Category Archives: Exercise

What Is Too Thin?

This post is personal. Please forgive me if my tone is harsh; it’s not my intention. Like I always do, I write vaguely at times, use a word or adopt a tone carelessly. Read this with the idea that you’re getting to know me better. If you read it looking for errors or a fight, you’ll of course find motive.

I woke up this morning to find myself weighing 146.9 lbs. I was shocked. I knew my day yesterday had been intense. I walked over 40,000 steps and managed to do 2,500 pushups. Not to mention an insane amount of physical work during the day, too. I’ve always imagined 165-168 as the control setpoint, with 170ish as the upper limit.

I am a little amused that anyone would lecture me by saying, “You’ve lost too much weight.” From my perspective, it is a great compliment. Losing 35% of who you were makes for interesting stories.

I’m sorry you don’t see my weight as normal. That’s a problem.

Not for me. You. 🙂

My cousin is concerned, and rightly so, because she recognizes how easy it is to let a goal turn to obsessive madness. I’m not anorexic or suffering from an eating disorder. There are days when I burn as many calories as an athlete. Work alone is so intensely physical that I look back over the last 16 years and wonder how I managed to be obese so many times. My cousin has earned the right to be the chiding voice in my ear. Her voice is in my head, reminding me to eat a wider variety and more calorie-rich foods in the process.

It was in part due to my cousin that I started doing pushups on June 1st. If you’d told me that I’d do 2,500 in a day 13 weeks later, I would have said, “You’re crazy!” But I did learn an invaluable lesson: there is no upper limit to how many I can do. At the outset, I had to be careful of my right shoulder. Work is intense and taxing. The pushups have largely eliminated the pain. I’m going to do my best to limit myself to 500 a day for a while. Yesterday will be in my head for years, though, because I surprised myself. That can’t be taken away from me when my body finally gets old and surrenders.

In October of last year, I had an epiphany. I saw myself as thin. Explaining the certainty of it doesn’t translate well when I talk about it. While my goal shifted increasingly downward as my vision became a reality, I didn’t plan on going past 170 in my wildest fantasy. While other parts of my life exploded, whatever happened to my head in October didn’t fade. As the months passed, I was amused that people attributed my success to willpower. It wasn’t that. It was clarity and stubbornness. Looking down at the scale and seeing “155” is a fantastic feeling. 146.9 is a bit disconcerting. I’m working on that without succumbing to many bad eating choices: Doritos, thick pizza, cheese, 54 pieces of chocolate, that sort of thing. I eat “unhealthy” food at times. (I hate labeling food as healthy or unhealthy; it’s volume and frequency that are the culprits.)

There are a couple of precursors to my “moment.” In February of last year, I started the process of losing weight, in part due to Covid. Stress took its toll, and I regained most of the weight I lost. Not all of it, thank god. At some point, I replaced the relatively new stove in the house with a bigger, better one to be able to more easily cook batches of healthy food. That drive to finally kick the fat bucket was brewing inside me. I know that reeks of an excuse. In October, my brother Mike died. Thereafter, I thought I had Covid and felt like I was dying. That morning is when the light bulb went off with an explosion in my head.

I often think about what would have happened to me had I not lost the weight. Would I have experienced a health issue? Or died? I know that losing weight during the long stretch of the Covid run saved my bacon on countless days. It let me stop feeling my knees hurt and my back. The converse of that is whether or not the rest of my life would have blown up had I stayed obese. It’s a real question for me. How much did my massive weight loss and attitude change have to do with my marriage imploding? There’s no question that staying so fat was going to cost me a part of my mobility – and perhaps forever. Being so overweight takes away a bit of so many corners of a person’s life. It’s because we gain incrementally and in ways we don’t notice. From there, we realize, “I’m fat. Oh my god.” We choose the hard that we’ve learned rather than embracing the hard of making positive choices.

For anyone who hasn’t experienced it, the feeling of eating healthy and making endless good choices is sublime. It’s a self-reinforcing mandate. This is true for any personal goal.

Today was the lowest weight I’ve hit. I got close Monday night after foolishly running five miles. Upon returning, I had to drink a gallon of water and then attempt to sleep. I think I dreamed about a running river, and that made me nervous for reasons that should be obvious.

For weeks, I’ve been in the low 150s. This week has been a barrage of work, running, walking, and pushups.

I get a lot of compliments. Questions. And some criticism. Some people are waiting for me to balloon back up. When I started, I repeatedly objected with, “Let’s see in a year.” The year is coming fast upon me in October.

One morning, the wife of a friend passed me in the hallway. “You look amazing, X!” We both laughed. Yesterday, someone said, “If you lose any more, you’ll dry up and blow away. You look great.” She lost a lot of weight herself for health reasons not too long ago. There’s rarely a day that passes where someone doesn’t notice that I’m thin. Today, a security guard who resembles me was standing by the elevator and saw that it was ME standing there. He thought I was someone he didn’t know. “You need to tell me your secret and how to do it.” He patted his stomach. “I’ll call you,” he said. He’s going to be disappointed when I tell him the big secret is to choose healthier food and to listen to what his body actually needs. “Keep your mouth closed” is a terrible name for a diet book.

On a recent morning, someone asked me in all seriousness, “How did you do it? You’re not sick, are you? Or did you have the surgery for weight?” I told her that it was simply eating well and that I didn’t have a secret. I told her about my friend Tammy, who managed to do what I did and that she was also about my age- and that if she could, I had nothing except excuses. I indeed started doing pushups on June 1st. But I had already hit 150 by the time I started.

“Just don’t lose any more weight, X.” My coworker meant it in kindness.

I have a couple of people in my life who resent that I lost the weight. It’s a bit bizarre to me, even now. I made it clear when I started that I was a bystander to my transformation. While I did adopt a diet that I experimented with, a big part of what happened was as if it happened to someone else while I observed it. All I can is that obsessively following a system yields results.

I’ve tried to avoid being too evangelical about weight loss. Some people do have medical issues that make it impossible or difficult. For those who’ve been less than enthusiastic about what I’ve done, I attribute it to that odd human proclivity toward pettiness. Watching someone do it renders many objections that it is difficult or impossible to be completely moot. With enough motivation to move from ‘wanting to’ toward ‘making it a reality,’ most people can do it. Anyone who decides that it is a ‘must’ will find a way. Or try. I remember a cartoon from years ago. A man was sitting on the pavement, having stopped halfway through the race. He said, “It’s too much. I can’t run 26 miles.” The next panel showed a man with prosthetic legs racing past. The people with the “sitting on the pavement” mentality often don’t appreciate it when people go racing by, ignoring objections. I used to find myself being that type of person, too.

It’s tough to be around someone who steps into a new motivation. Though I never intended my weight loss to be an insult to anyone else, it did happen. This sort of journey inevitably changes a person. A success in one arena drives them into others. Of course, the person is going to change. Sometimes fundamentally, especially as behaviors become habits and a new way of life. A common complaint in relationships is “You’ve changed.” A trite but true rebuttal to that is, “And you haven’t.” We’re not meant to be static. If you’re in a relationship and one of you will transform themselves, my word of advice is to have frank conversations about it – and go to a counselor if you see that it’s becoming a wedge.

One critic insisted that people were constantly saying how ill I looked. That I am too skinny. Relentlessly adamant. They quoted the anonymous “they” to me. When I’m ready to hire a consultant about my choices, I’ll let them know immediately. IF such people care for me, they will find a way to communicate it to me. Since they didn’t, I have to attribute what ‘they’ allegedly said to a polite conversation with my critics. There’s no crime in honestly talking to someone about their weight if you care about them. The bigger sin is not to do so.

So, of course, despite having the tools to show otherwise, I visited a nutritionist. She said, “Oh baloney!” She agreed that some of it is attributable to the fact that I was obese for so many years and that the change was abrupt and substantial. She looked at my pictures at 252 and 232 and then as I am now. “You’re great, X. If you do add muscle, your BMI will seem off. But it won’t mean you’ve become unhealthy. You have to balance your body against more than a simple BMI. If someone still incorrectly tells you that you are underweight, send them to me. I’d be shocked if they don’t realize how overweight most people tend to be now.”

If I continue to be as active as I am now, muscle mass will increase, resulting in a higher weight without the associated fat content.
I chose 168 as my set point. My job is very physical, and I’ve kept my leisure time activity rate higher than average, too, without going to a gym. I’ve channeled my anxiety into exercise. As the counselor I saw told me, short-term measures are warranted; if they become long-term measures, you’ll have to figure out that, too.

I lost a lot of weight that year, as part of an intense 3-way weight loss bet.

Most of us don’t have a realistic idea of how much we should weigh, nor how many calories we should eat on an average day. I look back at my pictures and shake my head. I missed out on a lot by being so overweight. I can’t get that time back, so it’s on to the next goal of ensuring my habits remain permanent – without risking developing a food issue. They are rare in men who are 54 years old. Food is too damn good and calls me by name like everyone else.

The majority of people around me don’t think, “Ugh, he’s TOO thin and looks terrible.” They think, “X looks normal.” So, if you’re in the minority who feel like I’m too thin, get online or talk to your doctor.

Or get a hobby.

The consensus is overwhelming: I’m at a normal weight, with a buffer of loss and gain comfortably on both sides.

This is how I’m supposed to look, so get over it and be enthusiastic for anyone who can do it. If you love me, of course, you should step in and tell me I’ve got my head up my ass if I continue to lose weight.

To be clear, I’m not talking about my face; whether that’s normal is up for the monkeys to decide.

My weight, though? I’m good. It’s not just my body saying so. It’s science.

In time, people will see this as the new normal. It looks normal, but it feels fantastic to be able to move with agility, walk for miles, do pushups, and run even if I stupidly decide to do so.

There’s always the danger of forgetting the lessons I learned.

One of those lessons is to stop letting critical people get inside my head. They can make fun of my brooches all they want. Just not my weight.

And if I get off track or fail, I proved to myself that my objections and excuses about why I couldn’t do it were all dumb. And that I could do it again. We all fail until we don’t.

No matter who you are, you can do something today. That’s enough, no matter how small. Tomorrow, a little more. The law of increments seldom disappoints.

If you see someone finally get past their excuses? Take the time to applaud. We need it. We’ll return the favor when you succeed.

PS For my cousin: I don’t plan to stay quite this thin. I love you. Please keep an eye on me, though.

Love, x

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Extras…

In Cancun…

Failure? Success!

I made my first bottle of Eau de toilette. Goodness gracious, the missteps I could recount about that! I smell like the red district in New York City. It was a failure. But one I’ll do again. And again. I learned many lessons: if you’re diligent, there’s no reason you can’t make a scent precisely to your heart’s desire. Also, most people might not realize how many unique scents there are, both exotic and mundane. I’m not sure what I made. I’ll let you know tomorrow, depending on whether the building is evacuated.

P.S. Today was the perfect day to do 2,000 pushups. 🙂 Tomorrow, I’ll settle for less than a thousand and hope that no one calls me out for “being lazy.”

The Today Road (Tammy’s Success Story)

That’s Tammy on the right, holding her husband’s hand at a Cargill company picnic. I took the picture. It seems as if Chris is looking back at Tammy as she is now. She’s always been funny, smart, and fun. I can only imagine the confidence she feels looking at the span of her life.

A friend of mine waited until she was around 50 years old to change her life. Though health issues motivated her, the ‘how’ of her success falls to the wayside when compared against her ongoing success.

Part of Tammy’s ongoing triumph lies with her husband, Chris. He’s the only person I ever lost a weight loss bet to. Unlike most, he’s managed to stay in great shape since. Tammy having an enthusiastic person in her corner is undoubtedly a fantastic advantage.

Seeing Tammy’s ability to achieve her goal lit an additional fire in me when I had my own epiphany. Though my mental light switch flipped in October last year, I had the unusual idea that I KNEW I would be thin. Knowing Tammy did it with so many health obstacles convinced me that it would be a waste of life and ability if I didn’t see it through. I told her that I was feeding off her success; it became an optimistic and self-fulfilling prophecy.

But if you don’t have someone in your corner, or if you suffer self-doubt? You’re still going to be able to find a way to get healthy if your focus is tuned to your goal. My cousin Lynette gave me the phrase, “Choose Your Hard.” One way or another, life is going to be obstacles, difficulties, and stress. Whether you sail through it while at least trying or struggle with the consequences of not doing so, it will be hard. Attempting to make positive changes will at least give you a purpose; psychology and science prove that having such a purpose makes you happier. It’s a self-fulfilling cycle.

If you try and fail? So what! Life is just as much about failure as success. Try again. You will not succeed until you do. It’s stupidly simple. You don’t need complicated diet plans, gym memberships, or supplements. If you use them to find your success, though? Good for you! Do what works and work that program until what you do becomes a habit. Suppose you can implement small, incremental changes in your attitude and behavior. In that case, you’ll begin to find joy in meeting your goals.

Start from wherever you are. It’s the only place you can.

Tammy faced 2019 head-on. In December 2018, she suffered a sprained ankle. When she went for medical care, she found herself to be at 335 lb. The injury caused blood clots to travel to her lungs. While hospitalized, she had a moment of clarity, very similar to mine, in which she confronted the real possibility that she might die, leaving a beautiful family behind. As life does, it added a kidney stone surgery to her list of obstacles. She started Weight Watchers in April. After six months of care, she had gastric bypass, during which she found out she also had a hernia. She clocked 4 hospitalizations and 3 surgeries in 2019.

Now? She’s still down 160 lbs. To say that her transformation was remarkable is an exaggerated understatement.

Tammy knows that losing weight might be easy. It requires only a short-term adjustment and a frenzy of starvation and exercise. Losing it and maintaining that weight belies a massive shift in behavior, consumption, and environment. Most positive changes do. It’s a lot of invisible work and constant right choices in a world stuffed with delicious food. Tammy puts in the work because who she is now is who she wanted to be all along.

At this point, Tammy gave me the phrase, “Nothing tastes as good as this feels.” While the food might bring temporary delight, it cannot compare to standing on top of a monumental success like Tammy experienced. Success itself feeds her self-image in a way that food can’t. It’s also part of my secret ability to have done 1,500 pushups in a day. That obsession and confidence come from within. You don’t think you can do it until you start succeeding.

No matter what stage you find yourself in, all change starts with a thought. It might be a little seedling in your brain. You might feel powerless to get there. Most of you have the capacity to steal Tammy’s thunder and experiment until you find a way to stop failing. She would want you to. All of us who’ve managed to sidestep our lifelong habits are evangelical about the enthusiasm such changes bring. It didn’t just reduce Tammy’s waistline or make her more beautiful. It made her more HER, a woman brimming with energy and self-confidence.

My goal was to give it my all for a year. That’s October for me.

Tammy’s stayed on course since 2019.

I hope you read this and feel the optimism that my words probably can’t convey.

Whatever your goal or purpose is, take Tammy’s example and try.

With love, X

1,111

I knew I was in serious trouble when my manager called me into his office and asked which type of punishment I’d like: “Biblical or Corporal?”
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I did break my pushup record yesterday. I did 1,111 just to have a memorable number. Today’s forecast: ain’t gonna be no rematch. I’m glad I did it but the obsessive component of it is exhausting.
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I learned several things yesterday. The problem with learning is that it forces you into cognitive dissonance when you’ve learned but don’t apply it to your life.
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Life Tip # 46: If you ensure that you’ve always kept a jar of moonshine nearby, you’ve got both anesthesia and antiseptic.
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Edit: I weigh 150 lbs again. I’m eating a lot more; I ate an entire thin crust cheeseless pizza Monday. I’d be happy with 170. Just in case someone tells me they’re worried about me. All my afflictions are mental and I’m keeping a close, albeit crazy, eye on those.

Law Of Increments

The Law of Increments is such a revelation. A couple Fridays ago I did a thousand push-ups. I used anxiety as a trigger to do each set. It occurred to me Saturday that I could also try to pace myself, using an incremental response. I got up at 3:30 today. If I stay up 18 hours, I only have to do 55 push-ups an hour to hit a thousand. Since I know I can easily do that, I can trick my mind into doing twice that per hour. 110 an hour seems stupid to me now after 10 weeks of pushups. So I’m using today as a test. I’ve got nine hours of incremental sets of push-ups to reach a thousand. 12:30. And If you’re reading this, keep in mind that craziness is contagious. The takeaway is that we can accomplish a hell of a lot if we don’t let our goal wear us out before we even start. I don’t have to do a thousand push-ups. Just 110 an hour.

My Feet Are A Time Machine

I put off laying down until I thought I would sleep like the dead. Thoughts of the day still swirled mercilessly in my head. Because of a promise, I took melatonin. Sleep grabbed me and pulled me under. And at 11:11, it spit me back out, leaving me awake and wondering what had prompted my brain to so completely jostle me out of my reverie.

This time I did as I had promised myself I would. I got up, dressed lightly, and left my phone, wallet, and usual artifacts of life on the stool I use as a table. There are times when walking without distraction can be one’s only peace.

I went outside into the night.

And walked, directionlessly.

Mile after mile, both time and distance unmeasured.

Despite finding the heat of the night and the sights and sounds invigorating, I realized I had to go back. Because I didn’t have my phone, I couldn’t Uber. I made it back to my apartment with time to spare.

But I used the calculus of those who often don’t sleep well to determine that I’d be better off to take a shower and go to work early. I did smile toweling off, seeing all the wonder and color of my new shower curtain.

Now, I’m trying to convince myself that I didn’t dream that long walk. The long muscles of my legs are whispering to me otherwise, though.

Returning, and looking at my phone, I laughed. My thoughtful cousin had sent me a link to read the next time I found myself gripped by sleeplessness. Ha!

I’m frowning at my sleeplessness.

And smiling at all those miles of asphalt and concrete.

A long day lies ahead of me, and a longer night lies behind.

I am here, enough, and waiting for next the next surprise. It’s Wednesday for us all, and yet I feel like I got an extra day between today and yesterday.

Love, X

One Goal At A Time

One Goal At A Time

Okay!

When I humblebrag about starting pushups on June 1st, eight weeks ago, a lot of people ask the inevitable question: “How many do you do?” I’ve carefully avoided saying even a ballpark number. As my daily record has risen, I’ve not lost my surprise at beating what I thought was a ridiculously impossible goal.

Yesterday, I broke my previous record by 11:15. Today, by 10. I left work, happy, tired, and surprised. Needless to say…

I’ve passed the remainder of the afternoon writing, cleaning, cooking, and painting, projects both practical and creative.

Each time I had negative or fearful thoughts, I would do another set of pushups.

I reached 1,000 just now. It’s a testament to the consistency of effort and also an admission that I find myself doubtful more than I expect to.

I’ve been preaching at a co-worker to do the hard work and get to 280 just once so that he tastes that indescribable feeling of knowing he did it. He’s a big man. 280 is trim as hell for someone with his physique. Truth be told, I want everyone to figure these things out and give whatever is in their heads an attempt. Succeed or fail, all of us are going to be dead more quickly than we realize.

Given the other things I committed to doing, I decided that maybe I needed to know what it would feel like to be able to say, “I did 1,000 pushups when I was 54 years old.”

This afternoon’s occupied loneliness granted me the ability.

I took a Friday and turned it to my advantage.

I hope you forgive me for sounding like I’m a vain bastard.

1,000.

I ain’t ever doing this again.

Maybe.

Love, X

Look Up, And To The Left

I have a lot of fun with chalk, odd messages, and tomfoolery.

There are times when I learn unexpected things from doing such frivolity.

This morning, early, I went outside and wrote “Look up, and to the left” in chalk on the dock concrete. In fact, there wasn’t anything noteworthy, neither ‘up’ nor ‘to the left.’ Having said that, there easily might have been. I sometimes go to strange lengths to get an inside joke off the ground. I’ve been known to climb walls, trees, parking garages, and just about anything to pull off something interesting – even if no one ever sees it. I’d estimate a good 75% of them aren’t found for a long time, or at all. A good example? Years ago, I put a laminated note on the underside of a table at Las Margaritas, with my email address on it, indicating I’d pay whoever found it and contacted me $50. I pulled it off myself almost seven years later – though the table had been moved to another spot.

I observed several people approach the chalk, read the message, and then look up. Several of them looked up and to the right. (We all have directionally challenged people in our lives.) A few lingered, their eyes searching the upper part of the dock canopy. A few others read the message and kept walking without looking up. It was entertaining, and I figured many of them hadn’t ever looked up above them in that spot.

It’s those who didn’t look up that give me pause.

Were they in a hurry? Not curious? If I think about those people too long, I draw unfair conclusions. Who wouldn’t want a surprise, even a potentially stupid one, early in the workday? Something new, something interesting.

The other observation, one long known to me, is that most people will read almost anything written in chalk if they come across it. You can use that generalization in marketing, psychology, and tomfoolery.

Anyway, I hope you are the “look up, and to the left” kind of person instead of the “not interested” type.

You never know what might be lurking on the fringes.

A great deal of the world is hidden in plain sight up.

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PS I had picked today as a random day to break my single-day pushup record. Once I started, I regretted the decision. After a couple of hours, I decided to double down and beat my record by noon. I crossed the record with time to spare. Each time I surpass my last mark, I seriously wonder if there is an upper limit and if most of my problems and obstacles are about as accurate as the limit I imagine – until I beat it.

Now, I wonder if the fumes from today’s painting are making me see the giraffe outside. This is a weird apartment simplex, after all.

A Bit Of Vanity And An Admission

“If you’re going to worry, put a saddle on it and ride it out of the barn and into the sunlight. Most worry melts away with activity and exposure. If you’re not riding worry, it’s certainly riding you.” – X

I can’t thrive in the present moment and think about the past or worry about the future. Each of us has a finite amount of time, a limited amount of focus, and each of us probably suffers from the illusion that somehow we’re differently immune to negative thinking. I learned the hard way that intelligence in no way affects these things, other than perhaps to add window dressing to the rationalizations and justifications that people always use to excuse away what they’re thinking or what they’re doing.

Intelligence is both a kaleidoscope and magnifier to our excuses. Creativity grants us further ability to pull the wool over our own eyes. Worse, we push people around us into becoming co-conspirators to our unhelpful thinking.

Every couple of weeks, I find myself able to break my previous pushup record. I started doing them on June 1st, a few at a time, as many times a day I could manage. I’ve experimented with different triggers to do another set: bathroom trips, specific words, times. Friday, I incorporated something I learned in counseling. I started doing a set every time I found myself in a loop of fearful or negative thinking. Though it may reflect poorly on me, I beat my previous record so badly that I know there is no way I will ever do that many again in a single day. I did a lot again Saturday, a normal amount, whatever that is. But for Friday, I committed myself to no excuses. I knew already that I’m like most people and succumb to fearful and negative thinking, probably more than I usually realize. Doing pushups every time I realized I was in a thought loop was an excessive and forceful way to remind myself that I need to continue to do the work to stop fearful thinking sooner. Thinking of the worst possible outcome or scenario is a guaranteed way to rob yourself of happiness.

By taking control and action each time I realized I was doing it, I also learned that my pushup “limit” was as imaginary as a “safe life” is.

And so, despite writing the above yesterday morning, I eclipsed Friday’s record later yesterday. Someone commented to me, “You don’t seem to have done your usual number of pushups today.” I laughed. “I did two hundred just while walking this morning.” Those happened while I trudged through a massive rainstorm and flooded streets. I do hope people saw me and wondered, “What in tarnation is he doing pushups in the thunderstorm for?” Had anyone asked me, I would have jokingly replied, “To demonstrate that nothing will stop you if you’re either motivated. Or crazy.” I doubt saying, “I do pushups for exercise – and I do a set each time I find myself thinking negatively as a means to control my mind” would fall easily into people’s ears.

Likewise, when I finished the day Sunday, I laughed. Goals and records exist to be broken. (Just like the heads of obstinate people who won’t try a different way of thinking to see if it results in a better life for themselves.)

Every time I think I’ve reached my limit, I should assume it’s vanity and simply beat it.

Even though work today was strenuous, I got intrigued by the question, “Can I do this again today and break yesterday’s record?” The answer is yes. And I did.

Friday, I did an unbeatable number of pushups. I did it again Sunday. I woke up with no idea that I’d do it again today. But I did—a Monday.

Friday will stick with me because I channeled unhealthy thinking into a positive outcome. I haven’t mentioned a specific number. It isn’t 1,000. But I realized today that it could be if I wanted to. Now it’s stuck in my head that my pushup curve is congruent with the exact angle of my weight loss.

If you see me doing pushups, you didn’t catch me doing them any more than me putting on my shirt inside out by accident or wearing mismatched shoes. If people can stand outside and do crazy things such as smoke, dip, and ride recumbent bicycles, watching someone exercise shouldn’t be a shock to the delicate eyes of people observing me.

P.S. Not related to the above… today’s prank was that I used a roll of yellow CAUTION tape to make a massive X across someone’s doorway and prevent entry into same without ripping the tape down. No one has mentioned it on social media or to me. I can’t imagine they went inside through the back door. I think not knowing how the prank was received is most of the fun. You can blame the Fayetteville Walmart for reminding me that I needed to do this prank.

The Allegedly Iffy

The Allegedly Iffy

I’m out walking through the allegedly iffy stretch of town. The moon is beautiful and a little iridescent against the horizon, before the sunrise. I can feel the heat of the day waiting to blanket everything. But it cannot bake away the beauty of the morning before the sunrise. Last Saturday morning,  I ignored the lightning and the rain and walked anyway. It turned out to be an extraordinary walk.

My path was different this morning. New things to see, places to find, and streets to mentally catalog. Walking these places touches them into my memory in a way that driving never will. Though there is nothing magical on these streets, I know that I will probably remember this morning. I have been continually surprised by the equidistant nexus of places I can reach in thirty minutes. Because of the campus and the number of people living over here, the ebb and flow of activity never ceases even if it’s difficult to sometimes spot.

My first conversation and interaction happened as I made my first left turn. A very physically fit man was walking a mastiff on the opposite side of the street. He would have to be fit to corral that large dog. Even the leash or rope he was holding looked to be over an inch thick. In his hand he had a travel mug of coffee. He lifted it and said, “This is the most beautiful part of the day.” I agreed and laughed. He told me to have a great Saturday. As I told him the same, it occurred to me that expectations often wildly contradict reality. Sometimes, they render everything with a sheen of mystery; others, with an ache.

Almost everyone waved or saluted me as we passed. Even the Latinos up on the crane against the large expensive building they were working on. So much of the architecture over here is distinctively beautiful viewed without people or complete light to interfere with it. I think all the people trying to enjoy life late at night with crowded spectacle are missing out.

But what do I know? I’m just a dude, walking. I couldn’t have reached the glass and steel of this architecture without traversing the allegedly iffy.

I think that is my metaphor for today. One day, looking back, I hope to discover that the same metaphor will encompass my recent past. If your yesterday wasn’t what you wanted or needed, shake it off and call it your allegedly iffy. It’s damn hard to appreciate the good times without a kick in the teeth every once in awhile. I’d prefer to evade the kick, but if we could vote, trauma would never touch us.

The sun is crowding the top of the horizon now. Although I’m in the deep shadow of this stretch of the trail, slivers of the sun pierce the canopy, like verdant curtains swept open inside one’s living room.