Do You Even Exercise, Bro?

by Bill Brenner on January 5, 2015

I used to exercise a lot. In my teens, I’d spend an hour a day on a beat-up rowing machine. In my 20s, I’d hit the gym seven days a week to use the elliptical cross-trainer machines. And in my early 30s, I’d walk 3.5 miles a day, no matter the weather.

At some point I stopped.

Mood music:

I don’t have a good reason why I stopped exercising. I told myself that I was becoming obsessive about exercise, but I’m pretty sure I was bullshitting myself.

I did manage to keep my weight down through diet alone for a few years, using the standard Overeaters Anonymous food plan of no flour and no sugar and weighing out all my food.

I still try to live by that food plan, but along the way I’ve grown inconsistent. I’ve slowly determined that the full OA experience isn’t for me. I particularly soured on the idea of having sponsors who dictate my every culinary move. Giving other people that much control over me hasn’t worked in the long run.

I used those feelings as an excuse to get sloppy and have only hurt myself as a result.

I slipped on old addictive impulses last year, and I have the weight gain to prove it. Prednisone didn’t help, but I used that as an excuse for months after I stopped taking it.

In any event, I currently feel like a disgusting mess. I don’t care about being thin. I do care about getting winded every time I climb stairs.

I didn’t wait for the New Year to start fighting back. I refocused on careful eating in November. And a couple weeks ago, after determining that diet was no longer enough, I started working out again on a cheap elliptical machine I bought last year.

I want to tell you I’m enjoying it, that I can’t go a day without a workout. I especially want to do so because I have so many friends who passionately post about their marathon running, weight lifting and Brazilian jiujitsu sessions. But the truth is I don’t enjoy it, and I never have. It bores me, frankly.

But it’s necessary, so onward I go.

My mission is to be consistent: to use the machine for 40 or so minutes as least five days a week and to supplement it with walking.

As I relearn the discipline of exercise, I thank God for music. When I put on some Black Label Society, Pantera or Thin Lizzy, I’m able to go on autopilot and plow ahead.

I have the added motivation of knowing that I’m very similar to my father. Like him, I’m a life-long overeater. He’s now bedridden and in failing health. If I don’t change my ways, I’ll meet a similar fate.

I respect my more athletic friends more than ever. The joy you get from your chosen method of training is something I aspire to. I don’t know if I’ll ever get there, but I will get healthier. And I’ll have you to thank for leading the way.

Arnold Schwarzenegger lifting weights

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