered by strippers when we walked in at 10:00 PM.

Overall, the first few “performers” that we see are rather lackluster.  You know when one is lounging on the bar instead of dancing, that there’s nowhere to go but up.  Then the next stripper is wearing a knee brace.  That’ll teach me.  Oh, and sexy undies.  I wouldn’t actually complain about him just wearing a knee brace.

Probably.

The drinks are also weak.

Or water-y.  Which is a common complaint that I’ve heard since they opened.

Also, I don’t care.

Tonight.

Eventually, the acts begin to live up to the hype.  There are some dancers later in the line up that are a bit more enthusiastic.  One in particular – that is like a Cirque du Soleil refugee, living on the pole and the chin up bar and rings that are available – becomes the favorite.  One of The Kerby boys in particular is impressed with him because of his showmanship, but all four of us enjoy him and the obvious enthusiasm he has for this work.

Around 11:30, the crowd is picking up.  On a Tuesday…Portland, where young people go to retire.  The dancers are also starting to work a little harder, which is more the experience I was hoping to provide The Boys…they came all the way into town, after all.

All three miles.

The drinks are still weak, though, so I offer that we could always migrate for a nightcap to a bar that serves real gay-bar-quality drinks.  Everyone sinks lower in their seats and agrees that this venue is fine.

The power of tight undies, a bulge and a meaty butt.

I ain’t complaining as I sip my diet soda.

The clock rolls to Hump Day and we call it a night.

The icing on the cake is that one of The Kerby Boys runs into the front man for a local Portland band who is on his way in as we are on our way out.  This just got a little Page 6-y.

It’s after midnight.

Apparently, there had been a past invitation to run away with the World Famous Portlander directed at one of The Boys.  Years have passed since said invitation.  Still, he’s amazingly gracious and charming, initiating the conversation with our party.  He remembers my friend’s name from years before and introduces us to his boyfriend in the course of the interaction.

Va-va-va-voom, boyfriend!

That’s a fun way to end the evening, even if it’s slightly depressing to see such a hot piece of guy candy on this guy’s arm as I head home alone.

Again.

Yet, here I am…at the Half Way Point in the dry week!  Woo.

And 2/3 of the way through my week’s scheduled temptations.  I know I mentioned that this spontaneous Dry Week was poorly timed and not at all planned, right?

The last hurdle of the week isn’t the weekend itself, because drinking with amateurs is a fairly consistent non-starter for grumpy old Xtopher.  When I deign to go to a bar on a weekend, it’s to absolutely sit on the sidelines and seethe quietly, not chat and meet people.  Talking in bars on the weekends – or even attempting to – always leaves me sounding like Brenda Vaccaro and who needs that?

Not drinking with amateurs?  Reason why I’m single #199:  Doesn’t Drink With Amateurs.

No, the last temptation of the Chris isn’t the weekend, it’s the guest spot I have with my Little Buddy to see Heathers:  The Musical on it’s opening night here in Portland.  The friend she bought the ticket for can’t make it, so I am the rather lucky friend that gets to play stand-in.

Woo!

She suggests meeting at Migration Brewing since it’s only a few blocks from the venue and since she knows anything with the word “brewery” in it practically gets rubber stamp approval from me.  I tell her it’s my Dry Week, but no biggie.  I’ve been good thus far.

Maybe I’ll cave, maybe she’ll join me out of solidarity.

Life is such an adventure.

Well, traffic certainly was.

There’s nothing more shame inducing to a native Portlander that to see what a hard afternoon rain does to the rush hour commute.  It’s embarrassing, for sure, but also stress-inducing because I loathe tardiness and being late.  It is a situation that really gets me worked up.

And I take public transit.

Little Buddy doesn’t fare much better.  Since I’m not drinking, I don’t want to go into the brewery until she arrives.  She’s being re-routed through traffic at every turn.  I have to pee.  It’s really not a great situation.

It’s a shituation.  Chrisism.

Plus, I’m thinking – erroneously – that we were meeting at 5:40 and the show started at 6:00, it’s 5:55 by the time my LB has battled her way through traffic.  Heck, it took me until 5:45 to get 36 blocks on a bus.

Traveling in a straight line.

I go in as she parks, having clarified the start time.  I still don’t feel *right* walking in and heading for the can, so I order a beer…just in case LB wants one.

Turns out, I wanted it and it was I joining her in some stress-relieving libation solidarity.

Chris:  only human.

But, we have some food and our one drink and then head to the show – which is uh-mazing!  Very entertaining.  Not expressly true to the source camp movie, but does a great job of maintaining the spirit in the abbreviated format that stage affords.

It’s touring nationally, or available for local productions nationally…if it comes to your town – GO!

In appreciation to the Little Buddy for giving me the open seat beside her, I buy her a drink at the show.  A terrible Cab Sauv, which I can’t make her suffer through alone, so I pick one up for my as well.  More solidarity?  Maybe.  Maybe to save her a second trip to the bar during the show.

No, really.

Maybe.

I take a sip after she grimaces at her first drink.  It tastes like…I don’t even know.  She says fruit punch, but I just keep thinking that this wine put the “rape” in “grape”.

Hashtag: too soon, inappropriate.

It’s so bad, we both still have some in our cups when we leave the show two hours later.

So, that’s pretty much a wrap on my Dry Week.  It’s Friday afternoon and I know what I’m doing tonight and what I’m not doing:  drinking.

In retrospect, I’m gonna have to call this a Moist Week, since it wasn’t completely Dry, but pretty friggin’ close for me.

The best part?  I still got to spend time with some of my closest friends in Portland.

The second best part?  I think I’ve spent $30 cash this week.

And right up there, rounding out the Top 3 best parts?  I’ve lost 7 pounds this week.

 

Dry Week

Created In My Own Image

Anyone who has hung around me for any length of time has probably heard my personal take on fitness and diet:

In my 20s, I could eat and drink anything I wanted.  If I got fat, I just thought about losing weight and it happened.

When I was in my 30s, I could still eat and drink whatever I wanted but I had to work at keeping myself in shape.

Now that I am in my 40s, it doesn’t matter what I eat or how much I exercise…my body wants to be fat.

It’s a gross oversimplification of the situation…but it kind of encapsulates the basic experience I have had.  But maybe a 3000 word blog post will flesh out the reality of the situation and even exercise – ok…exorcise – a few of the shameful demons I battled along the way to how I came to be in this body I live in today.

First off, I was a scrawny kid who grew into a gangly 20-something.

 That’s me on the left.  I’m reasonably sure that the pants I am wearing were reincarnated curtains.  Just kidding.  They were Gar-Animals.  I’m also pretty sure that I could probably have worn that shirt until Junior High.

Oddly, I’m wearing a similarly colored baseball ringer as I write this.

Even more strange is the also similarly colored souvenir baseball ringer I picked up on one of my trips to Italy at the Rome Hard Rock Cafe.

What the hell?  I’m such a poser…I’m not even that athletic, which brings us back to that gangly kid.

Somewhere in my late teens – between leaving Manhattan and meeting my first boyfriend in Long Beach – I decided to get in shape.  Putting some meat on my bones was absolutely a byproduct of an unfortunate meeting between myself and a couple of shit kickers in my college days.  That’s all I’m saying about that, though.

For now.

I started working out with my buff college room mate on his Soloflex.

He swore he wasn’t gay.

He showed me some basic exercises and I pretty much copied what he did while trying to hide my involuntary physical response to him working out with me while shirtless and wearing his onion skin shorts from International Male.

He swore he wasn’t gay.

Whatever.  Neither was I, bro.

Once my family relocated to sunny SoCal and disintegrated into the California divorce culture – temporarily…like “two decades” temporary – I ended up in Long Beach.

I was fucking home.  Not home, like the feeling of home that Portland instills in me.  Home as in, I was in a place where I could let out the me that I had always tried to suppress as a closeted teen.

I joined a gym.  My first gym is my present gym:  24 Hour Fitness.  We’ve had a few trial separations over the years, but the thing – honestly – that keeps me coming back is their facility in Portland’s Pearl District.  It’s this enormous warehouse space.  In my opinion, it’s the greatest gym space that I’ve ever been in.  Probably in some part because of this picture that my tripping out of the closet self aspired to be:this guyYou know what I’m talking about.

So, I join the gym.  I run on the beach bike path down in Belmont Shores.  Obliviously running past the city’s two gay beaches and the cruise-y parking lot I would eventually come to name Le Boulevard de L’amour.

Loving the attention I received in doing so, even if I didn’t fully understand it.

Loving it way more than the attention I got in the showers at the gym.  You know that whoever designs gym showers is a total closet case.  Yes, I’m entertaining the idea that there is just one guy responsible for them all.  The only argument against?  Gym showers don’t actually have glory holes in the stalls.  Nor do they tend to have doors or shower curtains.

So, there’s 21 or 22 year old Xtopher…innocently showering at the gym.  Curiosity occasionally getting the better of me and causing me to glance at the aspirational physiques showering near me.

And the not-so-innocent things they are doing.

Learning to avoid the sauna and the steam room – ok, I can say that I understand people acting out in the relative anonymity and humidity of the steam room…their identity is fairly obscured, but the sauna?  It’s like broad daylight in there.  These guys got off on the public stuff.

Really got off on it.

Not that I would understand that for many years.  Nonetheless, learning to avoid those parts of the gym, ceding them – literally – into the hands of lonely, perverted gays.  Plus, Little Xtopher just doesn’t do extreme heat, which I think it perfectly normal as evidenced by the knowledge that I know what was happening in the steam room and sauna was decidedly not perfectly normal.  Also, take that, Shrinkage.

Sadly, I frequently still needed to shower at the gym before work or going on with my day.  It was SoCal…no one is making an unnecessary trip home to shower and change in that cluster fuck of traffic.

Necessary evil.

One guy who really loved showers hit on me one day as we dressed.  Asked me out.  He was a Doctor.

Oh!  A Doctor!

What?  I was a simple retail whore.  Ok…contextually the wrong word.  I just worked my way through a lot of different retail jobs building my resume and jumping for a full-time position, an increased responsibility and/or more money.  That type of whore.

So, a Doctor was a good get.

Just ask his boyfriend.

Oy.  Gays.

Obviously, somewhere along the line I not only came out to myself, but also began to nurture my sexuality.

I met another guy at the gym there in Long Beach.  He was 29…so old!  But also, so muscle-y and cool.  Definitely what I was aiming for with my efforts.

We started dating.

We also started working out together.

And other stuff.

We dated for quite a while.  Like, a year…which was a lifetime in my young 20s.  He introduced me to protein shakes – shut up, Diezel – to help build muscle and supplement the Taco Bell diet that both my wallet and metabolism would support at this point in my life.

I was a Salad Gay.  Chrisism.  Just a working-poor gay guy.

I also started working night shift, which allowed me to take classes in the daytime.

It allowed him to sleep with other guys in my bed while I worked.

What?  Why wouldn’t my boyfriend have a key to my apartment?  This so explained his approach to occasional sex to “keep it special”.  He had to conserve his *chi* in order to spread it around.

His surprise when I dumped him after walking in on him with another guy on morning…a guy who looked surprisingly twink-ish, was tall and had brown hair just like your favorite blog author.  On this blog site, anyway.

At least he had a type.

Men, it would seem.

Anyway, his surprise manifested itself as him beating me up.  Well, definitely knocking me around pretty good.

He and I disagreed on the types of marks I earned by standing up for myself.

Who wants to know his name?  Hehehe.  I tend to preserve people’s identity on my humble little blog, but I can actively picture some of my friends getting pretty riled up reading that and demanding to know.  Let’s say this pretty much unconsciously ended the appeal of older men for young Xtopher.

Clearly, I needed to be in better shape.

And alone.

I kept going to the gym.  It was a great way to detox from my “Yes, sir” days at work and my commute frustrations.  I’m kind of sociable – not sure if you picked up on that – and from Oregon…so, I would chat with people at the gym between sets.  This was before Super Sets were invented, so it helped pass the rest periods between sets.  I made several gym friends, one that was probably – oh…my age now!  He used to lecture me about using too much weight, telling me, “I never use more than 60 lbs, no matter the exercise” and looking at himself in the mirror.  Nodding appreciatively at his results.

Whatever, Old Person.

What?  You know you can’t tell kids anything.  Me included.  Ask my parents.

Anyway.

This went on until I ultimately met someone – who wasn’t a gym rat like me <gasp!> – fell in love and moved away with him to Florida.  Another blog.  Trust me.  But, I kept working out.  Whether it was an apartment complex gym or the real deal.  And running.  Wherever I was, Florida, Texas (yes…Texas), back in Long Beach once I returned to SoCal or in Oregon when I finally worked my way back to my hometown…I worked out.  By the way, I might have left SoCal for a guy, but when I say I worked my way back to Oregon…I mean it literally.  I was lucky enough to be hired on by a company while in Florida that was growing westward.  And I hitched my wagon right up, even if it meant an 11 month stay in awful Houston, Texas.

Ah, the days when I could get a friggin job.

So, back in Portland.  My hometown.  I’m 28 years old and this is where I first met the 24 Hour Fitness in the Pearl District, which was barely anything but warehouses along with a few that had oddly converted to row houses.  I don’t even think the road it’s on was paved.  Pretty sure it was gravel.

It’s also where – one night as I danced at Embers after work – I met the Sucks At Cheating Ex.  He literally walked out of the manufactured smoke on the dance floor as I leaned against the bar drinking a Sam Adams.

Yes, this was before the joke at our openly gay and unfortunately-named Mayor’s expense:

Q:  Why is Portland so great?

A:  It’s the only city in the country where an 18 year old can get a Sam Adams.

Yes, his name was Sam Adams.

Ok.  Is.

Google it for context.

Now, back to that smokey dance floor at Embers.

The smoke literally parted as he walked off of the dance floor.  Time slowed down.  That’s a sign, right?

He was all sweaty, so I offered to buy him a beer…because I had developed some wickedly good game in SoCal.

“Ok” he replies, “But I’m not gay.  I’m just here meeting friends.”

It’s last call.

We end up at my Jeep – which is parked right about in front of where I live in the North Park Blocks as I type.  I’ve taken a newbie gay guy to my car after picking him up in a bar.  Memories of Le Boulevard de L’amour swirl as we talk.

This post is full of weird little memory bombs.

He’s still sweating.  He apologizes for his drippy state, saying it’s just the supplements he takes before he works out.

Foreshadowing.

Ok, I thought you were just having a panic attack because you’re a straight guy sitting in a gay guy’s car outside a gay bar that your *friends* never showed up at and it’s 3:00 in the morning.

Whatever.

It’s 1997.  I’m 29.

 We start to date.

Awkwardly.

We work out together.

He comes out.

Over-dramatically.  Another blog.

He introduces me to his Agent.

I start modeling.

He moves in with me and my lesbian roommates.

We buy a house.

My agent calls me fat.

Remember this pic?

 I start using his supplements.

Yellow Jackets.

I’d made it to 32 before my metabolism fully betrayed me.  I was working out hard, but the results were slowing down.  I started with Yellow Jackets as a supplement and then worked in Creatine, Nos, Ripped Fuel…so many supplements.

My mentality quickly evolved or escalated, take your pick, into a dangerous “If the recommended dose gives me good results, then doubling it will be amazing!”  Sure, there was a pit stop along the way into mixing fat burners, recovery supplements, yada-yada-yada.

We worked out together at 24 Hour.  It was a fun date.  We made up nicknames for the people working out around us so we could talk about them.  Bad Ass Bitch.  Granny Face.  Bird Legs.

So that’s where he gets the whole nickname thing.

I was usually so jacked up that I needed – yeah, needed – a few martinis to effectively fall asleep.  But I looked amazing.  Who needed sleep?

Well, around 34 or 35, my stomach lining started eroding.  I got really bad heartburn that I couldn’t shake.  My body fat was so under control, I had gaunt cheeks and the fat had all but disappeared from my arms, legs and whatever I had that constituted an ass before this all began.

I quit drinking.

I stopped taking supplements.

My heartburn went away.  Cured!

The Sucks At Cheating Ex left me.

For a waiter.  A tall guy.  Muscular but slim.  Dark hair.

At least he had a type.

My heartburn turned into heart ache.

I started drinking.

I was 36.

Here we are, almost out of my 30s in this saga and just crossed the 2000 word threshold.

Right on track.

Unlike my life at this point.

And my exercise regimen.

I would still run to clear my head and heart, but I couldn’t go to the gym:  too painful.  I drank every night.  It’s not that I was a complete shut in.  I had EOGed the cable company at this point in my life, so I had to go to CCs on Monday nights to watch their rebroadcast of Queer As Folk after it aired on Sunday night.  I’m sure that was all on the up and up.  Whatever, it’s not like I wasn’t the only one there.

I was.

The bartenders and barbacks would bring me refills as I sat there on the dance floor watching the show.  Alone.

They would bring me snacks.

And drinks.

And drinks.

Eventually, they even let me order pizza from Old Town Pizza across the street.

Those angels delivered to across the damned street.

My waist size closed in on my age.

I met the Silver Fox around this time, too.  He wanted to date, maybe.  But, nononono.  I needed my time to grieve.  Plus, older guys…I still shuddered at the thought.  He and I became friends, though.  He would join me occasionally at CCs, as would one of my best friends from my prior relationship, Big Word Ben.

It was their friendship that eventually helped pull me out of my slump and get me and my fitness routine and my life back on track.

But, Seattle called.

Or put a gun to my head.

You choose.

It was the Bush years.  No, not that one, the second one.  10% of all Oregonians were out of work and my job in Salem had just been eliminated and relocated to Seattle.  Stay in Oregon with a severance package or move to Seattle and have a job?

The answer seemed so clear to me then.

Obvious, actually.

Plus a change of scenery would do me good.

Off to Seattle I went.  I had an apartment with a gym in it.  There was a 24 Hour about 10 blocks from my place – yes, mom…about 10 blocks! – and I was redeveloping my relationship with food and drink into a more healthily balanced entity.

My job there ended up ending a year after I moved to Seattle to save it.  That’s typical Chris luck, so I just rolled with it.  It wasn’t like a guy had treated me badly and broken up with me or anything.  This I could handle.  I bounced around to a few jobs that ultimately led to Sur La Table, where my cooking game really got on track and my diet came to exist in a good balance with my exercise routine, despite the universe and its attempts to make me into a fatty again.  I was making good money and working in a geographically undesirable place for exercising at 24 Hour, so I joined David Barton Gym, since it was right outside the door of my store.

It was good.  Very inspirational.

Then I got transferred to another store and DBG became geographically undesirable.

But

There was another gym close by.  About a block.  Not as good as next door, but I was trying to be reasonable as I approached 40.

Speaking of which, I committed to myself to get back into shape for my 40th…in a good way.  No destructive supplements and no abuse of the ones I do use.

Moderation.

I was being reasonable, after all.

Who the fuck was this reasonable person?  I must have killed off all of my crazy brain cells during my grieving period and this was what was left.

I joined X-Gym.

Their business model was “All personal training, all of the time”.  Their marketing campaign was “20 minutes, twice a week”.  It was amazing.  By 40 I was in the best shape of my life.  The coaching I received helped me to improve my form, grow comfortable with “new” exercise disciplines and re-evaluate my eating habits.  Totally worth the investment.

In myself.

Suck it, Former Agent.

The summer after I turned 40, I went to a nude beach with a friend.  Totally not my thing, but there I was.  He undressed and went into the bushes.  I undressed and laid down.

Flip.

No friend.

Flip again.

No friend.  Maybe a bear ate him.  I’d say “The Bad Type” but neither type of bear is really my type, so let’s go with the potentially lethal type versus the potentially leather type.

I am overheating, so I head into the water for a dip.

As I’m coming out, all Bo Derek-y, I see him finally coming out of the shrubs.  I’m walking toward my towel and he’s walking right toward me.  I didn’t immediately realize he was checking me out, with apparently favorable results, until he pulled a shocked face upon realizing he’s just sexually objectified his friend.

The rest of the day was a little weird.

But hopefully that will serve to highlight the results I had gotten.

Physically fit and healthy at 40.

Yay, me.  The hard work was worth it!

Then I meet Rib.  I’d been single for six years after a six year relationship…not that I hadn’t started trying to date, but Seattle.  ‘Nuff said.  He’s fresh off the boat and I hit it off-ish with this 24 year old.

We start dating.  Blog coming…maybe.  I get overwhelmed by all the feels I have for him and our time together, so who knows?

He’s quite the caretaker and we eat well.  He wants to overcome his twink-ish build, a pain near and dear to my heart, so we start working out together.

What?  There’s no pattern.  Shut up.

The food and drink kind of overwhelms my 40-something metabolism and I start packing on some spare lbs.  Rib is supportive and great, he says things like, “I kind of like a guy with a little bell-bell” as he pats my bell-bell.

Back to x-Gym.  I commit to get back in shape for my 45th birthday.

They’re great.

It happens.

Sure, I cry a lot.

That’s how hard they push you.

Sadly, I had also injured (exacerbated, but no one will ever get that story out of me) my shoulder and was in the process of making it worse as I exercised.

But I looked great!

Later that year, I developed shin splints as I was training to run the Seattle Half Marathon.  It was a long distance for me.  I had always been a 5 miler.  Fresh off my efforts with X-Gym, I powered through to my goal.  Once I reached it, I figured that I would see the Doctor if they hadn’t subsided.

They didn’t.

When my Doctor asked how long I had been feeling the shin splints, I replied honestly, that it had been about six weeks…no, maybe two months?

Blink, blink.

“Shin splints don’t last that long.”

I did a palms up.

“You need to go here and see this foot and ankle guy.  He’ll set you up for a bone scan, but stop running.”

No fucking way, doc.  I’ve been running for 30 years.

More, even.

“Well, you had a good run, then.  Didn’t ya?”

Ok, I set that one up.  That’ll teach me to leave a door open.

Sure enough, I had a stress fracture in my right tibia.

“You’re retired” my doc says.  “Find something else to do.  Swimming.  Cycling.  No more running.”

I figure going back to how it was before the half marathon would be a good compromise.

Plus, I hate being told what to do.

I fracture my left tibia.

“Retired.  Did you not hear me say that?” he says.

The third try was not the charm.  But it was the second time that I fractured my right tibia.  So there is that.

I got the hint.

Apparently, the supplements that I abused, plus just general aging and stuff had compromised my bone density and, well…no more running.

I missed it.  I had a real difficult time accepting the end of the 30+ year relationship that I had with running.  There’s nothing better for clearing your head than the ballistic action it provides.  I pictured my troubles literally being shaken loose and falling by the wayside.

My white rhythm never allowed me to succeed at simultaneously breathing and swimming, so that was a non-starter for broken old Xtopher.  Likewise, my ass wasn’t built for a bike seat, but it was at least a less lethal – if slightly less comfortable – solution to the middle finger my metabolism was giving post 45 year old me.

So, I tried it.

Oh, did I mention that I had broken up with Rib after 4 years?  Yeah, that grief wasn’t helping things along.

At all.

Also not helpful was moving back to Portland and finally – 20 years later – developing a taste for the ubiquitous Oregon IPA.

I needed to become one with the cycling.

I needed to develop a consistency with exercising more than just my drinking arm regularly.

And, there is effort involved.  I am investing in the process…and discovering that my original parts are simply wearing out.

The shins.  Not the band, the other ones.

The shoulder.  Nope, never gonna tell you what happened.

The knees.  Shut up, Diezel.

The back.  More shutting up, Diezel.

The bike tires.  What?  They just go flat for no reason.

Exercise these days is an exercise in making progress and then healing.

I need to – and am, I swear…or at least I’m making an effort to – develop a new sense of moderation in both my diet and exercise regimens.  What worked in the past no longer works for my pushing 50 self.  I need to get my routine to the point where it’s making progress and then recovering not healing.

But…I’m remembering an old guy that Twink Me used to see at the 24 Hour in Long Beach.

And I am beginning to understand his wisdom.

Stay tuned.

Ok, maybe I meant that a nearly 4000 word blog entry would flesh out some of the history I have with my relationship with fitness.  My longest post so far.  Thank you so much for reading.  I’m flattered by the time you put into checking into my little corner of the internet.  Feel free to share, if you like it, maybe your friends will, too!

Now, I think it’s dinner time for Myrtle and myself, chicken and broccoli for me and Mediterranean Feast for her.

Created In My Own Image

The Ongoing Saga of EOG

I am happy to report that this week has been a very successful return to a consistent exercise regimen.  Perhaps slightly excessive, but within reason.  Two days with Lifting/Cardio combinations.  Two days of Spin with the Filipina Fox at Muv, where she instructs, and one stand-alone Cardio sesh at 24.

Which is where this Early Onset Grumpiness tale begins.

I’ve just returned and had a little post-cardio cottage cheese.  Such a disgusting food, but such an easy source of protein.

Hush, Diezel.

Also, I stink.  But fear showering before putting my story down will result in another day of blog-silence.  After the social lovefest I received on Facebook yesterday…well, I just don’t want to be quiet today.

Also, Myrtle is keeping her distance versus trying her normal keyboard dance while I try and type.  I’m attributing that to my malodorousness.

I was heading out to run a couple of errand relative to the sale of my condo up in Seattle, so I was dressed in my basic bro tee-shirt and jeans attire with a backpack containing my gym clothes.  Now, there’s a story in and of itself that ends with me sending a six page fax to my realtor.

It was $12.45.

I handed over three $1 bills and got a puzzled look for my effort.

When the clerk re-iterated the total, I calmly replied with one of my grandfather’s chestnuts, “Jesus Christ!  I wanted to send a fax, not buy the whole place!”

She laughed and tried to tell me that long distance was expensive.  I countered with the fact that she was obviously right…cell phone carriers giving their long distance service away in unlimited quantities and all these days.

I don’t think she was as amused as I had intended.  Maybe she was.  Maybe I was a dick.

Naturally, once I arrived at the gym I realized that I had forgotten not only my earbuds but also my water bottle, I was primed for the milking that buying water at the gym is.  The picture below has the last bottle of water I bought at the gym, a 24 ounce bottle of water for $2.

Pretty crazy.

And obviously not worth it…since drinking it has not made me *smart* enough to remember to pack my damned water bottle for the gym in the first place.

 
The bottle on the right in the picture is the bottle I bought today after realizing that the gym has changed its water assortment since last week when I forgot last.  Yes, I know you aren’t really supposed to use water bottles like this over again.  I take reasonable precautions, though.  Like not expecting to live for freaking ever.

Back to the great Water Fiasco of 2016…it was $3.50 for 34 ounces.

Three goddamned fifty.  For water.  For real.

Of course, I didn’t want to trot out the same pilfered Chrisism twice in 20 minutes, so I couldn’t respond in the same manner that I had in the Fax Fiasco.  Instead, I glumly stated that “When I was a kid, this stuff was free!” which prompted what I suspect was a genuine giggle from the pretty young lady behind the counter.

At least my grumpy charm was back in working condition.

Seriously, though…Smart Water was $.08/ounce last time I bought it at the gym.  This Propel business – which I have never even heard of – is $.11/ounce.  Who do they think they are?!?

What I knew for sure was that I was definitely going to suffer through what this gym calls music while I worked out versus even looking at new earbuds.

They’d probably be $75.

Now, in other news…after the aforementioned Facebook lovefest last night, I really intended to get on the old laptop and polish up an old draft.  Somehow, I Hemingway-ed myself out of that with a nice bottle of red and some Netflix instead.  I don’t know how he did it.  But, apparently, my writing and creative proficiencies are not anywhere near Papa’s level yet, so this is what we get today.

On the upshot, my Friday night plans might have just washed out <gasp!>.  Maybe I will have some time this evening to Smith around some words.

What?  That was a legitimate gasp…my plans were with friends, not Biscuits.

The Ongoing Saga of EOG