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.

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.

Definition impossible.

There’s a bike parked permanently by our work. It’s a little tattered, pale yellow. In the spokes of its back wheel is a piece of paper. It reads “In loving memory” or something of the like. Dedicated to its rider. I have no idea how long it’s been there. I’m not sure if The slip is actually paper, card or something laminated. In fact the only thing I’m sure of is that some dude rode this bike and it’s stuck around longer than he did. It’s a gesture that was done out of love. Of that I have no doubt. A desire for the ones he left behind to resonate how important he was to them in life. I don’t know this guy, but as far as I know, biking was pretty important to him.

I know nothing else about this bike. I’m not sure if the gesture was decreed in his will, but I’m guessing by his age this probably wasn’t the case. Seeing the bike my first thoughts were “isn’t that sad?” Followed by “aren’t his friends nice?” Followed by “geez, I hope that never happens to me.” Not death, that’s riding my back all the way to the end indiscriminate of my wishes. I hope that nobody ever says “welp, this is what Leon would’ve wanted” and builds a monument in my honour. Nobody else knows what any of us really want in a given situation, sometimes us least of all. It’s strangely presumptuous posthumously to think “they liked this thing. Let’s make it represent them to everybody who sees it from now on.” Does nobody else find it weird to have others deciding how you’re defined? That after you’re gone, ages come to pass and you’re just that individual who liked to bike?

We’re all infinitely multifaceted. We know that about ourselves and others know that about themselves. Sonder was the neologism created by the internet age to define the notion that this impression could go both ways. The thing is, we’re not everything to everyone. I’d wager that it’s a pretty rare individual who is authentically themselves all the time. There’s the fact that we assume roles banking on the path of least resistance (A.K.A. Letting things go at the office when Darryl is being officious and twerpy). We pretend to be a different self because it makes things easier or, rather, less convoluted. Sometimes things will go smoother if you don’t mention your aversions or doubts. You could have conflict, or you could let something that doesn’t mean a lot to you pass by and become forgotten. You could even be trying to avoid going deeper with people who mean very little to you. Your colleagues or netball team members don’t need to know about your part time metallurgy habit if you can’t be bothered answering questions. You might have friends you talk about anime with, others who are your basketball friends, a literal knitting circle (or crochet, I don’t discriminate). There could be no cause at all to blend these groups, so why would you even try?

A write. It’s one of the things I do. It’s not the only thing I do and it’s very far from a thing that defines me. To some people though, that’s my identity. If there’s an afterlife and I was peering at the Earth I’d vacated, it’d bum me out to see a typewriter erected in my honour. On one hand, it’s nice to be thought of. On the other hand it’s a very small part of who I am, who I’ve been and how I’ve affected others. I think back to all the funerals I’ve been to where new information came to light. It’s kind of bittersweet. Knowledge that’d never been brought up that could’ve entirely changed how I saw that person. Instead they were the version of themselves they chose to present. It’s sad that I never got to meet that person.

I don’t know what the takeaway is. I guess it’d be nice to figure out who my authentic self is. To figure out how to be the person I want to be irrespective of the judgement I assume others hold. To be impossible for anyone to describe in a sentence. To make any monument seem daft, because any physical reminder would be missing the point.

People, I’m more than just a Smash Mouth link repository.

Let’s face the truth: I obviously got bitten by a radioactive scrotum.

Something lately has changed in me. My posture has naturally shifted. I’ve been walking with my head held higher, chest more pronounced. Not bogged down so much by the weight of the world. Perceiving life through a different lens. Slights that once seemed so daunting have shrunk in my eyes. There’s a confidence I carry that for years was absent and nigh insurmountable goals feel closer. At times I feel like I can reach out physically and pull myself past them. I’m less inclined to meekly accept, when I could instead act. At the same time I’m mindful that my patience has dwindled somewhat. I’m quicker to frustration at being incapable of making things work out. When I see the obstacles in my way and understand they’re immovable, it feels like I’ve somehow failed myself. While I’m suddenly conscious of my capability, the area beyond my reach itches like a phantom limb.

I think my body has finally worked out how to produce testosterone.

I’m only half joking. Post Tough Mudder I’ve been cognisant of my own wherewithal to a greater extent. I’ve been putting effort into keeping active. I’ve also been buoyed by acknowledgement from others. Is this a psychological phenomena? Or could there be a chemical element to it? It’d explain the mood shifts I’ve been having, the chaffing of constraints and the perception of potential. The assurance in my back pocket of my own capability. The ability to dampen white noise in favour of the peaks. A reduction in seeing myself as the problem in all scenarios and an ability to instead look outwards.

It’s worth considering, if only to manage any potential harm it could do. I’ve definitely noticed myself being easily irritated at work lately. On one hand, since moving buildings while being stuck in the same job, there’s the awareness that I could be doing so much more. I’ve been trying to move on up (like M People). The fact that I’m not, after almost two years of a role that rarely changes, has become increasingly stifling. Over the past week, every time I leave the office to grab lunch I note my shitty mood. Stepping outside to take a breath has become less of a treat and more of a necessity. I don’t think I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve treated people with less respect. Still, I’m mildly concerned that this decreased inward reflection could cause me to at bullheaded or indelicate.

Like the majority of my thoughts, it’s probably bullshit. Concurrently, like any good coprologist, it could be bullshit that’s worth keeping tabs on.

Also if I hoist a car above my head, I think that’s an affirmative.

Icy red, icy red, icy red.

Things aren’t going precisely to plan and I’m seeing red. I’m not pissed, so much as looking at life through tinted glasses. No metaphor, I’m literally wearing red glasses right now. It’s bizarre. How bizarre? I can’t see green crossing lights. Anything red instantly pops, making the TTC ride entirely surreal. I’m partially colour blind and I can’t help but feel that I’m seeing in vampire vision right now. If I’m bloodlusted, I’m the most benign vampire around. Any cravings I had were sated by the mocha I quaffed. My plans may be awry, but I’m keeping a level head. I’m calm, or as calm as one can be while seeing red, hopped up on caffeine and pseudoephedrine.

Any questions you have are quite reasonable right now. Why am I wearing red glasses? Why am I on a train? What plans? I’ve been talking about a fancy party for a few days, so it’s time I cleared that up.

I’m terrible at New Years Resolutions (like last year when I said I’d watch all of Seinfeld. I finished to the end of season two), but not everyone is. My friend told me his resolution was to go to more chic cocktail parties. Getting dressed up in his best fancy pants and knocking elbows with Toronto’s finest. There was some type of allure calling to me. Like for one night I could pretend I’m not the type of person who looks at the paper after I’ve wiped. Just to make sure I’m regular, y’know? So I told my friend to keep me abreast of any swanky soirées coming up. Lo and behold, the Toronto Public Library has an annual fundraiser, “Hush Hush”. This year is superhero themed, which means not costumes, but classy dress with superhero accents thrown in. So far up my alley it’s a strike. Only problem? I don’t own fancy things (flashback to The Shirt Saga). Are we about to cue a shopping montage? Damn straight.

I told a co-worker I needed help buying a suit and she damn near flipped her shit. “Be ready to leave in an hour.” She told me. I was marched out of the office and down to H&M, where she nabbed a sales assistant and told him everything I was looking for. We had an ally. The two of them conspired, handing me different shirts, pants and jackets to capture the right look. I’ve got awkward proportions, so it was tough to find something that fit my shoulders, chest and waist. After the 5th or so suit, we had a perfect fit. Swish. Dark blue with brown patches on the elbows. It looks better than I make it sound. Took it in to the tailors to get the sleeves and hems taken in and bam! $300 or so later and I own my first real adult suit.

So I’ve got a suit, I’m wearing red glasses and on a train. Where is this going? There’s an unknown variable, clearly. An “X” if you will. Or maybe an X-man. Cyclops, I’m going as the bespectacled team leader of everyone’s favourite mutants. Hence the red specs I picked up from a bunz trade, but there’s one more component missing to really make the costume pop. I’ve got hazel eyes, that’s no bueno for a dude whose eyes function as apertures to a dimension of concussive force (yeah, that’s really the explanation for his powers. Comic book logic, eh? I thought they were just the portal to his soul. Unless his soul is pure concussive force. That’s pretty metal). The solution? Red contact lenses. I went on the net and bought some red contact lenses, special ones that glow in UV light.

Thing is, they weren’t delivered in time. I waited patiently at home, only to discover the couriers picked them up from the store yesterday at 5pm and they don’t deliver on weekends. So now I’m railing on out to Etobicoke to pick them up in store. An hour transit each way. The things we do to look good, eh?

So now it’s simple, I just need to clean the new brown leather shoes I bought, iron a shirt (and which part of that is simple I’m not sure) and borrow a tie from a friend. Maybe even a shower and a shave. Sheesh. At this stage, including the ticket, I’ve spent over $500 to try look like a million bucks. All this for one party (and I guess everything I bought will serve for later occasions. I’m not gonna bin it all once I leave). Being fancy isn’t cheap.

No wonder I’m seeing red.

There’s a difference between venting and seeking validation. As you can tell, it’s pretty slim.

Having one of those brain days where everything feels like a festering pile of shit. It’s fine, because I know I’ll wake up tomorrow feeling normal, in love with my life. Today though, I’m questioning why. So you, the lucky reader, gets pure stream of consciousness. Let’s get back to our roots!

Today I’m wondering how some days I wish my arms were twice the size so I could hug myself all over, then others I question whether it’s possible to loathe myself any more than I already do. I wonder when I’ll be funny enough, smart enough, attractive or desirable enough, informed enough, aware enough and what “enough” even means. How do you decide where you want to be when you have no earthly idea what form that takes? Why persist in this quest to find passion when that feels like too much work, when you could just dwindle away in obscurity instead? Why give a shit about anything when you don’t know what you want and even if you did it would seem too hard? Why do people care when you don’t? Why do people think you have it together while inside you’re crumbling, splintering into pieces too fragmented to ever come together?

I once interviewed an embalmer. I asked her what the worst thing she’d ever had to do was. She said some girl once got hit by a truck. Little girl, somewhere in the range of 5-8 years. She shattered, just came apart. Some of the pieces were smaller than a five cent coin. It was this embalmer’s job to put “humpty dumpty” together again. How do you even do that? Look at this scattered mess of skin, organs, bone, hair and muscle that used to be a tiny human who formerly lived, breathed, laughed, cried and loved her parents and think that there’s any justice, mercy or meaning to any of this? We’re all just bits, so many gross, squishy bits and after all this is done we’re just gonna be bits again.

Why am I doing this? Any of this? Why am I writing every day when I very obviously stopped caring so many entries ago? When was the last time I wrote something I was proud of? That wasn’t putting words on a page to fill a daily quota? What’s keeping me running? Some ill-conceived sense that it’ll lead somewhere? Or just inertia? How am I gonna sit in front of a microphone for an hour tonight, recording the tenth episode of a podcast about a fucking children’s film, that only started because of a one note joke? Why will there be a warm body hugging close to mine tonight when we’re both gonna be nothing but bits in the end? How has she not wised up and left yet?

Why is society such an overgrown rot? Why is anyone ever sure of anything? How do we keep butting heads with some misguided notion that we’re right, or that there is such a thing as being right? When are we going to cede that we’re all a little bit wrong and things wouldn’t be as polarised as they are if we didn’t constantly tell the other side that they’re assholes for thinking differently? How do we think that’ll help? As if calling someone out doesn’t immediately make them raise their hackles and stop listening to what we’re about to say because they don’t want to hear that they’re wrong? How can I say this knowing that people feel real, true, bone deep pain and it’s in every way reasonable that they’re gonna want to lash out, even if it’s the reason that we’re all gonna fail without getting anywhere? Because it’s so easy to confuse hurting someone who hurt you for actually feeling good. That utopia will never be possible because all of us, no matter how open-minded we are, don’t really want that, we just want to be right, affirmed and validated. We want to be heard and told that we’re not the problem, but we all are in some tiny way. Thinking that any of us have it figured out is the biggest joke of all.

It’s fine to not feel okay. Pretending otherwise doesn’t help anyone, least of all yourself. Be vulnerable, accept that sometimes you’ll fall apart and that’s just part of picking up the pieces and putting them back together again. We’re all broken and admitting our own weakness is what makes us human. We’re all just bits in the end, right?

Plus, there’s always tomorrow.

Let’s face it. I’m just gunning for a replica Eddie Murphy Raw costume.

Tough Mudder is tomorrow, which means I’ve been going on about this for the past two months.

Isn’t retrospect interesting?

By far the most prophetic thing in the entry was the last line. Pokémon Go was a game changer. It did make fitness fun. As you can well read, I’d planned to jog a little here and there. Six workouts including runs. Instead, hatching eggs became a part time job. Six workouts a week became seven or eight, sometimes nine, all in pursuit of a snorlax with decent IVs. As you could tell by my relative silence over the past week, the allure of Pokémon Go is dying out a little. I’ve hardly turned the app on in the past few days, no longer content to deal with the bugginess and lack of enticing new goals to reach. Still, while it held me fast, it kept me moving fast. I ran well over 200km playing that game, not to mention the many kilometres run while the game crashed or stalled.

The chain reaction of all the extra cardio fed into the other large question mark. Food. I decided to not be as militant as last year, but still tighten up with a month to go. Because I’d been running so much, I reached my goals far earlier than I expected. Consequently I did not go cold turkey. I let myself have cake now and then. I had a boozy night or two. Compared to last year, it’s put me in a much better place mentally. I haven’t resented the stresses I’ve put myself under, instead I practised moderation a bit more than normal. The goal was never to come out of this experience with a six pack, but to get to a point where I could feel proud of my progress and comfortable with my body. You know what? I am. I’ve done a shit-ton of work and I’m pleased with the results. I like my shape, and where bits are a little more round than is considered conventionally attractive, I’m starting to see them as features rather than flaws.

Why?

I’m stronger than I’ve been in the past year. After a long reprieve from straight up weightlifting, I was amazed to have kept up. I can still lift and squat under heavy bars. I’ve also become much better at gauging my limits and gently prodding them rather than trying to barge them down. I’m more respectful of my body and treat it far kinder than I ever have. My muscles are responsive, meaning I can do all the things I want to do and then some. Best of all, constant recurring pains are at their ebb. I feel great physically and because of this, despite whatever long-held body image anxiety I have, I see the representation of that in the mirror. I acknowledge all the things I can do and in the face of that, it’s harder to focus on what I can’t.

Maybe talk to me again after a week of hard drinking and we’ll see how I feel then.