I made a dumb decision last week.
I decided to do some cardio.
“What’s the big deal?” you might ask. “People do cardio all the time.”
True. But I guess I’m not “people.” I haven’t done cardio in six years. Might be another six years before I do it again because I had an epiphany when I tried to do cardio last week.
This epiphany is what I’m going to share with you now. It’ll send some shivers through your system. Maybe not as fierce as it did me, but I have hope.
First, to preserve my own morals: a small piece of me decays inside when I use the word “cardio.” It’s a stupid word. You can read why here. And here. Even though it’s a stupid word, I’m going to keep using it because I feel like a doucher if I don’t. Kind of like someone at an uppity restaurant looking down on “peasants.”
Second, onto why I hopped on the treadmill for the first time in six years: I did it to get suprajacked.
I hover around 10% body fat year round. Some days you’ll see my abs. Some days you won’t because I like cookies. (And sometimes I drink too many stouts.)
I’m lean, but I’m not model lean. I don’t really want to be model lean either because I’d probably have an even unhealthier obsession with how visible my abs are on a day to day basis. It’s much easier for me to eat a jar of peanut butter and then act like being model lean is somehow beneath me as a physical virtue.
It’s been a while since I’ve been model lean, but I wanted to give it a go. I normally say that 10% body fat is the place to be, and that anything leaner isn’t going to be friendly to muscular pursuits. See talks on the solid base here and here.
But I wanted to try to prove myself wrong.
So in comes the cardio: incline treadmill walks.
Remember me talking about how long it’s been since I’ve done cardio? Well, tack on a few years and you’ll reach the last time I’ve walked on the treadmill.
Weighted incline treadmill walks. With added weight I could walk a bit slower and simultaneously read books.
Books are good. Reading is good. I was sold.
Few days later, there I was. Trudging along the treadmill. About 10 minutes in, my foot was sending me a message. In about five more minutes, you’re going to regret this. Ha! I can’t wait. It’s going to be hilarious. You’re going to be bested by the treadmill! Ha! You’re pathetic!
And for those that don’t know: I have a neuroma in my foot that said hello sometime after “the incident.” (“The incident” is on YouTube, by the way.)
I’ve been battling this neuroma for a long time. It’s beaten me down, largely because I’ve failed to listen to my body on repeated occasions. This past six months, for the first time, I’ve been sailing into the headwind. Holding onto hope.
Despite things looking up, it still only takes one little misstep for the snowball of pain. Just a hint of swelling leads to more missteps. More missteps, more swelling.
This time? I listened to my neuroma. I fought back. Look here you twerp. You think you’re going to get me. You’ve gotten me in the past, but not this time. I’m the master now. Get that? I’m going to own you.
So I stepped off the treadmill and then said to myself, “Hmmmm…what can I do instead?”
What can I do for 30-40 minutes, 4-6 days per week…in the name of seeing my abdominal veins all the clearer?
And this was epiphany time.
My name is Anthony. I’m battling a neuroma. Battling. BATTLING. For the past three years, I’ve not had one step upon wherein I didn’t consciously think about my my foot position and prepare for pain. As if nail were hammered between my toes. Every. Single. Step.
Playing beer pong.
Shopping for groceries.
The chance for pain. Always. There.
And here I am. About to spend 30-40 minutes of my life 4-6 times days week for the next few weeks (months?) walking on the treadmill…because, well, abdominal veins.
But maybe…just maybe …I should spend those 30-40 minutes 4-6 days per week doing everything in my power to stop my neuroma from hemorrhaging? To stop it from existing?
Maybe I should go to a park with my sketchpad and Micron markers for those 30-40 minutes 4-6 days a week and finally do what made me feel alive in my past life.
But before you maybe your life away, let me clarify some things.
If you’re downing the idea of deeper abdominal grooves and sickly pelvic veins, you missed the point. The point isn’t to trounce any end. There may be a time in my life when grooves and veins represent a tremendous accomplishment and stand for more than I can fathom now, and will deliver +15 SELF ESTEEM and +10 DEDICATION and +7 WORK ETHIC.
And that’s the point.
You’re chasing a final boss.
It’s easy to pull any old boss out of a random hat.
But it’s hard to ask yourself, “What’s beating this guy going to mean to me right now? Is there something else — some other boss demon — I’m better off chasing?”
Because it’s always work to get to the final boss. And it’s work that can potentially be put elsewhere.
Beating any old boss is nice, but it might not level you up the way the right boss will. And we (I) often dance around the right boss because finding it forces you look into your stinky bits — your insecurities, your fears, your existential stones — and face truths you’re more comfortable ignoring.
Maybe I’m afraid to tackle the neuroma because I’m afraid I’m stuck with it…and I’d rather live telling myself there’s still hope.
Maybe I’m afraid to admit I want to build muscle…and I’d rather live telling myself looks don’t matter to me. Or that “performance” is more important.
Maybe you should think about it.
With brutal honesty.
Are you fighting the right boss?