Paper's editorial director Mickey Boardman is dedicating the next 100 days to getting in shape. Track his progress every Friday here in his weekly fitness diary. Join us below for his first entry, as he recounts the king-sized Payday bars he ate this week and the fresh hell that is going to a dubstep SoulCycle class when you're out of shape.
Oh god, what have I gotten myself into?
Current weight: 241
Goal: To find personal joy, satisfaction and have a meaningful romance with a financially independent South Asian gentleman.
My name is Mickey. I'm 47 years old, obese and have arthritis in my big toes. Not exactly what you would call an athletic type but, nonetheless, I've decided that I need to go whole hog with a fitness makeover for 2014.
I'm no stranger to fitness makeovers. I did one for Paper back in 2002. It was the first time I really had ever given exercise a real try and shockingly enough, I loved it. I always thought people who said that exercising actually gave them energy were lying assholes but it turned out that after my training sessions I had a real spring in my step.
So for this 2014 attempt at a fitness makeover, I made an appointment with my trainer and recommitted to going to Weight Watchers meetings. Weight Watchers has worked wonders for me in the hundred years that I've been going to meetings. Well, it's worked wonders whenever I actually followed the program. Still, being a trendy fashion victim I felt like a needed something new besides the usual cardio and weights sessions. I needed the exercise equivalent of paprika to spice up my health and fitness program, if you will. And I have two words for you: Soul Cycle. Wait, actually, it's one word: SoulCycle. (Insert eye roll here.)
My work friends Jamie and Katie are both SoulCycle addicts. As a former heroin and speed junkie sober for 16 years, I know addicts. And the SoulCycle addicts I've met make the crackheads and speed freaks I've known over the years look like Carmelite nuns. These people mean business. I asked Jamie exactly what it is about SoulCycle that has her drinking their cold press, sugar-free Kool-Aid. "It's a hard workout," she says. "I'm 100% sure I've blacked out on the bike only to come-to in time to do the next choreographed move. But the lights are kept low in the room, so you don't feel on display or judged by your peers." She went on to say, "I go because it never gets easy." She sounds like a Nike ad! I'm sure she didn't really black-out on the bike. Well, I'm pretty sure.
Katie had taken me to one class with her favorite instructor, Stevie, who had dreadlocks and tons of tattoos. I was so busy concentrating on not dying of exhaustion that the 45 minutes flew by. I don't even have the words to describe the music Stevie played because I'm 47 and consider Demi Lovato to be a very "now" artist, but it was very hip and "dubstep" or something. It sounded very much like an electric saw dismantling an old school bus. Demi Lovato it was NOT.
With instructor Emily at my favorite '80s SoulCycle class.
Jamie promised to take me to some classes where I would actually hear music that had some old fashioned touches like a melody and lyrics. Personally I'm happy doing ANYTHING as long as we're listening to something perky and pop. Show tunes or classic hip-hop will also do. Give me Britney, 2Pac, Digital Underground or Angela Lansbury's rollicking version of "By the Sea" from Sweeney Todd! We ended up going to an '80s-themed class and I was in heaven. The instructor Emily was dressed like she was at a Jazzercise class. I couldn't see anything in class because I don't wear my glasses while I work out -- plus the only light was coming from a single candle in the front of the room -- but even in the dark I could make the neon pattern of Emily's spandex leggings as I sweated to '80s gold and stadium power anthems like it was that episode of the Golden Girls where the ladies take aerobics and get bamboozled into buying those sparkle disco outfits. Heavenly.
Maybe it's just me, but it's a lot easier to do shit like stand up on a bike with your special shoes buckled onto the pedals, lean forward and back, bend, and do all of those other fuckery SoulCycle moves if it's set to "Let's Hear it For the Boy" from the Footloose soundtrack. Even after the four classes I've done so far, I'm still not exactly fully coordinated. But being old, obese and arthritic I feel like it's a triumph for me to make it through the class alive. Each time I end up drenched with sweat and with the adrenaline high that comes from that kind of insane exercise.
Things are off to a great start but I have to confess that while I'm doing two SoulCycle classes and two training sessions a week, I'm also eating like my usual carb-addicted, French fry-loving, lard-ass self. Being a vegetarian, I do eat fruits and vegetables, but I prefer grilled cheese sandwiches, penne arrabiata and a loaf of bread smothered in salted butter. My afternoon snack runs to Walgreens often result in king-sized Paydays, Heath bars, Tate's chocolate chip cookies and nacho-cheese Doritos, which are all washed down with a 16 oz Diet Dr. Pepper. Not too be too preachy, but one thing about Weight Watchers that I really love is the fact that it's not a diet. You're not forbidden from eating "bad" foods, it's just all about how many points they are and working it into your daily allowance. Even so, I do tend to do things in extreme. When it comes to eating, I'm either shoveling in the slop or surviving on cottage cheese and pineapple chunks. It's either or. That said, the more I exercise and the more fit I become, the less I enjoy the taste of junky snacks. Right now, though, it's still all about snacks. And I'm OK with that.
My goal for this week is to really get a grip on my Weight Watchers program and track what I eat. So far today, I've had an egg and cheese on a bagel and two Tate's chocolate chip cookies. I'm a work in progress. And hopefully doing this diary will shame me into making better food choices.They say great bodies are made in the kitchen not the gym! We shall see about that.