The Regimen

16 Jun

My gym instructor, torturer, motivator, giant medicine ball pusher.

My gym instructor, torturer, motivator, giant medicine ball pusher.


I was getting pretty tired of the situation.

This was back in February, probably, and into March. Every year in the weeks leading up to South by Southwest Interactive (mid-March) I usually get into a groove of working out and trying to eat a little better because I hate showing up to the festival looking and feeling all bloaty, and tight-clothesy.

Pretty much any adjectives with a Y at the end. Oogy. Roly-poly. Greasy.

There are a few reasons for this. I walk a lot during the fest, sometimes I bike. I end up sitting a lot for panels and keynotes. I end up doing long hours with a heavy laptop bag on my shoulder. If I add bloated and out-of-shape to that, it’s a disaster.

Most years, I’ve been able to hit that deadline. I’ve had people tell me at the fest, “Have you lost weight?” Yes, but just watch me gain it all back in a week as soon as the festival’s over and I stop walking all the time.

This year, I didn’t quite make it. It was just a really busy time leading up to it and as this was all happening, my workplace was in the process of getting rid of its gym. We were right in the middle of transitioning to new gym memberships elsewhere, but there were a few weeks when we were in limbo and I just got really bad about going to the gym on my own and really good about just eating whatever.

Going to the gym at work was super convenient, so much so that I was even doing personal training. Only once every two weeks, which is like eating salad but with giant chunks of steak on it, but it was helping me do better when I went to the gym on my own to have a routing going. But all of a sudden that routine was broken.

I signed up for a gym in New Braunfels, but it was pretty far away from my house and the trainer I tried there didn’t impress me at all. I fell back on old habits like using a workout to justify going next door and wolfing down slices of pizza or just not going at all because I was “too tired” from “working all the time” or “commuting” or “taking care of those kids” or “whatever.”

All those quotation marks were just getting worse and worse.

SXSW game and went and I went into it as Bloat Omar. Clothes were not super comfortable. Sitting for long stretches made me tired and achey. I just felt self-conscious.

The other tipping point for my mood about working out was that we had a photo shoot for Statesman Shots about a month before all this and even though it was cold and I was wearing a heavy sweater in the photos, you could see that my neck looked pretty gouty (there’s that Y again) and I looked as if I wasn’t just not missing any meals, I was probably eating a few of yours too. It was not great.

As our gym was winding down, my fourth trainer in two years was trying to convince me to either switch gyms (even though we were getting free memberships at Gold’s) or to come to his house as a discounted rate to train there. He promised I could use the weights in his garage and carry them around his neighborhood which seemed like such a great offer except for everything about it.

So, armed with a free membership, I went to Gold’s. And I plunked down money to do two sessions a week for 15 weeks. It was not cheap, but it was one of those dramatic money on the table moments that I think can foster real change if you time it right.

I liked the trainers I’d had. The first one was super tough, almost tortuously so, but a really nice lady. The second trainer was a little too lenient even though she taught me really good form. The third trainer was my favorite; she was a pop culture geek and all we talked about were TV shows, movies and Broadway and the sessions would just fly by with me totally distracted and both of us caught up on recommendations for stuff we would check out over the weekend. My last trainer at the work gym had a body type I would describe as, “Not exactly what I was trying to work toward” and he was a brooding dudebro where all my previous trainers had been enthusiastic, cheerful and chatty ladies.

He was a nice guy, but the workouts just weren’t getting me anywhere, at least not at the frequency I was doing them.

My new, current trainer Jorge, is a really great change. First, he’s young. Really young. So young that my brother warned me there was no way he’d be able to gauge what my old, decrepit middle-aged body would be able to withstand.

He’s young enough that he asks me, a much older man, what marriage is like and what goes into taking a tubing trip in the Hill Country. Meanwhile, he quizzes me on the difference between a tricep and an isometric whatever. Jorge is a go-getter and part of the go-getting appears to be making me happy enough with the results to keep me buying sessions. That’s totally fine by me because guess what… it’s working!

Clothes fit better, I have more energy, people who pay attention have noticed that I look a little different. I haven’t dropped a ton of weight. In fact, my first weigh-in update two weeks ago, which included measurements of all the major body parts (no, not that one) revealed that I hadn’t lost any weight, in fact I had gained like a pound after many weeks of hard work.

But then we got on the body-fat scale and it showed that I had actually lost three and a half pounds of fat and put on five pounds of muscle.

It was encouraging, and Jorge was thrilled, saying we were already halfway to my summer goal with time to spare.

At one point, he did ask me to keep a food log and that did not go so well. He also suggested I go on the paleo diet but I took one look at that “Do-not-eat” list and I pretended that it was not a thing in the world that exists. Now that I’m being more active and actually feeling like I should be doing stuff on days when I’m not going to the gym (like the long weekend between training sessions), getting my eating under control is next, most likely.

Along the way, I’ve gotten to train outside once on a really nice, cool, pre-summer day. I’ve run a mile on the treadmill nonstop for the first time in at least a decade. I’ve learned the evils of “AMRAPs” which are “As Many Reps as Possible.” This means you go through a cycle of three of four exercises and keep doing them until you pretty much can’t anymore.

None of this 10 or 12 bullshit and then go for a coffee. You just keep cycling through until time runs out, say 10 or 12 minutes. Often it’s incline sit-ups or push-ups or one time a thing where I grabbed these giant ropes and just snapped them like Robot Indiana Jones until my arms wanted to fall off and crawl away.

I do Wall Balls which is where I grab a gigantic, heavy ball and throw it up at the wall as high as I can, catch the ball, do a squat with it and then throw it back up another 9 times, my life flashing before my eyes, my breath growing short.

The cruelest thing about the gym I go to is that it’s underground. When the exhausting workout is over and I’ve showered and recovered, there’s a flight of stairs I have to go up. A horrible, horrible set of stairs. You think a gym is going to invest in an elevator?

But I’m really happy, it feels like I’m actually doing something and the results so far have been great. I’ll let you know how it all turns out at the end of the summer.

Statesman Shots

Since the last time I posted, my co-host Tolly Moseley has gone off to have her beautiful baby and we’re filling the space while she’s gone with a rotating set of guest hosts from the Statesman staff.

I miss Tolly a lot and it’s a huge challenge filling that void, but we’re plugging along and it’s been fun having past guests return as hosts. Here’s the most recent ones.  Oh, one difference, I’m not going to embed the videos here anymore for the time being. Some change was made and now when you embed a video, an ad autoplays and I haven’t been able to figure out a way to disable that.

It might be fine for one video embed, but if you embed two or three or more in a blog post, they all start playing at the same time and the code is not smart enough to realize this and at least mute the sound or keep it from crashing the browser. It’s ruined several past blog entries and I just haven’t had time to go delete them out. So for now, no video embed, but please go check them out from the links below because they really are great and our audio/video producer Alyssa has been really doing a great job editing these and making them fun for the web.

Now then:

Addie and Wendi on Episode 19 of Shots

Episode 19 with guest co-host Addie Broyles and guest Wendi Aarons: Addie had been on the podcast twice before, including the one episode I had to miss for SXSW, and as usual, she’s smart, thoughtful and fun. Wendi is someone Addie and I both know and agree is one of the funniest people in Austin. Go check out her blog, it’s fantastic. We knew we’d have a good time chatting with Wendi and she did not disappoint at all. Topics included water parks, parenting in the summer (no class!) and how we stay fit (see blog post above!) for swimsuit season. We did a video about things we would say to people who tell us they’re moving to Austin. It was a joke, a total lark, basically a Top 10 List. Funny about that! The hashtag we started, #NoAustin, actually created a flap online. People took it to mean that the Statesman was encouraging people not to move to Austin and said we were un-Austiny in that way.

You can read a whole blog post/Storify that explains what happened with that.

Just want the audio for Episode 19? You can find it here on SoundCloud:

Statesman Shots guest Phil West

Episode 20 with guest co-host Michael Barnes and guest Phil West: Michael has been on the podcast before and has a better sense of what Austin is or isn’t than probably anyone I know, so it was fortuitous that we had him on to chat the week after the whole #NoAustin flap. He turned out to have the perfect take on it, as he usually does, and we made a #YesAustin video. As for Phil, Michael and I both know him as a PR person we’ve worked with in the past. But separately, Phil is working on a World Cup writing project that turned out to be great timing for us. We also talked about how damn hot it is in the summer and ways to walk/bike in that head. We also did a video about extreme Austin sports we’d like to see.

Just want the audio for Episode 20? Here it is:

On Statesman Shots: Max Meehan and Joe Gross


Episode 21 with guest co-host Joe Gross and guest Max Sheehan: Joe was our very first guest and has proven to be a great and reliable presence on the show no matter what we’re talking about. It was Joe’s idea to bring on Max, who is a wrestling promoter, but also very savvy about music and other kinds of pop culture. We had fun talking about wrestling, the glut of superhero movies and our terrible handwriting. We did a two-part video quiz, “Pro Wrestler or Comics Hero/Villain?” Here’s the main quiz and the epic tiebreaker (which I kinda messed up).

Just want the audio? Here it is below:

Statesman writing

"Port of Call"

A busy few weeks!

I wrote stuff about:

Got to meet Andy Daly and Andy Blitz of \"Review\" today so that was pretty cool. #atxfestival

Other random stuff

I was on Wisconsin Public Radio last week talking about the E3 game conference.


Lilly had a dance recital. She did very well (she’s with her aunt Marisa in the photo).

Recital girl with tía @mlimonatx

We discovered a bridge in New Braunfels and it’s our new favorite outdoor spot:


New Braunfels

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