Tag Archives: Rocky

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!

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How Jeremy Kyle stopped me from going to KFC

Jeremy Kyle is helping me lose weight. Technically he has no involvement or say in the matter, but he is the reason I haven’t gorged myself on bacon-wrapped Wispas or whiskey-covered pizzas. Today I went shopping with a mate, and our usual ritual involves worshipping at the house of the Colonel, namely KFC. I think I rattled the poor guy, as his look of genuine shock seemed to be waiting for the revelation that I was ill, perhaps that I had been diagnosed poultry intolerant. Or maybe even the news that a southern-fried (in the Colonel’s unique blend of herbs and spices) chicken had murdered my parents, Batman-style and that I was now an orphan with an insatiable vendetta against fowl. But it was Kyle, with his “I’m on such a high horse I get a nose-bleed up here, you scumbag!” smirk and his “I know the baby’s yours, you troglodyte” snort. Jeremy Kyle, without even knowing it, stopped me from going to KFC.

Are you talking to me? Are YOU talking to ME? I don't see any other smug hypocrites here, so you must be talking to me.

This has come about because today I was reminded of an episode of JK’s morning show from a couple of months back. The Jeremy Kyle Show, for the uninitiated is perhaps the most garish, and therefore compelling three-ring circus left in this country. It is everything you loved about Jerry Springer combined with everything you hated about being told off at school. Rather than just kick back like the Springster and watch the action unfold like the wonderful, slow-motion car crash that these shows are, Jeremy gets stuck in like he’s separating two six year-olds arguing over whose turn it is with the Tickle Me Elmo. He tells everyone to “look at me when I am speaking to you!”, to “shut up because this is my show!” and that “I’m Jeremy Kyle!”. And he delivers these lines as if he’s George Bush addressing the Al Qaeda office party; Dripping with witty, uneducated yet utterly thrilling contempt. At least it was thrilling, until he started doing it to me in my head.

So three men walk into a pub. A Palestinian, an Iraqi and a Kosovan...

 

Seeing Jeremy this morning in his natural habitat, teeing off on his monosyllabic opponents, reminded me of a “special” episode of the show that aired late last year. Now normally the show just features Kyle in verbal set-tos that are to intelligent debate what David Haye vs. Professor Stephen Hawking would be to Boxing. Jeremy, a university-educated former gambling addict who’s had scores of affairs, is clearly the ideal candidate to belittle uneducated people who are often gambling addicts or people who’ve had scores of affairs. Excuse me a second, an uneducated gentleman just walked past the window and I need to tell him he’s fat, his hair’s too long and his beard is rubbish.

He's coming for you David Haye. Be ready.

This special episode was a medical edition, basically Jeremy Kyle standing next to doctors and angrily repeating their medical advice to more sickly looking versions of the usual gutter-scrapings he has on as guests. Because these were no ordinary medical complaints (though Jeremy screaming “you’ve got a cold you absolute Neanderthal, get off my stage before I set fire to your grandma’s bungalow” would have been worthy of a broadcast), these were medical problems as freakish as the knuckle-draggers who suffered from them. This episode dealt with obesity and you can probably see what’s coming.

Now I don’t have a gambling addiction, I’m not an alcoholic, I don’t have a wife to beat and I’m not pregnant with the milkman’s baby (as of my last test). Therefore Jeremy’s brand of idiot-seeking put-down missiles generally land on others leaving me only with feelings of amusement. But this episode was shocking. After his usual bout of emotionless but rigorous hand-shaking with his terrified audience, Jeremy brought out a really fat bloke. It was a while ago now and I don’t remember his name so we’ll call him Flabtimus Prime. Now Flabtimus was having a rough time, he’d managed to lose his penis under his stomach and he certainly wasn’t going to find it in the boxes of Miniature Heroes he had under each arm. Or not, I forget the details. Anyway, FP was struggling to satisfy his considerably smaller lady, whose posture looked to be the biggest victim of their peculiar trysts. So Jeremy held both their hands, sympathetically and gently, quietly, barely audibly he told them he was here to help. I’m kidding of course, he made Flabtimus take his shirt off and then strapped him to a slab.

Once on what will henceforth be uncharitably named the Flab Slab, Flabtimus Prime was berated, insulted and mocked for being a tub of worthless lard. Suddenly the smile drained from my fat little face. I felt how the black passengers at the back of an Alabama bus felt when Rosa Parks was verbally abused by staff for refusing to give her seat to a white man during the Civil Rights movement. Another column, another comparison of my weight loss attempts to a historical watershed. I digress, Flabtimus was copping it bad from Jezza. The doctor kept trying to interject with medical information but JK just kept insisting the guy was going to die almost immediately, leaving his wife a widow in need of both sexual relief and a chiropractor (though some places apparently do both).

Slightly braver than me. Slightly.

This hit home for me and thus despite being a man who, if you’ve read the previous blogs you’ll be aware has maintained visual contact with his most valuable asset despite these tubby times, I turned down the KFC. Why? Because no amount of fried chicken, or fried anything really, could persuade me to go on the Flab Slab. I don’t want Jeremy Kyle spitting on my man boobs and telling me “to man up!”, or “to start acting like an adult!” and “to get off the drugs, stop molesting badgers and look after your baby!” I don’t want my bare chest appearing on television until my abs are so defined they make Daniel Craig in Casino Royale look like a blonde-haired, craggy-faced chump who shouldn’t be James Bond. Or, you know, more so.

I think Google is broken. I typed in "James Bond" and this twerp came up.

 

I must leave you now, and I sign off with the news that I’m going to stop promising you things because as the eagle-eyed amongst you will surely be aware, today’s column didn’t include the Rocky V musings, the gun-wielding farmer story or the death metal jogging advice. All those things will come, but too much happens to me for me to know exactly when. Probably tomorrow. Probably not though, I’m avenging my parent’s deaths at the hands of a rampant zinger burger.


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?