Bless me, St. Sebastian, oh patron saint of runners and athletes. Bestow upon me your wisdom and hear my confession, the confession of a sinner who skips workouts, who doesn’t review his goals often enough, and yet who tidies his corner of the blogosphere for the sake of appearance, and tries to always be shown putting the best training shoe forward. Forgive me for being so undifferentiated in my writing, so full of echo and reblog, and yet at times so empty and vapid and lacking of opinion and direction. Bestow upon me your sweet, sweaty grace for writing as though from a position that it was all so effortless, for it is not; that it was easy to decide and that with some small motivation, you too will get on your training shoes and get out the door. Hear me, and let me speak my confession and opine strongly at last on my own fitness, health, weight and blogging – and how I, as a mere mortal on this trodden earth, am a regular if not total failure at most of it.
I spend a lot of time blogging about subjects related to fitness, healthy eating, well-being, and generally trying to be health-positive. So do millions of other bloggers out there. Millions more post to mommy-blogs, which are read and promoted and linked to by the millions of other mommy-bloggers. (It reminds me of Etsy, where people make stuff to sell online, but only really sell it to people they know on Etsy, so all the money they make by selling their own hand-made crap ends up being spent on other peoples’ hand-made crap.) I spend a lot of time blogging about motivation, positive attitude and overcoming your own innate ability to limit your own potential. Lots of much more eloquent writers post much more erudite missives on the same subject. Then again, many other bloggers post about their cat(s), and the special way she overcomes her own potential to wander her bloated self across the kitchen to eat a bowl of Whiskas (or whatever they blog about). Those blogs, every one in each of the general categories (cat-egories?) I’ve mentioned, get more traffic than this little corner of the blogosphere, and often have a live webcam feed. I spend a good deal of time trying to inspire the folks that read this blog (no matter how many or few there are), and try and impart what limited knowledge I have (liberally sprinkled with the saviour phrase ”consult your health professional” meaning a doctor, physiotherapist, massage therapist, nutritionist, chiropractor, life coach, spiritual healer, chakra analyst, etc.) on the topics of training, or injury prevention and treatment, or healthy eating. I spend a lot of time trying to get to the point, that point where I put my opinion there fore all to see, which is frankly the purpose for a blog – and often don’t make it. I often fail to hit the simple target of sharing an opinion, sharing just one original thought – and often miss that target by fucking miles.
The truth is this: I do write this blog just as much to motivate and inspire my own lazy ass, to push me, to get me out the damned door, as I do it for the 5-7 people that actually read each post.
This post came to me during a particularly shitty run, where I was already stiff and sore because I had recently had a stern talking to myself and got into my own head, and therefore started some new training. I started my regimen with renewed vigour, and new ideas on how to succeed where I had failed in the past. And make no mistake, in several spectacular ways I have failed in the past – and those I will write about in a later post I’m sure, because fitness bloggers are like that. What I wanted to write about here, what came to me in that shitty run, was the dirty, nasty, awful truths that I carry around with me as a “fitness blogger” who fails spectacularly and routinely – at fitness and at blogging. So here, in no order but grouped in handy sections to allow the confession to go smoothly, are several points about my struggles with blogging, fitness, and weight.
- Most workouts aren’t sweetness and light. It’s not that most of them suck, it’s that most of them aren’t “greatest workout ever” category. The feeling afterwards is good, sure, but not all of them are outstanding.
- The ones that I get inspired about the most are my badminton nights – because they are competitive. I thrive on competition. I lost a ton of weight because I wanted to win a competition.
- Following the logical conclusion, when I compete and I lose – yeah, those nights suck. I’m not kidding. I never played soccer and as a kid we all made fun of those damned participation ribbons. We all knew those were a ruse, some mollifying hand-out at a banquet so that everyone got something. I’m there to win. When I don’t, I’m upset. When I fared so poorly in the Canadian Masters Championships in April, I was pissed.
- One of the things I am proud of is my fitness level. I can do anything I put my mind to. I score in the “good” category on the Cooper Test on my runs, and know that I have a higher-than-average physical activity level.
- The activity I’m enjoying the most right now is cycling, and in the winter it will no doubt be downhill skiing. Not running. Not badminton (although I will always love the sport). I love them both but they aren’t loving me back at present. This happens often – and yes, it really sucks.
- It’s a lot of hard work to stay committed. There is no nice way to put that.
- Like a lot of other running/fitness/health bloggers, I post those inspiring little graphics that tell you “You can do it, try your best” and inspire you out of your own lethargy. They are posted there for ME. I have that lethargy. I fight it every day.
- I love it when I see people that knew me before, who notice the changes. I downplay it, but I love it. Those accolades are wonderful.
- Yes, I did it for me. But I did it for, and still run for, other people too – in fact, other people may now be a significant part of my motivation. I work hard to keep myself in shape for my partner, who I want to find me sexy and attractive. I do it to be a role model to my kids. But honestly I do it for others just as much as myself. I like it when a woman notices me. I am not above getting flattered. See number 3, that reaction. I do it for that too.
- There is not a soul on this planet that can be as hard on me as I am hard on myself. Not one.
- I have a very unhealthy, obsessive relationship with my scale. I’m a grown man in a professional job, and I’m not above bribing the fucking thing.
- I’m completely afraid of slipping backwards. Terrified. It haunts my dreams. And yet, I still don’t eat perfectly all the damned time.
- If Number 2 comes true, I worry about all the people who will say “I knew it, I knew he couldn’t maintain it”. I keep a mental list of who that might be, a list of potential nay-sayers, and it makes me sad – but I’m always on guard.
- I have ended up heading out for work for weeks at a time the last few summers. Inevitably, the restaurant food and break in routine catches up, no matter what I do. I spend the next few months obsessively trying to shave those pounds back.
- I really was the happiest with my weight when everyone else thought I needed a good sandwich.
- We get a bonus one here. BMI index. The BMI index is just plain incorrect. It always says that I’m nearly obese. To be normal, at my height of 6’, I have to be less than the lightest I was when I lost all my weight – which, if you will see above, is lighter than the stage where even my mother was telling me I needed a good solid sandwich.
- Starting at the top, make no mistake, I blog to boost my ego. Everyone wants their opinions to be heard, and I think most bloggers want to share their opinion and have other people read it. I watch stats. I see what posts you’ve gone to, and it is addicting to watch. (While I have been typing this paragraph, I just checked my stats for number of page views today (23) and for the month (438). September is already my second highest month for page views, and I started writing this on the 17th.) For me, it stems from the fact that even though I started this blog to track my own progress, I started to gain (a scant) followers and views; and that began to feed my ego. I love knowing that someone actually reads whatever I’ve decided to write.
- This blog is really a very carefully crafted view of what I want people to see. I ensure that I spend time not being offensive and not pissing people off, while giving out impossibly small nuggets of any really useful information. I’ve got the belief that no one would give a damn about what I wrote if I was just me. Well piss on it – the bloggers that I admire are very much less formal and formulaic than I am, and are much more free with both their opinions and their language. I opine less on this blog than I like to think I do, trying to tailor it for a friendly audience of people, and in turn kind of turning it into the cyberspace equivalent to benevolent cocktail-party chatter.
- When I read the posts, they often feel soul-less and restrained, like they are written by someone else. There is some me in there, but not enough, and I believe it is directly attributable to why I don’t have a lot of direct followers. Well I’m going to stop with all that bullshit, today. Over time I am going to try and find my voice, and I am hoping you will see a more true reflection of who the hell I am. Until now, my mind has decided to re-frame everything I post into small digestible chunks of opinion-less writing, some giving the little advice I can impart. I will be working on changing that.
- I really fear that no one reads this blog, and that if they do read it, that no one gives a damn about what I’ve written and what my opinion is. Certainly, the fairly low traffic, small numbers of direct subscribers, and miniscule number of comments on the blog itself point me to believe that is true. Then again I need to make sure I actually give an opinion for anyone to give a damn… catch-22.
- I go through sporadic bits of not posting, as many bloggers do. For me that stems from the fact that I’ve got no confidence whatever that I’m making a difference. When I get discouraged by the post counter not ticking very high, I frankly just kind of give up.
What all this means
I’m going to start blogging more opinion than I am helpful tips and crazy posts that start out well but meander down to mealy-mouthed nothingness in an effort to find relevance. My language, tone, content and focus is going to change, from acting like I was bucking for a gig at Runners World or Men’s Health, to how it would be if you and I met for coffee. (You and I. The thing that I always worry about in that phrase is that there isn’t a you. There’s just the “I”.)
I’m going to work on a lot of the stuff that I’ve written there, but it’s my baggage. I don’t know that anyone can go through the type of change I went through, and not have baggage associated with being obsessive about the healthy bits of their lifestyle. I certainly have mine. There are parts about the “new” me that I hate – but I wouldn’t change a single thing about my journey given the feeling it gives to me.
Good luck on your journey, I meant it. I’ll still post inspirational stuff. Just please, stop thinking that this, or any other post on my blog, is posted to motivate anyone but me. So help me out and share the posts you enjoy, re-blog them, and please feel free to comment on them. Interact with me. Like them with your own blog account, and like them on Facebook. (Facebook’s glory will be the way they have made an entire generation apathetic to interaction beyond clicking a Pavlovian button – and sure, while that would be great, I’d also love to hear what you have to say.)
in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritūs Sancti