By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
May 1, 2016
When I contemplate life and put it into words for you all to read, I often times wonder what it is like to be considered “normal” once again. Not normal in the psychological sense (or something close to that ideal), but normal in the way of being a typical person in this country. Non-vegan, non-fitness oriented and completely in tune with trends and such. I have become so backward in so many things that I might as well create a new term for myself…urban hick. Yup, I am the ignorant rube that has fallen behind simply because I am somewhat detached from the main stream of society. I mean, I went to a regular movie theater the other day and was rather astonished with the movies that are coming out. I say astonished because I spend my time at a pretentious indie movie theater that typically has nothing but quality from around the world. So yeah, walking the halls of the El Con 20 Theaters and seeing movie posters for Neighbors 2 and Jason Bourne 5 and Ice Age 4 kind of made me scratch my head. More sequels? Really?! Did these movies really warrant more entries into their “canon” and are people really going to watch them? I couldn’t believe there was a movie for World of Warcraft, which I thought was just a crappy online game until now….but now it has a movie? At least I was wonderfully surprised when my friend showed me the 4-player version of Pac-Man, which is hilarious to play when you consider all of the things you can do to screw over the people you are playing against. And of course, there was a rather entertaining shoot-em-up game from Jurassic Park, which I jokingly stated is not very “vegan friendly” since I was blowing up dinosaurs and bugs all over the place (though they still kicked my butt!). And here is another thing that will come off as shocking….truth be told, I still have no idea who Becky is. And to make this sound even crazier…they guy that used to be the hippy-Grateful Dead nerd on the University of Arizona Basketball team is now the head coach for the Los Angeles Lakers. How times have changed.
In regards to food, I saw some crazy things that never really crossed my mind…like the ease of veganizing everything at Taco Bell. Okay, I am once again in trouble folks, for I saw a video from the Vegan Bros and they went through a step by step tutorial on what to do and how to order. https://youtu.be/P4v73y19GWc Heck, their “bro yell” at the beginning of the video was like me back in the day! I decided to give it a try, since I was kind of hunkering for something that was bad for me, and a couple chalupas seemed like the order of the day. I have to tell you, I am in freaking trouble all over again with this place. I might have to do what a lot of Americans do and sue the heck out of the bros for bringing this information to light. I mean, I had so many issues with Taco Bell over the last few years, and now I have to start battling the urges once again! And the funny thing is this…it tasted pretty good. It was simple….remove the cheese and sour cream, go “fresco” style and replace the meat with beans. Turned out to be pretty delectable because the chalupa shells were the perfect consistency. All of the good feelings of stuffing my face with chalupas from back in the day kind of made me lose my mind. While I ate three of them that night, I really wanted to eat six or seven, kind of like in the old days. Geez, why did Taco Bell have to be so accommodating to me!!! Then I saw another interesting story that made me cringe and cry at the same time. Ever wonder what can be done with the burgeoning problem with pizza boxes?
I used to have a massive issue back in the day, for my lack of ecological awareness was astounding. When you ate as much pizza as I did back in the day, it typically took up a huge amount of space in your trash can. One day my neighbor even noticed the stacks of pizza boxes in my trash can and made a passing remark about it to him (they attend the same church). Anyway, the amount of waste I contributed to the world makes me feel rather guilty inside, but now there is a pizza company in Brooklyn that has possibly solved the crisis at hand. http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/local/NYC-Pizzeria-Introduces-Pizza-Made-Pizza-Box-377467201.html The aptly named Vinnie’s Pizza certainly earned my vote for the Nobel Prize, provided if saving the environment is worthy of the Nobel Prize. Instead of cutting down trees and destroying the oxygenating importance of trees, why not just make the pizza box out of another pizza! Yup, two pizzas for the price of one. Apparently, this is not the first time these guys have done something unique in the pizza world. They started a trend last year where they made a pizza that was topped with mini-pizzas. Yup, you heard that right, Needless to say, Pinterest took off with this idea as more people got in on the action. And then I looked through Pinterest and realized pizza is a stinking art form to these people. Burgers, fries and chicken fingers pizzas? Frogs legs pizza? Squid ink pizza with shrimp? Well, I am throughly disgusted. What’s next? Pizza topped with Taco Bell Chalupas? I better patent that before someone steals my idea!
Either way, before I write myself into a corner and start falling off the wagon, I once again have to contemplate on the idea of normalcy. Thanks to recent events, there is nothing normal going on in my life right now, so to touch on some things that used to appeal to me is kind of bizarre. Talking about Taco Bell and my humungous pizza habit is sort of comforting, for it often tells me just how far I have come in this journey. I mention all of this normalcy stuff because it will be essential in the coming weeks as I once again go through the process of looking for work and such. One problem I ran into the last time I was unemployed was my terrible eating habits. There is no coincidence that in 2014, when I gained a considerable amount of weight back to my frame, that I spent half that year unemployed. I was pretty lazy so to speak, not running very often and kind of half passing my way through workouts. But like I always point out about that particular year, I was always content with what I had done for myself. I was not pushing myself harder in any shape or form. The irony of course is the fact I was training for a half marathon and I still packed on the pounds. Pretty weird if you ask me. There was one pretty interesting moment that happened this week though….for the first time in a long time, I actually weightlifted three times! For some, that is nothing, but for a guy that is trying to rebuild his strength, it was a welcome release. I have been bothered a lot recently by my body being kind of sluggish, whether it be from a rather restricted diet or the fact my body is starting to demand some rest, I really don’t know. So when Jon offered me a chance to put in three workouts this week, I said “Hell Yes!”
I had to be a little careful though, especially since my body has been kind of like a toddler going through the terrible twos..acting up. For some reason, my legs have been pretty tired and I could feel my body being sore in a couple different spots. I slowed down o the running this past week to give myself a little extra rest. I mean, on Friday night, I was going to shoot for eight miles but barely got through half that. Designing three workouts this week that kind of benefitted me and didn’t put too much stress on my body was also kind of difficult. Since I have some things to work on in regards to form on several of my lifts, I have been going a little light on the weights and adding more movements. I pushed it on Tuesday with a lot of different stuff, doing bench presses, dead lifts, and back squats….but I never really went crazy on any of those. I especially kept my laurels in regards to the back squats, for my squatting motion is something that I have been desperately trying to fix in the wake of my big realization a few weeks ago. I was going with 185 pounds on that lift and it seemed to be a good weight for me as I concentrated on utilizing my legs evenly while also paying attention to keeping the bar straight. These were the type of things that could bother me in the long run, and the fact I may have been overworking one side over the other might be the source of some of my soreness. This happened a lot when I tried to forcefully straighten out my foot, which would stick out pigeon toed when I ran. The only thing I can figure is I have to once again be patient and work through the pain, merely to the effect that rushing the change will result in some bigger problems down the line. I will probably move up to over 200 pounds for this lift for the upcoming week, to simply continue the progression for my body strength. I also added some other movements that day that I haven’t been doing much lately, like single arm lawnmowers, front raises and some back work on the GHD. Gutting through six exercises is not exactly easy for me. But then I pretty much did it again on Thursday!
I decided to do more functional and balance stuff this time around, working on my hang cleans and overhead presses as my two heavy lifts and then barbell rows and alternating curls as my intermediate stuff. I focused heavily on my balance that day, doing something I call a “leandown" where I hold a kettle bell, and lean forward with it on one foot. This is doing some exponential work on my balance issues, though it is also tiring out my ankles quite a bit. Truthfully, I need to strengthen my ankles so they can handle longer distances down the road, and improving my balance will certainly help this problem. I also did some single leg arm pulls, doing the same kind of work on my legs only with a different muscle group as I forced my legs to stay balanced in a much different way. So with all of this stuff done, I was kind of at a loss when it came to Saturday’s workout. I haven’t done a third workout in so long that I kind of came up with some stuff just for the heck of it….a sort of review from the past week. I ultimately did some bench pressing, front squats and barbell rows as my main weight function, and then added the leandowns as a balance function. Since I wasn’t going to be running, I added a little cardio style work by doing some kettle bell swings, which is something I haven’t done in quite a while. My hip was also feeling a little weak that day, so I did some band extensions with my feet, which is a good way to strengthen you hip muscles. You see, part of the issue I have been having with my squats and possibly my dead lifts is the fact I have relied too much on one side to maintain my leverage and strength. Until I can correct this little problem, gunning for personal bests in the gym is going to be put on the back burner.
Now don’t worry too much about me. I know this sounds like I have a lot of issues falling on my head right now, but I assure you all is well for me. Unlike in the past, I would have kept trying to push myself harder and ultimately create a setback for myself. These days, I am a little bit smarter and am looking to fix potential problem in the making. Of course, my old job is not setting me back anymore, but the residual issues that remain need to be addressed. Sometimes the normalcy of the past is not a good normalcy, much like my hunger for pizza and Taco Bell. So what is a a person to do? I just keep going ahead, trying some different things to help me along the way and see what will suit me. Right now, I am only concerned with keeping my body from breaking down and my wallet from being empty. Hopefully, that will not become a normal thing for me.
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Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
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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.