I suffered my first major mid-life crisis at the age of 12. I couldn’t fit into my clothes. Couldn’t do up my pants. Couldn’t button up my shirt. I had broken my leg a couple of years earlier, wore a hip-to-toe cast the size of a fridge for about 4 months, then spent another 4 months learning how to walk again. I learned the First Law of Working Out – fat builds up faster than muscle. Fat accumulates at warp-speed. Muscle grows at a snail’s pace. I decided to start working out. My first workout was the day before the first lunar landing. I tried to lift too much weight – my bodyweight. My very first chin-up was a glorified calf-raise. I stood on a chair and went up on my tip toes. Without the chair, I hung like a corpse after a Wild West execution.
Don’t ever believe that fat melts in 12 weeks or 7 days or overnight. Miracle fat loss programs are bullshit. The speed of fat-loss is the polar opposite of fat gain – the same slow speed as muscle growth. Even slower. Last week was my 45th anniversary of working out and I’m still fighting fat every single day of my life. Fat cells, it turns out, don’t disappear. They only shrink. Mine miss me a lot and visit without notice.
My 45-year consecutive workout streak made me obsessed with bulk. The 1970s was an era of political uncorrectness, all relating to bulk. “Hey, man, you need to bulk up.” Compliments were non-existent in the 70s. No one cared about how many ‘likes’ you got. The 1980’s were worse.
“Hey man, I work out.”
“No you don’t.”
“Seriously, man, I go to the gym.”
“That’s true. You GO to the gym but you don’t work out. You need to bulk up!”
I shopped for clothes in bulk. All that mattered was the number of Xs. An excess of Xs. No dri-fit tops, no hoodies, no stylish brand-name fashion-wear. I wore only XXXL long-sleeve flannel shirts bought in bulk at the Army-Navy surplus. “Come on man, you only wearing XL?” My emotional attachment to bulk carried into the 90s. Hell was being able to fit into an XL shirt. The question, “Did you lose weight?” was an act of war and the strongest motivation for the next workout. I had 3 workout programs – heavy, heavier, and heaviest. The sounds in my gym were like those in an asylum as I tried to escape from the hell of losing bulk.
When you stop growing, your soul dies. Your spirit drops dead. I get bored with my old self fast, triggering an alarm, signaling time to change. When I cross that line, I can’t go back. Renewal isn’t an option. A fight breaks out – old self versus new self. My first mid-life crisis at 12 wasn’t the first fight between old self and new self. I suffered existential anxiety in elementary school. “Who am I, why am I here?’ and “This can’t be all there is” started at recess and got worse all through high school.
Existential anxiety is a blessing because it scares the hell out of me bad enough that I never have a bad workout. Never. Not one. No workout gets wasted. Sure I’ve gone through workout lows, those garbage reps at the start of a workout where you don’t know what the hell you’re feeling or what zone you’re in. I’ve had those days when I start a workout uncertain about what dimension I’m living in. Life puts you on a strange frequency, one that has to be dealt with within the first super-set or your workout goes to hell. My solution is my inner voice. “This can’t be happening” scares me back to reality. When light weights feel like heavy weights, I flip the switch. I’m blessed with a functional switch that always talks back. “This can’t be happening” is a moment of truth where you accept weakness or reject it, kicking its ass out like a trespasser, an unwanted guest who invades your #peace with the presence of evil. A bad start to a workout always ends up raining down hell on the weights. They have no chance when you come face-to-face with the hell of losing everything you’ve worked-out for. The first time you back away from the fight with a heavy weight is the beginning of hell, that start of the slide to weakness that will turn to fat in the blink of an eye.
I’ve gone through stages of what is conventionally called “motivation” during my 45-year workout career, fighting like hell to get rid of my old self. In the process, I lost my passion for bulk. This month, 5 things happened that made me bored with my old self so I decided to strip down. My new obsession – strip down the bulk. Rip it to shreds. Cut it to pieces. Like with every old self, the sonofabitch isn’t going to leave without force. Bulk keeps appearing. The concept of stripping down is easy but doing it isn’t. More lifting, more running, less garbage. Stripping down is hell. Don’t believe anyone who tells you it isn’t. But the alternative is a worse hell.
This is a first-draft excerpt for a new book I’m writing. I’m writing one new book every 90 days because I’m tired with my old self. Renewal is not an option. The moment you stop growing, you grow old. Doesn’t matter what it says on your birth certificate, you prematurely age the moment you stop growing. Keep lifting. Keep running. My workout song of the week is after my signature. It’s a reminder of what to do when it hits you that, “This can’t be happening.”
Gino Arcaro M.Ed., B.Sc., Level 3 Nat’l Coaching Certification Program
Head coach – Niagara X-men football
head coach- Robert Bateman High School – GO WILD.
Owner – X Fitness Inc.
Gino Arcaro is a widely published author. His website, blog, Youtube channel, and list of books are at: www.ginoarcaro.com
His books include: Soul of a Lifter, a five-book series titled 4th & hell: seasons 1-5 , SWAT Offense, SWAT Defense, X Fitness Workout System, and a 3 business book series called Soul of an Entrepreneur https://ginoarcaro.com/soulofanentrepreneur/#.U9GVXWdMvIU
He also has written 20 editions of 6 law enforcement academic textbooks. A new 8-volume interrogation book series will be released in the spring of 2014. And just released, a new children’s book called “BE FIT – DON’T QUIT.” His latest book on human potential called “Hashtag Peace” is at the editing stage. He is currently writing “Lifter’s High.” Both will be released soon