What started off as a lark has turned into a journey to become a happier, healthier person—an update on the editor’s physical fitness project.
Back in our January issue, I told you about a fitness-makeover program I had begun at GoodLife Fitness. The project began as a bit of a tongue-in-cheek idea for an upcoming health-and-wellness feature: Could a trainer whip a fat, sedentary editor who smokes and drinks too much into shape? I was vaguely aware that I was in less-than-ideal shape, but didn’t really feel any burning need to do much about it. I agreed to do this project mostly because I thought it would be fun to write. Readers usually enjoy first-person suffering and for a guy like me (or like I was a few months ago), gyms are rich in comedic potential.
But something I didn’t expect happened: I really got into this whole business. I started off with a few team-training boot camps and realized that I was in truly awful shape. The nice thing about starting in such bad shape was pretty well anything I did would be an improvement. I realized that I actually had a unique opportunity to do something about my physical condition, which had been on a long and steady slide in the 15 years since college (and let’s face it, I wasn’t exactly an Adonis in college).
So I signed up for personal training with Jon Ells, who had also led the boot camp (and the TRX team-training I did later). For the last few months, Jon has worked me through a steadily intensifying exercise program, aimed to burn fat and improve my overall physical condition. There’s been a lot of the hilarity I expected at the start of this process, but I’ve also learned so, so much about becoming a healthier, fitter and happier person.
These days, I’m in the gym four times weekly—twice on my own and twice training with Jon. At the same time, he’s encouraged me to quit smoking (more or less—I still have the odd cigar), drink less (or at least less carb-heavy beer) and eat better (less carbs, less prepared food—more vegetables than I thought possible). The goal was to drop 40 pounds by Canada Day. On Jon’s advice, I’ve been staying off the scales; he says checking your weight a lot is distracting and discouraging, and I’m inclined to agree, so I’m not sure how close I am to that goal. I’m down about five inches off my waist and I feel a lot less… chunky, so I think I’m going to hit that goal.
I’ve come to realize, though, that in a project like this, success isn’t so much about hitting an arbitrary number by an arbitrary date. I’ve come to enjoy exercise, I’ve dropped a lot of fat and whatever happens, I don’t intend to revert to my old shape when I finish this project. Oh, and just for giggles, I’ve decided to take up running. I’ve only gone on a couple short runs this year, but I’d love to be able to participate in one of the Blue Nose events next year. These things seem like the best indicators of success.
But still, it’d be fun to be able to say I lost 40 pounds by my deadline. For these last few weeks, Jon is upping the intensity of my exercises. We both agree that I don’t want to hit Canada Day not feeling like I’ve done everything I can. Considering this project started on a lark, I’m surprised at how important it’s become to me. To see how it all ends up, follow along at Halifaxmag.com. If you need to catch up, just head to my blog and look for the posts called “Building a Better Editor.”