I was never a sporty guy (and my recent interest in boxing aside, I'm still not) but in elementary and middle school, my father always had me playing soccer, basketball and baseball in rec leagues. He always said it was to build character and persisted even when in the latter years of the experience I would try and weasel my way out of practices or games. I never really made the most of the time, viewing it always as something I "had to do" as opposed to an opportunity. Because of all the activity, though, I always remained pretty fit during my childhood to the point where I think I may have taken it for granted. I mean, I never went out of my way to be in good shape... it was just kind of how things were.
When I hit 8th-10th grade, sports were required at my school. I participated in soccer because it was somewhat of a comfort zone... but in the eleven years I'd been doing it I didn't feel like I'd improved much. I was definitely a benchwarmer and I even remember being laughed at by my teammates for my pathetic on-field performances when I did get some game time. I was okay with it, though, because it meant I didn't have to exert myself as much. I took the school's martial arts program in the winter and tennis in the spring because they seemed easy (and, for the most part, they were).
The athletic director decided to challenge me, saying that if I wanted to take it easy with my spring sport, I would have to be on the wrestling team in the winter. Not only did the whole wrestling thing have a tough reputation around the school - members of the team were even more hardcore than the footballers - the coach was a known hard-ass who would ream anyone at the drop of a hat. I was terrified. Come winter, I was back to school a week early for training, waking up at 5:30 in the morning for 10-mile runs, suicide sprints and plenty of the typical push-ups and sit-ups. Official practice was in the afternoon and was usually just as hard and sweaty as the morning outings. Along with the rest of the wrestlers I also had to commit to doing 3 sets of 100 crunches and 100 push-ups daily, on my own time. I went to meets with JV but practiced with Varsity as part of the athletic director's challenge. I hated that athletic director... but it didn't take long for me to thank him immensely for the push. The whole wrestling thing turned out to be the best physical experience of my young life and certainly one of the more proud marks on my stuff-I've-done list. Not only was I in the best shape of my life, I ended up winning the bronze for my weight class in the JV New Englands (thank you three-quarter nelson).
Everything fell apart when I moved to Miami. The school I went to for 11th grade before leaving early with a GED to pursue a college degree sooner did not require sports and my father for one reason or another didn't push me to stay active. I hid in my room from the intimidating new outside world and discovered the depths of the internet. I didn't realize how out-of-shape I was becoming until I ran outside to my sister's car to give her something before she drove off without it... I was shirtless and when I bent over to hand her whatever-it-was, she pointed and laughed at my sagging belly. In spite of the embarrassment of realizing that for the first time in my life I was not skinny and athletic, I didn't do anything about it. When I went to college I packed on the typical amount of weight and for the next few years - even through my eight months in Yellowstone during which I was hiking like crazy and my stint as a regular member of Planet Fitness - I stayed between 210 and 220 pounds, only dropping weight intermittently when I was too poor to eat properly.
I've always, without really giving it much consideration, thought of bodybuilding and fitness separate from more artistic endeavors like writing or filmmaking. Since writing and filmmaking is what I like to do, I tried not to worry much about the fact that I had gone physically soft. Over the past month, however, I've been trying to get back on track and I can't say my having gotten more deeply into the career of Sylvester Stallone hasn't been an inspiration. The man is an artist both in his body and in his filmmaking, successfully combining the two things in the most triumphant Rocky movies and many others.
As I mentioned in the video game thread, I whipped out my PS2 EyeToy and the game Antigrav, which uses your body as a controller as you navigate obstacles and reach for series of nearby targets on hoverboard courses. I've been using weighted gloves and occasionally 5-pound weights in each hand as I move my hands around trying to obtain high scores. It really is a decent workout. As I'm growing more and more accustomed to doing that sort of thing daily, though, I'm looking in to more ways to get/stay fit. I've been hitting the community gym more, doing extended sessions on the elliptical machine and the chest-press... and I've been using my girlfriend's Body By Jake door gym while at home. I did try using a Bosu Ball but it was overinflated and now needs repair... heh.
I've also tried to cut down slightly on my beer intake as well as my cheese/crackers snacks... diet-wise I've typically been eating a bagel as soon as I wake up to kick-start my metabolism (I take a multivitamin and a glucosamine supplement then, as well), a pre-workout snack such as some sort of Powerbar, a mid-workout snack of a banana, a post-workout snack of cottage cheese and cereal (soon I'll start making whey shakes) and then whatever I want for dinner. I haven't gone as extreme as saying 'no carbs after 8' or anything like that... but I've definitely been watching things, particularly my protein.
So far I've lost about 12 pounds and I've seen some slight muscle definition starting to surface. If this thread gets a relatively decent response, I may even take/post a sort of "before" picture and follow it up (monthly... maybe?) with progress shots... because at this point I fully intend to keep on trucking and pushing myself harder and harder... I keep trying to think either "I want to look sexy if I ever get hired to model my tattoos in Savage Magazine" or "I wouldn't want to look like a COMPLETE fool if I got in the ring with David Haye!" The main thing I'm working on now aside from the dietary stuff is pushing myself to the extra burn (or however you might phrase it)... it's so easy to work out a little to burn calories then call it good... I'm trying to kick my own ass into going further and working until I'm a noodle. Sometimes I'm successful... hopefully soon I can kick my ass hard enough that that 'sometimes' becomes an 'always'.
So... that's my (MUCH more long-winded than originally intended) fitness story thus far... What's yours? What sort of dietary things do you look out for... if any? Exercise routines? Goals?