Go Get It

I’m very self-conscious when I run. And Dom’s reassurance of nobody’s looking at you is hard to believe because when I’m out driving and see someone running, I’m looking at them. The weird thing about anxiety is that when I’m running, I’m assuming people are laughing at my posture, slow pace, or dope-ass dad bod. But when I see people running, I’m usually thinking, go get it, girl (or boy, as the situation demands).

That, of course, is a contradiction in perception that any psycho-analyzer worth their diploma would immediately pounce on. The answer, of course, is now when people drive by or walk by or run by, I assume they’re thinking in their head: go get it, Daniel. And I will. I will go get it.

You go get it too.

BTW, these new Mizuno Wave Runner 22’s I picked up from Zappos are awesome. So very comfy, though I did have to order a half-size bigger.

Man on the Run

Been seeing a lot of sunrises lately. I like going for a run in the morning, at first light, which is around 6:15/6:30 this time of year. There aren’t many people out, not many cars to deal with. Just a lot of rabbits and one time a mountain lion. I bet you didn’t know they had mountain lions in Pflugerville, but they do. The Pflugerville Mountains are famous for them.

It has been about a month of running every other day. My legs and feet ache. I haven’t lost a single pound.

Still, I do enjoy the sunrises. And the rabbits. And the fact that running is just for me, and I do it alone, and during those 40-50 minutes, I’m focused only on my breathing and putting one foot in front of the other.

It’s like meditation, but you smell worse after.

The Last Stop on the Road to Fatsville

A few years ago, while waiting around for class to start at Austin Impact Jeet Kune Do, I got the bright idea to try doing an iron cross on some hanging hand ladders (I don’t know what they’re called, not even enough to google a picture). So there I was, my face three inches off the ground, with my arms straight out to the side, when I felt something give in my left shoulder. It hurt for a few days, and that was it. I forgot all about it.

This past March, I started Camp Gladiator, and by April, I was at my doctor’s office getting a steroid shot in my shoulder. It felt better for a few days, and then the pain came screaming back whenever I moved my shoulder in certain ways. So I went to my good friends at North Austin Sports Medicine, who put me in a boot that time I fractured my foot kicking Lauren to death.

Here’s what you’re looking at but can’t see because you’re not a doctor:

Supraspinatus/lnfraspinatus: Moderate or high-grade partial undersurface tear involves the anterior infraspinatus tendon at the insertion. Tear measures roughly 6 mm AP dimension. Mild bandlike muscle edema in the infraspinatus just inferior to the musculotendinous junction related to muscle strain.

Labrum: Posterosuperior labral tear. At the superior labrum, sublabral recess versus superior labral tear is present. Given the irregularity of the signal along the base of the superior Iabrum, superior labral tear is favored .

Whatever that means. Actually, I know what it means: surgery.

Count backwards from 100…

My first thought when I heard the word surgery was I’m going to die. I knew it with 100% certainty. After all, I had just finished reading Why Anesthesia Is One of the Greatest Medical Mysteries of Our Time over at io9.com. They talked about how people used to die and no one knows what is happening and chaos and old people and then tried to make it better with a quote from the Mayo Clinic:

Most healthy people don’t have any problems with general anesthesia. Although many people may have mild, temporary symptoms, general anesthesia itself is exceptionally safe, even for the sickest patients. The risk of long-term complications, much less death, is very small. In general, the risk of complications is more closely related to the type of procedure you’re undergoing, and your general physical health, than to the anesthesia itself.

Yes, but very small is not zero. As anyone with generalized anxiety will tell you, it’s boring to imagine all the ways something could go right. Instead, we focus on the image of going to sleep and just never waking up. How the hell are you going to suspend my consciousness and not really understand how you’re doing it? Where do I go?

With my luck, I’ll wake up in hell where I’ll spend eternity at my front window shaking my head at all the cars parked in the cul-de-sac while AWOLNATION blares from unseen speakers.

Stop rolling your eyes at my dramatic response to surgery. If you subscribe to the Multiverse theory, as I do, then that means there are an infinite number of universes in which I die on the operating table next week.


The Real Danger

Before I met my bride-to-be, I was all about P90X, Insanity, and Tim Ferriss’ Slow-Carb diet. I was 30 years old and determined to be fit at least once in my life. Since then, I’ve gotten older, exercised less, and eaten more. As you can see from my weight and BMI log, I’m entering a danger zone. Until now, I haven’t really been scared of it, since I “know how to turn it all around.”

But now, surgery.

My biggest fear now is that this will be the point of no return. Once I come out of surgery, I won’t be able to run for 6–12 weeks. Run. As in, “bounce jauntily down the street at a steady tempo.” I already don’t exercise enough, which makes me worry that this will be the ultimate excuse to sit on the couch and binge watch Orange is the New Blacklist. As if I need more excuses.

My doc estimates it will be 5–6 months before I’m back to my regular exercise (JKD and CG). That’s a long time to be doing very little, especially if I can’t get my diet under control.

Again, imagining how it all turns out fine is boring. I like to imagine the worst and see just how far down the fat-hole we can go.

Day 40: Shoulder gave a slight tingle today. Ate a pint of ice cream to numb the pain. Hurt my back a little trying to plug in my electric scooter. Also my extendo-grab-pole thinger stopped working. That’s the third one since the surgery. Skyped with a company in Norway that has a toilet attachment for my scooter. Also Dom left her engagement ring at the bottom of a bag of chips where she knew I would find it. I’d go after her, but the scooter only has like a one mile range.

Basically your worst case scenario.

The Joys of a Sugar-based Diet

If I’m the first person to tell you sugar is bad, then you, my friend, must be new to life. A quick google search will tell you everything you need to know, so I won’t repeat it here.

 Before sugar
Before sugar

 After sugar
After sugar

According to Wikipedia, sugar is a “sweet, short-chain, soluble carbohydrate composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.” What they don’t mention is that sugar is life. Sugar is happiness. Sugar is everything that is good in the world.

Try to imagine a world without sugar. Hard to read with tears in your eyes, isn’t it?

Thirty days out from surgery, I gave up sugar completely. Cold turkeys. That lasted two weeks. Then I had carrot cake, lemon chess pie, and ice cream. And again the next day, but then I stopped. Cold turkeys.

That lasted a week because when mom makes chocolate chip cookies, you eat the damn chocolate chip cookies. And brownies. And ice cream. And a smoothie.

A week out from surgery, and I’m back on the no-sugar train, which I’m sure is set to derail any day now.

I’ve convinced myself it won’t be my fault if I treat my shoulder pain with Ben & Jerry’s. My only hope is that I’ll be confined to the house and Dom will refuse to bring me sugar.

Speaking of…

The Finite Well of Willpower

There’s some argument about whether willpower is finite or not, but most people agree it is hard to always do the right thing. The way I see it, my list of “right things” for the second half of 2016 includes:

  • Eating a minimal amount of sugar
  • Reducing carbs
  • Eating more vegetables and fruits
  • Exercising however and whenever possible
  • Physical therapy
  • Not going insane

So many people have had arthroscopic surgery and come out fine on the other end. They didn’t drift into the great unknown of the afterlife, they didn’t skip their PT, and they recovered nicely. But how did they do it? Through willpower alone?

I use most of my willpower to write. Every day. Put in the work. Write the novels. Make the dollars and cents. Spend it at Whataburger. Double Whataburger with cheese and jalepeños, hold the onions. Fries. Strawberry shake. I bet Heaven smells like a Whataburger.

That was a delicious tangent.

I worry that I won’t have enough willpower to do everything I need to do to recover as fast as possible. I need to get back to JKD. I need to get back to CG. And I don’t want to sacrifice my writing willpower to make that happen.

The Summary of All Fears

In short, I’m scared that trying to recover from this surgery will be the final nail in the coffin of my physical fitness dream. My diet may start out good but will soon return to its sugary roots. Lingering shoulder pain will keep me from running, fighting, and doing boot camps. Fear of further injury will keep me from pushing myself back into weightlifting.

Everything will go downhill except the graph of my weight, which will climb steadily towards the heavens, never to find its way back down.

All is not lost though.

I’ll have a physical therapist to whip my shoulder back into shape. Dom will continue to plan healthy meals and threaten to make me watch Scandal with her if I eat so much as a single M&M. Forrest will show me how to fight with just one arm. The CG family will continue to applaud my efforts at camp for absolutely no reason.

I guess that’s the solution. If you don’t have enough willpower of your own, draw from your friends and family.

Of course, none of that matters if you don’t wake up after going under.

See you on the other side.


Five Years of Jeet Kune Do

I have a confession to make: I’ve never seen a Bruce Lee movie start to finish. I saw Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story, and loved it, but I think I was born too late to really appreciate Lee’s groundbreaking work. Instead, I was raised on a steady diet of American-made ninja movies, like Pray for Death and the aptly named American Ninja. Then came the Once Upon a Time in China movies with Jet Li and Iron Monkey with Donnie Yen. And of course, there was Jackie Chan.

Chinese martial arts movies like The Legend of Drunken Master and the lesser titled The Legend, have something American movies like Best of the Best and Kickboxer sorely lack: fun.

After five years at Austin Impact Jeet Kune Do, I’ve seen a lot of students come and go. Lately, I’ve been thinking more about what brings them to class, and ultimately, what sends them away. Were they looking for immediate self-defense, something more like Krav Maga? Or were they looking for something more regimented and serious, like Wing Chun?

What drives people to take up any martial art at all?

I took a break from Jeet Kune Do during my fourth year, mostly to clear my mind and let my body recover (and get fat), but also because, for a short period, I felt there was no one coming to class for the same reason I was, which was to have fun.

That’s the great thing about the way Sifu Forrest leads classes at AIJKD. We have goals, things we need to learn, but class is about as laid back as you can get without descending into anarchy. When I decided to come back, I started with one-on-one classes with Forrest specifically because I knew they would be fun. No newbies to train. No egos to contend with (especially mine). Just friends kicking the crap out of each other.

Later, after I rejoined the regular classes, I was happy to find more people who shared my desire to make training lighthearted and enjoyable. That’s not to say that you can’t get a good workout at AIJKD, or that you’ll be the only one taking it seriously as you train for your Amateur MMA bout. You and I just won’t be working together that often. Instead, you’ll hear me laughing and adding sound effects to my punches and kicks from across the room.

Everyone has their own reason. Self-defense, fitness, daddy issues, etc.

Right before I took my break, another student scolded me for only sparring with Lauren. My ego didn’t allow me to be eloquent with my response, so I chested up and told him to mind his own business, which is never a great thing to do in a place where everyone is learning to hurt each other.

What I couldn’t articulate then was that Lauren was one of the last people I trusted to spar with. After years of fractures, bruises, and blood, I wasn’t in the mood anymore to spend weeks recuperating because someone else was trying too hard or didn’t have control. More importantly, sparring Lauren (and others, like Forrest) was fun. With longtime sparring partners, sparring becomes more of a chess match. You know what the other is capable of, and you spend the round trying to surprise each other.

It’s endlessly entertaining, and I wouldn’t trade it for a hundred matches where I have to keep repeating take it down a notch before unloading a heavy hook and feeling shitty about it later.

So what have I learned after five years of JKD? Mostly that I should have started sooner. I was 31 years old when I joined, and I got knocked out during my second spar ever (at least, that’s how I remember it). The same year, I fractured my ribs, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever. How’d you hurt yourself? Fighting! Yeah, but what I didn’t realize was that injuries stack up, as do the medical bills that come along with them. As you get older, and your responsibilities start to dominate your life, you realize that you can’t afford to get hurt. My foot still aches where I fractured it, and that’s never going away.

For some people (like the Daniel who wrote Three Years of Jeet Kune Do), JKD is a way of life. I thought it might be that for me, but the older I get, the more I realize it’s really just a hobby. It’s a way to experience first-hand the joy I see on Jackie Chan’s or Jet Li’s face as they wail away on an opponent. It doesn’t relieve stress for me; why would I want to take that out on a fellow student? I have Bob at home for that.

 Welcome to your new home, Bob. Your time here… will not be pleasant.
Welcome to your new home, Bob. Your time here… will not be pleasant.

There was a time when I was embarrassed about my motivation. I’m not an alpha male out to conquer the world with his bare fists. I’m not a my-body-is-a-temple type on a spiritual journey to become one with the universe through well-executed spinning back kicks.

These days, I don’t mind telling other students that I’m not there to be a punching bag, and that I have no interest in turning it up so they can feel the sting of getting punched in the face. That’s not what I’m about.

I’m just a guy looking to enjoy his limited time on earth. I want to socialize. I want friendly competition. I want to make noises every time I throw a punch because it reminds me of the movies.

Fortunately, there is room for everyone at Austin Impact Jeet Kune Do. Sifu Forrest is there to teach you what he knows about The Way of the Intercepting Fist, and as Bruce Lee said, you’re free to absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.

So come by, punch things, get sweaty, and most importantly, have fun.

The Infinity Push-up Challenge

You can do 100 push-ups? Big deal. Let’s see how you do with the Infinity Push-up Challenge!

Scientific studies suggest that the number of push-ups you can do correlates to how much money you’ll earn, how many people love you, and how many grocery bags you can carry in one trip. Not only that, push-ups hit all the important muscle groups: biceps, triceps, and even the little-known diceps. And nothing fills out an Abercrombie v-neck like a cartoonishly large set of traps, just ask All-American sportsman Steve “Stone Cold” Austin.

You’re not strong. You’re silky boys.

The average American male can only do two push-ups, so how do you get from that paltry number to full-on infinity? I asked three of the best Crossfit trainers in Austin and none of them responded. So here’s a plan I threw together on the back of a few Burger King napkins.

First, you’ll need to find out your MAX REPS. That means good form, no cheatsies, and no pausing for a quick snack. Choose a quiet spot in your living space and knock out as many push-ups as possible. Write this number down and name it MaxYou’ll be following a weekly workout plan, but every 3rd to 5th Friday, you’ll want to skip the 2nd A.M. workout and instead test your MAX REPS. Keep writing this number down (one day it will be INFINITY!).

Silk comes from the butts of Chinese worms.

Second, you’ll want to print out the first few hundred pages of this workout schedule. If you’re concerned about the environment, you could convert it to a PDF and record your progress digitally (you will need a tablet, phone, or computer with infinite space, however). For brevity, I’ve only included the first six and last six weeks of the plan here.

The plan starts slow, perhaps even well below your MAX REPS. For best results, don’t try to skip ahead. Do this workout seven days a week.

Although the plan follows the standard n, n+1, n, n+1, n, n+2 format found in every successful workout routine, there are some caveats to be noted on this journey.

  • WEEK 12 — Also known as Puke Week. Repeat this week as many times as necessary until you can complete it without throwing up.
  • WEEK 52 — A Year of Ups and Downs. Celebrate an entire year on the Infinity Push-up Challenge Workout Plan by skipping the lunch workout.
  • WEEK 1000 — You have made it through 1,000 weeks of push-ups. You are older and wiser now. Your inclination will be to examine whether doing infinity push-ups is worth it. Don’t give in.
  • WEEK 5200 — The Centennial. You’ve been at this for 100 years. Your arms must be huge. I can only imagine what kind of Bugatti you are driving.
  • WEEK (10¹⁰^56)/52 — Is it getting hot in here? Don’t let the Heat Death of the Universe stop from reaching your goal. You’ve come too far to turn back now!

 You haven’t watched this movie in a while, but you should.
You haven’t watched this movie in a while, but you should.

Still not convinced? Check out these testimonials!

“At first, I didn’t think I’d make it past week 714. But then I did.” — John Mowry, 33

“Not only does this plan work, it’s also the most mathematically sound physical fitness routine that has ever been proposed by scientists. I’m so fortunate to live in modern times.” — Lana Robbie, 18

“I’m going to spend the rest of eternity doing infinity push-ups and that makes me six kinds of horny.” — Matt Housley, 58

So who’s ready to get started? Don’t forget: the goal is to do INFINITY push-ups. The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll finish!

Good luck!