Tag Archives: Fitness

Keep On Running

I think this is going well. My reason for thinking this is that for 45 minutes this evening I actually thought I was easily fit enough and good enough to play football for Manchester United. Granted, my reasoning for this was not exactly established by my moderately taxing fitness programme. While this whole ordeal has seemed like a big deal to me, I doubt players like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes got where they are by running for 20 minutes a day and cutting out crisps. Rather this fanciful notion was formed by the fact that for the first half of the game against Blackpool, United were to Football what Stevie Wonder would be to Darts. In the second half they annihilated hapless Blackpool and the reality hit that the closest I’ll get to playing for Manchester United is by adopting a Scottish accent and calling myself an overpaid waste on a regular basis.

Even his stubble is more than I could hope to achieve.

Elsewhere it has been rather quiet in the world of weight loss. With the weekly weigh-in being tomorrow, it’s a wonder I’ve managed to take my fingers out from down the back of my throat long enough to write this. I’ll be a supermodel yet, just watch me.

With little happening today, time to bring you one or two much-promised stories from the earlier days of this. Hark at me, three weeks in and I’m talking about this regime as if I’m Bob Dylan recalling going electric.

First up, the pros and cons of running to death metal music. Death metal isn’t for everyone, the drums sound like machine guns firing at a drawer full of knives, the guitars don’t just chug but positively grind and the bass is enough to leave more earwax on your headphones than there is under the tables of a primary school classroom. But if it is for you, then it is really for you. I am a huge fan of the genre, and this country has some bands that do it extremely well. If you like heavy music and ever get a chance to catch bands like Ingested, Annotations of an Autopsy, The Rotted and Morgue Orgy I suggest you give it a go, broaden your mind and support some bands who need it. A good gauge of whether you will like death metal is how offended you were when you just read the name “Morgue Orgy”. Reaching for the bucket? Then probably steer well clear.

The band responsible for my musings on the merits of death metal jogging are Trigger The Bloodshed, my favourite of the Brit-Death bunch. I first discovered them scaring the piss out of a bunch of floppy-haired scene kids who just wanted to dance at a metalcore gig in Birmingham and have loved them ever since. Their new album Degenerate really slams, and was my running soundtrack of choice on day two of this excursion. Now for getting me psyched up this was awesome. As opener A Vision Showing Nothing gave way to De-breed I was loving life, it was the closest I’ve looked to a genuine human being going for a run before or since. I detected a slight bounce in my step and the troubling thud of my heart trying to escape my ribcage was nowhere to be heard.

"Is that bloke in the crowd doing aerobics?"

However I noticed myself tiring extremely quickly. This is because rather than my usual, leisurely/snails/grass growing pace I had in fact took off like Linford Christie running from a drugs test. The double kick-drum assault had caused me to hit speeds never before seen, at least not by people who refuse to acknowledge any food that isn’t suffixed by “…and chips” as a meal. In a way this was very inspiring, tearing off down a country road to Britain’s premier riff-mongers. However I don’t think I’m quite ready for this level of exertion, my body is not yet a temple. Currently it resembles a dilapidated one-bedroom semi. The kitchen’s quite nice though. There I go, mind always on food. Anyway, I would however heartily recommend Trigger The Bloodshed for running to. As long as you are fit enough to watch tennis without getting tired and sweaty, you’ll find the catchy-but-crushing riffs an ideal aid to your daily jog.

"And you got those arms how? Ready Brek? Sure you did Linford!"

I know you are all gripped with excitement for tomorrow. Will his arms have grown? Will his belly have shrunk? Will he die in his sleep by attempting to eat his pillow while dreaming about giant Subway sandwiches? All will be revealed, I’ve got to run though. My body isn’t going to purge itself.


I’m turning into a dog!



I am turning into a dog. It’s all there. The begging at the dinner table, the daily exercise routine, the urinating on the kitchen floor. Okay that is not exactly true, I generally do it in the living room. But I am almost certainly being turned into a dog by my regime.

Luke I am...busting for a piss, open the door or I'm doing it in the Millenium Falcon again

My first inkling to my new-found canine ways struck me when my Dad ate his lunch the other day. Now this was bread and soup, we aren’t talking filet mignon here. Bread and soup is a very nice feed, but there is a good reason Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger didn’t pour Heinz Tomato over each other in 9 ½ Weeks and it wasn’t just the impracticality of boiling liquid meeting skin. While a serviceable feed, bread and soup is not the stuff dreams are made of. At least not yours. To you bread and soup is the sum of its parts, but to the fat lad on the diet it is so much more. This is when I realised I might be a dog. Watching my Dad eat this suddenly-incredible meal I became convinced that if he had thrown a piece of bread on the floor I would probably have barked at our family dog and eaten the precious morsel for myself. Not normal, I thought to myself.

What do you mean they didn't have Heinz? Campbell's? Oh for f...

Dog personality trait number two: going for “walkies”. Now in my case “walkies” is actually “runnies” but being as that is slang for diarrhoea, I tend to call it “running”. However I have reached the point where, like a dog, my day is structured around that section of regimented exercise. Granted, I tend to save my bowel movements for indoors but I even tend to run along the same route that we take the dog. I’m actually surprised nobody has seen my hyperventilating-blimp frame jogging towards them and stopped to pat me on the head, saying “what a good boy!” Which is a shame really; because if a man walked up to me, ruffled my hair, looked me in the eye and said “who’s a good boy?” I’d run faster than I ever have before, and I’d probably never stop.

Who's a good boy then? Come here you little chubby scamp!

When I returned from my run I was troubled to find myself hammering the final nail into my dog-coffin. I did this by doing what every dog does when they come back from their walk. I paced up and down, burning excess energy then laid on the sofa chewing a cushion. Transformation complete.

I’ve been a bit lax in writing the blog recently, but fear not. To punish my literary laziness I doubled my weightlifting reps and running distance today and my body is about as happy to see me as American congresswomen are to see Drowning Pool fans (too soon?). There is something about crippling oneself with exercise that actually spurs you on though, as if this is some kind of badge of honour. This is because no amount of exercise seems impressive if there is not an attached degree of physical pain. “I jumped over the Grand Canyon and didn’t feel a thing” inherently sounds nowhere near as awesome as “I walked to the kitchen and back twice today and now I’m dizzy, I can’t feel my legs and I’ve broken two ribs” It is not what you do that matters, it is how racked with excruciating pain you are. Nobody is going to read a blog that just features a variation of “It’s going really well actually, thanks for asking!” every day.

The patient's injuries were caused by blinking? Quite common actually doctor...

I’ll tell you who did read the blog though, Whose Line Is It Anyway? star and all-around comedy legend Greg Proops! I know how name-droppy this must sound, but I’m excited and this is my blog so you have to listen (because clicking that red cross in the corner of the browser window will give you a virus, honest) Mr P wished me luck and congratulated me on the content so far. So if this is your first time reading BvsTB then tell your friends that you were awesome enough to get on board with the blog that the stars are reading. Tell ‘em Greg Proops sent you!


Nando’s chicken, Sleeping Beauty and the Second World War

Okay so I ate half a chicken. Now hear me out here guys, for a start it wasn’t alive. At least not recently. Secondly it wasn’t for me, it was for my girlfriend. Okay, so it wasn’t for my girlfriend, it was in honour of my girlfriend. I ate half a chicken because it is what she wanted. Alright, fine! She didn’t specifically mention wanting to watch me swallow half a chicken like a cartoon cat eating a fish. She may have just let me buy her a birthday dinner at Nando’s, which she probably wasn’t aware included a complimentary floor show of me assaulting the half-bird like Pete Doherty going after a peri-peri coated photographer. I am aware that it was technically merely my presence and a token mouthful of something healthy, perhaps something green on a bed of something slightly greener, that was necessary for the festivities. But I am sceptical of this method. Allow me to elaborate.

Peri-peri marinaded photographer out of shot.

 

The same reason I didn’t man up and have something girly is the same reason why I hope never to have to work in a Subway. That is because working in a Subway for me would be like changing the sheets in a brothel. Substitute the crack-whores for a foot-long steak and cheese (which I’ve tried, but Subway only take cash or card) and it is exactly the same. As broken as this thinking must sound, I can’t go out to eat and deprive myself. I’d much rather deprive myself at home, it seems much more British somehow. Deprivation of anything; sleep, sex, food, oxygen, is something discussed only in one’s drawing room when the children have gone to bed, the women have gone to sew and be repressed and the men are taking their snuff and drinking impossibly expensive single malt. It is not just for my own wellbeing I fear either, think of the staff. If someone my size went in to a restaurant and said “I’ll have the salad” the waiter would probably awkwardly pace, awaiting the inevitable addition of “along with three deep-fried turkeys, a vat of chips covered in ground up Malteasers and an oil well of lager please.” If this was not forthcoming it would make the situation very tense for the waiter, what with the long silence and all. Best to save him the embarrassment and have a proper meal, eh?

WARNING: Subway Stores Ltd no longer accept prostitutes in exchange for this sandwich.

 

Elsewhere it has been an up and down day. Nutritionally I’ve done well, bar “The Great Nando’s Massacre”, however my usual fifty sit-ups were reduced to a pathetic three by a searing stomach pain. This must be down my body’s recent discovery that the muscles I used to inhabit the space where I keep my fat were not, in fact, stolen when I was 11 but are still there and holy hell are they angry! My stomach muscles have been woken up, and they are not enjoying the morning! Imagine a slumbering princess from the fairy stories of your childhood, needing a kiss from a noble prince to wake her up. Now imagine that the prince decided that setting fire to the curtains and headbutting the princess in the face was a better away to awaken the sleeping beauty. My decade of physical slumber has ended, and Princess Stomach would have much preferred the kiss than fifty sit-ups a day, a run, weight-lifting, lunges and less food than she has had since I was in the womb.   

Wake up love, its time to do your sit-ups!

 

I’m pleased to say I didn’t yield, and rallied with more lunges and running than usual to compensate for my inability to bend at the waist. I’d love to seamlessly segue into my next point by saying “it got me thinking why I decided to do this” but as anyone who read yesterday’s column will know, I planned to talk about that today anyway. What I’m looking for on this journey is achievement. I’m kind of in the lower-middle category for achievements by a 21 year old. I’ve got a university degree, which granted isn’t the hardest thing in the world to do, but with the government’s plans to raise tuition fees, it is pretty much the only thing in this economy that will increase in value over the next few years. I’ve had three part-time jobs and managed not to get sacked from any of them. I’ve had a lot of articles published on a range of topics including music, film, sports and news. I’ve won the League Cup and Premier League on Fifa 11 (not the proudest moment, but you’d be scared to hear just where it would rank in order of importance) These all came easily in a way, I’m not bragging but I didn’t have to push hard for these things. Perhaps including the degree in that isn’t fair, as it was a struggle but writing is something I’ve always found enjoyable. And I needed a last minute winner in the League Cup. But I guess I’ve always felt like I haven’t tried hard enough, that I haven’t reached for anything.

Hold up ref, you mean I CAN'T put the League Cup on my monster.co.uk CV?

 

My generation is one that has had to make its own achievements in a way. So was the 90s generation, but they at least managed to write books such as High Fidelity and Fight Club or make films, like…erm…High Fidelity and Fight Club about being a generation defined by being undefined. Other generations have had wars, or cultural uprisings such as flower power or punk, but the Noughties kid doesn’t really have anything tangible. With other eras, you earn credibility just for being there and rightfully so. I was at a university full of people who threw on Abbey Road or Electric Ladyland and wished it was the 60s. Admittedly less of my friends dug trenches in the floor, ate Kendal Mint Cake, rationed their butter and waited for Hitler to bomb us, but still the underlying envy that other generations were part of something, anything, was always there.

Nobody who hit adulthood in the noughties looks like this. Nobody.

To compare my struggle to shed an unwanted stone or three to the Second World War is a little bit over the top, and certainly not a direct comparison. But I’m doing this because I didn’t want to spend my life ducking out of things, of being happy to stand in a crowd of people walking in the right direction, wearing the right clothes, saying the right things and living the right life without trying. I’ve known I need to lose weight for a long time, but actually doing it is something I’ve only ever paid lip-service to. There have been other runs, previous sit-ups and dozens of brief diets. That is where this blog comes in. This is the padlock for my trap door, I’m boarding up the fire exit guys. Because I’ve quit diets before and not told a soul, most people I know probably don’t know or care how many times I’ve gone for runs then been too “tired” to follow it up with more exercise the next day. This blog is culpability. If this blog dries up, then this little corner of the universe will think I’m a quitter. So keep reading, and please comment. And if you come on here one day and there is no blog, get on my case and ask me why not. Make me do this people, because I can say no to myself but if this experiment has shown us anything so far, it’s that I’m probably too lazy to say no to you all. Until next time, where I will unveil the virtues and pitfalls of jogging to death metal, tell the tale of the drive-by shooting farmer and possibly even get to the Rocky V story I promised you yesterday. Possibly.


Damn You Rocky Balboa!

This man ruined my life.

Damn you Rocky Balboa. Damn you to hell. This is no misguided vendetta against the popular Rocky movie series, which for all its ups and downs remains one of my all-time favourites. This is for the film’s famous Bill Conti-penned theme tune, and the ridiculous ideas it has put into my head.

You see the lethal combination of Stallone’s mono-syllabic screen pugilist and the iconic series theme has led me down a painful road, both literally and figuratively. Allow me to elaborate. If you’d have been driving through a particular rural Bedfordshire village at around 2pm today you’d have seen what from a distance looked like an alarmingly red-faced bear. It was in fact myself, in shorts covering just enough of my lower extremities to avoid classification as underwear. I personally would identify my activity at the time as running, depending on your kindness-levels you may choose to term it “brisk walking” (very kind), “shuffling” (less kind), or “staggering” (ooh, sick burn!). You see I have embarked on a New Year’s fitness regime, and this blog is here to tell you about it.

So what is so special about some fat computer nerd losing weight then moaning about it? Because, my fellow computer nerd (and you’ll have to have been to find this, WordPress isn’t exactly Google is it?) I’m a real person. Not a real person like on cynical advertising campaigns or reality shows, the men who only have a four pack instead of a six pack or the girls who have to make do with being a size 2. I’m too real. I don’t want this to turn into a self-hating rant, the sort of thing people only read after you’ve either committed a crime or gone on X Factor (look for me at the 2011 auditions!). In truth I’m average, or at the very least I have a series of attributes, some good and some bad, that add up to average. Below-average fitness. Decent personality.  Disappointing hair. Varied music tastes. Constantly hungry. Extremely ambitious. Oversized waist. Obscure general knowledge (scraping the barrel, but I have won the odd quid on a quiz machine). What I’m getting at is this isn’t a pity party, this is a genuine attempt to put a normal 21st century male’s perspective on weight loss out into the world.

You see some of us can’t do the celebrity diets. I mean for a start, smack is really expensive and certainly not the healthiest way to get stick thin. And workout DVDs are simply bizarre, I mean who legitimately dances in front of their TV screaming “pump it!” while wearing a spandex one-piece that would make Mr Motivator blush? The only people I’ve met who’ve bought workout DVDs only did so because Kelly Brook hasn’t done porn yet, and while I’m sure they sweated I doubt it was in the interest of getting in shape. Pump it indeed.

He's pumped it, have you?

 Now that you’ve all suffered through a literary tangent that took in tiny shorts, celebrity smack addictions and masturbation, I will return to my original point. Why I am so annoyed at Rocky Balboa? The “Italian Stallion” has provided me with some of my favourite cinematic moments. When he did the impossible and went the distance with Apollo in the Oscar-winning debut, vanquished Hulk Hogan and Mr T in III, solved communism in IV and taught us all not to fuck with pensioners in Balboa he did so to the sound of me yelping in vicarious delight. But he has also led me to a future of joint pain, starvation and disillusionment. This is because of the cinematic technique that Rocky popularised, the musical training montage.

The musical training montage is simple. Take someone who is good at something, but doesn’t believe in them self. It could be because the task ahead is simply too hard, because their trainer died after Mr T screamed at them, or their scantily-clad African-American friend got battered by a Russian. Then have them work out. Lift weights, run, chop wood, chase chickens, hug said African-American chum all to the sound of an incredibly inspiring 3 minute song. Then, possibly with the aid of a new-found beard, have them take on the fucking world and win. This makes for great cinema…and a really rubbish workout plan.

You see no matter the task, Rocky Balboa can go from gibbering wreck to clobbering wrecking ball in three minutes, accompanied by nothing but that damn music. So I loaded up the track, titled “Gonna Fly Now”, on my iPod and I hit the road. I staggered up that hill like a seal that had been punched in the spine. Nothing. No sudden sense of purpose, no desire to take on the heavyweight champion of the world (it is still Apollo Creed isn’t it?), no desire to kick the snot out of Hulk Hogan. It can’t all happen at once I thought, so I threw on “Gonna Fly Now” again and pumped some iron. I even tried to put myself in Rocky’s shoes, picturing myself winning a boxing match and screaming ”Yo Adrian!” like a brain-damaged air-raid siren. Nothing. My arms still look like those cuts of chicken the butcher puts right at the front of the counter because they look like deflated balloons and nobody wants to buy them. One last try I thought, without the aid of an African-American guy to hug maybe even Sylvester Stallone would have needed one more montage before bludgeoning B.A Baracus. So I took to my sit-ups like a duck to concrete, and had a horrible realisation. My hunched posture, craving for Dairy Milk and stalling-car wheeze weren’t going to disappear over the course of one song, no matter how punch-a-rhino-in-the-face inspiring it was.

Give us a cuddle mate. Go on.

It is a disappointing revelation, even for a 21 year-old Journalism graduate (you didn’t think I taught myself to talk this much bollocks, did you?) who should really know better. Life isn’t a film. Mine though, is now a blog. The thrilling part about a blog is that nobody, not even the writer, knows how it is going to end. I could get washboard abs and a best-selling book out of this. I could get ligament damage and four page views. One thing is for sure, that this exercise lark is going to take more thought. Maybe if I try Eye Of The Tiger?