The measure of a man

My conventional bodybuilding days are over.

Not that I ever followed a conventional bodybuilding routine, but I thought it would make for a catchy hook.

When I started working, I held on to twice a week sessions of a hardgainer – type routine. I mixed this up with about 5 low-intensity cardio sessions a week. I was in good shape, but I made the decision to lose some weight. Bad mistake. I switched to a crossfit routine, then a pumping routine, and did an IF diet. I lost 5kg but quickly put it back on bingeing on carbs. I was unable to take the deprivation and swore never to IF again.

I went back on to a conventional routine, the regular small meals, the frequent sessions of low-intensity cardio; my love-hate relationship with carbs remained. But waking up early in the morning and preparing breakfast to eat, then lunch to take to work quickly becomes a chore. And rowing for 40 mins at a 2:30 pace is mind numbingly boring. Multiply this by five, which equates to all the free time you can possibly have after work and life quickly looks like its going nowhere. This realisation inevitably dawns on you when you find yourself rhythmically pulsing back and forth on an I beam after midnight on a weekday, the rower is swishing infernally, swishing soothingly, mimicking the sound of waves on a pond-like, except the only waves you’re getting is your life waving you goodbye, and you’re still wondering why you never have time to fuck around with a guitar anymore. It worked for me before, when I had all the time in the world after I graduated. In fact, I put up some good squat and deadlift numbers and got into the best shape of my life. How I have fallen since then.

The routine has its merits, it has its time and place, just not now. My priorities have changed. Take the 80 20 rule. I didn’t believe in doing as little as possible to get the most results. I didn’t care about diminishing returns. I wanted to do everything possible, squeeze the sucker dry. This was certainly my attitude when I started 10 years ago. As I grow older, I start asking why, why are you hurting yourself, what are you trying to prove. I was looking at myself in the mirror, and 10 years ago, I would never have believed I could have come so far. Why, why then. I’ve always been flirting with the alternative methodology of mixing cardio with weights, but I never quite crossed over to the other side. Now I feel ready to change. It feels right. Less time spent exercising, but with higher intensity to compensate. One big meal a day. A blue sandbag of death that teaches you about hubris. Result? More time bumming, less cooking. Why didn’t I think of that.

To go back to the question. Why, why do I do this. I wish I could do a Mishima and go all philosophical on you, but I can’t. Try it for yourself and you’ll see. You begin slowly and confidently. But soon the self-doubt creeps into your head. Through the heady mix of sweat and pain, with a chugging metalcore soundtrack in the background, you defy your body to continue, and you feel stronger for it. The machismo of defying your pain inflates you, the more you hurt, the more you guarantee the ecstatic bliss of escape when it ends. It is so very intriguing, the love-hate, the wanting and not wanting. It is hard to know who I am. This is one way I take the measure of myself.

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