Friday, July 02, 2004

Living with the Bitch

Made ya look...didn't I?...Uh huhhh?
See, YOU thought, "Ooohh, AJ's gonna talk about his step-Mom again...or maybe his wife...hey, this might be good!"

But I tricked ya. You thought I was going one way, but instead I'm takin' you a different way... (And if anyone recognizes the movie that line is from, you are indeed a very sharp person with excellent taste...)

No, what I'm referring to is the essence of the phrase that some wise, but horrendously cynical person, once coined: "Life is a bitch, and then you die."

Well I live with that bitch. We all do. I look her squarely in the face each morning and I plead with her to go easy on me that day. Sometimes she's merciful. But other times — like today — well, she's just a bitch.

Not that I'm unhappy or anything, mind you. My psyche is just fucking grand, thank you. It's my body that the bitch is kicking the crap out of.

Waisting away
In my previous story I spoke of my experience as a pizza driver, and the special, important time in my life that it was. However there is one part of me that really took a beating in those three years and has yet to completely recover.

My waistline.

Of course at the time you couldn't have convinced me that I would ever be subject to such changes. After all, I was an athlete. I had been all my life. Even at age 40 I was in near-competition shape. I still worked out regularly at a local gymnastics club, paying my way by helping to coach rings whenever I was there. I was still flexible enough to be able to do side-splits on the floor both ways as well as front Chinese (Pancake) splits. I was thisclose to getting back to holding an iron cross at 40 years old, which was a personal goal I had set for myself back when I was 25.

Years ago in my early 30s I used to playfully rag my Dad about that spare tire he had always carried around his waist. "Oh just you wait, you're gonna slow down some day. It'll happen to you too," he warned, smiling. "Not me, Pop," I gibed. "This kid is never gonna get fat."

The bitch just smiled, knowingly.

I honestly thought that I was the exception to the well-known rule that time changes your body. I was convinced that I would always look the same and feel the same. I mean, being 40 years old and still getting carded at bars has a certain way of making a guy feel at least somewhat invincible. And fat? Honey, I was still wearing a 28" waist size in my pants.

Unfortunately the timing of the events that precipitated my pizza driver experience couldn't have been worse. It forced me to stop working out at the precise time in my life that it was imperative that I remain active.

Delivering pizzas was a lot of fun, but eating pizza and/or other fast food for dinner five nights a week for nearly three years was definitely not what my body needed.

Now I know I've probably painted this mental picture for you of myself being transformed from Mini-Me to Fat Bastard. It wasn't that dramatic. But some of you (wink wink, stinky food lady) are probably aware that when you are vertically challenged, it doesn't take a whole lot to challenge your horizontal dimensions in the opposite direction. I competed in gymnastics in college at 128 pounds, and stayed there, occasionally competing in open meets until I was 30. When I turned 40 I sill only weighed 132. By the time I quit Papa John's at age 43, I had "ballooned" to 150, maybe higher (we didn't own a bathroom scale back then, so I really didn't know how much I weighed — and didn't want to).

I have to laugh sometimes when I hear people talk about having lost 40-50 pounds on some miracle diet. Hell, that's a third of my body weight! If I did that, I'd look like a freaking holocaust inmate (if you'll pardon the insensitivity).

Another key factor in the expansion of my waistline has been that with my permanent residence in the corporate world, as opposed to freelancing or telecommuting from home, finding time to work out has become much more difficult. Working out with weights bores the hell out of me, and working out in gymnastics, while my it is preference, has now become a near impossibility until I can get back into shape enough to not risk killing myself every time I get on the rings.

Two years ago I lost 15 pounds and was nearly back to where I wanted to be. However I wrongly assumed that I wouldn't have to fight to keep that weight off, relaxed and gained 10 pounds right back.

The Bitch is still smirking.

Now for the last year I've been struggling to get back on the wagon and start working out again. Michelle and I power walk together 3-4 times a week. That's a start. I've also begun using one of those wheels with the handle in the middle to work my abs. As I write this, I can hardly move without my abs cramping.

The Bitch is laughing in my face.

But I'm determined to keep going. Now I have motivation. At the end of August I'm going back to SoCal for my 30 Year High School Class Reunion. I know I won't be the one there with the most money, but I'm damn well determined to be at least one of the most well-preserved. That is, one of the most non-surgically well-preserved.

I have two other body-related goals. Since I failed at attaining my previous goal of holding an iron cross at age 40, I want to see if I can do it at age 50 instead. I've got almost exactly two years to get it done. I think I can do it. That one is for me.

My other goal is for my wife, Michelle. We were talking the other day and I asked her what was the one thing that really sealed the deal for her in being attracted to me when we started dating, "Was it my great looks? My warm and tender smile? My magnetic personality?"

Nope. "It was that time you showed me that you could hold a dime between your pecs."

Oh, c’mon now, if Big Jay can brag about his 6-pack, and Lovisa can talk about her boobs, I can talk about my pecs. My chest has always been my best physical feature, and while it won't be easy, for Michelle, I will do it again.

Take THAT, Bitch.
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