one of my favorite bands-Mr. Gnome-was playing that night. We joked about the old days, mainly because my friend has decided to start taking some steps about improving his health. Granted, we went a little overboard at Food for Ascension, but it was certainly a much healthier alternative than say Chili’s or the burger joint du jour. While I was joking about how stuffed I was from eating the delicious pan grilled potato cakes, hummus and Almond Date Tart, my friend revealed to me that he and the rest of my friends were probably on the verge of an intervention for me in regards to my eating habits a few years back. Now I never really thought about my friends doing something like that, but it is pretty easy to see why. I had the never-ending bag of food from Hamburger Stand, the never-ending bag of food from Taco Bell, the never-ending bag….well, you get the idea. In a lot of ways, eating a whole pizza was a step back for me. Anyway, it kind of shocked me to hear this. And then my friend mentioned to our waitress that I had lost 140 pounds or so thanks to the help of a vegan diet, and she was legitimately impressed (I can only figure this because it didn’t look like she was anywhere near 140 pounds in weight, so she probably thought in her head for a moment that this guy used to carry more weight than I weighed!).
As you read this blog, I once again participated in the annual Tucson Heart Walk. Three years ago, a picture from this event was the tipping point for me. I looked so horrible, out of shape and miserable in the photo, which I secretly hate showing to people. Like I have mentioned before, I have a hard time taking positive reinforcement, mainly because of my negative view of myself that was built over the span of many years. I still have trouble crawling out of that mentality, even though I have made plenty of gains in both my body shape and personal self (even though I still despise my body a little). I look at how tight my heart walk shirt looked in the last photo I took of myself. I put it on for the first time in a year of so just for the heck of it, and it was so baggy and loose I felt like I was ready to join some rapper’s entourage (if I could ever figure out how to sag my pants, hehe). I still find it so so strange that an event that was made for advocating heart health, I looked like I was destined for one or two heart attacks. Literally, at the time I had attended the event back in 2012, I had nearly gone a month without eating any fruit or veggies, provided it wasn’t on a burger or a pizza. Eating bananas and oranges that day was pretty weird!
In the wake of my former life, it is kind of interesting to see how strong the body can become, even after abusing and desecrating it with horrible foods and chemicals. While I have made plenty of gains, I still feel a little disheartened about my yo-yo progress sometimes, where I have a mini-setback and I get a little angry about it. But on my night out on Friday, I did realize that the road will be long and full of changes, but still will have a satisfying end. Take the band Mr. Gnome, which I thoroughly enjoyed with my friends Scott and Kim (who were both watching for the first time).
When I first saw them, they were a struggling little band with crummy equipment and absolutely no notoriety. If it hadn’t been for a little article in the Tucson Weekly and a slow week in music at the time, I never would have seen them roughly six years ago. They played at the Flycatcher (which was called Plush at the time) and were wedged between a couple of terrible bands called Garbosi and The Gentlemen of Monster Island. At the time, I was maybe 360 or so in the weight department. Either way, they came back many times to Tucson over the years, mainly because they always had a decent showing crowd wise and they had few demands in regards to playing (according to my inside sources at Flycatcher/Plush, hehe). Either way, despite the cult like status they had, Nicole Barille and Sam Meister kept coming back, getting better and more electric every time they played. I used to joke with a Facebook friend named Bill Kaye (who knows the band personally) that I would try to steal them away from Cleveland, but no luck yet. Either way, this past Friday was probably the best of the nine shows or so I have seen them play in. What makes this band so unique is the impeccable timing they have to have when they are playing. One moment they are ripping out loud, distortion riddled music and on a dime, reduced to simple single chord playing and cymbal tapping as Barille constantly has to change the levels of her voice to match the loudness of the music. They are so proficient at this method of music making, I wonder if they even have to practice anymore. What I am getting at is this takes a lot of practice, work and dedication. The band that was once wedged between two terrible bands is now a headliner and has local bands thankful in opening for them. Now I don’t know what their long term plans are in regards to music, but I know I will always listen and show up when they hit town. But what I am getting at is this notoriety and ability they have wasn’t something built overnight. And when you see them play and listen to the extreme cuts in tempo and style, it reminds me of my own life in a way.
I still have a long way to go, but my running ability is still a work in progress. My weight lifting might not be as good as some of my peers, but that just means I need to work on that a little better. My stomach is getting smaller, but I have to be patient. Much like music, the body is an instrument and life is the sweet sounds that will permeate the ears of the world. In order to make yourself sound better, you have to practice, which is pretty much what good health and fitness can do for your body. Heck, even Mr. Gnome seems to understand this. Barille may look like a tiny fairy on the stage, but she is clearly strong enough to haul around and jam every night on her heavy guitars while Meister has to stay in good shape to keep up with his energetic and violent style of drumming (my friend Scott compared him to the guy from the movie Whiplash). The sex, drugs and rock and roll metaphor doesn’t seem to apply to these two very much, which is why I like them so much.
It’s kind of funny that I would compare good health to such an unusual metaphor, but what else can you say? I’ve kind of grown tired of the whole “the body is a temple” motif that is thrown around so much, because in the end that sounds like a more self serving ideal of showing yourself off to the world. I think this is why I like my metaphor a little more, because good health is not just something you should do for yourself, but also something that can benefit other people. While I have no idea how many people even read this blog, I would like to think some of them have taken heart to what I have written. It has been a long journey and is still a long one ahead of me. I would like to hope some people like what I done, but I also want to think my fitness benefits other people. Heck, this is one reason why I like doing the Ragnar Relay races. Sure, I love the medals and the weird times one can have trapped in a van for nearly 36 hours, but it is also one of the few moments where I have to use my fitness to benefit other people, not just myself. Maybe this is the new mentality I need to adopt in order to get some of the hurdles I seem to be running into. While I understand that working out and changing my body is something I need to do for myself, I sometimes believe the goal has been met and achieved. For crying out loud, I have dropped 140 pounds! Most people would call that a day! I think this is something I need to start trying, at least put into practice for the month of May. Sure, trying to impress people with how fit you are may seem narcissistic, but I believe if you do it from an honest place and do it not show superiority, it can be a good method to achieve some goals. Heck, I’m following a couple people who are absolute beasts in the gym, making me long for some things I can’t have at the moment.
When you think about it, the heart is the engine for the entire body, which is why I continue to participate in the annual Heart Walk in Tucson. Heart disease has taken the lives of many people I love and know, and it also nearly took the life of my own mother a year ago. While the changes I have made in my life are exceptional and worth cheering about, I want to keep getting better and better. Working on my mind is something I really need to work on, mainly because so many things have been haywire in my life these days. I keep begging for the quick fix, for the things that might finally push me over the top and make me continue on with a new vigor. I keep thinking maybe there will be some beautiful woman I want to impress or thinking I might win the lottery and thus my life will be changed forever as the stresses are removed from my life. Well, neither of those things are gonna happen anytime soon or ever at this point, so now I just need to continue with the path I going, only I need to pick up the pace a little. I harken back to the band Mr. Gnome once again. They have been around for 10 years and are still living (what I hope at least) is a dream and a life they enjoy. I’m still trying to figure out some things, even though I am old as hell and wondering what the heck I’m going to be doing the rest of my life when I can’t even look beyond the next week. At least I know I am working on my body and making it better with each day rather than abusing and killing it slowly. Some day I hope the metaphorical music I make is the kind that will make people want to follow suit, much in the same vein of a kid hearing a band for the first time and saying to themselves, “I want to be just like them!” It’s still a work in progress, but I am barely three years in, with a couple setbacks. I’m hoping my fourth year of fitness is nothing but progress, which is something I will need to work hard for. Thanks for being on this journey with me!
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.