Is it possible to exercise demons? Smite them with treadmills and shit?

This post is gonna be a hard slog. I’m operating at 25% capacity today.

I feel swampy right now. In my effort to shunt back to healthier habits, I’ve taken the cold bucket o’ water approach to a couple of things. No coffee today. The duelling tensions of sleep vs activities, artificial vs naturally produced energy, have meant that my coffee use has escalated as of late. It’s been none-too irregular for me to have four or five cups a day. Considering that all bar one of those are shitty brew coffee that I don’t even like, begs the question as to why I’d go there in the first place. Pretty sure it’s a combo of boredom consumption and habitual addiction. Too much coffee has meant flailing afternoons, which have led to crashing in the evening, no energy to get out and do things. I’ve been way less social than I’d like, unless prodded by alcohol. Not the place I want to be.

Drinking a ton of coffee is symptomatic of a larger addiction to consumption. It’s both because of this addiction and a cause of this condition. I feel a need to consume, which extends to filling a cup of coffee. The more I drink, the more my inhibitions are lowered. My sometimes foods, while usually during outside meal times, have become a larger part of my daily intake. I’ll make an exception for something I wouldn’t usually have, then make that same exception the next day “because it was okay yesterday”. Then I feel grumpy and bummed out that I’d veered so widely, leading to eating my feelings later on in the evening. At work our new-ish boss always has a well stocked treat table. If I had the discipline to not be treating myself constantly, I’d exercise it. With the way things have been, it wouldn’t surprise me if a caloric consumption (not that I’ve been counting) of one and a half to two times my normal intake has been the rule, rather than exception.

It’s a dumb, but understandable pattern to fall back into and it’s been throwing my mood way out of whack. I’ve been alternating between extreme grumpiness and fatigue. I’m distractible all the time. It’s shitting on my ability to concentrate on work, turning me into a home-bound mope and making me feel shitty about my body. It sucks. It’s also something that nobody else can really help me with. Sure, there’s emotional support, but emotional support is not habit forming and won’t help me get anywhere. It’s something I need to take care of on my own, because it’s not something I’m doing for anyone else. It’s also far from the first time I’ve hoisted this bugbear atop my shoulders and I’m sure it won’t be the last. As always, a long term view, self-compassion and hard work will be lead me in the right direction. Right now though, it’s slow going.

One foot in front of the other. Again and again.

If they were cassava chips, I’d risk it.

Sometimes you have dreams that you swear are trying to tell you something. Other times you get weirded out by your brain trying to sell you something.

Without further ado, my dream from last night, punched up just a smidge:

 

The shot opens on two hands clasped together. They’re swinging, attached to two bodies walking side by side. The lighting is sunny, with upbeat pop music in the background. Humming vocals, etc. There’s a moving zoom as the shot widens to show a couple walking through a mall. A heap of rapid static shots:

  • The woman runs over to a sunglasses stand.
  • A few quick shots of her wearing different pairs, smiling, goofing around. She gives him a suggestive eyebrow.
  • He runs to her, grabs her by the waist and swings her around, both smiling and laughing.
  • He tries on a selection of goofy outrageously coloured suits. All get a shake of the head from her.
  • She tries on a frilly pink bathing suit (guy shakes no), a bright yellow suit (guy gives the “so-so” hand gesture), an alien mascot costume (big thumbs up from him)
  • He tries on the frilly pink bathing suit she’d tried previously (big smile and nod from her).
  • They’re zooming around the mall in ride on scooters (still dressed in their outfits) racing with some old folks all having a grand time.

The static shots stop and we have motion again. They’re dressed back in their “civvies”, laughing. They up to a small convenience store which has a “Cascade Chips” display out front. The woman points towards it emphatically. Camera zooms in. Vocals in the music cut out, just the beat remains. Cuts back to the guy who’s nodding enthusiastically. Big thumbs up all around. Vocals kick back in. We see her hand reach out to grab a packet. They walk in the store, arms around each other’s shoulders, a bag in each person’s hand. Cutaway to a security camera, red light blinking, zooming in.

They sit down at a table in the food court. It’s a nice food court, greenery and a water fountain in the backdrop, lit by a rooftop window. They’re smiling, the vocals in the track hit their zenith. We can hear the faint pitter-patter of a rotor blade in the background. The guy pops open a bag and reaches in to grab a chip. The Cascade logo is clearly visible. The pitter-patter intensifies. He tosses it in his mouth and crunches down gleefully.

At that exact moment we hear glass shatter and see black garbed SAS agents rappelling through the ceiling. Music instantly cuts. Heavy on the SFX. Glass cascades (intentional) down around them as the agents land on the ground around them. Brutally efficient. Guns pointed at the woman, an agent behind the guy grabs his head and slams it down onto the table. The bag flies out of his hand and lands on the table pointing away from him. The woman is hysterical, screaming at the top of her lungs (as you would if something unexpected and horrible like this happened). The agent holds the guy’s head down on the table firmly. The guy is repeatedly saying “it’s not my fault, it’s not my fault”, almost feverishly. The agent yanks the guy’s arm behind his back sharply. The guy screams out in pain and continues his previous statement. A close up of his face, tears streaming down. The woman behind him is loudly weeping.

The camera cuts to a mid shot of the agent from front on. Arm still holding down the guy. He speaks. “You just couldn’t help yourself, could you?” (guy still muttering in the background). Out of the corner of the shot we see a feminine hand reaching across the table towards the open bag. A hand holding a combat knife instantly appears from off camera and nails the hand into the table. We hear a brief blood curdling scream before there’s a quick cutaway to a static shot of the Cascade Chips logo. The pleasant upbeat pop from earlier plays in the background.

VO: “Cascade Chips. A taste so good, it should be illegal.”

Just pop the tab with your sphincter. Why else would you squat so much?

Well I’m back on the pre-workout. If you remembered my previous experiences on the drug supplement, you’d find no reason to question why. If you didn’t, then the reason is obvious: I want to feel like I have super powers.

Whether or not mild discomfort is a super power is up to you. As I can only imagine Wolverine does as his skin knits together, five minutes after downing it I feel a tingling itch spread across the surface of my body. Like teensy little needles knitting together the fibres of my being, my pores are suffused with a wave of expectation. Hesitation lingers but a moment before realising that I’m about to ride what a mountain of coke would feel like without the euphoria: A disdain for limitations.

Taking pre-workout is indistinguishable from a metric fuckton of microdoses unified into one high. Let me rephrase: It makes you high. Pre-workout makes you feel young again, which is a nice way of saying that it shaves years off your life. You know that scene in Logan? The one with the bestial howls? It’s basically that in the middle of the gym, which is a super handy way of getting people to stop loitering at the squat rack. A heavy-breathing, sweaty dude behind you is a huge incentive to leave whatever you’re doing and never to return. To that end, given the packed gym during the prime 5.30pm time slot, it’s mostly standing around feeling your molecules vibrate rapidly.

The true fun of pre-workout is trying to justify to others why you needed to feel that for once you were capable of ripping a horse in half with your bare hands. Man once looked at the moon and started thinking “how” instead of “if”. Everyone who’s ever taken pre-workout has looked at the moon and started thinking how long would it take me to run there? Pre-workout is not merely to engage the limits of your strength, but to engage the limits of your healing factor. By tearing your muscles asunder, you’re daring your body not to keep up.

Even after these ringing endorsements, you may still be questioning whether pre-workout is right for you. In that case, take a hard look at yourself and search for these answers:

  • Do I crave the sensation of shelving an unopened can of Red Bull?
  • Are my workouts suffering from a lack of graft vs host style fear?
  • Is it not enough to feel uncomfortable in my own skin, that I need to make everyone else uncomfortable around me too?
  • Have I ever been envious of a pitbull’s saliva output?
  • Did I watch any of the Fast cinematic universe and think I wish I was a car?
  • Do I seek to make hummingbirds jealous of my heartbeat?
  • Am I bummed that I’ve never shit myself at the gym?
  • Do my eyeballs sometimes feel too small for my pupils?
  • Have I got #squadgoals for Nicolas Cage in the Wicker Man remake?
  • Is the dial up connection sound my favourite rapper?

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and suggest that pre-workout isn’t for everyone. Sometimes though, you just want to know what it feels like for your muscles to exist outside your skin. For those times, pre-workout has your back. And will likely capture your heart.

Sorry, I meant will make your heart seize up.

Still waiting for the kind-hearted pirate doctor film Eye Patch Adams.

In lieu of anything important going on right now, here are some short snippets.

  • I was really tired this morning, so for the first time since I returned to Canada I had coffee. It perked me up instantly and I was so confident that I peed in the middle urinal. If you weren’t sure already, that’s a ballsy move. I basically deserve a medal.
  • I haven’t been going out a ton. It’s been nice for a change. It’s also been a nice change for my wallet. My tuna/cracker lunches have been simple and cheap, saving a ton on lunchtime meals. I guess I’m paying for it in mercury poisoning. Next time everyone starts complaining about their mercury being in retrograde, it’ll be a very real concern for me.
  • Being a hermit has also meant I’m not shelling out for alcohol and meals. It’s a massive difference. Consequently my Magic the Gathering expenditure has gone way up. Suddenly it feels simple to be more blasé about spending money on something I want. It’s like wait, I can get all of these things I’ll use for ages and it’ll cost me less than the price of three beers? In short, I don’t know if I’m really saving any money. Net result zero.
  • I’ve done a few RPM classes at the gym lately as a way of getting in winter cardio. RPM people are different from normal gym people (though when have gym people ever been normal?). There are the hyper dudes who always pull their sleeves up and leave puddles on the ground beneath their bikes. Good on you for the effort, but if you’re that anti-sleeves, why not buy a tank top or something? I’m also unsure about the level of commitment required to buy those clip-in shoes. I guess if you’re a career RPMist you probably get more pull from them? How much do they help? Also what kind of disposable income do you have (that’s not already going to Magic cards)? Also what was with the woman who spent half the class looking at her phone? If something on your phone was that important, wouldn’t the lights, music and instructor be really distracting? Also how good was your subterranean reception? I need your plan.
  • Speaking of RPM, having heavily worked quads sure makes sex an uphill battle. It’s like a post-workout workout.
  • Apparently weather is so crummy today that we have freezing rain. I don’t know precisely what freezing rain is (though I could guess), but it sounds like a made up sci-fi concept. You know in Flash Gordon how Ming the Merciless is using his weather changing machine to plague planets with such nefarious ordeals as “hot hail”? Freezing rain sounds a lot like that.
  • The bathrooms at work have two toilet roll holders in each stall. While this sounds unremarkable, it’s actually amazing. No longer do we need to battle between over and under orientation. Instead, both sides are represented. Is this a recipe for world peace?
  • At work they have a TV on in the background screening Global TV. During the day it plays Days of our Lives, which isn’t notable. What is notable, is that there’s a long running character who looks like Snake Plissken. I guess he escaped from LA only to find himself in Salem. Today’s episode had a masquerade ball, which he attended. He wore his eye patch underneath his mask, which not only looked ridiculous, but also flew in the face (pun totally intended) of any kind of subterfuge.

I warned you nothing important was going on. This is what you get for not listening.

Weight and see.

I could write up a snazzy preamble slowly working into the topic, but frankly it’s better to put it out there. I’ve gained weight recently and it’s bumming me out. Eight kilos altogether. I’m the heaviest I’ve been in years and I can feel it, you know? It’s there when I see myself in a mirror. I see it in my face, a softness there. When I’m clothed, there are bulges I haven’t seen in years. When I’m not, curves have replaced definition I worked pretty hard for. I feel it at all times. Not just emotionally (I mean, that’s present too), but physically. My pants are tighter, less comfortable. Before I left, I bought a larger belt than normal because it was all they had close to my size. It fits pretty snugly now.

Emotionally I’m coping. Handling it. I’m not happy with how things have turned out, but I’m not letting it consume me either. Credit to my therapist, she coached me a little in case this came up. Yes, I’m in a situation I have control over. No, my identity is not tied to the way I look. Yes, my friends and family still love me as much as they did before. No, this one thing will not drag down every other aspect of my life. Sound melodramatic? That’s just how my thoughts manifest. You try telling your brain not to think like it does.

Now the why. Diet and exercise. End of year celebrations always involve a cluster of celebrations and I’ve rarely been one to shy away from celebrating. Due to barely taking a holiday in the past few years, I had to burn through a ton of vacation time. From the start of November to the end of January, I was away for five weeks. Five weeks of travelling, dining and drinking. I’ve found that a huge part of maintaining healthy habits is routine. It’s a lot easier to keep plugging away if the pieces are close at hand. The less effort you need to put into making more informed choices, the harder it is to fall back on excuses. Do you have healthy food in the cupboard or accessible at work? Whatever your fitness plans, are they close to your usual route? It’s hard to be as consistently active when you’re overseas. Between that we had Christmas in all of its splendour. Much feasting and revelry. I had a great time and even now I don’t regret it. Just keep breathing.

What now? First, compassion. A big thing I’ve learned in struggling with weight is to forgive myself for slip ups and deviations. At the same time, it’s important to recognise that this is nobody else’s issue to bear. They have their own trials. I’m not a robot, and to err is to be human. Letting go every once in a while stops me from fetishising unhealthy food. If I use it to reward myself, then I’m setting up an unhealthy relationship with my consumption. Casting rich cuisine as a “treat” ascribes a correlation of ethics to food. Food is neutral, it’s inanimate. If I give it a moral compass, that effects my relationship with it. If I feel guilty for having “bad” food, what is that gonna do to the way I feel about myself? It’ll set up a self-perpetuating cycle where I consume because I’m unhappy and I’m unhappy because of how much I’m consuming. Compassion is important.

Next, adherence. Routines. Simpler, healthy foods. More basic proteins and green/fibrous vegetables. Fruit instead of baked goods. Dropping alcohol consumption for a while (and when I do, moderation). Physical activity at least three times per week (cutting alcohol makes it a lot easier to get in for weekend workouts). More of a reliance on cardio (such a pity it’s winter, making outdoor running pretty tough). Maybe putting the money saved on alcohol into fun rewarding physical activities like indoor parkour, rock climbing or obstacle courses. There’s a non-zero chance that I’ll start to shed the first few kilos simply by being back to a regular routine. As always though, moving ever forward. Not beating myself up for what’s happened, but looking towards a solution and not at myself as a problem.

And now? Patience. With myself mostly.

A Mood for Mouthing off.

Because I’ve been procrastinating on the internet all night, it’s time to dig in and get this done. How about a round of dumb complaints?

  • I’m tired because I procrastinated on the internet last night instead of getting a good night of sleep.
  • I’m tired because I’ve been abstaining from drinking coffee. New Zealand’s coffee was so good that I’m loathe to drink shitty coffee and be disappointed.
  • I’m tired because jet lag has finally caught up with me after gloating about avoiding it for the past 24 hours.
  • I’m tired because getting back into work after three weeks of vacation is exhausting (oh poor me).
  • I’m tired because my diet was in travel mode. Getting back to normal food has been a shock to the system.
  • I’m craving rich foods because I’m trying to curb my diet back to something reasonable. The worst part is that they’re easily within reach and I have to exercise willpower. Once again, oh poor me.
  • After eating cheese, bakery food and quaffing booze most nights of my holiday, I feel bloated. I haven’t worked out whether my clothes seeming tight is psychosomatic or not. All I know is that my movement feels sluggish.
  • My body feels achy after my first time back at the gym post holiday. As with everything else, it’ll take a week or two to feel back to normal. Right now it’s like I’ve body swapped with a sloth.
  • Not drinking coffee after drinking so much coffee on vacation is wreaking havoc with my regularity. I used to pride myself so much on my ebullient bowels.
  • I got new slippers. That’s not really a complaint. They’re comfy and come half way up my calves, keeping me warm and toasty. The problem is that when I sit on the dunny my pants (both over and under) can’t slide all the way to the ground.
  • I wanted to chill out and watch something, but as I mentioned I wasted too much time on the internet and the evening is rapidly dwindling.
  • Neil Cicieraga just dropped the third album in the “Mouth” trilogy and because I’m taking a week off Facebook I have nowhere useful to share it.
  • I so want to listen to “Mouth Moods”, but I know how much it’ll lift my morning commute if I save it for tomorrow. I’m part of the internet generation, I’m no longer used to waiting for anything.
  • Then again, part of my identity was forged listening to this twelve times in a row in order to spend several hours downloading Weird Al parodies off Napster. So I guess I need to hand in my Still Jenny from the Block badge.
  • I wanted to go out and watch Moonlight tonight, but as I previously mentioned, I was tired. This means I either need to wait a week for cheap Tuesday tickets (and as I previously mentioned, I’m no longer used to waiting for anything), or see it for full price.
  • I’m mildly miffed that Amy Adams didn’t get a nomination for Arrival. She was fantastic. Then again, The Lobster was nominated for Best Original Screenplay so I have very little to complain about.
  • I like having things to complain about, so I guess The Lobster ensuring that I can’t complain is something to complain about.

If clouds are gonna rain on my parade, at least they have silver lining.

You’d think it’d be neck and neck, right?

When we last left our intrepid heroes (an intro I’m sure I’ve used previously, but everything new is old eventually), they were about to embark upon a Marlborough wine tasting. They weren’t speaking in third person then, so I don’t know when this bizarre editorial decree came down the pipeline. In any case, it’s not the most personal of tenses, so fuck it, we’ll do it live.

We were picked up by familiar friendly faces in a rental car. After a little Tetris action in the boot, we got on the road to Blenheim (but in truth I was just hankering for a bakery really badly. The glorious $3.50 filled roll and slice in Matamata set my expectations so high it was hard to get over them (so far, nothing compares 2 U, Matamata bakery). We checked into our camp ground which was in fact not ready for this jelly. We met our wine tour guide Morris who was ready for this jelly. He’d arrived early, so we left foot the tour and waited until post intoxication to check in at the camp ground. It also turned out that despite not booking a private tour, it was just the four of us. Bonus!

I told Morris of my hunger pangs and with glee he directed us towards his favourite local catering company/bakery. Clearly we had different standards of quality. I prayed to Dionysus that his standards for vino were higher than mine. I was ill content with my shitty pie and ham/cheese scone, but I didn’t want to hurt Morris’ feelings. He seemed a kind and sincere old soul and even I would feel like a dick for shitting on his favourite bakery.

Our first stop was at Wither Hills. As we drove, Morris told us of the tractor based pruning technique. The vines were planted wide enough apart for a tractor to drive through. It would have blade attachments on either side, ensuring that all vines had the same width, but also had blades on top to keep the height equal. After passing innumerable identical fields, it was clear that the Marlborough wine industry did not fuck around. Wither Hills was picturesque. The front lawn was dotted with bean bags and surrounded by rustic looking tables. A woman with large sunglasses held a glass of red wine behind her phone. She was also doing duckface even though the phone was pointed in the opposite direction. Strange. The wines were great, with flavours I didn’t expect from each variety. I had certain preconceived notions about what a savignon blanc would be, for instance, that didn’t hold true to higher quality wines. There were specific wines for us to taste, but we quickly learned that it was easy to go off menu based on personal preferences. We did. Oh, did we ever.

We visited another three wineries, all with different varieties to sample and vastly different atmospheres/staff. The unanimous favourite was the second stop on our tour- Spy Valley. They were a bit more remote and the woman behind the counter was both generous and personable. Out of all the vineyards we visited it really felt like she listened to our tastes and offered fitting samples accordingly. My girlfriend and I bought a bottle of the Envoy Riesling, which was very sweet off the top, with a pleasantly sour tail. Detectable the whole way. Morris told us that vineyards were big on functional recycling. He said some of them put large stones underneath their vines in order to soak up sunlight and slowly release heat throughout the evening. He said Spy Valley did a similar thing with broken wine bottles, using the reflective surface to shine on the vines from underneath, increasing the amount of sunlight they received. Smart.

The other two vineyards, Framingham and Hunters were very different yet again. Framingham had a bunch of music lyrics stenciled into the stones of their beautiful courtyard, but the woman who took our tasting was a little stuck up and stuff. She visibly paled as my girlfriend and I mentioned our love of sweet Rieslings. If she had spare arsenic I’m sure she would’ve poisoned our glasses. We didn’t find anything too amazing, but she really pushed the hard sell on our friends, who lived in Australia. They bought a bottle, but kind of regretted it. Hunter’s was set in a gorgeous backdrop of local flora and art. We got to sit in the courtyard under shade as we drank away the afternoon. She gave me the stink eye for trialling some olive oil pre-tasting and ruining my palate, but she couldn’t stay mad at us and soon joked around. A wonderful departure from the previous host. We didn’t grab any more bottles, but they definitely had some top notch bubbles, light and refreshing. We all stumbled back to the car, bellies and heads alike all giddy.