Origin Story: Chapter 3
Every superhero has an origin story. This is third part of the origin of the Rock-It Rider… me.
In every superhero or adventure story (or really any story) there is always a section of the tale where things take a bad turn. This is the “darkness before the dawn” moment.
If you’ve seen any James Bond film, any superhero movie, or followed Star Wars or watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy (or read it – you really should read it) you know this. It’s baked into the way we tell stories. James Bond has cleverly thwarted his foes for 90 minutes on screen and now he’s strapped to a table and some menacing gizmo is about to drop him into a tank full of sharks or cut him in half with a laser beam. How the heck is he going to get out of that pickle?
This is my darkness before the dawn segment.
I was reading, and studying and continuing to do my daily workouts. Eventually, I’d exhausted the resources of my household and bought a gym membership. I’d had gym memberships before, but had poor experiences, mostly – too crowded, poorly maintained equipment, meatheads who made working out there miserable or other personality fit things that just turned me off. But I needed access to more gear than I could afford to buy (or had room for in my house – at least that’s what I thought) so I bit the bullet. They even threw in a free session with a trainer to help me get a program together.
That’s where the story took a dark turn.
The trainer was a douche. If I knew then what I know now I would have walked up to the counter and asked to have a non-douche trainer assigned to me for my free session. Perhaps one who asked intelligent and meaningful questions about my goals and actually took the time to get to know me and understand what I was trying to do and why it was important to me, instead of running through his pre-programmed checklist of questions, not listening to my answers, and then spitting out generic beginner resistance training program that had nothing to do with what I was trying to accomplish.
That experience was discouraging. At that point I was a sponge for any and all fitness information, and I got nothing from this guy. In fact, I ended up dumping his shitty program and instead pulled one out of a Men’s Health magazine, modified it a bit and went with that. Was it really something designed for me and what I was trying to do? No. But at least it was stuff I understood and could commit to doing regularly.
Of course, there was another problem.
That whole “doing it regularly” thing. If you’re working out at home, getting up early to go lift weights in your garage, there’s a very good chance you’ll actually do it. Once that early wake-up becomes normal it’s a habit. Add in a drive to the gym, changing in the locker room, finding space in the weight room, going back to the locker room to shower and dress and whatnot and the ease with which I found excuses not to go was pretty staggering. When I do get to the gym, I’m working harder and doing more, but I’m not consistent with it anymore.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, I started to look for shortcuts on the nutrition side of the aisle. First up – The Atkins Diet. I made it through four weeks of this horror show before realizing it just wasn’t going to work for me… at all. A friend was doing the South Beach Diet, he looked pretty good, so I gave that a shot. Ugh. Atkins Lite was about the size of it.
So, some of you might be asking, what’s wrong with Atkins or South Beach? Well, to put it simply, they are both focused on eliminating or dramatically reducing consumption of carbohydrate, one of the three major macronutrients that composes food. Lots and lots of people have lost a whole bunch of weight doing both of these diets. The problem is most of the weight they’ve lost is water weight, due to glycogen deprivation. If you stay on either for long enough you’ll also risk losing muscle mass. Now, if your goal is to look good standing perfectly still and you have little or no interest in actually doing stuff with your body, that might be fine for you. For me it was a trainwreck.
On the days when I got to the gym I was training hard. Very hard. Mix that with steep calorie restriction and virtually no carbohydrate to fuel my muscles and I started to gain back body fat. My weight was going down, but I was looking and feeling worse and worse and worse. I was also cranky (my wife and kids would probably say crankier). On days when I would go out for rides I knew better than to try to do it without fuel, so those would be like mega cheat days for me. I was a basically a walking, talking weekly insulin spike. I was also getting slower. Ugh.