One Month Stronger

It’s ironic when you think about it: during the time I was laid-off from Mellon, I joined a gym, worked with a trainer and was very well on my way to being in great shape. Then I signed on as a contractor for FedEx (August 2011) and my fitness habits went to shit. I guess you could say I was fortunate that only 15 pounds crept its way back into my waistline, but dammit that was 15 pounds I didn’t want or need.

Come December last year, I was down to one pair of pants that actually fit comfortably. I knew I had to do something about this, so I decided to make the ever obnoxious New Year’s Resolution to Get My Ass In Shape (TM). This time, I needed to have a plan. Last time I went on a Fitness Quest, I plateaued at a weight of 200 pounds on the nosey. Couldn’t get past that point without making a change to my diet that I didn’t want to make, even though I wanted to lose another 10-15 pounds.

I like to eat, but I needed to make a big change in my diet if I wanted to get down to 190. I’ve seen trainers chow down on chicken and rice with a dash of hot sauce. That works well for a quick nom, but I could see it getting tiresome fast. When it occurred to me how much I like curry…well, problem solved. I’d have a lunch consisting of a sammich, fruit & yogurt, an afternoon snack of carrots and hummus, and dinner would be a cup of rice and something curried. Believe me, curried chicken, turkey or chickpeas on rice does not get old.

Further pieces of the plan started coming together after a conversation on Twitter with writer and Lawful Badass Mike Oliveri. Mike is a martial artist, a student of Okinawan Karate. I mentioned I used to study Uechi-Ryu, leaving the school as a brown belt. Honestly, looking back on why I left, I’ve no idea why I did it. It’s been about the only regret I’ve had in life. So Mike gave some sage advice: go back and fix that regret.

And I said: why not?

So, workout routine started falling into place: Monday and Friday would be “off” days (game nights), Karate/Ju-Jitsu three nights a week, the gym for the remaining two. Since I’m in an on-call rotation, my gym workouts would focus on one set of muscle groups (like chest and back), and my week on-call would also double as my recovery time. Only thing is, how would be received back at the dojo after a twelve year absence? I didn’t leave on bad terms — I just left.

On that first night, I walked into the racquet club in Greensburg where the dojo’s been for probably 20 years or more now. The only familiar faces there were Senseis Dan and Bill. Dan took one look at me and smiled. The first thing he said to me was, “Long time no see! Welcome back!”

So much for being worried about that. My next concern was how bad was the rust gonna be? Well, in the first month, I’ve been able to recall the five kata I knew, the Yakusoku Kumite, and the Bunkai for Kanshiwa and Seisan. Granted they need a LOT of refining. The power, accuracy and conditioning isn’t there, but it’s on it’s way back. Maybe by March I’ll be picking the staff and sai katas back up again. Regardless, I had forgotten just how good it feels to train in Uechi-Ryu.

Since 1995, I’ve studied Uechi-Ryu (aka Shohei-Ryu), Northern Longfist Kung-Fu, Yong style Tai-Chi, Fencing and a little bit of Aikido. Never felt out of place in any of those schools, but Uechi-Ryu was — and still is — a great fit for me. Definitely glad to be back at it.

The results have been amazing. I’ve gone from 215 pounds to 203, body fat going down from 28% to 25% while muscle mass has gone from 36% to 38%. Now, take the percentages with a grain of salt. I’m getting those numbers from my nice nifty new bathroom scale, but if the drop in pants size is any indication, I’m doing something right.

I still have a long way to go, but I’m happier (and healthier) than I was one month ago. Now forty isn’t looming like the specter it used to be.

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