By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training, Tucson, Arizona
March 13, 2016
A rather strange feeling came over me on Thursday night. It was one of those bizarre, fish out of water moments as I walked the streets of Downtown Tucson in anticipation for a concert I was checking out. For the first time in a long time, the early evening of the Arizona desert still had plenty of sunlight, even as it fast approached seven p.m. I walked past all of the places I would have frequented so many years ago, like Proper, Diablo Burger, Pizzeria Bianco….etc. I was full from a Veg Ball Sandwich from the newly renamed Veg Box Cafe, giving myself the energy needed after a tough day where I was running on fumes. It was interesting, seeing so many unique people out and about. Heck, I even witnessed a homeless couple having an intense make-out session right in front of The Hub Ice Creamery. One guy was taking photos, for I’m sure it was something he had never seen before either “The things you see in Tucson,” we joked. I’m sure the people at The Playground got an eyeful, provided they were not too transfixed on the University of Arizona basketball game on television. Every day in my home town seems to be a strange one, a particular frame of thought started ever since the movie “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore” way back in the 1970s established the city as a weird mecca of unique individuals. I guess I was no different, walking around with nothing to do and getting ultra excited about getting tickets for M83 (I’m sure the people at Proper thought it was weird I was taking actual photos of my tickets!). I sat around in one of my favorite coffee shops known as Sparkroot, soaking in the world. Then came the concert.
So I was watching a one-man band (who had a full band that night, hehe) known as Neon Indian at the Rialto Theater. It was quite obvious I was one of the oldest guys in the crowd, or it might have been the fact I was so close to the front. Either way, I was nearly a head taller and at least 18 years older than most of the people surrounding me. But here was the theme of the evening that was apparent at the concert….no one seemed to notice me. It was a strange feeling I never really experienced, for during the days of my gargantuan frame, I was always extremely noticeable. I could walk down a street and imagine people looking at me, wondering what in the world I had done to get that fat. My friends used to say in a polite way that it was easy to spot me from a distance, citing the way I walked made it simple to differentiate me. What they really meant to say was I was so large and walked in accordance to such a large and wide frame, that it was easy to see me from a distance. Either way, it wasn’t until that night that maybe I am normal, that maybe I have finally reached an apex of health that I will no longer be that double take, with the said person saying “man that guy is huge!” I guess that can be considered a win?! Being considered normal and somewhat unnoticed? It’s certainly an interesting thought for me.
What kind of person looks to be normal, especially in a world where people want to be unique and will do anything—negatively or positively—to get themselves noticed! I mean, there are nut jobs out there sticking toothpicks under their toenails and trying to start fights, all the while saying “It’s a prank, it’s a prank!” People post videos of themselves directly insulting whole swaths of citizenry, and they get more popular? Who the heck are these people? And who the heck supports them? I don’t know, probably the same idiots that think a reality show star with four bankruptcies and a severe lack of tactfulness would make a good president. Either way, I guess my unique heaviness is no longer noticed. I’m just a standard heavy person now, wandering the streets like a normal guy. And you won’t believe how great it feels to consider yourself normal. The days of crossing my fingers, going into Ross and hoping they had a decent selection of size 44 jeans are over. The days of being unable to get a decent concert T-shirt for a show I went to are no longer a problem (even though there were a couple decent shirts at the show, I held back for once). Gone are the days where the only real T-shirt shopping I could do was the monochromatic stylings of a sports shirt store like Champs (I would go nuts when they had multi-color 4X shirts!). All those awkward days are gone now, and I couldn’t be happier about those circumstances. I’ve been using the fourth hole on my belt (I mostly use the third) more and more these days, even though I look and feel like I haven’t really justified such a change. This is all the result of a lot of hard work and determination, and I feel I am winning even though I sometimes look like I am not.
This past week was definitely a difficult one in the gym and I felt I passed the test quite nicely. I already mentioned in the previous blog about how tough the first two days in were….well, it never really stopped from there. Thursday came about, and I was already hurting and tired. For some reason of the other, I just couldn’t sleep and ended up staying awake in the wee hours of the evening. And by the wee hours, I mean I stayed up to roughly three a.m. What came over me that evening is still beyond me. I just got really lazy and was too busy watching bad Youtube videos (thus, feeding the culture I just railed against….yup, I understand irony). Since my arms and legs were still the equivalent of spaghetti and I was working alone, I decided to do a relatively limited workout. I decided to just do some front squats, Romanian dead lefts, jumping pull-ups and and some more balance work, doing kettle bell lindens from both the boss ball and the floor. I didn’t lead on to how tired I was, but I stared with the front squats since I knew those would be the hardest to do. I did not eat any breakfast and I was working on mere coffee, but I ultimately got up to 205 pounds on the front squat. This is significant for none, but extremely significant for me. Wit the terrible wrists I have and a bone that kind of sticks out on my chest, making it hard to put the bar there, getting to this weight is pretty significant to me. Needless to say, I am getting used to this movement even if it does bother m in strange ways. I also did pretty solid on the Romanian deadlifts, doing reps at 225. You see, the difference between the Romanian deadlifts and regular deadlifts is you are not really allowed to engage your legs. I was pretty much upright during this movement, and throughly tired myself out. I did do the other exercises, and removed a fifth exercise that I thought I would have more time and energy for. Just goes to show, running on no breakfast and some coffee with just a few hours of shut-eye is not really good for you, but you can still get results!
It was kind of funny going in on a Friday afternoon, for I hadn’t been to a session on a Friday afternoon in quite a while. This time, I was to do a workout with Parsons Training intern Morgen Rosen once again, the last one we would to together as equals before she has to come up with her own workout for me. Jon initially told us we would have to do some hang cleans that day, but turns out he different ideas. I guess he saw how awful we looked on Wednesday when we struggle to get our push-ups finished! But it was not like Friday’s workout would be a challenge! Labeled “Red Sox” on his pre-made list of workouts, I was forced to rename it because I despise all things Red Sox related, even the stinking name! Anyway, we were looking at a pretty challenging workout, one that would test our resolve almost as much as our fitness. This time around, we started with the one thing that kind of killed us the previous time….the 100 push-ups! Even with the couple days of rest, we struggled to get those darn things out of the way. And considering how the both of us felt at the end of the workout, we were definitely glad we did it early. Handling the 100 jumping jacks and the 50 dumbbell bent over rows were a good rest, considering both movements were more cardio based. But this is where the unusual part of the workout hit us. We had to do 50 Squat-Push-Presses and a one-mile run. Since we only had one treadmill to work with, we opted to alternate on the exercises with me doing the squat-push-presses first. I had to work fast, for even though Morgen claimed she wasn’t much of a runner, this was the same person that claimed she never did dead lifts and easily out lifted her body weight on her first try! I maybe beat her by a minute or so while pushing the 45-pound weights, which she finished her run in a little over ten minutes. Now I will say this, treadmill running is certainly much easier for me, especially when you are trying to show off your running ability. Anyway, I did my one mile run in roughly eight minutes, thus setting ourselves up for the toughest of all the exercises….kettle bell long jumps.
Now, the last time I did this exercise, I had sore shins for days! The second time around, I was much better so to speak, for the residual pain wasn’t as bad. But doing 50 jumps with the 53-pound kettle wasn’t something to be enjoyed. So by the time me and Morgen finally finished, we discovered we still had some time on our hands. Since this week has been kind of a learning experience for Morgen, I decided it was time to whip out the tire! I figured some tire work would be good for the both of us, for I figured the idea of getting the exercises in her head would make it much easier for her to plan some….okay, okay….I just wanted to flip the tire. Anyway, we rani not a slight problem for poor Morgen, who is not yet strong enough actually flip the 350-pound tire. Well, I did the tire flipping and she did some heavy kettle swings, which I figured would be a fair compromise after trying some other stuff to mimic the tire flip. We were going to do some jackhammer swings, but there was definitely a look in both of our faces. We were done! We did all of that fitness awesomeness in roughly 55 minutes, which is pretty good for me since I rarely have someone to compete against.
After surviving all of that hardship this past week, it makes me realize one thing…it’s hard work to make yourself just look normal! I can only imagine how difficult it is to maintain the level fitness needed to get washboard abs and sub eight minute miles. But it tells me that I maybe someday those dreams are attainable, that perhaps I really need to start working more and harder. I need to quit my job, sooner than later or else get on the more coveted weekday shift. Whatever the case may be, in spite of my soreness, I want to do more of this. I want to be in the gym more often and getting more gains. I deadlifted 325 for the first time in a while this past week and bested my front squat. I don’t know when, but I really need to start getting back to where I used to be. While my weight is still stagnant, I want to get that body I have struggled to attain. Eventually I will get it. I just have to be patient.
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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.