Someone asked me the other day1 if I thought going to gym was a waste of time since I “clearly wasn’t ripped” and I’m getting older. I originally thought the person was just trying to get in a jab out of some misplaced shortcomings. Then I got to wondering if other gay guys really think that way.
First, I don’t go to the gym to get ripped. I go to keep myself in shape. And while I tend to fall off the wagon from time to time, I don’t see that as a failure. I don’t live for the gym. It isn’t my sole focus. And my own shortcomings, be it laziness or my schedule, are part of the equation. I don’t have an expectation I always have to be at my fittest or that others have to constantly validate my attendance with compliments. If you’re going to the gym for any of those reasons, you’re doing it wrong! I gave that up in my mid 20’s.
To answer the main question, I do not feel going to the gym is ‘wasted’ because I’m not ripped. I don’t want to be ripped. That has never been my goal. I like to eat way too much to ever get to that level. I’m ok with that. I go to the gym, regardless of my current weight set, to stay in shape. I get lazy, complacent, or just willful at times and don’t go. I always seem to gravitate back though. I like how I feel after a hard workout. And as much as a bitch and moan about cardio, I’m getting used to it. I like feeling in shape and fit.
As for my age, I don’t see that as a deterrent. If anything, it motivates me more. Study after study after study has shown that working out prolongs your health and life into old age. Is it a silver bullet? Of course not. However, if it helps me stay active and healthy longer, I’m all for it.
On a totally narcissistic view, I hate droopy skin. Lawd baby jeebus help me stave it off as long as possible! I’m not kicking anyone as it eventually comes to us all, but I hope to avoid it as long as I can. Call it one of my few vanities.2 And don’t even get me started on the flabby booty. Oh, hell naw!
Joking aside, I hope no one reading this thinks they are too old to go to the gym or that it isn’t worth it because they can’t achieve perfection.
In the utterly mundane and shallow, I hit a new personal best at the gym the other day! I’ve come close a few times in the past but now I’ve officially hit 200lbs using dumbbells on the flat bench. And for some that is probably no big deal, for me it is. When I started weight lifting I could barely bench a 45lb barbell by itself.1 To have come this far is very rewarding.
I was actually giddy picking up the 100lb dumbbells for the first time. Hahaha You always see those weights at the end of the rack but being able to actually lift them is completely different! I was grinning ear to ear I was so excited. I know it was silly but I couldn’t help myself. I’m sure I looked like a proud peacock at the time.
I’ve been focused this last year on totally revamping my workouts and focusing on pushing my muscles to exhaustion vs doing a set routine. I’m definitely doing much better than years past. I’ve actually noticed the growth in my arms visually, which is hard to do when you see yourself every day in the mirror. I’ve let go of the idea of how much weight I’m doing and focusing purely on consistency and timed reps. I’ve been working out 4-6 days a week and I’m proud to see some good results.
I’m very happy with where I am, especially since I’m working around an old shoulder injury and two metal plates in my collarbones. And speaking of injuries, my arm tendons have all but healed up. Sadly, one of my triceps’ ligaments is sore in its place. UGH! It is hell getting old. I had to cut my arm workout short yesterday. The ligament has been a little sore the last couple weeks. I’ve been stretching it to minimize the soreness; however, I could tell yesterday it was on the verge of a real injury so I stopped. Sadly, my abs are still covered in a layer of fat. I blame those damn girl scouts! They setup every corner in the gayto and they make a killing! Devils in skirts I tell ya!
In other news, we are headed to Hawaii next week to see my buddy Rick! I probably won’t see the inside of a gym the whole time I’m there. I haven’t been to Hawaii since I was like 18 so I barely remember it. We’re hitting the big island where Kona is. That is where my buddy lives. He was kind enough to offer us a free place to stay so we are saving a shit-ton of money on travel expenses. I can’t take Cooper but he’ll be in good hands with my neighbor Chuck.
Well, I never switched to my cardio routine. hehehe I’m still working on bulking. I just like the momentum I have right now and hate to waste it. I’m doing a routine of mixed regular and drop sets. It isn’t as intense as my last bulking routine but I’m liking it. I’m hititng the gym at least 5 days a week with a 3-4 rest period days every 2 weeks. The rest period lets my body recover. Without ‘assistance’, over-training can retard muscle growth.
I have tendonitis in my left forearm right now. Which is odd because I used to always get it in my right forearm. Go figure?! Being on this type of routine is definitely helping me recover. The forearm band helps alleviate stress. I ice/heat it as well.
I have been doing my legs too! I’m not neglecting them for once. hehehe I’ve been so guilty of neglecting my legs for years. While they aren’t boney, I can still see the difference in my pics now. I baked my legs so hard the other day I could barely walk home afterwards. Lawd baby jeebus, it was rough. I’m kinda getting into my leg workouts though. Large muscle groups often ‘feel’ easier to workout.
My schedule is still my damn enemy. Being on a 10-hour work schedule is a real pain. I have to be dedicated every day otherwise I miss my window of opportunity. The up-side is my schedule is such that I find it easier to stay on track. I get home with just enough time to get Cooper settled from his mid-day walk and then hit the gym right before the 5:00 rush. I’m usually 2/3s of the way thru my workout before the big crowd hits.
I find myself less tolerant of folks that selfishly spend tons of time on a bench while not using it. I always start out polite to get their attention and alert them someone is waiting. If that doesn’t work, I have no problem calling you out for your selfish behavior. In no routine should it take you 20 mins to get thru a single bench set. NONE! Do us all a favor and be courteous to your fellow gym-goers. You aren’t there alone and it isn’t yours. Share like yo momma taught you.
Funny tangent, people often act surprised when I offer to share or let them work in. Sure it might throw off my timer a little bit but that shouldn’t trump manners. There are some exceptions but you should be willing to share if you workout in a public gym. You might learn something or you might be able to impart knowledge to someone who needs it.
Anyhoo, I’m sure I’ll get to my cardio routine eventually. heehee I’m justliking the pump I’m getting these days!
Someone asked me the other day if I thought I was too old to workout? Uh, no. Is that a thing? Is there an imaginary age where [gay] guys just give up working out?
I guess if you’re doing it for the attention or admiration I can see a shelf life. And I’m not judging here. Many of us develop an obsession with working out as a coping mechanism to combat deeper issues.Who am I to cast stones? It’s kind of a natural progression honestly. We used to be thought of as weak so working out breaks that stereotype. That said, I never stuck with working out when I did it to impress others. It wasn’t until my mid to late 20s when I decided I really wanted to be better than I was that I finally stuck with it. I took a real interest and got over my anxiety. Lawd, I was a scrawny turd back then.hehee
Fast forward, to my mid 40s and I still enjoy working out. I’m in excellent shape without being ripped or massive.The latter were never my goals anyway. I feel better after a good workout. Of course, the narcissist in me likes that I get more attention, but that is a side benefit. It would be silly to pretend I don’t enjoy attention.1 I think anyone who works out would tell you the same if they are honest. However, I don’t personally think there is a shelf life for working out. I’m not Miss Cleo so I can’t see the future, but I hope I continue working out well into old age. Working out has proven to help keep you healthy and fight off aging. I might end up an old doddering fool but I’ll be a strong doddering old fool!
So no, I don’t think I have reached an age where I’ll be giving it up. And it’s never too late to start.
Now that I’ve been back in the gym pretty consistently for months now, my dedication is slowly paying off. I’ve put on some more muscle. Nothing extraordinary as I’m doing it the natural route, but every little bit counts, right? I’m currently 215lbs, which is the heaviest I’ve ever been (I think. I’m having a total brain fart right now Lol) Unfortunately, at least 15lbs of that is fat I wanna get rid of, but I’d still be at 200 so I’m happy. I’ve mentioned before my ultimate goal is to hit 230 with around 210 being muscle.
I originally focused on trying to trim back down after my hiatus and shoulder/back injuries. I had the grand idea of developing some baby abs. Needless to say, I quickly discarded that notion for bulk. I can see little changes but since I see myself every day, it is harder to notice the difference. At least others are noticing, which is a good sign. Vain much? Lol And while my abs are still covered under a layer of fat, I’m happy with where I am. I’ve got a couple more months to this routine and then I’m hitting a trim-down plan.
Cutting back on the extra sugar in my diet always seems to help a lot. I found out a few months ago I’m one of those people genetically predisposed to diabetes.1 Not the best news, but since I work out and take care of myself it isn’t a problem yet. However, it does mean I don’t have the luxury of poor eating habits, especially as I age. It is quite frustrating as I don’t eat awful at all. And, I’m also approaching the age where such things become more important. My blood pressure is only slightly higher than normal for a person my age. Unfortunately, it means I have to work harder on my diet. My weakness isn’t eating fast food as much as just eating out. And my schedule is always the enemy. Hehe If I don’t get meal preps done during the weekend, I end up screwed for the whole week. There just isn’t enough time after a 10-hour work day and then the gym to do meal prep.
Anyway, I’m slowly working myself into better eating habits. It is of course a never ending struggle but hope springs eternal…
Since I was adopted, I know very little of my medical history [↩]
Playing with the title from my last post. So, I’m back up to 198lbs. And since I’m now down TWO belt-notch on my britches, I’m assuming the weight gain is muscle vs fat. hehehe Last Friday, I inadvertently grabbed a pair of jeans I hadn’t worn in awhile. And by awhile, I mean I haven’t worn them in over 3 years because my fat-ass wouldn’t fit. Imagine my surprise to discover later in the day they were my skinny jeans! Needless to say, it made my Friday. I’m still a few pounds away from dropping comfortably into a new pant size. One, I like my pants to fit comfy, not super tight and two, wearing tight pants can lead to a false muffin-top. And we can’t have that!
I’m still battling my little belly pooch though. That fucker is holding on for dear life. I have reached a point where the weight loss just from eating better has stopped. I guess I’m really gonna have to do some sort of cardio if I really wanna get any leaner. And speaking of cardio, I dusted off my pair of rollerblades the other day. The skates are practically brand new. I bought’em right after I moved to SF and then promptly stopped using them. Yes, I know it’s probably not cool anymore but when did I ever care about that? Skating is an excellent full body and cardio workout and I love doing it. Before moving to SF, I’d spend an entire afternoon skating. Anyway, I did a pretty decent job remembering the skill but need some practice. Cooper apparently loves my skates! He chased me up/down the street several times before he finally got tuckered out. I’m beginning to think I may have to actually invest in a skateboard for him. There are plenty of spaces here where I can take him and not worry about his safety. Hell, the MUNI yard in south of Market is just one big ole empty parking lot during the day. And they recently repaved so it is super smooth.
I switched to a new routine at the gym with mostly super-sets. OMG, I left the gym this week feeling like my chest was truly baked! I almost never leave feeling that way on chest day. My muscles adapt pretty quickly and I always have a need to find creative ways to tax them more. The super-sets are most definitely helping. The down side is trying to do super-sets on different benches in a very busy gym. I may have to move my workouts to later to make it work. So far, it hasn’t been too difficult but I think I’ve just gotten lucky so far.
No nothing so dirty, I’m refering to muscle growth. Wait, that still doesn’t sound right. lol Muscle growth as in working out, you dirty-minded hoes.
I measured my arms this week and I’m up to 16.5 inches. It’s a bit shocking to realize I’m only an inch and half away of my life goal of 18 inches. And while it doesn’t seem like a lot, that’s a good years worth of working out, or more. But, having started at just under 12 inches, I’ve come a long way.1
In many ways, I know I don’t see myself as objectively as I should. While I know my chest has grown quite a bit since then, it still looks small to me. And while I’m definitely seeing myself more objectively than I ever have, I still struggle with that one muscle. Call it narcissism, being gay, growing up skinny, or all of the above.
And speaking of, I’ve always struggled to feel like I leave the gym with a really good burn on chest day. My larger muscle groups always seem to recover really quickly so making them feel worn out is always a challenge. My new routine this week is nothing but super sets.2 OMG! I left the gym yesterday feeling like toast! My chest felt totally baked from the workout. I was so happy over something so silly. lol It’s even boosted my mood today significantly.
I look back on my life and how much I’ve grown, in this context physically, and I’m living proof anyone can do it. If a scrawny buck-fifty turd like me can put on almost 50 lbs of muscle in roughly 17 years, anyone can!
Oh and log in.
Oh yes, I was a scrawny mother f**ker as a kid [↩]
Two different exercises for the same muscle back to back before taking a rest [↩]
I’m back below 200lbs. It’s not a bad thing at all. I’ve lost some fat-weight in the last couple months. As much as I harped on the 200 threshold, it was more of a mile marker vs something I’m overly focused on. Yes, it was an important milestone for me but I knew it wouldn’t last exactly because I expected to loose fat-weight. I can feel the loss too. The little love-grips around my mid section are smaller and feel emptier.
I’m down to 196 actually. I’ve been really good about sticking to my eating routine. I don’t refer to it as a diet because I don’t consider myself dieting. I eat plenty of food, I’m just eating better. Less high carbs, less fatty foods, and more protein. Fresh & Easy market has been a god-send1 because they have so many pre-marinated meats for pretty much the price as plain meat, you can’t beat it! I stock up on meats and just pop’em in the oven or stove. I throw some fresh veggies on and *poof* instant meal.
I also haven’t been eating out near as much. I still am but just not as often.
Today I weighed in at 202lbs on the scale! This marks the first time in my life that I crossed the 200lb threshold! Ok, not exactly true. I crossed it once last year but it was fat-related. lol This time, I’m at my regular fat % and still over 200lbs! To say I’m giddy would be an understatement. I’ve been working out consistently for about 17 years now.1 My previous attempts met with failure back then because I was working out for the wrong reasons. Once I decided to take care of my body for my reasons and my goals, I stuck with it. When I came to SF, it was a new chapter in my life and switching to a gym like Fitness SF2 that was dedicated to muscle-building also made a huge difference.
I don’t remember the exact body weight I was at back then but I do remember it was roughly around 140-150lbs. I do remember weighing in once at 155lbs when I was still living in Boulder, which was 1995. That was also about the time I started working out in earnest. In roughly 17 years I’ve put on 45-50lbs of muscle. Sure I could have been more dedicated and gained it faster but that isn’t the point. The point is if a little scrawny weakling like me can put on that much muscle and size, anyone can. Seriously, I was so bone skinny back then it was laughable. I’ve mentioned it here probably countless times but my chest was so slight it actually sank in a little. My forearms now are bigger than my biceps were when I first started working out. It’s crazy because while I don’t see that skrawny kid anymore, he still lurks in my id. Thankfully, he is being subsumed by the new me.
The above bicep shot is a rare shot of me flexing. I don’t do pics of me flexing my biceps a lot because my biceps actually bulge out as much as they bulge up. I know it’s a bit odd but it is also sort of self-defeating when taking a bicep flex shot. lolol Of course, if I try to hold the bicep in so it bulges up instead of out, it looks like I’m cheating. hehehe Anyway, I’m just so excited. When I started out, breaking the 200lb barrier seemed like such an abstract and never-attainable goal. Honestly, back then it was mostly wistful thinking. After getting serious about weight-training, I suddenly realized my wistful goal was actually very real and very attainable.
Of course, this just makes me want to work out that much harder!
Give or take a year or two. I’m doing this all from memory. lol [↩]
A reader asked why I talk so much about being physically vs mentally fit. Good question. I’d dare say if you were a more regular reader *hint hint*, you’d know that I have used this blog over the last 8 or so years to try and work on my mental/emotional growth. From my perspective, it’s just the opposite. Lawd only knows I have my demons and have worked hard to exorcise them as best I can. Not an easy task but possible. I’m proud to say some I’ve killed off, others I’ve just beat into submission. And yes, even a few I still battle with. That is the nature of life.
I do spend time on a variety of subjects including religion,1 physiology, and psychology. I’ve always had a very metaphysical slant in my beliefs. One such book that was truly a revelation was Eastern Body, Western Mind.2 On the surface, it deals with Chakra development, but as you delve into the book it is clear the author has a strong knowledge of psychology. The combined outlook was a pivotal and truly life-changing read for me. It helped me identify and focus on healing fundamental parts of my psyche that were damaged and scarred from childhood. Seriously, I can’t even begin to tell you how much this book helped me.
Even if you don’t believe in chakras, I still highly recommend it.3 To this day, I can’t read the book w/o getting goose-bumps at some point. It was that profound for me.
As for the physical, having been very scrawny as a kid, I have struggled all my life to improve my size. Vanity certainly plays a role but I’ve mentioned here plenty of times the benefits of being physically fit. So yes, I do harp on my progress (or lack) in the gym from time to time. But, it is not the only focus in my life or even the most important. I wish more guys spent half as much time working on their inner demons as they did their pec muscles.
To this day, I still internally perk up when someone refers to me as big. While I was shoe shopping the other day, the sales clerk at Foot Locker referred to me as “a big guy such as yourself.” It was obvious he wasn’t trying to flatter me because he looked slightly embarrassed after he said it. I giggled inside because I still don’t exactly see myself that way. While my dysmorphia is not as pronounced as before, it still lurks in my id. I guess it is something you never truly get over. I don’t see myself as the scrawny kid I used to be but I also don’t think I see myself as I truly am.
As I always say, the important and often overlooked distinction is to find balance. Too much of anything can be bad for you. I don’t live for working out but I do spend the necessary time it takes to care for my body as well as my mind. I’m currently trying to see how lean I can get. It’s a slow process because I love to eat. lol
Not so much anymore. It’s become a farce of greed and control IMO. [↩]
Available in hardback, paperback, or ebook! lol [↩]
The simplest way I can think of to describe a chakra is as a point of focus. If you think it’s all mumbo-jumbo, use my definition as a frame of reference. [↩]