Shortly before I went off to Dragon Con, I decided to do something that I hadn’t done in a very long time. I stepped onto the scale in my parents’ bathroom. While I know that inactivity and unemployment had taken their toll on my physique, I was unprepared for the number that I saw. I’m not going to go into how that made me feel or how I feel about my weight in general. This isn’t that kind of blog. What I am going to talk about to day is what I decided to do about it and why.
Let me give you some background. I’ll try to be brief. My family and I are sedentary folk, particularly my parents and I. We’re more at home when we’re at home, sitting in our respective areas of the house and reading books or messing around on our computers. We’re definitely textbook examples of objects in rest that tend to stay in rest. As a child, I believe I was more active. I’d run outside and play. I’d climb one of the trees in my backyard.
One day, that time ended and most of my free time was spent sitting. Sometimes, this worked out for me. When I first started college, I’d have a can of Mountain Dew and some Goldfish crackers for breakfast. I’d get on the computer and time would pass. I’d begin to wonder if I was hungry. Once my state of hunger was established, I’d start thinking about what I’d like to eat. Then, I’d get distracted. I’d go to and from classes and Mom would cook dinner. Instead of gaining the “Freshman 15,” I lost somewhere around 35 pounds. Funny thing about losing weight that way, it all comes back once you start eating regular meals. Whoops.
Ever since then, I’ve gotten progressively squishier. That’s the most insidious kind of weight gain. The sort that slowly creeps up on you until you look at yourself one day and realize that you’re nearly twice the person you used to be.
I’m not going to really make excuses for myself. Yes, jobs of the modern age do require a lot more sitting than is healthy. I’ve had long commutes, long hours, short commutes, and no hours. The long stretches of unemployment were the worst. I was lucky if I got out of my pajamas. Mostly, I sat in my room and played computer games while tossing my resume fruitlessly at various companies. Fortunately, that time is over (for now).
A few months back, my friends and I were chatting about the possibility of the Zombie Apocalypse. Whose friends don’t chat about that, right? As we were discussing our various survival strategies, I remember coming to one slightly depressing conclusion. I wouldn’t last long in that world. Just walking up the few flights of stairs to my brother’s apartment leaves me slightly winded. There was no way I’d be able to flee zombies or rampaging hordes of looters. While I kept going on in the chat like it was some kind of joke that I’d be among the first to fall, I was actually in tears at the thought of my hypothetical demise.
Fast-forward to me standing on the scale and deciding that enough was enough. I stared at that number and gave it my best Picard, “The line must be drawn here. This far, no further.” I did some research on local gyms, marveled at how expensive it would be to join one, and then asked my parents about their gym. Being the awesome parents that they are, they added me to their gym membership.
Ever since I got the gym membership, I’ve been attending about three times a week. Sometimes more. The first couple of weeks, I was mostly just walking on the treadmill while listening to the Pacific Rim soundtrack. It’s a great work-out companion. Seriously.
Then, I rediscovered the elliptical. If you want to feel like a Jaeger Pilot, that’s the machine for you. It kicked my ass. In a good way, of course.
One of the things I’ve noticed since I started going to the gym is just how many people ask you about it. They want to know what you do there and offer suggestions. Sometimes the suggestions just make me want to roll my eyes. Sometimes, though, they’re helpful. Thanks to so many sources, I’m lifting some weights now. As I’m typing this, my arms are still sore from this afternoon’s workout (cardio and arm day!).
There are some days when I really don’t want to go to the gym. It’s sometimes stressful carving out time to workout and with my schedule being a little irregular, I end up at the gym at the most random times. One of the perks of that is the exposure, sometimes literally, to different cultural standards. Ask me about my locker room experiences sometime. Anyway! What keeps me going is the fact that if some weird calamity befalls humanity or the Doctor pops up, I want to be able to keep up.
Yeah, I draw a lot (most) of my inspiration from geeky sources. I want to be as badass as Melinda May from “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” when I grow up. I want to be able to run from aliens and into the TARDIS. I want to have amazing arms like Sarah Connor in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
Whatever motivates you guys, go for it. It may be hard and you may be hurting, but there’s always something out there to which you can aspire. There’s always going to be some character or story that you wish you were or could be a part of if only you were just a little stronger or faster. Keep that in mind and it will make things easier.
The other day, my mother asked me if there was anyone in particular for whom I was trying to become less squishy. We don’t refer to it as “losing weight” in my house. I preferred to think of it as attempting to become less squishy. My family adopted my terminology.
While I know that Mom’s question was actually referring to my non-existent love life, the answer I gave her ended up being, “Me. I’m getting less squishy for me.” See, folks, that’s what is ultimately going to do it for you. Don’t try to change yourself for someone. Do what you need to do for you and no one else.
If you’re happy where you are, that’s great. If you want to get less squishy, go for it. Me? I really just want to be the best me possible. At the end of the day, that’s what keeps me going even when I’d rather just go straight home after work and vegetate. What motivates you?