This year I’ll be forty years old, and I’m in better shape now that when I was sixteen.
I was 27 when I started taking fitness and health seriously. My son was just born and I was going back to school. I was re-discovering my love of punk and hardcore after leaving the community for a while, so changes coming on anyway. I wanted to be healthy and fit again, but my love of sweets, fried foods and booze had got in the way. Also I’d started eating meat after I met my partner at the time and started eating fast food and with all that I had really let myself go. All those horrible processed foods and empty calories over a period of time had taken its toll.
Weird thing was I hadn’t really ballooned up; I had just sort of gotten soft. I started to notice that I wasn’t able to run as fast, or for as long as I used to be able too. After showers I noticed that my muscles were mushy and my arms began to wobble a bit from lack of tone.
I was unhappy about this and so I started talking to friends about it, and one of my friends gave me an exercise tape that she’d used to help her get back into shape after her pregnancy. I also started going to a gym but I soon discovered that I preferred to exercise at home. It was cheaper to exercise at home and I’d had a few experiences that left me unhappy with the gymnasium lifestyle.
I started exercising with the video a couple of times a week and started being more mindful of what I was eating. This is when I gave up meat again, going vegetarian was something brewing within me for a while anyway, but the idea of becoming fit meant encompassing a more holistic approach to my life. I did not want to contribute to the suffering of anything else so meat consumption had to stop.
These changes were alarming to the people around me, it came on quick and I took to it with great passion. There were the usual conversations about protein and a limited diet, the kind of bullshit I’ve heard my whole life, but I was more prepared now to deal with it. Soon I was exercising nearly every day, riding my bicycle to work and running a little. I even started doing yoga. Now along with these good habits, I had formed a few bad ones. I started smoking soon after my son was born and even though I had been sober for a while, after some personal setbacks I began drinking. My drinking and depression grew and even tough there was a lot of emotional trauma in my life I maintained a very strict schedule of exercise. I sometimes think that this rigid dedication to physical fitness helped me through some of the hardest of these times.
When my family and I moved to California I upped my physical activity, running more regularly, biking up to thirty miles some days and doing a TV workout that I’d discovered. It was also around this time that I started working at Whole Foods. I met this amazing guy who introduced me to weight training. He had been a competitive body builder and showed me some great routines and we sort of coached one another, kept each other going and inspiring one another. It was a great feeling to have a friend who was also interested in physical fitness and exercise. My partner at the time was not supportive of my devotion to physical fitness, my vegetarianism. This came to a head several times, and needless to say I left that relationship. I kept active though, and maintaining an exercise regimen can be difficult when you’re in transition. I relaxed a bit on the intensity of my work outs until I moved to Oakland with a new partner. My present partner is a woman who also has some experience with punk rock, exercise, boxing and biking. She’s a long time vegetarian and her support and encouragement went a long way. I have maintained my level of fitness and am working to change my body almost entirely.
most of my adult life I worked hard to be lean, but now I want mass. I want muscle. Two years ago I was about 130lbs, now I’m 160. I had a 28” waist and now I’m wearing 30’s
My exercise routine looks like this:
Warm up. 100 jumping jacks, 25+jump squats, 25+squats, 20 push ups, 50 crunches, 50 bicycles
Stretch, paying special attention to the muscle group I’ll be working on.
Monday: Chest and triceps
20 deep push ups (push ups using dumbbells) x3
Dumbbell press 3×12-15
Dumbbell flys 3×12-15
Dumbbell Skullcrusher 3×12-15
Dumbbell triceps kick back 3×12-15
French Press with dumbbell 3×15
Tuesday: rest, but I do my typical warm up and stretch
Wednesday: Back and Biceps
One arm dumbbell row 4×10 each arm
Bent over dumbbell row 4×12
Upright Row 4×10
Dumbbell curl 3×8
Standing curl 3×8-10
Hammer curl 3×8
Thursday: Rest with warm up or cardio
Weighted lunges 4×12
Step up 4×12
Calves: Standing lift 2×15
Calves: sitting lift 2×15
Saturday: Shoulders and forearms
Standing Dumbbell Press 3×8-10
Standing Lateral Raise 3×10
Bent over reverse fly 3×12
Dumbbell Shrug 4×12
Reverse curl 3×10
Side reverse curl 3×10
Forward wrist curl 3×10
Reverse wrist curl 3×10
I do the above for four weeks and switch the routine up. A quick search of the internet will give you some good routines to do both at home and at a gym.
I do crunches and push-ups every day. I’ll do a quick warm up after work and do some crunches/side crunches and push-ups and dips.
Another component is food. I consume a strict vegan diet. I stay away from refined sugars and oil. I consume a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables at least one large salad every day, whole grains, legumes and minimally processed foods like tofu and tempeh. I consume a lot of food so that I can keep my energy up and if something is off, if I’m tired or cranky it’s usually because of something that I ate, or did not eat, so I also eat something every two hours or so, and I drink a lot of water.
My arms are larger and more shapely (wink), my shoulders are bigger, my chest is less wobbly, and my legs are getting more defined and I’m still pretty lean. This had me giving away all of my small t-shirts. As I write this I’m between a small and a medium, which is weird.
So here I am on the precipice of forty, thirteen years after I first got a hold of that Tae Bo tape, and I’m in the best shape of my life.
I’ve gone through a few ups and downs both emotionally and physically in this time but I always maintained a rigorous exercise routine. Through battles with alcoholism, divorce and quitting smoking I worked out. And I think that working out helped me maintain some mindfulness and focus through serious emotional and mental minefields.
I sometimes feel that members of the punk community look upon physical health and well being as a waste of time, or worse a selfish pass time, but I’m seeing more and more punks getting fit and taking better care of themselves. This is the right move for us as a community. I’m tired of hearing about people getting wasted, but I never tire of hearing about cool bike rides, some gnarly martial art that someone is into and I love talking about food and cooking and learning about what other people eat to feel good.
We’re all getting old. Seriously, I know some old fuckers and since I have no intention of spending my final years sick and infirm, I’m going to do everything in my power to maintain my health. Yes we all die, but we don’t have to go into the grave early, or all worn out from disease and poor health.
The physical act of lifting something heavy, or running really fast, or riding really far feels good and has the potential to give us the energy we need to do more for each another. To set up more shows, to write more about things that we are passionate about. This has been my experience.
Over the next few weeks I will be sharing other people’s experiences with fitness, people who ride bicycles, lift weights, surf, do yoga, meditate, run and do aerobics. I hope that these stories will motivate you to move and become more active.