Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Tis The Season For Excuses

'Tis the season for excuses, is it not? "The Holidays" has come to include this autumnal ritual where people resign themselves to putting on 10 pounds and breaking all their good habits, then making New Year's resolutions to lose the 10 pounds again. The sheer elegance of the system impressed me, and I felt compelled me to share some of my favorite holiday gym excuses. Enjoy, and may your several upcoming holidays be happy and safe.

The Cold

I run with my dog, a short-haired breed with nails that curve downward if not tended regularly. I generally do his nails outside, which is inconvenient. And, running a short-haired breed in freezing temperatures is questionable at best. Honestly, my cardio suffers all winter long, right through the December Holiday 5K and the upcoming 4mi trail race in January, which must be scheduled explicitly to burn off gravy. What does not suck in the winter time is bundling up in my $7 Russell fleece and spending an hour in the squat rack.

The Food

I love turkey. I love football. Eating a turkey leg with my bare hands in front of a football game is a Christmas gift in itself. Fortunately, the lack of cardio and abundance of squats makes the winter feast days a prime bulking season. I put 12lb on my frame and 20lb on my squat last time I spent the winter under the bar. Then, my company has this annual Wellness Challenge in February where people get points for doing cardio, tracking meals, and losing pounds. So, I have an organized 4-week cut to get lean again once the weather starts to turn. Awesome!

The Fluffy Shame Of It All

You take just Thanksgiving week off, and you return to the gym with no stamina and no energy. Everybody else is quicker and leaner and oddly much younger after your three-day absence. The inertia of getting started is a deal-breaker for a lot of people, requiring that we internalize some truths about ourselves and our view of ourselves.

I'm too old, and I started too late. Gyms are full of 20-somethings, exercising like it's part of some elaborate mating dance. But for every man my age in the gym at 6am, there are a thousand more hunched over, stumbling into their day on ibuprofen and caffeine. I am forging ahead through my forties, outperforming the version of myself from my thirties. I am not challenging the 20-somethings; I am challenging time itself, like some gymno-physicist superhero.

This takes too long. Most people take 40 years to reach age 40, then want to be 35 again in 4 weeks. Change takes time and consistency. Chances are that you got overweight over a course of 10 years. You will not reverse all that physiology and build a new you in 3 months; think more like 3 years of hard-fought change and a lifetime of new habits. None of the reasons that you're in the gym today play themselves out overnight.

Everyone else is better than me. Yes, they are. I have accepted the notion that someone in this gym today can outlift me. I also have friends who are national and world medalists in their sports, whom I will never outperform, ever. The point of surrounding yourself with superior people is that you rebrand your inferiority as your room for growth. This is why trying to lose your fatness before going to the gym in front of the skinny people never works. Shame is bottomless. Acceptance is a foundation. I know I'm not the best, but I will never see myself as the worst again. There's simply no excuse for that.

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