hat you see here is the beginning of a non-fiction project that I’ve had in mind concerning body-building. The details of the project itself are a secret, but my agent thinks it has legs. I do too.
It doesn’t start there, though, not by a long shot. Why write about body-building when I can immerse myself in it? Why write about it when I can live it? Thus begins a journey to write a book while training to become a body builder. We’re talking about taking me from who I am now, as an overweight writer, and transforming myself for life.
One year in the life of a body builder.
For one year, I will be training to get myself in peak physical condition using diet and trainers. And it will be part of my journey to write this book and instil habits I hope will remain with me for a lifetime.
Who am I? Let’s paint a portrait, shall we? Subject is 42, 5’11”, 285 pounds, 36% body fat. What doctors would call morbidly obese. A lovely term that’s meant to frighten the so-named into changing their life style and habits.
On the cusp of 40, subject received antibiotics for a root canal, which shot his gastrointestinal system and exacerbated mild lactose intolerance into a more severe version. After a year of exams and blood tests to determine the nature of the sudden lactose intolerance and wonky digestive system, it amounted to nothing more than IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) with lactose complications thrown in. It was a relief, frankly, given the laundry list of things that it could have been.
Meanwhile, the toll of being a writer and an avid computer gamer created their own problems. Back difficulties and soreness, creaking knees that sounded like a forest of complaints when I mounted the stairs, poor sleep, bad posture, slowed mental faculties and a general feeling of what’s best described as… blah.
In short, I’d stepped on the slope of middle-age and didn’t realize how steep it was to the bottom. My situation wasn’t bad yet, but it sure as hell wasn’t going to get better on its own. The days of punishing my body with irresponsible behaviour were over and the admission felt like a relief.
Now I could tell you all about overcoming not eating pizza and ice cream, or the fact that red meat had turned into a game of Russian roulette for my digestive system. Not terribly sexy, though, and more importantly, this wasn’t about feeling sorry for myself. And seriously… not eating the stuff that turns your bowels into a shotgun isn’t “overcoming” anything. It’s plain old sensibility at work.
Change had to come, and it had to come for the positive reasons before the negative ones forced me into action. Discussing my “problems” though, is generally against my nature, at least in this public a forum. But I had to. Claiming to change one’s health means nothing without a baseline to compare it to. A before picture if you will.
So back to the gym I went in 2008… another attempt in a string of attempts dating back to my late teens. And, as before, I started strong, sputtered along the way, and failed. Three days a week became two and then none. A million excuses why it happened, but frankly that’s the way we survive. Our egos can’t handle our own mistakes. We need to find an excuse that validates ourselves as victim. I did all the time. I’ve been fighting against doing it and it’s painful.
Finally, at the start of 2009, I tried a different approach. Rather than trying to fit my work outs around my schedule, which always created room for excuses, I opened my schedule to make work-outs a fixture. I started going in the morning when I woke up so the momentum of the day didn’t help build up resistances. Rather than going less to build up the habit, I went more. I went 4 times a week and discovered that the less “flex” I gave myself to muck about with my weekly schedule, the more diligent I became in following my routine. At the time I write this sentence, it is now 10 weeks in a row that I’ve hit the gym, four days a week. No skips, no missed beats. My energy is better, my posture stronger. Far fewer back aches, better sleep schedule, less knee complaints and less time spent at my desk.
Yay me, right?
Actually, if the story ended there, it would be boring and rather self-indulgent. Once I realized I wanted to write a book on body-building, something outside the description of exercises, reps, sets and diet and more on the human side of the equation, I realized I wanted to live one year in the life of a body builder. I decided to take it a step further, and change my life forever.
This is where I start and I am nervous. Nervous if I succeed. Nervous if I fail. But somewhere, in between, I hope to find the human experience in all this and not just write about it
You can follow my weekly updates here, as well as daily commentary on:
Twitter - LucienSoulban
Facebook - Lucien Soulban