Monday, December 17, 2012

Overcoming Obstacles

Overcoming Obstacles: also known as The Whole Fucking Point of the Game
Borrowed from

So what you may or may not know about me is that I have depression. I would like to refer to this as "crippling depression" since it is so bad I take a heavy-dosage antidepressant to prevent me from quite literally throwing myself off a bridge, but considering the fact that I have a job, friends, a stable home environment, an elaborate exercise routine, and a (somewhat) healthy diet, I guess I can't exactly refer to myself as crippled. That said, the stress of the holidays and the horrific oppressive darkness of the shortened days have really taken it out of me this week. So in honor of all athletes who sometimes sob into their pillows for several hours feel a little disappointed when they fall short of their goals I'd like to offer 2 tips for overcoming the psychological challenges if getting and staying fit. (Might be more to follow this week, but I'm out of time atm).

1.) Remember the power of "YET." On Wednesday at the gym I wanted to curl up in a ball and start crying. It was one of those days when I wondered why I even fucking do this, when I'm never going to be as good as the professionals. I was practicing a new move on the trapeze and failed to invert when I was hanging from my shoulders. "I can't do it!" I cried, collapsing in a lump of sad broken ruin on the mat.
"YET," my friends corrected. "You can't do it, YET."
Yet is a very powerful word for anyone with goals (which should be everyone). Just the way my BL2 Siren can't YET gain healing from kills in Phaselock (SERIOUSLY WHY CAN'T I GET THAT FROM THE BEGINNING THIS IS BULLSHIT!!), we can't walk into a new sport or exercise and expect to do everything. In fact, two years, five years, and even twenty years after working on a skill set, there will be things we can't do YET. That's because we still have goals and we are still working towards them. I can't do it yet. But I'm working towards it, and some day I will be able to. Trapeze inverts, you're on my motherfucking radar.

2.) Don't be scared. Tell me if this sounds familiar: I gather up my stuff and head out of the office, making sure that I have my shoes and my bag and everything's in order. Good. Off to gym. A few minutes into the drive, my heart starts beating faster. Soon I find that my breathing is short. I feel antsy and scared and start to wonder if I forgot something. What if something goes wrong at the gym? What if I fall or fart in front of someone or I do something else embarrassing? What if something horrible happens? I try to breath normally and calm down, but I can't help but feel anxious.
My genius father psychologist explained to me this weekend that this isn't anxiety. On your way to the gym, you know you are about to exercise, so your brain, being extremely helpful and eager to get its workout on, prepares your body for fight-or-flight, quickening your heartbeat and breathing pattern. Then another part of your brain, which we'll call the Douchebag Part for this scientific discussion, notices that your body is prepared for fight-or-flight and decides that you must be panicking about something. Being a Douchebag, it doesn't want to admit that it missed something, so it just starts making up shit for you to be panicked about. And suddenly, oh look, you're in the locker room, staring at all the skinny girls, scared out of your fucking mind because you're at the gym and it's basically The Worst Thing in the World and THIS IS WHY EVERYONE HATES THE GYM SO MUCH.
So if you feel antsy in the car or the locker room or right before you lift a set, take a deep breath and let it wash over you. This is your body, preparing to help carry you to greatness any way it can. It's increasing your power level and making you even more awesome than you already are by pumping some extra blood and oxygen into your muscles. It wants you to succeed with your New Year's Resolution. And the Douchebag section of your anterior lobe can goddamn suck it.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Codename: Kamikaze* Kate

*Apologies to WWII veterans and those of Japanese descent who may be offended by this reference.

So every day that I do silks, I make four climbs to the top (about 18 feet in the air) before beginning to work on other moves. This builds muscle and endurance as well as improving your comfort with heights and so on. I almost always do difficult climbs in order to further increase my performance, and therefore, on Wednesday night, climbed up 18 feet of silk in a standard wrap on my off-foot. Not satisfied with this challenge, I decided to invert (i.e. go upside) and descend in a same side wrap. Unfortunately, my arms apparently had had enough and suddenly I found myself falling upside-down back to the mat. In a quick, desperate attempt to catch myself, I pinched the fabric in my right armpit, thereby righting myself so that I was falling feet first in a more controlled fashion. I am pleased to report that I only had one injury.

This photo preceded the most painful shower of my life in which I uttered borderline sexual screams of agony washing that thing out. No I did not cry. Yes it still hurts like fucking hell.

Anyway, so the rest of the class went without incident. Oh. No wait. Jesus Christ, no it didn't. No, you see, putting appearance before my own personal safety, I insist on wearing a pair of cotton yoga shorts over my unitard when I do silks because I hate the way I look in the Just Unitard look. So after my fall, I dusted my hands and climbed back up to the top and then tied up my aching armpit and performed a few tricks. I was finishing one of my favorites when for some reason I didn't drop as far as I was planning.
"Oh," someone said, "Your shirt is caught."
But I wasn't wearing a shirt. No, no. I was hanging twelve feet in the air by my bootie shorts which were now at level with my fucking eyes. If your thought right now is, "my God, that must have been the biggest wedgie," then CONGRATULATIONS. Your thought merges perfectly with my friend Tini's statement of "Oh my God, Kate, you have the biggest wedgie." Yeah. So, after my instructor stood beneath me and allowed me to stand on her hands, I was able to untie myself and return to the earth.

So I'm not sure about the status of the shorts, but I walked away with two injuries, armpit and pride. Not the worst, really. This brings me to the wonderful subject of injuries (WHICH IS THE POINT OF THIS POST, NOT MY HORRIFICALLY SAD MOMENT OF SHORTS BINDING, OK?!)
Anyway. Injuries. Some may disagree with this, but it is my humble opinion that injury is an inevitable aspect of training. My worst injury is that of my left ankle. I was playing soccer at 8pm one sub-zero February night (yes it was outdoors) when I misplaced my step and my toes curled beneath my foot as I was landing. A tumble and a roll found me on my knees, screaming dramatically into the night sky and trying not to tear up as a circle of men surrounded me, staring helpfully. I tore two ligaments, the second of which tore straight off of my shin bone, taking a small fragment with it. As a server I had to be back on my feet, crutch-free, in two days. My insurance at the time wasn't spectacular, so I had to rehab it myself without and physical therapy support, and the results weren't spectacular. Almost two years later, I still have problems with it, including re-spraining it this past August so badly I was on crutches for 48 hours. Essentially, the injury has gone chronic. It will likely always give me problems, it will ache, it will creak, it will be stiff, it will fail me. It will never fully recover. Soccer players also often face the dreaded ACL injury, which can put an athletic career on hold or terminate it entirely, even for professionals, as well as a lot of head injuries, sprains, and breaks. Needless to say, aerialists and traceurs face some similar problems.

Now, when I say that injuries are inevitable, I do not necessarily mean the sort of thing described above. But I do mean things like this.

Those are permanent scars on my back from sliding down the silks. The thing on my arm will likely scar as well. But like every athletic injury I earn, I'm proud of these nasty things. Every injury is a Red Badge of Honor; it is the sign that an athlete has pushed themselves to their limits, has pushed themselves beyond their limits, and taken a hit rather than backing down from a challenge. We should work on our parkour rolls to prevent avoidable injuries when vaulting; we should focus on proper technique from the beginning and throughout training, we should always, always admit when we're not quite comfortable trying something outside our capability. But scrapes and burns and an occasional ligament tear are part of the process. They're something to train through, something to learn from, something to display on your blog. 

Of course the punchline of this advice is that I re-earned my name Wednesday night of Kamikaze Kate. Meaning, I don't really focus enough on self-preservation. So maybe I'm not a good one to ask. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Eat Your Veggies

Dudes, so I have this pretty sweet place I hit up every morning -- free wifi, water fountain, fridge to store my stuff, desk top computer -- it's nice, and these people actually pay me to be there. Anyway recently for whatever fucking reason they started bugging me about, like, proposals or something. I don't even know, man, it was inconvenience. Anyway, between that and Thanksgiving I realize I've really neglected my duties as a blogger, and I totally apologize to you, my loyal fans, for that failure.

Anyway, so right before the big annual stuff-your-face-in-front-of-your-family-and-watch-football holiday (may it always maintain its rightful place in our hearts) my BF and I were complaining about weight gain, and how that's kind of thing with us.
"We need to eat better," I said.
"But how?!" he argued. "I don't get it; Tini* eats like a fitness model!" (*Tini is my friend and very talented aerialist who describes dishes such as salmon and goat cheese on a bed of spinach for dinner which is, I must agree, very fitness-modelish.)
"Well," I replied, suddenly possessed by the specter of the wisest fitness guru, "It starts at the grocery store."

Which is true. I keep trying to be a healthy eater by essentially having nothing or very little on hand to eat, and then hoping that I will suddenly buy or cook some healthy dish every single time I'm hungry. Of course what actually happens is that I work out, I'm starving, and I stop at McDonald's on the way home. Or I'm running errands at lunchtime, I'm late, and I'm starving, and I get Chick-fil-e. Or it's the weekend we're tired, there's no food to eat, and we're lazy as all fuck, so we go out to lunch/dinner/breakfast/snacktime etc. etc.

It's not that I don't go to the grocery store; I go every week. But I don't get the right things. I get things that take a long time cook, and I don't have the time to do that. I get snacks that aren't healthy (usually chips), I don't have any go-to food to much on after I go to the gym (which is absurd since I go to the gym like 4 times a week.) So this Monday I decided to tighten my belt, loosen my wallet, and buy the right stuff. The Wegmen's I go to has this sweet trail mix bar, which gave me access to dried banana slices and cranberries, semi-sweet chocolate chips and almonds (all of which I will probably buy individually next week in order to have a larger supply in bulk). Anyway, I mixed this conglomeration of goodness with about two parts Cheerios and BAM! delicious trail mix, suitable for face-stuffing after a hard work-out. I got salad to eat at home and salad to eat work, hummus, pretzel chips, and these amazing turkey sausages that Johnsonville makes which happen to be very low calorie and also delicious. It's no salmon on a bed spinach, but it's fit my lifestyle pretty well this week, and it's all food I enjoy eating. This is good because ultimately, I don't want a diet; I want to alter my habits for the better. On that note, I'm late for a parkour class ominously titled "Eat Your Veggies" which is designed to beat the hell out of your body and motivate you to either crawl in a hole and die or --you guessed it-- eat your veggies.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Truest Form of Zombie Survival: Parkour

So as part of my continuing endeavor to integrate more cardio into my week, I've decided to get back into parkour. That's my sane reason. Also, I'm kind of getting into survival preparation, by which I mean I am developing plans for bad weather, terrorist attacks, and end-of-the-world scenarios that involve stocking up on water, MRE's, and camping gear while learning how to plant crops, shoot a bow, skin an animal, forage and --
OK. Admittedly this is not a very normal or healthy hobby, but the fact is that if the zombie apocalypse begins I want to be able to climb a 6 foot wall, goddammit, cause ain't no way I'm goin out just cause I decided to stay home and eat pizza instead of heading to the gym when I had the chance.

So with this in mind on Friday night I headed out to do a little parkour. I was very nervous because for one thing parkour is one of those sports that involves a lot of interaction with other human beings, which is pretty far down on my list of skills (I think I roll a penalty for my low charisma when participating in social interaction.) Also, I'm not very good at parkour. This is not for lack of trying; I work hard when I'm there and I push myself to get the most out of my work-out. But one of the things I really like about parkour (even though it makes it a huge challenge for me) is that it is much more than a sport of simply memorizing forms or learning different ways to jump over things.
Parkour is cerebral. It's an exercise in creativity as much as strength, flexibility, stamina, and endurance. The challenge of crossing from point A to point B is about recognizing an obstacle and deciding on the best way to traverse it, factoring in your position based on whatever obstacle you've just crossed, your ability, and the obstacle you'll be facing next. The best traceurs are made of equal parts patience and quick decision-making, of calculation and artistry. It's fun when you get it right. It's annoying as fuck all the times you get it wrong (and sometimes painful).
So Friday I timidly did my warm-up, wheezing by the end (thanks overly muscular and under aerobically-disciplined body) and got in line to do some vaults. For the most part, I was my terrified of heights self, but I did do some damn fine jump to cat-hangs, and also managed to top out from a cat-hang. The top out was a big goddamn deal, and I'm hoping to get to the point where I can do a wall run to top out in the coming months. (I calculate the zombie outbreak as being more likely to occur in the late spring or summer, so as long as I cam make it up an 8-foot wall by then, everything will be fine.)

Anyway, after that, the class broke down into hey-it's-urban-evo-on-a-friday-night-let's-just-jump-on-things. I took the first steps to learning how to do a front flip, which is very exciting, and then we loaded mats onto a tumble track and jumped on/over them. There's no video evidence that I participated, unfortunately, but I did get two awesome videos of other guys vaulting the mats. (No, my vaults were not nearly as clean as theirs but YES I did vault this obstacle, which was about as tall as I am.) Enjoy.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Skill Increase: Balance

FYI This takes a lot of core strength. I've been working on my superman's for almost 9 months, and it could still use some work (I think my stomach should probably be tighter and my back should be straighter, rather than arched, but I'm really shocked at how much progress I've made.)

So Wednesday I went to Urban Evolution in Manassas, as is my thing, to learn silks from the very talented and experienced Robin Berry. I also braved the static trapeze for the first time (In the background behind me in this photo). I decided that I really like static trapeze, and I'd really like to develop my skills at it. It takes a lot of strength and balance, but, thank god, not nearly as much endurance as silks does. Hopefully sometime in the near future I'll have some pictures up. My real challenge learning trapeze is that I really don't have anywhere to take classes. While Urban Evo has a trapeze, it's not actually hung correctly and no one is available to teach a class. Eventually I'll probably have to go somewhere for proper training. For now, though, I'll have to rely on YouTube videos and luck to see me though, with occasional input from Robin.

Anyway, after aerials, I stuck around on Wednesday for gymnastics, my first time back in about six months. So, I am not good at gymnastics. I am working on my strength and flexibility, and they have dramatically improved, but at the end of the day, I have dexterity of like 8. I.E. I am so fucking clumsy it's a miracle I haven't broken my neck yet. This is especially bad because whenever I think of gymnastics I think of tumbling. I really, really want to tumble. Specifically, I really, really want to learn to do a back handspring, because I consider that to be an automatic qualification for being a superhero. Read a marvel comic sometime. I'm fairly certain the handsprings account for approximately 76% of the best defensive and offensive skills. In fact, I'm fairly certain there are a few characters whose powers derive solely from their capability to perform a handspring, and I want to save the world and hang out in the Avengers Mansion, just like them.
I did not actually do a handspring on Wednesday. I worked on the much less offensively effective cartwheel instead. But I'm hoping that once a week doing gymnastics will eventually allow me to build my library of power attacks and help me to be an overall better fitness nerd. Also, gymnastics kicked my ass. Like, literally for two days my ass hurt like someone had taken a bat to it. Respect gymnastics, everyone. It will spank you like BDSM enthusiast.

Friday, I am proud to say, I finally won an argument against my boyfriend, who insists, time and again. that the little gym at our apartment complex sucks because there are no bar bells and therefore nothing to do there. True fact: THERE IS SHIT TO DO EVERYWHERE. So on Friday night we put on our workout gear and headed to the little community gym. We warmed up on the treadmill, and then went on to work on other things. I did dumbbell goblet squats, hollow body rocks, planks (my enemy...) and handstands in three rounds while working on the treadmill for a few minutes in between each round. Then I did some aggressive stretching. The BF worked on chest presses, handstands, and cardio. I was really excited because I actually tolerated working on the treadmill. This is a big deal because generally speaking running is my greatest enemy, the bane of my fitness existence, the terror that haunts my dreams. Getting better at running is super-exciting, and I'm looking forward to going back to the gym this Friday to work on my running a little more. After all, if you're going to survive the zombie apocalypse you have to have a couple dots in running. It's the rules.
So then we watched Skyfall. SPOILER ALERT: Holy shit Skyfall. Holy shit holy shit holy shit Skyfall that is all.

Saturday I was back at Urban Evo. My friend brought her lyra, so we worked on the trapeze, lyra, and aerial silks. Lot of work, lot of fun. I was a lot of tired afterwards. Here are pictures.

On Sunday I went for a zombie walk/run, but it was my first time; kind of a failure, I got eaten by zombies. Guess it's something to work on!

'Til next time!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sometimes it's the Little Things

Like dinner.

So I missed out on a week and half of working out between Halloween, hurricanes, bronchitis (did I mention I have asthma?), my boyfriend's birthday and just plain life. I once told someone, "I don't have enough time to work out right now." "It's not about time," he said. "It's about priorities. You have to figure out where your priorities are." It's a stunningly simple and painful observation. I think one reason we're so resistant to fitness is that we don't want to shuffle priorities. If you make exercise a bigger priority in your life, inevitably something else is going to fall down the list, and that's scary. For me, other aspects of my life have taken priority for the  past week, priorities like work, heath/rest, safety, and Halloween parties. I know a guy who makes fitness his biggest priority in life. He's amazing. He's been featured on American Ninja Warrior, he's an expert gymnast, traceur (that's a male parkour-person), and aerialist. He can balance indefinitely in a one-handed handstand. He is dedicated to fitness the way most of us are dedicated to the top three things in our lives combined (for me, I guess that would be work, gym, friends? Not sure). My point here is, if you're having trouble raising your skill level working out, examine your priorities. Maybe fitness needs to be a little higher on your list, but also recognize that if it's not your top priority, that's completely ok. Life gets ahead of us, just remember to make fitness ONE of your priorities and respect its place on your list.

Enough philosophy. Anyway, so last night I FINALLY returned to my stomping grounds at Urban Evolution in Manassas, Va. It was challenging getting back on the silks again. For one thing, I still have bronchitis, which really inhibited my breathing. At one point I felt like I was going to collapse and my heart was racing through the roof. Two puffs from my inhaler and a short rest later, I got back on and proceeded to have a fairly successful night (really successful, actually, considering that I had been gone for so long). I reviewed all of my moves and worked on my endurance and transitions, successfully moving from a double footlock/ cross-back straddle to a half montey. Challenging stuff, but tiny compared to the amazing endurance and transitions of performers.

Then I came home and ate a ridiculously good dinner of chicken sausage (honestly not that good, but it kept me sane while I cooked everything else) Followed by bacon, sauteed mushrooms, and green squash pan-fried with salt, pepper, and Creole seasoning. IMPORTANT COOKING TIP: Creole seasoning has the potential to make any dish taste amazing when used correctly. Are you on a diet? Trying desperately to shove vegetables down your throat while you dream of cheese and red, juicy steaks? CREOLE SEASONING. Bam! Life doesn't suck quite as much.

Oh speaking of dieting, so I mentioned recently that I had been gaining weight. once again really wish I had a BMI device because I feel like I'm back down to healthy fat again. It's sort of crazy considering the fact that I didn't work out for a week, but I've been watching what I eat, trying to stick to white meat, fruits, and veggies, and most importantly, I've been eating cereal before I head to work in the morning. I used to eat breakfast after I got into the office, but I think eating before work has really made a difference to boost my metabolism. Plus I love me the shit out of some cereal, so I'm really excited to justify forcing myself to wake up in time to eat it. Oh also, I'm still planning to increase my cardio because it just seems like a good thing to do. Til next time!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Shenanigans and Fat Fears

So over the weekend I took a large group of friends to my parents' farm where we had an amazing Halloween party as well as adventures hiking, visiting an apple orchard and otherwise enjoying ourselves.
My friend brought her lyra, a metal hoop for performing aerial tricks. The performance is similar to aerial silks, though it requires less strength and more flexibility. I gave it try twice, once during the day and once at night after I had changed into my costume. Overall, I have to say it was lot of fun. The metal bar can dig painfully into your skin and sometimes leaves bruises, but the structure allows you to try a lot of things that would take much more effort to do in silks. That said, I still prefer silks for several reasons. Mainly I'm partial because my strength is much greater than my flexibility, so I excel more at silks, but also I like the work out I get at silks more than relaxed, gentle exercise of lyra.

Costume might be hard to recognize, but I am Link from Zelda: Ocarina of Time in the Water Temple outfit. Honestly this was kind of a last minute throw-together because I realized I wasn't going to be finished sewing my other costume in time, but it was great to wear because it was so comfortable! (Also it made lyra tricks possible)

In other news, like most women I worry about my appearance on a regular basis. I absolutely refuse to weigh myself because I find weight to be a very deceptive means of health measurement, especially for women, but also for men, who exercise on a regular basis. The last time I was weighed I was at the doctor's office, and I came in at 137 lbs. At 5' 0" that is a hell of a lot. The nurse at the scale repeated the measurement a few times, thinking the scale was broken, because I don't look big at all. I have wide hips and shoulders, but I'm trim and athletic; I'm just extremely dense with muscle. 
A lot of us fall for the weight scam. We believe that we need to weigh less than a certain amount to look pretty or be healthy, and that simply is not the case. Muscle weight is much denser than fat weight. In addition, muscle allows you to burn more calories in a sedentary state than fat does, so if you weigh a lot because you have a dense, muscular body, you are not only healthy, you are probably burning more calories per minute than the average person (which for me translates to a free ticket to pig out at Red Robin every once in a while). 
However, lately I've been looking in mirror and noticing that my body has more fat than it used to. I'm noticing fat on my back as well as my stomach, and it worries me. The really troublesome thing about this development is that i don't have an explanation such as eating more or working out less. I've been working out plenty and enjoying salads for lunch and light dinners with snacks throughout the day. I have been more stressed out than usual, however, and I'm afraid that might have contributed to the issue. I've also been focusing on aerial silks, which is much more of a weight-building activity than it is cardio, so I wonder if the fat is a by-product of increasing my protein consumption to recover from my work-outs. My stomach and shoulder muscles have also been bulking up lately, so I might be seeing  muscle bulging under fat, and simply think it means i'm getting bigger. A body index monitor would solve some of this. 

As it is, I'm planning to change my schedule around a little bit so that i do cardio (aka reading H.P. Lovecraft on an elliptical trainer) on Friday nights and doing silks once over the weekend. I'm also hoping to add gymnastics to my Wednesday night schedule, and that should increase my weekly cardio load. As far as eating goes, I guess Red Robin indulgences will have to be off the schedule for a little while, replaced with more veggies and good stuff. If I find any great recipes I'll put them up here. wish me luck!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Level 1: Beginner

Like a lot of people who start blogs, I have no idea whether or not I'm going to keep at this, but I figure it'll be a good exercise, so I'm going to give it a try. In part, this blog is just a way for my to track my own progress, so that I can check out my goals when I forget what they are and look back at what I used to suck at when I've become really good at it and am now sucking at new, more challenging things.

If you are person who is not me, and you are reading my blog, you may be asking yourself, "Why the fuck should I read this chick's blog?" (Or maybe now, "Oh wait. It's a chick? The fuck?" I'm hoping to start putting up pictures soon so that this is not an issue.) Anyway, to answer the initial question, you should read this blog because I am really awesome. See below.

  1. I used to be obese, but I have lost weight through diet and exercise. So I'm a success story.
  2. I still pig out on unhealthy food sometimes and also loaf around, so if you do those things, you are in good company.
  3. I'm a nerd. I play video games; I read comics; I go to cons; I play table-tops, and-God yes-I even freaking LARP.
  4. I do aerial silks and parkour, so hopefully I will eventually have pictures and videos and of my developing badassery. I've also done pole fitness in the past and may get back into it sometime soon.
For me, working out became a lot more fun when I realized that what I'm doing when I go to the gym is a lot like grinding out a skill for a character. When I play a video game, I tend to go out on worthless side quests that don't really interest me or offer any reward because they will give me experience and EXPERIENCE IS FUCKING KING. XP unlocks skills, and skills unlock the ability to destroy my enemies in new, creative ways, and achieve challenges that get me stuff and extra plot and all sorts of other things that have no actual bearing on my real life.

Working out is much the same. I earn XP taking parkour classes or playing soccer or working out for an hour on silks. Sometimes I can only fit in half an hour of work, and it's not very much, but even that little bit of XP gets me a little closer towards my ultimate level increase. Like the rather insightful Bethesda leveling system I can grind out hours of time on particular skills. Instead of blacksmithing I'm working on my vaults. Instead of focusing on my sneak ability I'm trying to improve my handstands. Like a game, working out can be really goddamn frustrating when I fail at the same quest over and over and again, getting ripped to shreds by enemy bullets in the form of my inability to perform a top-out, knowing that I have to complete this goddamn fucking challenge in order to move on to the next thing. But also like a game, overcoming a challenge when I work out is absolute euphoria. I feel like I'm saving the fucking world and I seriously want to jump up and down shouting about how awesome I am. Also sometimes I do. 

The difference obviously is that unlike video game achievements, successfully working out really does have a direct impact on my life. My body is healthier, and I look better. I'm more capable of running around with my friends. I feel good about myself (well, sometimes, anyway). Whatever; you've probably been hearing the benefits of "going to the gym" for like most of your life. The point is, don't think those things are out of your reach. Getting to them is fucking annoying; it's hard, and it's miserable. But it's also fun, and really rewarding when you treat it like a game. This is my journal of how I do that.