Updated Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Workout: Day Six

Unfortunately, it looks like this is becoming an official habit: late workouts -- really close to the cutoff too.

The good news is that I think my body's officially adapted to the workout, I didn't bother taking a vitamin B pill beforehand and I still made it out okay.

Again, those first 5-10 minutes I've discovered that I really need a distraction, something to help get me up and at'em, to keep my mind off of my aching joints (and cracking feet) 'cause if there's any point throughout the whole thing that I'm liable to throw up my hands and call it a day, it's right here.

I don't know what it is, maybe it's the mental idea of nearing that 'quarter-done' mark or maybe it's just good ol' fashioned body chemistry taking over.  Either way, once I've hit the 15 minute mark, I'm committed.

Not only that, but my performance actually seems to improve as well.  I'm definitely more focused, more driven once I'm past the quarter.

Of course, I'm still struggling with the natural limitations of my body -- namely that I've come to realize that as much as I'd love to go 30 days straight through, I'm going to have to take a rest day sometime soon.  Give my body a chance to recover some.

I think my one real fear here is that loss of momentum, that sudden stop.  'Cause I know that I've been there before, I know how easily the excuses come.  You see, there was a time -- a year or two ago -- where I had worked for months to get into shape... and then, one day, I just stopped going.  I blamed it on life, on things getting busy.  I didn't 'peter out'... one day I just said 'No'.

And I watched all that I had gained slip away.

Over time I think I've gained a bit of insight into what it is that makes us or keeps us from being successful.  It's a simple thing but, so far, it appears to be true:

Excuses.

The most successful people I've ever known have one thing in common: when it comes to what they want, to the goals that really matter to them, there is very little that can dissuade them.  And while failure's always an option (as it is anywhere in life) even when they're down, there are no excuses.  They take their lumps and get back up.  They analyze where they went wrong and they try a different tactic.

I have moments of this, moments where I get that clarity, where I know what I want bad enough to focus and push myself toward something definitive.  But my biggest challenge has always been my battle with those little excuses that I tell myself; those little platitudes or lies that I use to derail myself.

It sounds like such a cliché now but it really is true: a great percentage of getting ourselves into shape involves getting our mind into shape as well.

It's hard, so frickin' hard, because the alternative is just so goddamned easy.  It's so easy to say 'yeah, I'll do it tomorrow' or 'oh well, I tried' or any number of other BS excuses.

Hopefully, with the right mindset, with the enough of a mental preparation, my fears will all be for nothing.  I'll start right back up again and all will be hunky dory.

But as far as 'personal tests' go, this one's gonna be a biggie.

My first 'day off' will be this Tuesday.

Until then, just gotta keep on keepin' on.

Oh! And for my workout today, I managed 1010 Calories in 62 minutes.  Again... no fancy treadmills but still... progress!  If we subtract that from what I've burned off so far (24901) then I've got 23891 calories left to burn in 24 days.

Cheers!
Brandon

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Workout: Day Five

Today was a late one again -- I desperately wanted to get out there and get my workout done before 8am... but life just doesn't always allow for things like 'planning'.

I managed to just squeak in there before 7pm (with the gym closing at 8pm) and get my workout in.  I did also end up taking a vitamin B complex pill before I went... but, oddly enough it wasn't as 'world shattering' as yesterday's event.

In fact, I started to get tired around the 10 minute mark this time -- I'm noticing that my body, even when I'm not working out now, is incredibly tense.  I bent over to put my shoes on today and I noticed a twinge in my left side, as if one of my muscles had suddenly hyper-extended itself or something.

But, on the bright side, my love handles are noticeably smaller.  (Gotta love that terminology, eh?)  In fact, really, everything feels 'tighter' -- which may explain why everything's so tense...

Anyways, back to the workout.  What was interesting about today's workout was how staggered everything felt.  I noticed there were these moments, maybe 2 or 3 minutes at a time where I was just 'on' where I could push myself, hell, almost run at the front of the treadmill.  But immediately following I'd have these long stretches -- maybe 10 mins or more at a time -- where I just seemed to burn out and I'd be clutching those bars for dear life.

Weird.

Anyways, I'm still sweating like crazy, like my pores have somehow tapped into a hidden ocean reservoir -- still feeling moments of shakiness, still got this damned blister (which I swear is getting bigger?!) but there is some good news to be found: overall I'm noticing that my body's getting accustomed to the workout.

Anyways, I didn't end up getting my fancy shmancy treadmill this time so there's no detailed report to share, but I managed to burn a total of 1008 calories in 60 minutes.

Not too shabby.

So, if we minus today's count from the remaining calorie count from yesterday (25909) I've got 24901 left to burn in 25 days.

Progress!!  Gotta love it.

Cheers,
Brandon

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Workout: Day Four

Today I didn't actually get around to doing my workout until after 6pm... so that sort of threw a crimp into a few of my plans -- namely, going back there tomorrow at 8am.

In other news, I've (re-)discovered the benefits of taking Vitamin B to help out on my workout routine (read: I found an old bottle of B Complex vitamins kicking around).  There's a great write-up on how Vitamin B helps you prepare for and recover from a workout here.  But by and large, I feel like slapping myself for not thinking of this sooner.

So how much did it help?  Well, by 6pm I'd already eaten 3 square meals so... quite a lot, actually.

The biggest boost was noticeable from right off the top, I powered through the first 10 minutes without a pause -- none of the typical tiredness or slowness that had plagued me in my first few rounds.  The tiredness did start to seep in around the edges at about the 15-20 minute mark, but it was nowhere near what I'd normally be experiencing right now.

That said, as time passed and I was still holding up just fine, I have to say that I did actually start to wonder: Is this cheating?

I mean, as far as 'performance enhancers' go, I'm not sure I'd normally put Vitamin B at the top of the list... but the result was just so profound -- especially considering how much I've struggled recently -- that I had to wonder.  Am I cheating myself out of a proper workout here?  Or, am I running at actual proper 'full capacity'?

Today, not only did I make it to the 45 minute mark without usual shakes, shivers and fatigue, I actually managed to go a total of 72 minutes and burned a total of 1190 calories!

I'm just floored at this result, there's simply no way around it.

That said, the other factor here was that I did do the workout later in the day, wide-awake and on a full tank of food.  How much does that variable change things?  Who knows?

I also discovered that my favourite treadmill actually has a small fan integrated on it.  There are only 2 speeds, but it's a nice little cooling effect when I've started to get really hot.

So... here's the thing, here's what I'm wondering... do I ditch the supplement and just go at it as I have been, pretty much taking the hard road (I definitely feel like I've worked my ass off over the last few days) or do I take the supplement and maybe up the difficulty?

I'm not quite sure what to do just yet.

But even now, after today's workout, I feel amazing -- not tired, not sore... just great, really.

Well, except for my blister.  Apparently that sucker has... I don't know, re-filled and grown?  I was certain that I'd popped it before, but here it is, almost good as new, the size of my thumbnail and squishy to the touch.  I'm not sure what to do about this thing, the bandage obviously hasn't done much to help me.

Maybe I should just pop it myself and bandage it up.  I don't know.

For now, I think I'm just going to hope that it doesn't get any bigger.

But yes, some decisions to make.  Many, many decisions.

Anyways, until then, here're my stats from my workout today... I'm pretty impressed.


  Date = 11/07/2001  <-- still the time and date haven't been fixed :S
  Time = 01:09 


- User
  Age = 31
  Weight units = 230


- Workout
  Elapsed Time = 70:00
  Avg Heart Rate = 169
  Max Heart Rate = 181   <-- my overall heartrate was lower as well!  Wow.
  Avg Speed Units = 3.5 mph
  Max Speed Units = 3.5 mph
  Avg Pace = 17:08 /mile
  Distance = 4.08 miles     <-- yes, 4 miles.  Daaaamn.
  Calories = 1181


- Cool Down
  Elapsed Time = 2:00
  Avg Speed Units = 1.8 mph
  Max Speed Units = 2.0 mph
  Distance = 0.06 miles
  Calories = 8 


- Total
  Elapsed Time = 72:00
  Avg Heart Rate = 169
  Max Speed Units = 181
  Avg Speed Units = 3.5 mph
  Max Speed Units = 3.5 mph
  Avg Pace = 17:08 /mile
  Distance = 4.14 miles
  Calories = 1190


All-in-all, if we minus that from the remaining calorie count from yesterday (27099) I've got 25909 left to burn in 26 days.

Rawk! 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Workout: Day Three

Today, I tried something completely different.  Okay, not really 'completely' different.  But different.

Before I began my treadmill trek, I spent a good 10-15 mins in the sauna, stretching things out as much as I could.  Trying to loosen things that had, well, seized up on me.

Also: I discovered a type of band-aid specifically for blisters.

And so, once limbered up, bandaged up and ready, I made my out to the treadmill.

Only to find my 'special' treadmill already in use. :S

So I ended up using one of their older treadmills -- not that there's anything wrong with them, they just don't give you a saved 'report' afterwards.

Blech.  (see also: #firstworldproblems)

Anyways, the first 5 minutes went pretty much as expected -- my body was sincerely not a fan.  Even though I'd stretched everything beforehand, everything still felt stiff.  Of course, I came to realize that I was actually tensing up, as if I was waiting for something to happen.  Once I realized that and started to relax myself, it started to almost get... enjoyable?

That is until I made it to around the 15 minute mark.  By then I was in a full-on sweat, everything was drenched -- seriously, it was like some sort of internal dam had broken and every pore in my body had overflowed at once.  It was like I'd gone hiking in the rain.

But then I began to feel tired.  As in sleepy, like someone had pulled my batteries out.

Crazy.  Was this some sort of rebellion?  My own body turning against me for having dared to try and push it?

I pushed onward, yawning on the treadmill, trying to distract myself with the horribly captioned video on the small screen in front of me.  I rolled over into the 20-minute mark, still tired but still moving; onto the 25-minute mark and I'm just sopping wet now.  That ol' bit of pain in my left leg has started to twinge again -- up near the hip but I do my best to soldier on.

At the 35-minute mark -- and somehow, out of nowhere -- I actually feel... fine.  In physical terms, I'm guessing this is about when those wonderful things called 'endorphins' actually kicked in.  Now, I'm not sure why they were playing hookey yesterday and the day before (when I really could've used them) but let me just say how happy I was to have them.

Of course, they didn't last all that long... it was maybe a good 10 minutes or so before I started to feel like crud again... but I just want to say that those were some of the most amazing 10 minutes I've had since I've started this little journey.

At 45 minutes in, the ol' war wounds started to come back into the picture... my left leg has started to feel like it's slipping around in the socket and my right leg has developed that nice little shake that's been its own little hallmark.  Still, I cling onto the metal bars, step after step, climbing this invisible, never-ending hill.

By the time I hit the 50 minute mark I've sunken into a familiar bit of territory -- no longer able to keep my attention focused on any single thought or location, I find myself staring at the various different readouts in front of me, watching the seconds burn away followed by the calories followed by the distance.  I stare at the screen, hoping to find some sort of distraction, something that'll hold my attention for the last bloody 10 minutes of this cycle.  I end up watching the entirety of an Oliver Jewellery commercial before I realize that I'm on my own here.

And then a thought blooms:  The world Jewellery, once I've begun to think about it, seems oddly racist.

I ponder this for a good while, trying to think how the heck such a word came about -- I play it over in my head, a plethora of questions now bouncing around in my skull; is it some sort of thing where maybe ancient Jews were known artisans?  Did it originate as some sort of Jewish plaything or bauble?

I consider what I know about the nature of the word and where it comes from -- and realize just how little I know about it.  Somewhere I decide to make a mental note to look it up once I get a chance.

The treadmill slows beneath my feet and I realize that I've somehow managed to run out the clock.  Thanks to my little head trip, I've completed the whole shebang -- and redeemed myself from yesterday's incomplete.  I hope.

In the end -- after a decidedly longer cooldown period -- I managed to burn 1030 calories in 67 minutes.

Add that to the 850 from yesterday to get 1880 and minus that from what was left on Day One (28979) and I end up with: 27099 calories left to burn in 27 days.

Incidentally, I did end up looking up the word -- and apparently no, no it does not have anything to do with the word Jew.  It has to do with the world Jewel.  Also, apparently I'm not the only one who's made this mistake.

There's a great write up on it here, including how the word 'Jew' made its way over into the Indo-European language group from the original Semetic language group.

The more you know, folks.  The more you know.

(Holy crap I love the internet.)

Cheers!

Brandon

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Workout: Day Two

So.. guess what?  I've managed to go and give myself a nice dime-sized blister on the inside of my Left foot.  Brilliant.

Better yet?  During my epic first attack there, I managed to pop it.

Oh yes.  Fun.

So I woke up this morning to the sound of my shoulders cracking, well, not cracking... grinding?  There was pain.  A lot of pain.  Like that throbbing 'why the hell did you do that?' sort of pain.  I soon came to realize that it was not, in fact, localized to my shoulder area but had, somehow, managed to spread throughout my back, lower spine, torso, upper calves and feet.

In short, I quite overdid it yesterday.

But today's a new day, and this pain, so far isn't much that a few (legal) pills can't fix.

And so off to the gym I go shamble.

For the nice blister on my foot, I swipe a bit of my son's petroleum jelly and slather that on thick before putting a sock over it.  I'm not sure if it's going to do much to help in the long term, but it immediately feels better.  +1 for lubrication.

Before me lies the treadmill, the same beaster that I tangled with the day before.  It looms over me... okay, not exactly.  But it was still pretty ominous.

Of course, because I've still not learned my lesson, I set off using the exact same settings as the day before -- and I immediately regret it.

That petroleum jelly 'patch' that I'd created lasted all of about 5 mins.  Any 'healing' that had gone on overnight evaporated into the winds by 10 mins in.  At 15 mins my body felt like it had felt yesterday at the 50 minute mark.

And from there things just went downhill.  Fast.

There really isn't much of a timeline from here on out because it was all I could to do stay on the bloody treadmill, trying to keep my focus on putting one foot in front of the other.  I know that at one point I actually considered saying 'fuck it' and shutting the whole thing down.

Standing there alone, half-limping, half-walk/jogging my way on an inclined treadmill.

I'm sad to say that I didn't make it the whole 60 minutes... by minute 50 I had to call it a day, I just didn't have it in me to push any farther -- the grinding/slipping/burning in my foot mixed with a myriad of other new and old pains (apparently said pills were not strong enough for the task at hand) finally wore me down.

And then, to make things worse, the stupid thing didn't even save my session to disk.  Not that I would've been too proud to add it to the mix, but apparently there's some sort of internal timer and if you don't have that USB key right ready, well they just go and reset the damned thing on you.

Urgh.

All in all I managed to burn about 850 calories.  And fuck up my foot in a rather nice way.

Okay, yes, yes, I know... sometimes taking a running start at things is a bad thing.  But hey... now I know what not to do... and knowing is half the battle... right?

Life lesson #621: wear non-chafing work-out socks...?

Until tomorrow.

Cheers,
Brandon

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Workout: Day One

So, here's the thing: I'm my own worst enemy sometimes.

Even though I know I'm not in the best shape, even though I know I should take it easy on my first day,

I don't.

Back when I was training myself for the CN Tower stair climb, I started off my very first workout by doing all 1776 steps.  It didn't matter that I'd never done it before, or that by the halfway mark my legs had started to shake.  However long it took, I kept pushing on until I'd finished. (I'm pretty sure it took me closer to 50 mins my first go).  That way, no matter what, no matter how bad it would get over the next few weeks of training, I knew that I could do it.  I knew that, as bad as it got, even if I cried all the way up, that little voice in my head screaming 'you're going to die, idiot!' was a fucking liar.

So, today I went and did something... not smart.

I fiddled around with the settings on the treadmill, trying to figure out how best to burn off 1000 calories a day for 30 days.  Eventually, I worked it out that if I put the treadmill at a 11.5% incline and ran speed-walked at a minimum of 3.5 miles an hour, I could burn off 1012 calories per hour.

And so, off I went.

No warm-up, no waiting.  I didn't want to think about it, I didn't want to give myself any room to start slipping excuses in.  Didn't want to think about what I was signing myself up for.

Head down, nose to the grindstone.  Power through.

Here's a brief rundown of my mental and physical state for the next 60 minutes.

Minutes 1-5:
Definitely a nice trot here, machine's still rising to the proper incline.  Okay, whoa.  Steeper than I imagined.  Grab the bars, hold on tight.  Suddenly that 'nice trot' has turned into a 'what the hell is this then?'  I'm starting to warm up.

Minutes 5-10:
I'm actually panting.  Lightly at first, but noticeably.  I take some deep breaths, trying to 'open my lungs'.  Apparently they haven't been 'opened' in a while and they lead me into a small coughing fit in the middle of an inclined, moving treadmill.  Grip the handles harder, force the coughs down and the oxygen through.  My eyes tear up.  The little voice in my head cackles with glee.  Still, I'm breathing now.  Deep breaths.  I notice the first bead of sweat run down my brow, I'm officially 'warm'.

Minutes 11-15:
I check the clock.  Bad move.  My heart sinks to see that it's only been about 12 minutes.  My legs are not pleased.  My lungs are getting ready to stage a mutiny.  I relax my shoulders a bit, trying to calm my mind, knowing that if I start to overthink this then I'll start to think up all these wonderful excuses why I need to get off this bloody thing right now.  I start to try and zone out to the music, the thud-thud-thud of some Rihanna Techno/Trance remix that you would only ever find in a goddamn gym.  Also I notice I'm getting angry.

Minutes 16-20:
There's a truth I learned a while back and it's one of the greatest tips/tricks ever to help cope in the workout game.  It's entirely a mental thing, but it's so powerful that it's saved my ass on countless occasions, pulled me through like no 'roid enhanced trainer ever could:  If you can make it halfway there, you're home free.  Of course, once you know that trick, the climb to halfway becomes the real challenge.  All the pressure falls on getting halfway there.  I note that I'm officially 1/4 of the way complete, moving on toward 1/3 of the way complete.  10 bloody minutes from halfway.  Just... just gotta keep going.  Keep focused.  I can't stand the sound of the music anymore, I can't bear to look at the screen as numbers pop on and off telling me how I'm doing.  I try to will myself into own little private Idaho.  Think of my happy place, my happy thoughts.  Ignore that sandpaper-like feeling in the side of my foot.  Power on, power man!

Minutes 21-25:
Over 1/3 of the way now, my shoulders are starting to hurt.  Like, ache.  I realize I've been leaning back on the bars, trying to take the weight off my legs.  Yeah, you cheater, you.  Steady myself, push my body forward, get my legs underneath me.  Somewhere in the midst of it all I realize that I'm no longer beading sweat, I'm officially dripping.  I get a glance of myself in the side mirror.  I wish I hadn't.  Nothing crushes your spirit faster than watching yourself work out when you're not already in shape.  'Cause, no, folks, it's nothing like what they show you on TV or in the videos.  There's no grace there.  There's a large man clomping away with a flushed, red face, matted, sweaty hair and a top that clings to him in every wrong, revealing sort of way.  Like he's won the most ill-thought-out wet T-shirt contest ever.  Needless to say, my confidence took a hit.

Minutes 26-30:
The great thing about the mental game is that when you get to that halfway mark, when you realize you're halfway done, there's an euphoric rush.  It really is tremendous, a sort 'fuck yeah! I beat the system' moment where you suddenly realize that it's all downhill from here.  Except you're going uphill and, for all of the mental celerity you've just inherited, there's still that damned 'physical' aspect.  And that euphoric rush?  Well it really is a rush.  There and gone.  And you're still climbing a hill, in a drenched shirt with burning lungs, a wobbly leg and 30 minutes to go.  Yeah.  Winning!

Minutes 31-35:
I start to hear music in my head.  Not the crap that's blaring around me from all sides, no.  Apparently the incredible amounts of stress I've just (thoughtlessly? needlessly?) placed on my body has brought out my inner iPod.  And what song starts to blare?  Ace of Base's 'I saw the sign', of course.  Why would that be?  I have no idea.  In fact, at this point, I'm so lost in my head that I can barely hear it anyways.  It wafts in and out on the pale crimson breeze that's escaping from my every pore.  Seriously, with every step, heat is being expelled from the top of my T-shirt, blasting the bottom of my jawline in some sort of plasma-vented gust.  My hands are now aching, my fingers feeling like they've started to separate from the joint as I pull my body closer again, getting my feet underneath me once more.  Only 25 more minutes! I think to myself.  It doesn't come out as hopeful as I would've thought.

Minutes 36-40:
Almost 3/4s through.  Almost there.  Just need to make smaller goals.  That's it.  For a moment I wonder at the mental gymnastics my mind is capable of in order to keep me from landing a faceplant on a moving treadmill.  'Just break it down into bite-sized chunks'... 'a spoonful of suuuuugar helps the meeeeediiiiciiiineeee gooooo dooooown' -- okay, seriously.  What the hell?  I need a distraction.  I watch the clock now, every minute is a success.  A feather in my cap.  Of course the consequence of this is that a minute somehow becomes infinitely drawn out.  Each second ticking by as my legs pump their way on the treadmill.  I don't dare count how many steps I'm getting per second, I don't dare try to do the Math.  That way lies doom.  I notice that I've abandoned my 'big, deep breaths' theory and have moved onto 'short, shallow gasps' which probably isn't good.  I push myself for a good lungful of air and immediately regret it.  My tongue has stuck to the roof of my mouth.  Additional sexy thought: sweaty, drenched and mouth breathing.  I shove that thought back under the bed with a hot poker, peel my tongue free and try to work some saliva up in this joint.  Yeah.  That's not going to happen.

Minute 41-45:
Officially 3/4s done now!  Home stretch and all that jazz.  That sandpaper feeling on the side of my Left foot has been promoted to a full-blown 'burning sensation'.  Sweat has now breached the dykes of my bushy eyebrows and is flowing directly into my eyes.  A whole new burning sensation erupts.  I make a desperate attempt to towel off my head, to clear out my eyes while still in motion.  I tousle my hair, rub my eyes and immediately start to lose my balance.  I throw the towel in a blind panic -- it's lost to me now, I don't dare look to where ever it's landed -- and grab back onto the 'handlebar'.  I look up to the screen to see that my heart rate has moved into the 'Red' category, at a firm 189 beats per minute.  This also seems like a potentially bad thing.  I steady myself, watching the screen, breathing deep and manage to get my heart rate down to 181.  That seems better.  Slowly, I feel the sweat begin its assault on my eyebrows once more.

Minute 46-50:
10 minutes left!  Just gotta hold on.  The Enterprise is officially buckling at this point.  My... Left... nacelle is leaking... warp fluid?  Dilithium Crystal infused iced tea?  I don't even try to figure it out at this point, there's something leaking into my shoe now.  I hope it's sweat, but the throbbing ache says 'uh, nope'.  I'm a wreck by now and I know it.  My internal system diagnostics are heavily recommending a reboot followed by a swift sledgehammer to the harddrive.  My lungs have stopped processing oxygen at this point, whatever's coming out of my mouth has evolved into some form of volcanic gas.  Both legs are wobbling like crazy, my Left leg has started to hurt -- like really hurt, as if my leg has suddenly decided that 'hips are so 2010' and has decided to strike out on its own.  Perhaps to start its own indie band.  All higher-levels of rational thought have all but left me, I'm aware of two things: Pain and Fire.  Mostly pain.

Minute 51-55:
A small spark erupts inside me.  Hope.  I'd like to say that it gave me the strength I needed to power on through, to raise myself to another level and become a stronger/faster/better man.  But that didn't happen.  With a full 5 minutes left in my journey, I became intimately aware of every fraction of an injury I'd managed to sustain while on this foolhardy quest of mine.  Oh yes, foolhardy.  You see, my mind, now lost for all rational thought, went into what I can only call a 'State Of Shock'.  Like that drowning kid pulling you down in the middle of the deep end, every single second became an overwhelming mental screed; the small voice inside me now a lumbering, booming mass telling me how I'd gone and fucked myself large.  How I pushed myself too hard, if I quit now I might be able to come back tomorrow... or the day after.  After a good day of rest, of course.  I'd done enough, I'd come close enough, I'd done my best.  Why push farther?  Why put myself through it?  Why?!  I'd also like to say that I pushed that motherfucker of a beast down a mental flight of stairs, that I took a deep breath and pushed onward.  I'd like to say that.  Because I did.

Minute 56-60:
As the final seconds tick past the 60 minute mark, as the track lowers then slows, as my heartrate flutters, I feel a certain pull.  Like a new sense of gravity -- the right sense of gravity -- now that I'm back on a flat surface.  I'm still walking, but slower now, only 2 miles per hour but it feels like I've never walked so slow in my entire life.  I feel my pulse race in my chest then, as if it finally got the memo, it slows to match my present speed.  Oxygen becomes my friend again.  My back aches, my Left foot throbs, my lungs burn and my eyes are teared up -- from sweat... yeah, sweat -- but I'm done.  I've made it.  I know I'm going to pay for this tomorrow.  Moreso because I'm going to come back and do this again in 24 hours or less.  But I try not to think about it.  Instead I look at the final output for my 'trip'.  I pull out my USB key and save it to disk.

Final breakdown (edited to look properly as this thing doesn't like XML without a stylesheet):

workout_summary equipment_type="treadmill" workout_type="Manual">
<date>11/03/2001date>  <-- Apparently they never bothered to set the time or date for the machine
<
time>18:07time>
<user>
<age>31
<weight units="lbs">230
user>
<workout>
<elapsed_time>60:00
<avg_heart_rate>168
<max_heart_rate>185
<avg_speed units="mph">3.5
<max_speed units="mph">3.5
<avg_pace units="/mi">17:08
<distance units="miles">3.50
<calories>1012
workout>
<cool_down>
<elapsed_time>2:00
<avg_speed units="mph">2.0
<max_speed units="mph">2.0
<distance units="miles">0.07
<calories>9
cool_down>
<total>
<elapsed_time>62:00
<avg_heart_rate>168
<max_heart_rate>185
<avg_speed units="mph">3.5
<
max_speed units="mph">3.5
<avg_pace units="/mi">17:08
<distance units="miles">3.57
<calories>1021
total>


But there it is.  Day One complete.
1021 calories burned.  28979 to go in 29 days.

Oh shit, Day Two is gonna suck.

Cheers,
Brandon

Illusions

So, where've I been these past weeks? What's been going on? Thankfully, most of it has to do with writing and writing-based things. The possibility of having a real 'prostar' product to set off to market with has had me a bit on the entranced side.

Writing, writing, rewriting.

I've also been *gasp* starting to hit the gym.

Apparently my health hasn't been as good as that little mirror in my head (that only sees me at that one moment in time when I was at my absolute best) has been telling me.

You see, not long ago I noticed that I've started to get winded climbing a set of stairs, a specific set of stairs that I've had to climb every day.  And not a long set of stair by any means.

As someone who, maybe 2 years ago, managed to do the CN Tower stair climb, without stopping, in 27mins and 15 seconds... well, it came as a shock.

You see, in my mind's eye, I'm still that bright, sprightly young chap that used to rock climb 3 days a week.

But that's just not true anymore.

One of the hardest things to do -- as a writer, or as a human being -- is to crack the glass of your own self-image. To be able say 'okay, what's the reality here?  Where am I at, really?'

For a long time now I've looked at myself in a mirror and all I've seen is my face at that one specific angle that makes me look the best.  Head tilted down, cheekbones up, 3/4 view.

Hell yeah, you sexy beast you.

But the truth is an insidious thing, it snakes its way into your illusions, pokes holes in your cloud. And the next thing you know: You're falling.

The truth is that I've put on a few pounds since then, lost a few pounds of muscle.  Become a tad more sedentary since my son was born (and, really, lifting the kid around isn't as much of a workout as people seem to say...).

I'm slower, getting tired easier.  Getting stressed out easier.

I've noticed that it's getting hard to think, let alone be creative.

I'm not sure what it was about that simple set of stairs, why my body rejected them like a cancerous growth, but the reality soon became plain to see. I was standing there, sweating, wheezing... over what?

Oh, and don't think I tried to make every excuse in the book -- it's hot out; I'm over-dressed; I haven't had lunch yet.

But the truth is the truth.  I can back away from it if I want, but it's not going to get better on its own.

Luckily, I do have the benefit of knowledge that I have gotten myself into shape before.  I know it's possible, I know my limits (though... well... rediscovering them may be a problem)... it just takes work.

So here's the plan -- and hell, I don't know if I can pull this off, or if my body's going to come crashing down around me or not -- but I'm going to give it a shot:

30,000 calories in 30 days.

I don't have a lot of time, I don't have a lot of energy... but I don't have any more excuses.  I simply can't keep going the way that I am.

The plan so far, to try and get my heart into shape, is to do a crapload of Cardio mixed with a bit of strength/core training.

Basically, this means Hill Training, and lots of it.

One of the great things about going this route is that the bikes at my gym have a feature where I can store my progress on a USB stick.

Maybe I can figure out a way to post it here.

It's hard to make change.  It's hard to push the excuses out of frame.  Believe me, there isn't a whole hell of a lot of free time in my day.  But something's gotta give.

And so this is the journey I'm on now.  I'm a new father/wanna-be paid writer who's run out of excuses.  Getting my ass into shape while trying to get my show bible/pitch into some sort of sale-able format.

It's work, dammit.

And it's gotta be done.

Day One starts tomorrow today.

Wish me luck.

Cheers,
Brandon

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Revitalized

Ink Canada's a site I used to pimp on my blog quite often, an active, vibrant, free social community for writers, would-be writers and other entertainment-type folk.

Over the last while, however, mostly because of Facebook's ass-backward approach to 'making things better', said community started to lose its lustre. Mostly because said community couldn't find the spots to be communal anymore. And we never really knew when there was new content available.

And, well, I grew fucking tired of Facebook. Seriously. I wasn't exactly sure when or where it all happened, but sometime early last year I had a sort of 'meh' moment when I went about checking my Facebook account. I just... couldn't be bothered. The place had turned into the worst kind of MySpace clone -- less a place of sparkling spinny rides that cause you to vomit on the floor and more a place where everywhere you look was another billboard. Another billboard proclaiming that one of your friends had just experienced the 'cool, clean rush' of some other inane product.

Essentially, Facebook's become a permanent -- and significantly more corporate -- County Bazaar.

As of today I have over 114 requests to play Family Feud online and hundreds of other requests from people who want to get me addicted to the most recent Zynga Crack Pipe simulator.

And yet... I find myself going back.

Not to actually use 'Facebook' the product, but because they finally did something right in regards to their 'Groups'. Now all of the discussions are on the front page of the group AND, they've started sending out emails alerting you whenever there's new content in said group.

For me, this is a brilliant thing. Yes, it does mean that I end up with a crapload of new email, but I can skim through the messages (now lovingly included with said email) and decide if I want to hop over to the site to interact.

Pretty much everything else about my Facebook profile (with the exception of the odd picture or cross-twitter status update) has become a derelict vessel... but this new Groups thing has won back my interest.

For now.

Until they inevitably fuck it up again (you know, like their 'new' idea for how 'Chat' works).

Anyways, all this to say the following:

If you're a new writer, an aspiring writer or someone else in the industry, come on over and check out the new inkcanada Group site. It's pretty insanely busy and there's a lot going on... it's a great time to get involved and meet some new people.

Cheers!
Brandon

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Project Ink

So, one of the lil' shorts that I was working on is done. It's not so much a 'short film' as a promo piece -- but really, it's the best kind of promotion ever!

You see, inkcanada had started searching for a new set of 'Inkterns' -- young, aspiring writers who wanted to help create content for the site while getting some personal one-on-one time with the pros. (in this case, Karen Walton herself, since she created and runs the site). Once we (fellow Inktern Kristen Swinkels and I) heard about this, we wanted to put together a little something to help Karen promote this auspicious event.

The sort of inside joke here is that I was the first Inktern -- back in the day Karen and I worked together to bring the idea to life; creating a chance for motivated, newbie writers (like myself) to learn about the industry and cut their teeth by doing assignments and getting professional-level feedback on your work in return.

It ended up being an amazing, life-changing experience for me.

And I can't wait to see what the 'Inkterns 2.0' get up to.

Incidentally, 'FQU's' are interviews that we would put together as self-made assignments. The idea was that we (myself and the other Inkterns, sometimes Karen herself) would track down a professional writer or someone in the industry and ask them 5 questions, trying to get as much awesome information out of them as we could. Thing was, these often ended up being done via email... and, well, some folks weren't all that diligent about getting back to us (after agreeing to do the interview).

Needless to say, sometimes we had to chase people down.

In the video, I hear that they're looking for a 'New Generation' of Inkterns. And, well, let's just say that my experience... well, it changed me :P

Gawd I need a haircut.


Join inkcanada today, folks!

It's great fun, really! :D

Cheers,
Brandon

Friday, July 08, 2011

A Visit To The Fringe

Keeping the Theatre thread running, I'd like to take a moment to shamelessly promote my friend Kat's Fringe play 'A Depper Kind Of Love' which premiered last night at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse.

It's been getting a lot of positive pre-show press, especially about the petition she put up to try and get Mr. Depp to show up in person.

You can check out her website here at depperlove.com


If you'd like to check out a show, it's $10 at the door

TORONTO  FRINGE  TIMES

Thursday, July 7, 2011 - 8:45pm - 9:45pm

Saturday, July 9, 2011 - 3:30pm - 4:30pm 

Monday, July 11, 2011 - 9:00pm - 10:00pm 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011 - 5:45pm - 6:45pm  

Friday, July 15, 2011 - 11:00pm -12:00am

Saturday, July 16, 2011 - 5:15pm - 6:15pm 

Sunday, July 17, 2011 - 12:00pm - 1:00pm

Cheers!
Brandon

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Go Your Own Way

There's been a lot of venom spit (and injected) over the recent Summerworks debacle.

A lot of angry artists (and politicians) on both sides of the fence.

And yet, it's a good thing that, despite all the fervor and snide comments about 'teat-sucking Canadians', the financial shortfall ended up being made up (well, almost) by the community itself.

This year.

All-in-all, it's actually quite heartening to see how quickly people answered the call to get out there and donate to the cause.  I, unfortunately, didn't have $1000 kicking around to give like one Mr. McGrath recently did... but I did manage to chip in $50.  Not a world-changing amount but it's something.

See here's the thing about that venom I was talking about earlier.

There's one set who are of a mind that if we don't get off 'the (government) teat' we'll never be able to stand on our own.

There's another set who are of a mind that arts funding, in Canada, and especially in our current economic climate, needs to be nurtured.

And the hardest thing of it all is that... well, I agree with both sides.

This was an issue that I watched from the shadows... I wasn't really sure what to say 'cause there were a lot of good points made but neither side really made me want to stamp my foot down and say 'Hell yeah!  Fuck that other guy!'

I kind of felt lost in the middle of it all.

Which I think that a lot of other people are starting to feel it as well.

I've had a few people mention over the last while that I don't get into politics that much anymore, that some of my 'fire' has gone away.  But the reality of the situation is that, as someone who tries incredibly hard to see things down the middle, I just found it too tiring to filter the messages.  Especially considering all the other stresses in my life.

It really is overwhelming to try and figure out the middle ground on every single point when so many end up being so overblown.  For a while there, it really felt like every issue coming out was the end of the 'artistic world as we know it'.


I remember a comment from a friend of mine who'd managed to find some work down in the US, about how refreshing it was to just write... to 'not have to be an activist' as well.

To be able to show up, do their work and go home.

Oddly enough, that ended up being a seminal moment for me.  I felt like a kid realizing, for the first time, that the dysfunctional, messed up way his family acts ISN'T NORMAL.

And, as any kid from a dysfunctional family knows: At some point, you have to decide what role they're going to play in your life.

For me, I've been lucky enough to have been distracted by a new family of my own, I haven't had to think about this as much as I used to.

But the reality of the situation is that there are injustices going on from our government, just as, certainly, there are folks on the artistic side who've found their own little ways to game the system.

And yet the more I watch, the more I learn... the more I realize that I can't just unwaveringly support a side.  I can't close my eyes when the facts don't jibe with my world view or how things 'should work'.

So, what does all this mean?

It means that I've found a way to make my peace with both sides.

As much as I'm a writer, I'm also a Consumer.  And I choose to -- not feel obligated to -- support my fellow Canadians where I can.  Sometimes it's donating some cash to the cause or seeing a Canadian film on opening night, sometimes it's designing a poster or editing some copy for free.

And yet I'm also an activist, in my own way.

I believe that, yes, we probably could do 'something' if left to our own devices.  A few things attached to well-known people would still trickle through if all government funding were to be cut off tomorrow.

But what would that do to OUR voice as a country?  Would we become as stale and market-driven as Hollywood?  Where the only good idea is the idea that makes money?  Where the only song or poem worth writing is the one that can be sung by the next Canadian heartthrob (who's found and mentored by an American, no doubt)?

Government funding allows, yes, for mediocrity to exist.  It allows for utter crap to exist.  But it also allows for the people writing that crap or mediocrity to cut their teeth, to learn and grow.  To find their voice.  Sure, some will learn the shortcuts, the 'very best way' to fill out the forms... but you don't chop of the thief's brother's hand.  You learn their tricks and tighten the reigns.

Look... I get it... or, well, I try to get it.

In the end we all have to make our peace with how far we're willing to go to help out our fellows.

As artists we have to decide whether or not to build the bridge that's strong enough to support itself without Government money or 'interests' gumming the works.

As a Government we have to decide whether or not our voices, even the ones that sing off key or faceplant on stage, have value.  Are we nurturers or are we gatekeepers?

But it is a choice on our part.

And in the same way the community came out to support Summerworks, we have to realize that we can do that and more.

It'll take work.

But what the hell is Art otherwise?

Cheers,
Brandon

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Out and About

Yes, I definitely needed a bit of a break after last month's 30-day run.  Simply put, my brain was about 3 gears past overdrive by the end as I tried to balance this self-assignment with the other projects I've been slugging away at.

It was a crazy time but, thankfully, I learned a fantastic amount -- not only about formatting and various screenwriter tricks, but also about some of the decisions made that turn a second draft to a final, ready-to-air script.

I got a sneak peek behind the scenes of some of my favourite TV shows from the writer's perspective -- scenes that seemed like a great idea at the time, or scenes that were just never destined to make the cut but the writer felt strongly about including them; that they were essential parts of that version of the story.

I've been digesting ever since, working it around in my gut, trying to see if I'm ready to tackle another spec script.

Yes, I think it's just about time.

In other news, my new-and-improved bible for 'Pipeline' is off to the races.  Should hopefully be getting some notes back on that soon.

Also: Today was pretty cool in that I managed, with the help of fellow Inkie Kristen Swinkels, to make my first short in a while.  It was an incredibly exciting day, especially considering that I haven't been in front of a camera since... well, high school, really (yes, I wrote and acted in this thing).  But, by all accounts, this little project of ours appears to have gone off pretty damned well.

We won't be getting around to editing it until Monday, but it's all in the can.  Fingers crossed, it might actually turn out to be something watchable.

More to come!

Cheers!
Brandon