McSodom's and Gomorrah King

One of the funnier things about my recent return to exercise is the fact that the building that houses my gym sits directly between a really great Indian restaurant and one of my favorite wing joints in town. So basically every time I park the car and start walking towards the place I'm usually hit directly in the face with all sorts of tempting aromas wafting out of the doors.
It's like going to a church that's setup between two strip clubs.
I can't even begin to tell you the number of times I've headed up there feeling down on my progress and sorta not wanting to work out at all where I start plotting and scheming of ways to pull off the ultimate crime, wherein I say I'm going to the gym 5 days a week but instead take three steps to the right and just drink beer and wolf down chili fries instead. I'll even get so far as to consider ways to make my shirt look sweaty just in case anyone wonders where I've been.
I mean, come on -- the gym is right next to a sports bar. Right effing next to it.
So you'd probably think every time I actually end up in the gym instead of sneaking into the curry joint I'd feel a little good about myself, like I'd won some sort of moral victory or something -- but you try concentrating on abdominal crunches when you know all that separates you from a plate or teriyaki spice wings is a few inches of concrete.
It's like trying to sleep while while your roommates are having sex.
Every workout I've ever had to endure after catching a whiff of fresh Indian food steaming out of the door has been like building a bridge over the river Kwai. Not only did I not want to be doing it, but you better believe the second I finish my last rep I'm going home so I can booty call some takeout Chinese in for the airstrike that will blow up any good I might have done myself during the actual workout.

Because in the end that's really my problem. It's not really that I can't find a workout that suits me, or the discipline to stick with a regimen enough to see the kinds of results that will make me want to keep going -- it's the same thing it's always been:
I love to eat.
But lately as I've tried to approach this latest shot at getting healthy again -- reading everything I can in the hopes of finding some magic middle ground where I can make the changes I need to make without feeling like I'm taking the first step towards jumping up and down on Oprah's couch because I've sold my soul to some hack sci-fi writer, I'm finding that there really isn't one.

Of course, everything that I like to eat is bad for me. Everything I don't like is what I'm supposed to have lots of. And even if I go whole hog and start eating rabbit food three times a day, there's still ample research to say that it won't really make that much difference in the end unless I find a way to change my metabolism at the same time. A fact I've always heard, but never been able to put that much stock in.
Because what does it mean, really?
Back when I was skinny and in shape I didn't work out. I didn't pay any special attention to my diet at all. I worked on sound and light crews for local and touring bands. It was a physical job -- but it's not like I hit the gym during off hours to make sure I could handle the strength requirements of the gig.

Truth be told, I spent most of my days sitting in my dad's apartment learning Living Colour guitar solos by ear. I watched ungodly amounts of TV, and filled whatever hours were left with chasing girls or surfing. Sure I was a lot younger, but a lot of my days were really, really lazy. Lazier in a lot of ways than I am now (which is really saying something when you think about it).

It's a thought that resonates when I look at my buddy Ralph, who manages Endo Exo -- and is basically a walking ball of muscle. For the first year or so I knew him, Ralph never went near a gym -- saying he was too busy with his work. Of course it's not like he's never been in one -- dude's a former college wrestler who spent the better part of his youth working construction jobs and installing air conditioners, but even now that he's started hitting the weights again a few times a week the thing you still notice is that Ralph doesn't freak out when someone offers him a cheeseburger.

In other words, It's not like he eats crap food all the time -- but he's at a fitness level where his system can handle a little junk now and again. Hell, the occasional fast food meal is probably just low-rent carbo loading for the guy.

And that I think is the real difference. I think there are times during the day when people like Ralph get signals from their bodies that are like "Need fuel. Please insert freshly prepared complex carbohydrates for maximum performance levels."

While people like me will be sit at their desk at work waiting to get that mental cel phone text with all the abbreviations and misspelled words that says,
"Want BBQ sauce flavor. Find BBQ sauce flavor NOW!"
Sure I get hungry once in a while -- but lately I'm starting to suspect that what my body really wants is taste. Salty, sugary, bitter, spicy savory flavors mixing together and feeding the endorphins that make my brain happy. I mean lets face it -- the reason I'm in this kind of shape right now is that my body has decided to take all the fuel to be used later and store it around my waist, legs, and motivation to work out on a regular basis.

But no matter how many weeks of winter I could survive using the rations my system has stored up for me, there's really no biochemical process that can match the magic that happens when you put chili and cheese on top of a plate of French fries.
No salad for that matter, either.
And that's really the problem, when you get right down to it. Because if there's one thing that healthy food tends to lack, it's the primary colors of flavor that all the things you aren't supposed to eat is slathering over with.

Think about it, when you hear people gushing over a really good salad, what kinds of words do they use to describe it with?
Do any of these things sound like something you'd want to dip a chicken wing into ..ever?
I guess this is what I really need to know. When you're skinny -- do salads actually start to taste good? Is that how you really know your metabolism has changed for the better; when you do more than just pick the croutons out of the thing?

Because honestly -- lettuce tastes like wet paper. I don't even like it on burgers, because it gets in the way of the taste. And I know I need to stop thinking like this if I'm ever gonna get ahead of this issue in my life -- but really, is this what healthy people like to chew on? Because if it is -- it's no wonder there's so much garbage food in the world. And I'm not talking about processed cheese or things like that. I'm talking about supreme pizzas and ice cream. I'm talking about fresh tuna fish sandwiches, homemade fried chicken, and potato salad. Hell I'm talking about spicy curry or tabbouleh too.
Foods that let you know you're eating them. Flavors that kiss you full on the lips and leave you lightheaded.
Maybe salads do that for some people -- but they don't for me. Which was fine and dandy when I weighed 125 pounds, but lately leaves me feeling like Joe Pantoliano in The Matrix when he's decides to sell out the lives of his crew mates ust so he can pretend he's tasting a porterhouse last time..

[Listening to:  Taproot"Facepeeler" ]


The Kaiser said…
I don't know what you're reading, but the vast majority of material on diet and fitness is bunk. Try to work on strength training, it's the only sort of excercise that is reliably shown to reduce weight in the long term.

Aside from that, I think that there's an important point being missed here: a diet/excercise regimen that you cannot maintain is completely useless. So if you think you can manage to get yourself into the gym to work out and keep your body in decent working order, but you dont think you can manage to give up teriyaki wings and chili cheese fries then GO TO THE GYM AND GET WINGS AFTERWARDS. Maybe once working out is an ingrained habit you can work on the eating stuff if you still feel like you need to.
Werdna said…
Good luck!

I love salad. I'm not skinny anymore...
unMuse said…
I love salad. Sadly I love ranch dressing, too.

One thing I would suggest that s really the best thing I found for changing my metabolism is changing how much I eat and how often. I eat 6 "meals" the size of my fist a day. I remember the first 2 weeks were hard to push myself into eating that often. It didn't feel right - especially because I was only hungry once a day. But after the 5 lbs I gained training my system, I lost the 5 pound is a fe days. Also, after awhile my body started to crave the foods it needs, not just what I wanted to taste. They are 2 very different feelings: either I want to eat this or I want to chew it and spit it out. Give it time and take a rational approach. It takes about a month for your body to catch up.
Heff said…
Thanks, Hex. Now I'M hungry. I have to agree with both the kaiser AND unmuse. Just work out consistently, and you can pretty much eat whatever the hell you want to, in moderation, of course. The 6 small meals a day idea is great. I was lifting weights HEAVILY (5 days a week) in 2007 & eating 4 to 5 small meals a day. The shit works. October's about to roll around, and I'm going to start that plan all over again, as my summer basically became Beerfest 2008.
Hex said…
Kaiser -- Weight training is what I'm working towards right now. I thought for a while I should stick to other things, but the more I read the more sources echo what you're saying.

I guess it's a mental thing for me right now -- worrying that one of my habits cancels out the other. Gotta find a way around that, you know?

Werdna -- Wait, what!? When did you go to the dark side? This is what happens when you swim all those laps and do those ocean swim races.

Unmuse -- I've heard that "eat smaller meals thing" over and over. And I understand the logic, and want to incorporate it, but it's gonna be a huge switch, especially at work. Not impossible, but easy to make excuses out of.

Heff -- I thought you were doing all that working out in preparation for Beerfest. Training for the big game, so to speak.
Satorical said…
Yes, you will start to taste things that aren't salt-covered sugar after a while (hellooooo ketchup!)

It's not just loving to eat. You and I both have that. It's a more fundamental thing: don't bullshit yourself. I don't have control over it at the moment, and haven't for years, but at least I recognize the root of the problem: I lie to myself about what I'm going to do, then cave in on the slightest whim (I'm too tired to cook/workout, I'll start tomorrow morning, I'll run after work, etc.)

The only thing that's kept me from ballooning even more is that I have a running partner. I can count on at least one or two workouts a week, guaranteed. Maybe that would help. It's less easy to bail on your workout when it means you'd be letting someone else down.

Godspeed sir.
LadyShay said…
How about after parking your car, you RUN in to the gym. You can maybe fly right by those sweet tempting love inducing aromas:)