3hree Things: On My Fitness Schizophrenia

Watch out for 3hree Things every Tuesday, where Riley Breckenridge, drummer of Orange County's favorite local alt-rock band Thrice, gives his take on life in Southern California as an OC native.

courtesy of warriorinscrubs, sixpackstomachreview and photoshop
Earlier this week I discovered that my upper butt chub seems to have started migrating further and further up my back (again) and it also appears to be ever so slowly sneaking around my hips to take residence just above my belt. These are both troubling signs, so my fitness has been weighing on my mind as of late. See what I did there?

I'll grudgingly admit that I'm a bit of a fitness schizophrenic. During a particularly active phase, I'll be up at the crack of dawn to get a workout in, counting calories, eating sensibly, and weighing myself daily. During an phase of apathy, inactivity and carelessness, I'll sleep in everyday, make every meal a "cheat meal" coupled with a few-to-several high-calorie craft brewed bottles of loudmouth soup, and lazily limit my exercise to reading and typing. It's a pathetic fitness dichotomy that I'm none too proud of, but it is, as they say, "what it is."

In an effort clear my mind, find some commiseration and get myself on the right track, I figured I'd try to dissect this issue. Hopefully I won't bore you all to death in the process.

1) This Time Around

I haven't been on tour since last fall. (Yikes.) During that nine-month respite from the road, that fitness schizophrenia has looked something like this:

September-November: Took Adult Fitness classes (speed, agility and weight training) at a local sports performance center. Wonderful stuff. It was the closest I've ever come to feeling like I was in as good of shape as I was when I was playing baseball in college. 

Also: Very expensive and something that requires a 5 a.m. wake-up call three-to-five days a week.

December-February: Devolved into a BBQ-eating, craft-beer-drinking pile of ass meat. Wonderful in its own right. 

Also: Very unhealthy. At times it looked like I was smuggling a trash bag full of mashed potatoes under my shirt.

February-April: Surprised myself by completing P90X Lean in my garage while developing an irrational hatred of Tony Horton. Wonderful results. I lost weight, lost inches (in my waist), and felt pretty damn good.

Also: Made me so sore that I walked around like my joints had been fused. And I incorporated a post-workout routine that included writhing on the floor of my garage in pain and cursing Tony Horton.

April-present: Resume devolution into a BBQ-eating, craft-beer-drinking pile of ass meat. Still wonderful, but still not so good for my health.

Also: Decadent. Double-also: I'm embarrassed to take my shirt off when I'm at home. Alone.

As you can probably infer from the above information, my mushy midsection and I are overdue for an upswing. However, at this point in time, I'm a little screwed as far as options are concerned.

courtesy of Birkonian blog

2) The Problem 

I can't really afford the monthly dues at the sports performance center anymore. (See: a nine-month respite from the road = a nine-month respite from income.)

I'm trying to avoid 24-Hour Fitness like the plague because I can't stand "gym guy" and I hate scheduling my workouts around dudes who feel the need to do a pose-down between every set and don't let people "work-in" while they're trying to set their personal bench press record.

And I can't see myself doing P90X again for fear that another three-month exposure to Tony Horton's coaching and awful jokes will land me in Fairview Mental Hospital. 

courtesy of the Internet
​3) About Those Other Options

I tried cycling for a while. Although, "cycling" makes it sound serious, like I was saddled up on fancy racing bike, decked out in tights and an aerodynamic helmet, barreling up and down the streets of Orange County like Lance Armstrong, when in all honesty, what I was doing was more like "riding bikes" (like we did when we were kids) alone, wobbling through residential areas like a bear on a unicycle. My road bike is an undersized rusty mess of metal pipes and chains that would probably fall apart if it were to go any faster than twenty miles-per-hour (which would also cause me to eat pavement and break my everything.) And I'm not a huge fan of grinding my taint into a pulp either, so, uh... NEXT.

For a couple of weeks, I tried pulling home workouts from the pages of Men's Health magazine, but without a gym membership I'm lacking some essential equipment. Namely, a squat rack, barbells, a slew of plates. The workouts I can manage to do with the PowerBlock dumbbells I bought aren't really giving me the cardio work I think I might need to be ready to play drums for an hour-plus every night on tour this fall. Dare I say that I miss the elliptical machine, the Stairmaster, the treadmill, the VersaClimber, the sled pulls, and the wind sprints. Did really I just type that? NEXT.

Hmm. How about running?

As a 36-year-old with a surgically repaired right knee, shoddy ankles and a history of back problems, I'm not really supposed to "run." It turns out that having joints that feel like they're filled with gravel and a spine that constantly feels like a gorilla is standing on it doesn't really lend itself to much high-impact activity. When my orthopedist told me "Yeah, I don't think running is something you should really do...at all," I smiled. Although, I did get a bit scared thinking that when the rapture comes and zombies try to kill us all, it might be nice to be able to run away rather than being disemboweled. I'd always hated running as a form of exercise anyway, but drastic times call for drastic measures. 

So I ran a few times last week and hated it. Not only because I could feel what little cartilage I have left grinding itself into nothing and woke up every morning feeling I was going to shit out my entire spinal column, but because I couldn't get past the feeling that I was being punished. Growing up playing baseball, running was always something that happened because I did something wrong. Show up late to practice, run. Miss a sign, run. Boot a grounder, run. So the whole time I'm running, I keep expecting to hear a coach screaming at me or feel like I have to run until I puke (because that's how we did it back then.) Add to that, my current state of laziness that makes me stare longingly at every motor vehicle that passes by as I wish I were in that vehicle rather than turning purple, disobeying doctor's orders and hating myself. That, or quietly cursing every more-conditioned, better-practiced runner that ends up (inevitably) passing me on the track or street. 

One thousand words later, and I'm right back where I started.

There is a solution to all of this however.

And it's probably for me to stop being such a wuss, find a gym, get out of the WAAAHmbulance, and commit to getting in better shape.

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