Xen Living 4: The Little Voice

shoulderangel.jpgI’m experimenting with something internal, and some interesting stuff is coming out of it.

You know that “little voice” we all have? Or maybe it’s little voices, plural, since the thing is characterized in cartoons as an angel and devil on opposite shoulders, both telling you to do different things.

I may have said this in the past here, but I think of us humans as having “humany” and “beasty” parts. (That second one is correct as spelled; it’s not “beastly.” And yeah, I make up my own words sometimes. Hey, I’m a writer.)

The beasty part is the part that deals with innate drives – sex, hunger, love, anger, allegiance, etc. The humany part is the part that deals with reason and … well, wisdom.

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Too Much Hank – Regression

Pooh. I went to Washington, DC last week and left off working out and eating right for the duration of the trip. Still haven’t gotten back. I haven’t gained any weight, but I haven’t lost any either. And my other fitness gains have been on hold too.

One of the email lists I’m on, it might be Zen Habits, encouraged writing oneself a formal pledge related to goals — and set in a four week time frame — and signing it, so I did that. Here’s the part that relates to health:

I pledge that for the next four weeks, I will work out no less than four times per week at the gym.

I pledge that for the next four weeks, I will walk or run three miles per day, three days a week.

I pledge that for the next four weeks, I will eat no less than 5 servings per day of fruits and vegetables.

I pledge that for the next four weeks, I will consume no drink or food with added sugar in it.

Typically, I’m lousy at keeping promises to myself. But I seem to have been better recently, and I think I can accomplish these things for this short time.

Day 26: Too Much Hank

I’m comfortably below 180 now. I got out of the shower a few days ago and glanced down at my legs and was amazed at how GOOD they look, muscle-wise. And I can’t get over how when I touch my belly, there’s noticeably less of it.

Still, I’m coming up on a month at this. I kinda wish it was going faster.

One thing I do know, my on-scale weight is actually a poor indicator of the changes going on inside me. I almost wish I’d been able to do one of those underwater weighing things so I could know just how much fat I’m losing. Obviously, if my arms and legs are solider and more muscular, whatever that extra muscle weighs has replaced an equal weight of fat — beyond that shown on the scale.

And is muscle denser than fat? I think it must be. Which means the volume of the replaced fat is greater than that of the new muscle. Even though I’ve lost only 11 pounds or so on the scale, the fat overcoat I’ve been wearing over my whole body is significantly thinner. I feel like I’ve probably lost a good 15 to 18 in actual fat. 

Day 18 – Too Much Hank

Another great workout today, weight lifting with all the proper gruntings, whooshes of breath and showing of teeth.  And by the end of it, I was casting admiring glances at myself in the wall mirror, getting all faint at how big my shoulders looked. Whew!

The best news is, when I stepped on the scale BEFORE my workout, I broke 180! I’m down to 179.3 on the digital scale, including gym clothes and shoes. I’ve actually lost 10 pounds since I started this.

Day 14 – Too Much Hank

Weighed myself at the gym today, and I’m down about 8 pounds. So I’m losing about four pounds a week. Is that good?

I know I feel different. My workout today really felt good — I powered through it, and upped several of my weights for next session. I can really feel the mass difference in my arms and shoulders. That 8 pounds is 8 pounds even with this increase in muscle mass, so I think I’m down a good 10 pounds, if we’re just counting padding. Continue reading “Day 14 – Too Much Hank”

Day 12 – TMH

dude.jpgFeelin’ good overall. I’m noticeably stronger than I was.

Hunger is a constant companion these days, and I don’t seem to mind it. I wake up hungry, go to bed hungry, walk around hungry. But considering that hunger went away completely when I was fatter, that’s a good thing. And by “went away,” I mean I somehow lost the ability to tell when I was hungry. What might have been hunger came across as weird weakness, which was scary. Meaning at times it seems like I was training myself to be afraid of being hungry.

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Day 6 – TMH: Gym People

thundra.jpgHaving been out of the gym for a while, I’d forgotten about these people:

The Coveters: Those people who seem to want to control whatever piece of equipment they’re working at, even if they’re not on it at the moment. Like slow golfers who don’t want anyone else to play through.

The Campers: Those who do a set and then sit on the equipment to rest, preventing others from using it, but who never notice people waiting. (One guy today had a THERMOS with him. He sat on one of the machines and poured himself a cup of coffee.)

The Cocooners: The people who wear earplugs and carry music boxes with them everywhere, so that if you wanted to share a moment of camaraderie in the gym, a funny comment or a word of encouragement, they can’t hear you.

The Compulsive Wipers: The people who insist on thoroughly wiping down each piece of equipment before and after they use it, generally making you feel guilty because you’re not doing the same, and thus potentially infecting them with all your horrible diseases.

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Day 5 – Too Much Hank: Progress?

I’m purposely not weighing myself for a couple of weeks. If there’s progress, I want it to be dramatic progress. If there’s no progress … um.

But today when I went to the gym, two things happened. One, when I lifted my feet one at a time to tie my shoes, it was slightly — but noticeably! — easier. I felt a teeny bit more flexible.

Then when I went upstairs to the indoor track, I bounced up the stairs. Up until just 2 or 3 years ago, I always took stairs two at a time, but these days I just trudge, one at a time. Today I bounced. It wasn’t much of a bounce, but it was a definite bounce.

Later, I was sitting in a deep chair that I almost dread getting up from, just because it’s such an effort. But today I got up from that chair easily. Hmm.

All this might be boring as hell to everybody else. But to me it’s exciting.

Something is definitely happening.

Day 4 – Too Much Hank: Invincible Spring


Whew! Sure was a lot of gravity last night. I think it may have gusted up to 1.5 Gs or so.

I felt heavy, anyway. Coming out of my newspaper office last night, I noticed how tired I was, and how “compressed” I felt. For a moment as I thought about it, it really did feel like I was carrying a 45-pound backpack.

Yet I woke up this morning thinking how good I felt.

Which is a topic all its own: I should tell you I have this weird ability to maintain tension even when I’m sleeping. I developed it over the course of years, I think mainly because I read in bed at night. When I was younger, I’d fall asleep and drop the book, but over the years this came to happen less and less, until finally I’d wake up hours later still holding the book in position for reading. My subconscious had learned gradually to hold the book in place without dropping it. The ability generalized to my whole body eventually, so that if I went to bed clenched up from the day, I’d maintain the tension all night long and wake up the same way.

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Day 3 – Too Much Hank

care-bear.jpgThis was a good day. Ate light, had a really good workout at the gym, and then got to visit with my good friend Carl Buell, the world-class wildlife illustrator and all-around great guy. 

Argh. It’s like I’ve been zapped by Care Bears.

I do feel indefinably lighter, though.

I have these sayings I make up, stuff I call “Wise Old Sayings I Just Made Up” — which I sometimes refer to by the clumsy acronym WOSIJMU.

I’ve been wrestling with one about the subject of getting back into the gym after an absence of months or years. The beta version goes:

In 3 days you’ll be stronger.

In 3 weeks you’ll feel better.

In 3 months you’ll be changed forever.

It’s meant to encourage people to get back into the gym.

Are you encouraged?