Sometimes, rarely, but sometimes things align and hook me up when I need it. I’m not so jaded that I don’t realize and appreciate. Don’t get me wrong, I know I am lucky in a million ways a million people unfortunately never will be. I’m talking more about the just day-to-day hook-ups that seemingly come of out nowhere just when you need them.
To wit: I just got home from the gym and there, in the bathroom, I saw something so perfect it made me look up at my Truman Show producers and give a little nod. No, this is not a TMI story because it happened in a bathroom (ha), at least no more than my usual (haha, ugh). I saw a flyer for this contest thing where the first day you can weigh in is Monday, April 2nd and you try to lose the most weight by June 2nd. Prizes are 1st – 3rd place and according to the paper you get a few months free gym usage, some money, and a prize which is probably like some cup or powder thing. I have been working out fairly religiously now for 2 or 3 years. I should know how to do cups and powders and whatever and it would probably maximize the results of my dumb sweaty efforts but I just really don’t want to be that guy. I wear a bandana on my head for sweat and mismatched dress socks from work in the aqua blue New Balance shoes the internet told me to buy for this purpose. My favorite part of working out is showering somewhere I don’t have to wash the towel. But I’m petrified of being the size I once was. Petrified. So vain and weird. Whatever.
So why was this particular silly contest slice-worthy? I’m horrible at organization and planning and stuff. I kind of just…do. I guess I’m lazy. I work really hard, but in some regards, not so much. Anyways, after blowing up as people tend to do over winter break I re-dedicated myself to getting bikini ready for summer time. Two days in I got a three quarter tear in my hamstring. Fine. I work out upper body. After 5 weeks or so I slowly work my legs back in because I’m not all about being muscle guy, I just want to not be overweight. Again. Anymore. Whatever. And in my very un-knowledgeable perspective on fitness cardio is where the weight loss happens. Because the little digital readout tells me how many calories I’ve burned. And that’s what I look at when I purchase the things I will throw into my face. Not saturated carbo-mono-fructose sodium levels or whatever. Even though each day I saw the telltale black sketchy internal bleeding line running behind my knee letting me know my hammy was not only still torn but probably tearing worse and setting me back, I still did this for 3 days. Dummy.
As usual such a circuitous route to get where we’re going in my writing. I need to take some editing classes. Geez. After the bloody hammy thing I decided to stay off my legs in the gym for the entire month of March. Slowly introduce and gradually increase cardio during April while also going back into hard core diet mode. And then in May bring back “leg day” in my routine along with every day full strength cardio like before or harder. Finally, for the duration of those 2 months go with a strict diet and never miss a day at the gym. Never. I remember last year when we had parent teacher conferences, the long 12 hour day, and I was walking out with my teaching partner after telling her my plans for the next 2 hours. She told me to have fun at the gym in front of the boss and my principal was like – “you’re going to the gym? Now?!” And I did. I was so good about it. This led to people telling me for lots of the summer that I needed to eat a sandwich and stuff like that. It was validation. I never really saw it. I mean of course the scale didn’t lie. I saw the math. But even at the height of my “eat a sandwich” weight I was still too spare tire-ish. Still bigger than “perfect”.
But I like that. The idea that you put in effort and things actually change. Usually I know I don’t notice change so other people seeing it is proof. Or at least resembles proof. My actual, for real, dream job has always been to take a huge mess like an old busted up garage, or even house, and then have my job be to clear it out. Like, eventually have what was once there be totally gone with just flat, empty land left in its place. Seriously. Something so satifying about that. It’s why I think I like clearing brush even more than George W Bush always seemed to. Obvious results for your effort.
The only thing I can correlate the feeling (vanity, shallow egoism) I got from my eat a sandwich moments last year to was just before my senior year in high school started in Florida. I lucked out in that after we moved days after the last day of school in Illinois I had new friends waiting for me in Florida just at the beginning of summer because I had a cousin already living there and her friends took me under their wing. Some of them are lifelong friends years later. Anyways, I left Illinois an overweight kid with glasses. My parents got me contacts when we moved and I had literally not even opened my suitcases before I found myself in a pool hall for the first time ever with two dudes I just met, my age, and, like, bodybuilder huge. So maybe the stress of the move and spending that entire summer running around with this new social circle is what culminated in the moment and the feelings it elicited that I will never forget. It was right before senior year was to start and I was getting into my newfound Asian-American, very big, very southern friend’s lifted pickup truck. I will always remember him saying “come on, get your narrow-ass up here.” Except in his southern dialect it sounded like “cumm-o, gitcha narra-ass upp’er” – I can still hear it clear as a bell. I stopped, one foot up in the truck that may as well have been clouds, and one still down on earth and just froze. What did he just say?! Narrow? Or even, “narra”? Me? My ass? I attributed the sudden influx of girls coming around to my being the new guy from the mean streets of Chicago (my always suburban, suddenly narrow ass did not correct them) but I always just resigned myself to just being the overweight weird kid who got along with all circles and sub circles and never pigeonholed himself. But I was skinny. And they noticed!
So now we’re full circle and I’m chasing that dumb recognition even though I know it’ll never be enough for me. I’ll always see chubby. And I actually do have a plan this time. The one I laid out about April and May allowing me to either be ready to be noticed come June or at least with some real momentum to keep going as my free time opens up. My problem tends to be staying on task. Lately I’ll go do my very hard upper body workouts 7, 8 ,9 days in a row and start seeing progress and put on one of last year’s t shirts and feel muscle-y. Then I give myself a break with a day off. Buy that horrible for you I’m sure diet ice cream that’s like 350 calories to eat the whole pint. Maybe grab a bottle of wine. Then my dumb life throws a stress inducing curveball. Or work or practice runs very late and I was already super tired all day so going to the gym seems like a bad idea and going to bed early seems like a better one and it’s then midnight and I need to be up in 5 hours and I’m kicking my own not so narrow ass for missing the gym and staying up looking at stupid nonsense on the internet. By the time I hit the gym again 4 or 5 break days have passed.
But it’s ok, I’ve told myself. The real plan begins in April. Eat the pizza with the kids while you can. Drink all the wine after she said that or they did this or you had to go do the one thing. And so I returned to the gym today after a few days off after a brutal week where I was exhausted for every second. The “plan” being to get back on track heading into my April/May countdown. To not miss a day starting today. Then I saw the contest flyer. And I thought, well if I’m going to win the thing I should probably just not go to the gym and really pig out so my initial weight will be high and mostly so I can pig out before I jump off this abstinence kick cliff. But I am not going into the thing to try and be better than anyone. I need to be kept accountable. Don’t get me wrong, I have accomplished some things that I am very proud of by just putting my head down and working very hard to do so. But the timeframe on that paper – April 2nd to June 2nd – was just too perfect. You have to weigh in during certain hours on certain days at least once a week to stay in the contest. So no, I am not going to be a party sloth until the 2nd. It’s Spring Break. I have time to work out and I have ways to stay busy and not eat food all day. I eat the most at work and I will not be there this week. The problem with hiding behind my April/May plan as a means for feeling better about my breaks from the gym and from my diet is that every time I lace up those dumb shoes over my mismatched socks and tie on my dumb bandana after a handful of days off I realize then and there that I’m just digging myself out of a needless hole. That instead of adding to the good I’m simply trying to erase the bad for a while first.
The thing starts April 2nd. My plan and the gym’s thing. And I think it means something. That I’ve been hooked up by the cosmos or whatever after it trying its best the last month or so to grind me to dust and make me a miserable, wallowing baby. So thanks, I guess, universe. But I’m not going to meet you this time from a self-dug hole. I’m going to level the playing field myself and come ready to fight. Then one day in June when someone offers me a sandwich, I’m going to be grateful to have someone who cares about me and for all the other stuff I have rather than don’t. And then I’m going to eat that sandwich. I mean, I’ll probably take away at least one piece of bread but still. I’m already hungry in June. But I’m even hungrier right now. I got this.