Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Lament for Summer

Summer has officially come to a close for me.

For many, it's a season. A time of year marked by warm weather, sunny days, and excursions to any available source of water.

For students and (especially) teachers, it's a much needed respite. A reflective time of the year where we look back on all of the nervous breakdowns and sleepless nights and realize that since we're still standing, it must not have been that bad. As summer comes to a close, those memories come flooding back and the dread that it could just repeat itself all over again. Yes, we're hopeful and optimistic for a better year than last but compared to sleeping in and a two month vacation, anyone would feel dread to return to 6 AM wakeup calls for 12+ hour days.

Think about that math for a minute...
12 hour days x 5 days a week = 60 hrs a week x 4 weeks in a month = 240 hrs a month x 9 months = 2160 hours a year.

Most jobs are
8 hours a day x 5 days a week = 40 hrs a week x 4 weeks in a month = 160 hours a month x 12 months = 1920 hours a year

We earn that summer break. It's for our sanity just as much as it is for the students. More so!

This year is going to go by before I know it. Training starts tomorrow, and a week from then I'll be back in full swing dropping knowledge bombs on an unsuspecting youth. On top of that, I'll be in the midst of Fire Academy. For those who haven't already heard me moan in person, here's a week at a glance.

M - W: 6 AM Wakeup. School from 9 - 4. Drive to Fire Academy. FA from 6 - 10. (15 hr day average)
Th & F: School + Rehearsals. Still not getting home until about 8 PM
Saturday: FA from 8 AM - 5 PM

Sundays truly will be a day of rest.

...I'll still probably working/studying.

But before I know it, it will be April. And then just two months before school is out and I get hitched.
I will have no life until then. But very fitting to come out of having no life and then officially starting a new one (as if a house wasn't justification enough already for that).

Yes there is dread. I wish there was an option to just black out until then. But there is hope too. This year promises much of that at the end of the tunnel.

Let's just hope I can last until then.

(Speaking of knowledge bombs, an infographic for the uninformed)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Fitocracy Rant

Any of you who know me know that I love to use Fitocracy. My facebook/twitter feed blows up 2 or 3 times every week with posts about all the fake digital points I earned for my epeen by picking things up and putting them down again. You get it. I'm awesome.

But therein lies the topic of my current rant from the aforementioned sarcastic explanation. I've noticed a disturbing trend on the site that bothers me. Before I begin, let me issue this disclaimer, especially if you came here from Fitocracy...

 The rant you are about to read may indirectly reference/offend you are someone you know. You are free to post angry comments in return just as I am free to complain about how weird you/your friend is. My recommendation? Get out of the kitchen to avoid the heat in the first place.

 You have been warned...

commence rant!

I love the original concept of Fitocracy. Track your workouts and encourage good habits by turning fitness into a game: earn points, quests, and achievements for working out. BRILLIANT! From there, you build a fun and supportive community that reinforces and encourages healthy habits. Man..what's not to love?

 Except most of the people on Fitocracy are current or former fatties. The internet has always been a haven for the socially awkward and depressed to find like minded people that wouldn't make them feel as awkward or depressed. I know...I used to be one of them! I sat behind a computer screen to make friends and set up dates. Going out and socializing meant turning on the computer and logging on to a chat room. The Internet Me would have died alone and depressed 50 years ago. Well, I mean, I'm sure I would have found a way to manage. That's simply a (bad) joke to prove a point. But that proves a point to. As humans, we are generally resilient. We find ways to cope, manage, and make due with what we have. The internet, makes every thing so easy. How do we cope now? With a keyboard. [mmm, delicious irony ;)]

So back to the topic at hand: Fitocracy. The site is predominantly populated by these socially awkward individuals. People who have probably struggled with weight all or most of their life and have never fit in. But these are at least the socially awkward of the internet who WANT to make a change. That's great! I fully encourage that. Keep this in mind though...

Have you ever suffered from depression? Anxiety? Poor choices? If you have and conquered them you can probably attest that you got there because of you. You enabled yourself. Whether it was not seeing a doctor to get medicated or eating the whole bag of oreo's, you enabled yourself. In the end, no one could force you to be better; you had to choose to be better. And it didn't help if you had friends/family/coworkers who were overly sympathetic and cut you even more slack that just further enabled you. 

"I'm depressed and the only person who understands me you is 1/2 gallon of sweet, delicious mint chocolate chip Blue Bell ice cream! And it's okay if I put you inside of me, because everyone I know will just continue to quietly judge me to themselves and tell me consoling lies almost as sweet as y-NOMNOMNOM!!"

Now sometimes it was good to have those kind people nearby, because you knew no matter what, they would still love you. Good! And when you made good choices, they reinforced them. Also good! It's good to have that support system. Fitocracy is like this. It is nothing but good vibes and supportive attitudes. Anyone who is a dick is quickly shunned.

But what happens when you put enablers around other enablers? Sometimes, great results! I've seen so many people on Fitocracy who were former fatties completely transform themselves. Some of them are my actual friends and I couldn't be more proud! 

The problem is...the positive never stops. Boot camps were invented for a reason. You don't see the military passing around hugs and sitting in circles talking about feelings. No, because sometimes you need a swift kick to the proverbial balls to keep level and in check with reality. No ball kicking on Fitocracy! But there's plenty of nuzzling, massaging, caressing...ehh, ahem...I'll stop with this metaphor. 

I've seen a friend of mine on Fitocracy turn from former fattie to fitness fanatic. He looks great and feels great. GREAT! Problem is, he never learned how to cope in real life. He had the keyboard. So his social insecurities are still there and his newly developed physical confidence has to overcompensate. That, my dear readers, is a recipe for douchebaggery. He flirts with every girl he sees online and off but not a relationship to show for it because now it's an obsession. It's what defines him. He can barely carry a conversation outside of diets and working out. And I don't know how all females feel, but I get the impression that a woman doesn't want to feel like she's being judged because she's eating a french fry or a fruity, sugary cocktail - even if she is into fitness, too. 
So the closest thing he has to a "serious" relationship are these pen pals he talks with online. He could easily nab a girl locally if he dropped the obsession and had some social skills, but since those were never developed he's stuck looking online. I did it, too! I dated girls in Austin when I lived in Waco. I would travel hours for a date when all I had to do was chat up a pretty girl in class or at work or when I was out with friends. When I finally came to that, so much easier! I felt so much more relaxed, positive, and confident...and that helped me land my fiance!

But again, it's the keyboard. It's safe. Even if someone judges you, you can always turn the computer off or just tell yourself: "They don't know me. They're just strangers. Their opinion doesn't matter". Now you're safe again. So we shut out all the bad and flood ourselves with all the good. 

"If you always look at the stars, you can't see the path in front of you."
- Me (I'm sure there is some chinese proverb I'm loosely quoting)

Sometimes you need an insult. Sometimes you need a reminder that life is tough. Sometimes you need to know when you're being a straight up jackass. It keeps you grounded in reality and your goals realistic, practical, and attainable.

But we've become a culture so obsessed with social networking that we've ironically forgotten how to socialize. Case #2 on Fitocracy. I saw a group on there for "Dallas/Fort Worth"

"Hey! I live in DFW! I'm also on fitocracy! I should join!"

The mindset of many. It's why I joined! Now, my belief is that you joined the group not just because you live there, but because you want to network with these people. Otherwise it's like joining a Pants group because you like wearing pants. There are groups like that on Fitocracy. They serve no purpose.

The group has over 400 members. Maybe 5% are actually active and post in there. So a guy on there not too long ago had the idea of:

"Hey! Wouldn't it be great if we met up IN PERSON to talk fitness/health and get to know each other better?"

To which I said:

"Shut the hell up and be my friend!"

Not really. I was totally more positive. That's what you do on Fitocracy. So we arranged a meetup and posted it to the group. People were like:

"Yeah! Awesome! Let's do it!"

....uh yes, that would be the DFW Fitocracy meetup...Party of two. Mhhhmm...just two. No he's not my boyfriend. This is a meetup. No, that's not what we're calling it...just give us a damn beer!

Yup. We were the only two who showed. People had always. As my dad would so beautifully put it:

"Excuses are like assholes. Everyone has one and they're usually full of shit."


So we tried again. DFW Meetup was turning more into BroDate. How about an activity meetup instead of just sitting around drinking. I mean, we're a fitness site right?

Slightly better success. Two other members made it, albeit at completely different times so the only other member they met was me. And then there was a third who said they were there but never contacted me. Why the hell do I even go through the trouble of creating sign up websites if people aren't even going to use them?

So I get special permission from the site administrators to become the new group leader since the old one left Fitocracy. With that power, I reestablish challenges hoping that will grease some gears. My BroDate buddy heads up the next meetup...

And no one shows.  Not even the person who asked for the event to be the damn activity they suggested! No one even called to tell him ahead of time so he didn't have to waste the trip. Plenty of people who said said maybe and yes, but in the end they chickened out.

You see, it comes back to social awkwardness. People on fitocracy want the illusion that a community of enablers provides. Yes I will take your props and awkwardly flirt with you via song lyrics and memes but to hell with actually meeting you! That shiznit is cray cray! How do you even talk to someone without your thumbs?

Now this certainly isn't everyone, but the majority are like this. They want everything to stay behind the keyboard because they haven't developed the social skills to put themselves truly out there. It's kind of sad...but mostly frustrating. We're trying to build a community, to make those bonds stronger so that our goals will be more attainable. But it seems more people enjoy stargazing.

Terminating rant.

I just had to get that off my chest. Put my thoughts into words. Now if you read this and you think of that applied to you...please do not be offended. But you should feel some shame. My intention is not too insult, but to lightly kick your balls. Like one of those backhanded quick hits your buddy slips in when you're not paying attention. And if you feel like you have to completely disassociate from me or yell at me...well, that sucks, but you're also proving my points. Or maybe you didn't even make it this far and I'm writing something you will never see. Why am I still writing? ughh....

Well this is embarrassing...

Looks like that whole "blogging" resolution went to hell in hand basket before January was even up. "The best laid schemes..." as Robert Burns said.

Bad news first:
  • Obviously, blogging fell through
  • Seeing a live theatrical show every month became more like every two months
  • No century push yet (100 pushups without stopping)
  • My Bodyfat is no where near 10%
  • Still haven't reconnected Bevin...
Quasi-Good news:
  • I haven't attempted a 5 minute plank, but I have passed the 4 minute mark.
  • While my max weight for BP has not hit 250, my 5 rep max is at 225 so I'm not far off
  • My running has improved but I haven't tried 3 miles straight yet
  • I've registered and begun a training regimen that should hopefully help me prepare for my first Tough Mudder on 10/27.

This next year is going to be insane so I make no promises as of yet for a steady stream of updates. I just closed on a house with Kirby, I got accepted to the Fire Academy at Collin College, and school starts again in a couple of weeks. Between home repairs/renovations and full time school and full time college, I'm going to be stretched thin as it is.

But this is my attempt to get back at it. Other updates, rants, and progress posts to come in the near future.