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I got this fortune in a fortune cookie with my Chinese takeout the other day.

Yes, I still get Chinese takeout on occasion. I can do that.

You know what used to be impossible?  Eating a reasonable amount of Chinese takeout and leaving the rest for tomorrow. Which I did.

I ordered the General Tso’s Chicken combination plate. There was a time not very long ago when this dish — #C20 on the menu of my regular takeout joint and which contains enough chicken, pork fried rice, and goopy orange sauce to choke a horse, along with a cute little eggroll on the side as an “appetizer,” because what you want when confronted with a tub full of Chinese food is a little something-something to make sure you’re hungry — I say there was a time when that son of a bitch would count as merely one meal in my day.  I used to get the C20 when I felt like “eating light.”  As in, “I’m not that hungry. I’ll just get the C20.”  And I’d devour it all in one sitting. And then I’d sit around, because I was stuffed way too full of sweet sticky chicken chunks to move anywhere. When I wasn’t “eating light” I’d get the menu’s fabled D1, a monstrous styrofoam container with six massive chicken fingers (an ancient Chinese delicacy), three teriyaki beef skewers (which is Japanese, but whatever), six or more boneless spareribs, and about 3 or 4 cups of pork fried rice — more than enough Chinese food to feed a starving family in China. When I was ravenous, like after a quote-unquote “long run” of 9 or 10 or 12 miles, I used to get the D1 and a container of seven fried dumplings. I didn’t always eat all that stuff in one meal. Sometimes it was two, maybe two and a half.

I’m glad I eventually realized that this pattern, while delicious, was not ideal. Now I’m that guy who gets takeout and makes it last for several small, reasonable portioned-out meals and is happy with that. For my efforts I’m down more than 50 pounds of fat now, and I have more energy and strength than I ever have in my life.  So yes, I agree, fortune cookie. It’s kind of fun.


I’ve spent some time — four, five minutes — thinking about what manner of badassery I’d like to get up to in the near-ish future. Foremost, I have the modest goal of “continue kicking ass big-time in the Being Awesome Department.” Just below “raise daughter,” that’s tops on my list of priorities.

Beyond that, there are only a few specific plans I guess I have in mind. Even then, there’s no pressure with any of this stuff. If I accomplish this stuff, great. If I don’t, it’s OK. I’ll do something else or I’ll work harder and try again. This is why I can’t be a motivational speaker. I don’t get that worked up. Like, “I’ll fucking cut throats if I don’t learn to climb a rope by Christmas.”  It’d be nice, but shit happens. It’s all right.

A few ideas:

Probably a 5K.

There’s a 5K that runs pretty close to my house every year around early April. I’ve done it a bunch of times, not very well.  Last year I walked it with my mom to keep her company. This year, a guy I work with is hoping to get a bunch of us all to run it, so I might join.

I don’t really feel any strong compulsion to do it myself.  Again, I don’t really like races — only the people I know doing them. It’s not even a good PR-able course. It’s not chip-timed and it’s disorganized as shit, so people of all abilities are all mixed together on this one very tight, very narrow one-way street that isn’t even cleared of parked cars and has no proper start line.  I’m all for informality but jesus. Every year hundreds of people run it, and dozens of them take elbows to the face and get jostled into trashcans and go home later sporting side-mirror-shaped bruises.  It clears up after about a quarter-mile because it starts uphill, which has the nice effect of sorting everybody out where they need to be, but that one quarter-mile is fucking Pamplona. Also it’s 20 bucks to run a route that I could run for free any day of the week if I chose. But I know a lot of people who run it, and it’ll be fun to join them for a half-hour of exercise, and maybe I’ll get a decent pace out of it. If not, I’ll get to shoot the shit with a lot of friends. Win-win.

I’ll also get another free long-sleeved cotton T-shirt that I won’t ever wear because it’s covered in too many ugly distracting logos for local businesses. Look at that shit in the photo up there. I can’t wear that out somewhere.

Anyway, I’ll tell you one thing: I’m not training for it. Uh-uh.

Maybe a 10K.

I don’t know. Since I ran that Freaky 5K in October and did well, I’ve been slightly curious how the fat loss and Crossfit have affected my other distance paces. Not curious enough to do much about it yet, but I could see maybe in the future. I’d like to wipe out my old slowpoke PRs and replace them with shiny new ones. That’s really the only reason why: Annihilate Dan’s old PRs.

I don’t think it’ll be a race. I have a vision of me picking out some nice springtime sunny day and saying, “What the fuck, I’ve got an hour free — I’ll go run a solo 10K just for the hell of it.” And I’ll go run 6.2 miles. Again, I’d like not to train for this in the traditional Higdonian/Pfitzingerian tradition, and instead keep lifting weights and doing short but intense strength-training and metabolic conditioning workouts. Partially because I want to test how doing strength training alone has affected my endurance, and partially because training for runs is a chore and I don’t want to do it anymore and you can’t make me.

The last time I’ve run more than 5 miles was May 2011. I know, right? I’d like to see if I can bust out a 6-miler for shits and giggles with no lead-up. It’s only an hour of running. Big deal. I’ll either flame out or I’ll get through it. I’ll learn something either way.

But not the Mojo Loco Cinco de Mayo

In 2011, Nik & I took part in the Poco Loco 13-mile run in Boston and Cambridge. I highly doubt Nik & I will be able to join our friends Zen Runner, Steve Runner, and the rest for the 2013 reunion, so I’ve written off the possibility. Having our baby complicates things.  So far Malley doesn’t seem to tolerate being babysat by anyone except her mother and sometimes me, as long as her mother is nearby.  Maybe she’ll change. I don’t think so. Bringing Malley along would be challenging in terms of napping, nursing, changing. Not so much for us — for her. I wouldn’t want her to be uncomfortable, because she’s a tiny little jellybean and doesn’t need that aggravation while mom and dad gallivant around.  That event is a long-ass day.  So I’ll sit it out.  I hope whoever does it has a blast and makes a ton of great memories, because hanging out with that crew is great.  I’ll be cheering for them from 50 miles away, at home, playing Patty-Cake with my daughter.

If by 0.000000001% chance we could make it — no, I wouldn’t train for that run either. The hell with it.

Make a weighted backpack

I occasionally see stuff online about an activity some guys do called “rucking” — basically, going for a brisk walk/hike/march with a weighted pack or rucksack.  I’m intrigued. I don’t know. Somehow this seems like it might be fun.  I’m not interested in doing an official GoRuck event, and I don’t need an official GoRuck $300 backpack.  No.  I mean I want to take my old backpack, stuff some weight plates in it or possibly a load of bricks, hoist it onto my shoulders, and go for walks.  A typical ruck weighs 30 pounds.  I’m already getting a lot of practice by wearing Malley in a sling. She weighs almost 13 pounds, and it’s not a simple thing carrying her for an hourlong walk. 

So yeah, working in some weighted walks is something I’m looking into.  Jesus. Who the fuck am I? Who kidnapped the chubby bastard who used to scoop Nutella out of a jar with a finger at 2 am and replaced him with this clone who thinks tromping through my neighborhood with a weighted backpack is a “good idea”? Even I think that’s kind of weird. And it’s me.

Maybe more about this later.

Figure out all my 1-rep maxes

I’m in the process of doing this right now.  I made a list of all the major barbell lifts I typically do at Crossfit or at home: deadlifts, cleans, bench presses, squats, jerks, snatches, and more.  I’m trying, as the name implies, to find the most amount of weight I can lift at least once for each.  You train with percentages of your 1RM, so it’s important to know. Otherwise you’re guessing. Also it’s incredibly fun to lift weight until failure or near-failure, because you feel like a fucking rock star.

It’s supposed to be taxing, so I’m limiting myself to about two different 1RM attempts about twice a week.

Deadlift 300

At the moment I can pick up 265 pounds off the ground. I’d like to be able pick up more than that. That’s, uh … about the gist of it.

Press 90+

All year, since I started Crossfit, my strict press has been stuck at a measly 85 pounds. This seems wrong to me, and yet every time I try for 90, I fail. I’ve got to do better.

Get smaller for a while, then get bigger

When I started, my “plan” (loosely defined) was to lose 48 pounds. I wasn’t thinking very far ahead. I only knew was I fat and I didn’t want to be fat anymore.  So blah blah blah, I’ve now lost 51 pounds of flab.

I’ve been in maintenance mode for a few weeks, partly for the holidays, partly to see if I can maintain while dealing with the stress of raising a baby, and partly as a rest because I’ve been at this for almost a year. It’s worked, and I basically maintained my weight throughout January.  I’ve started adding in some deficit days again too. Now, the plan (again, very loosely defined) is maybe to continue trying to cut fat off myself until I hit 15% body fat, or perhaps if I had to put an arbitrary weight figure on it, oh let’s say 148 pounds — a 60-pound loss. After that, I figure I’ll maintain for a little bit, then think about trying a bulk phase to gain more muscle.

It’ll be tough. The goal is not to be skinny. I probably would prefer to end up weighing more than 148, more than 158 or maybe even more than 178 — but due to muscle and not adipose tissue.  But not yet.  I don’t think I’m ready to try putting on more weight, mentally. I’m approaching a full year of eating at a deficit and being happy to see numbers drop on the scale. I don’t know if I can reverse the process without flipping my shit.  Some days I have trouble even eating at maintenance because I’m full. During a bulk some people feed themselves 3,500 to 4,000 calories.  I will be difficult to feed myself that much to try to gain mass.

I think I need to live for a while in this shape first and get OK with it.  I’m not yet in the correct headspace yet.

I don’t even know if I can put on muscle like that. Never done it before.  It seems kind of, uh … impossible. But it’ll be kind of fun, like the cookie said.*