61 but still counting

There used to be a commercial where a cartoon owl answered how many slurps it took to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop sucker. The answer was three because the owl got bored and bit through the thing. Can’t say I blame him. When you get asked a stupid question, you pretty much want to brush off the curious guttersnipe.

Millions of us have this annual resolution to lose weight, add muscle, whatever. Many of us chronicle that on social media with before/after pics, photos of us drenched in sweat, or video clips executing reps. I don’t have a problem with people who do. If getting random “likes” is encouragement you need to reach your goals, then have at it. As a side note, I want to encourage girls posting clips of squats, leg curls on your stomach and deadlifts. Yum.

But it begged the question: If somebody didn’t post to social media, how long before anyone noticed? If you keep at it, your body will surely change. If you are driven and go to the gym every single day, it would theoretically change faster. So how many days before somebody who doesn’t know you’ve made the decision to improve your health will ask if you’ve changed for the better?

It sure isn’t three.

It’s 61.

I hit the gym every single day — including Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Day — for 61 days before somebody asked if I’ve lost weight. I did, in fact, lose more than 25 pounds, add muscle and have to buy new clothes.

I don’t say any of that to impress you.

I say it because that’s a lot of f-cking work and you better have a maniacal resolve if you don’t post to social media for instant approval.

I began in early December because I’m not much of a New Year’s resolution guy. I have hit the weights often in the past. I have always been able to run for distance. A doctor didn’t order me to change. I simply didn’t like the way I felt. I also know your odds improve with women if you’re in better condition.

The regimen was somewhat strict: Shoulders and triceps on Sunday and Wednesday; biceps and chest on Monday; chest and back on Thursday; cardio Tuesday and Friday; legs and core on Saturday. Every session included a warmup run of a mile and a cool down of a half-mile. Every four weeks, I changed the workout for something called muscle confusion.

My goal wasn’t necessarily to burst out of my shirt. Monthly muscle magazines show a shirtless spray-tanned Steroid Lad wearing a banana hammock downstairs flaunting arms that have a bigger circumference than his head. These periodicals all claim to make your arms two inches bigger in about a month. I avoided those tips, because what’s the point of having massive arms if your face looks like Joe Piscopo?

I took my smartphone with me for that first session. Somewhere during the lateral dumbbell raise, I noticed it looked like I took a swim in my T-shirt. This made me happy. Progress, I figured. Then I reached for the phone, but it hit me: I was surrounded by dudes screaming bloody murder with every rep, tossing weights around, flexing in the mirrors. In other words, desperately needing the approval of the people — hopefully, the women — around them.

I’ve often believed you should be the type of man that impresses people simply by existing. Sure, you should constantly improve yourself, but it helps to limit the number of times you scream “be impressed!” If I can’t impress you by having performed as a comic, authored novels, written for newspapers, volunteering and helping the sick, why would it impress you if I screamed during a workout?

So I put the phone away, a conscious attempt to break the cycle of begging for attention.

Only after three weeks of going every day, I was hoping for attention that never came — not from friends, neighbors or coworkers. So I kept going back to the gym. And nobody noticed. So I kept going back. And nobody n… you get the idea.

This cycle — which was rather painful on a spiritual level as much as physical — ended last Thursday night at a coffee shop near an Orlando college. I was waiting for an open mic to begin and to my surprise, a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time showed up.

“You look great. Have you lost weight?”

Mentally, the bell went off. Stop the clock! Somebody noticed!

Only it was a dude.

So technically the clock stopped, but the regimen continues. I’m guessing it won’t stop until I do look like Joe Piscopo. For all I know, muscle-bound senior citizen guidos are what women want in the first place.

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