Where I present the unforeseen downsides to getting in shape
No – this isn’t one of those tongue-in-cheek “you don’t rest midway up the stairs” lists. I still don’t know if I truly consider myself “in shape,” I’m certainly in better shape than I have been, previously, at any time in my life, and I can tell you that there are some downsides to being in better shape that I did not consider, when I started this journey.
- Being Cold
- I used to jokingly say that, if I could get away with it, I’d never wear pants. No matter the weather, if I were heading to a holiday party? I was going in shorts. Sure, work functions, typically, frown on shorts – but I was the guy who, in the middle of winter, wore shorts. But as your body fat drops, there’s less insulation — I get cold, now. Heck, I’ve thought about getting myself long underwear, just so that I can make myself a little more comfortable if/when I’m heading somewhere that just might be chilly.
- The Toilet
- When my legs are sore? When I have pushed them especially hard the previous day . . . and sit down on the toilet? Well, I’ve given some serious thought to taking my work laptop into the bathroom at work, just because standing up, when I’m done, requires serious commitment, and the thought of sitting with my laptop on my lap, all afternoon, just seems easier.
- Letting Down Friends & Family
- A few weeks ago, I was at a family event, and chose not to have a cupcake. My mother-in-law, who made the cupcakes, made sure that I knew that she made a selection of cupcakes without chocolate, especially for me. I, basically, had to say “thank you, but no thanks” because a cupcake, while delicious, provided empty calories; I was trying to “keep myself good” ahead of Thanksgiving. I can’t help but think that my mother-in-law took the cupcake refusal personally.
- It doesn’t really get easier
- Well, maybe it does get easier, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it. Maybe it’s because I’ve “been down this road before.” As much as I want to say that, “yeah, but this time is different,” I’m afraid of falling off the wagon like I have, so many times before. So, I keep on top of my calories. I watch my macros. I ensure that I get enough fiber while limiting my carbs. I prioritize protein intake at most every meal. I especially don’t allow myself regular “cheat days1” or allow myself a reward for hitting a goal/target (I cringe when I think about how I allowed myself to stop & get a cinnamon bun on the way to work, each and every day, provided that I made myself sit on the exercise bike for at least 10 minutes in the morning . . . I was doing far more harm than good, back in those days).
- Your complaints about your body don’t go away – they just become more specific
- We all hate our bodies. I just watched Pumping Iron (the bodybuilding documentary that essentially launched Arnold Schwarzenegger from a bodybuilder to a movie star), and I’m convinced that, Schwarzenegger, at the height of his body-building career, when he was Adonis, personified, had a constant list of stuff that he wished to change about his body. Instead of thinking “I want a flatter belly,” you start looking at the loose skin around your stomach, wishing it weren’t there. “I want more muscles” morphs into “I want bigger shoulders”. Self-complaint doesn’t go away . . . it just becomes far more specific.
- Clothes shopping becomes a different kind of stressful
- It used to be that I would fear going clothes shopping because I’d have to try on clothes and, gulp, I didn’t know if I, maybe, had gone up a size. Now? Well, I’m cheap . . . not long ago, I went to TJ Maxx to look for a new pair of dress pants. I had no options in my size — 30″ waist and 34″ inseam pants, apparently, are, simply, not available at discount stores. So, I’ve essentially given up on shopping at discount stores, and thrift stores . . . and even the big box stores – well, shorts are easy enough to find – but pants? No. Heck, even on eBay, I commonly strike out, and I’m loathe to purchase anything that I can’t try on.
- You still think about food just as much as you always have
- They can say “nothing tastes as good as being fit feels,” but I really don’t know about that. The enjoyment I get from food is, truly, astonishing. The saving grace is that, because I’m so careful about what I eat, and want to ensure that every calorie “is worth it” (meaning that it’s going to taste great and provide nutritional value), I spend as much time daydreaming about cooking, and figuring out what I want to make myself to eat as I daydream about eating. All that said – I’ve been having flashbacks to the feeling of opening a fresh back of tortilla chips . . . you’ll have to forgive me if I need a moment.
- You’ll always need the occasional kick in the ass
- “Not feeling it” happens to everyone. Seriously. The most disciplined person in the world will, still, need a pep talk every now & then. Honestly, I treat a skipped workout or a cheat snack much like I imagine an AA member treats a beer — I text/tweet when I’m feeling vulnerable. I have several great resources who live inside my phone, and, when I have a serious case of the “not feeling it’s, they’re great at telling me “it’s just 15 minutes” for a workout, or reminding me that “a doughnut isn’t going to actually make you any less hungry”.
- People will come from anywhere to ask you how you did it, and always be disappointed in what you tell them
- You know, it does feel good when someone notices that you’re “looking better” (though the little old Greek ladies at church have been asking if I’m sick, lately, so it’s probably time for me to doubly-ensure that I’m maintaining my body mass), but “hey, you’ve lost weight” or “wow, looks like you’re working out” is, almost always, followed by “how did you do it?” Whatever you answer, you’re going to disappoint the person. Did you have gastric bypass surgery? Well, then surgery will scare the person. Did you focus on diet & exercise? That’s “too much work”. Did you adopt a low carb diet? The person will need their bread. Really, anything short of “I sat on my ass and ate pizza and bonbons” is going to be “too much” for someone looking to casually follow what you’re doing.