Time for another look (back) at TURNING FORTY. We've covered the fact that my "Big 4-0" was HIJACKED by a rather serious onslaught of medical mysteries. Weird illnesses and surgery notwithstanding, I did spend some time around my 40th birthday doing what millions of men before me have done - something I myself have done more times than I can count. I tried to get back into shape.
Let's be clear. I have never been in noteworthy shape. Even in my best, most in-shape years (basically the Reagan years, plus some bits of the 90s), I looked like a runner, at best. This is mainly because I was a runner. So for me, trying to get back into shape wasn't like trying to reclaim some sort of football shape; just better shape would be fine.
I had already experienced a dozen or more get-back-in-shape restarts between my 30th and 40th birthdays, and all of them had stopped before any real progress had been made.
This is boring, right? Everybody does this, like, All The Time. True enough, but this time, I had help.
First, I had (drug-induced) time in the early mornings to exercise. This was utterly new to me, as I have not ever (EVER) been a morning person. Ever. I have to train coworkers at each new place of employment not to attempt to engage me before at least 10:30AM (11:00, just to be safe). But when I got sick and was in pain and whatnot, I was introduced to my new BFF, hydrocodone. I know - a narcotic painkiller is NOT supposed to get you out of bed at 5:30 in the morning; it's pretty much designed to keep you in bed, isn't it?
Well, I'm weird. Vicodin did knock me right the fuck out at night, but I invariably awoke with [Maris]'s first alarm at 5:30 each morning. I would still feel good and floaty, and would try to go back to sleep, but to no avail. So every morning I went downstairs and did all manner of situps and pushups, and engaged our "poor man's stairmaster" for at least an hour before work. I was sick, but I was exercising, and that made me feel just a little less helpless.
When the lung thing showed up and I started to cough, my routine got even better, for a while. The lung doc gave me a big-boy cough syrup with... hydrocodone. The same narcotic ingredient from vicodin in a delicious reminiscent-of-the-stuff-I-had-as-a-kid syrup! The pass-out-at-night-but-wake-up-totally-ready-to-work-out effect was, if anything, intensified.
Then came the surgery, and I stopped.
Then came steroids and too much energy and the almost-overnight defeat of the lung stuff and the joint pains, and I started again. Then came the indescribably huge appetite and massive weight gain that accompany steroids, and I stopped again.
About a year later, I found out I'd be going to my company's London office with my coworkers, and that I'd be dragged to Leicester Square's clubs, where I'd have to drink and dance and keep up with people far younger and fitter then I. I tried getting up and doing the "poor man's stairmaster" again - even tried popping the last few vicodin I had, to see if it would spring me from bed at 5:30AM. It didn't. I stopped. I decided I'd just have to act my age in London, or hurt myself trying to keep up. The latter happened. It was not pretty.
Five months after that debacle, the ol' Vortex of Doom was acquired (see any of the "Double-barrel Unemployment" posts) and I was laid off, with what amounted to a few months' worth of severance, bonus and accrued vacation pay. Time to get into shape again, whilst perusing the interwebs for a new paycheck provider.
I did okay for a while. Felt pretty good, too. Even treated myself to a spanky new pair of running shoes. I hadn't run in over eight years, but now I had time, and the itch to run again. I stopped. My knees would no longer allow my to run, even on grass. Those awesome new shoes, still languishing in my closet wondering if maybe it was something they said, have about 14 miles on them. I'd sell them to you - cheap - but selling used shoes is gross.
Almost TWO YEARS passed before I found a new permanent job. In that time, despite the pinched budget, I grew and grew and grew. So, this New Year's, I again resolved to get back into shape. Again. Wanna hear how it's been going? Sure you do! Here's my exercise journal, to date:
1/1/13 - It's New Year's Day. No workout. Too full and tired and hungover, and we're going to Mom's to get more full, later.
1/2/13 - Back to work. Tired. No workout.
1/3 - Too tired to put the /13 anymore. Behind at work. No workout.
1/4 - It's Friday. Who works out on Fridays?
1/5 - Playoffs and the putting away of Christmas gifts. No workout. This made me feel dark and mean, so I wrote about a DARK, MEAN HOBO PIRATE.
1/6 - Got to go to the Skins-Seahawks playoff game. Does tailgating and then standing and yelling for 3 hours count as a workout? Probably.
1/7 - Exhausted from the game. Work still really busy. National Championship is on. No workout. Roll Tide.
1/8 - Sick. Legitimately no workout.
1/9 - Sunspots. Very dangerous to work out during sunspots. Stayed very still.
1/10 - Got dressed for a good workout. This tired me out completely. Went to bed instead. Had a rum & Coke. Wrote about a MUCH NICER HOBO. Watched "Adult Swim."
1/11 - Fridays are NOT for exercising. It's the law. I think it's a Federal law, actually. Or Catholic. I've heard it said that I was baptized Catholic. So, no workout. Obviously.
1/12 - More playoffs?? Wowee!! Too bad I slept until game time. It's nice enough outside to grill, too? Well, there's no way I'm passing that up! No workout.
1/13 - Overtime at work. Extra money - yay! But, by the time I get this rotting Christmas tree out of the house, and put the cover on the grill - it's gonna rain - it'll be playoffs time again, plus we have new episodes of Bob's Burgers, Family Guy and American Dad to watch. How can anyone be expected to work out during THAT?
1/14 - Ooh - Lance Armstrong is going to tell Oprah what we all already know! No workout.
1/15 - The Nationals signed a pitcher. A good one. Potential closer, actually. But wait. They already have not one, but TWO closers. And this guy comes from the yankees. He's tainted. Must pray to baseball gods, that I may know how to feel about this acquisition. No workout.
11/16 - You know, it's been a while since I wrote a blog post. No workout.
So you see, like a 1980s child trying to get the hang of Atari Missile command, I am continually hitting the reset button, in the hopes that this time, I'll get it.
I think I'm off to a great start in 2013. Think I'll go for the high score...
*Remember, I'm not really a slacker. I'm just not real ambitious.