Saturday, January 2, 2010
As I struggled to complete to 30K on December 13, 2009 in Sugar Land, I experienced a familiar calmness, fire in the eyes, and determination in my heart. It helped me gut out 18.6 miles. More important, I knew something special was out there beyond the horizon. I had experienced this twice before and began to wonder whether it had come back. In 1998, I co-hosted a radio show on the student station with my friend, Iva-Marie. In late March, Mr. B, a dear friend, joined us in studio. At one point we began to compare each other's height and weight. I was the shortest and weighed the least of the three so the other two mocked me. Mr. B said, "This guy will blow over in a light breeze." Iva-Marie said, "This is so embarrassing. Usually the guy is bigger than the girl." While it made for good radio and was all in jest, I took it to heart and determined right then that no one would ever mock me again for being so scrawny. I was going to build up my body like Schwarzenegger. The spring semester ended and I went home for the summer. The next day, May 9, I woke up, stared out my window to a bright sunny day, and began to plan out my summer work out routine. Before long, August would be here and I could not waste a single day. I had very little knowledge about fitness, bodybuilding, and nutrition, but I was going to make this happen! I watched the Rocky movies and tried those routines. A couple hundred pushups, a couple thousand sit-ups, and jump roping should help me bulk up. Outside of a couple ten pound dumbbells, I didn't have any heavy weights, but those ten pounds should be fine if I do several hundred reps. Of what? I did not know, but I would experiment with moving and twisting my arms in various directions and hope they help me. I would eat anything and everything figuring I needed it. I did not know my exact weight when I started, but I assumed it was about 123 pounds. By August, I weighed 153. When I returned to campus, my friends especially female ones, were very impressed. Mr. B even remarked, "Whoa is that Arnold? What happened to Antonio?" I was not satisfied. I wanted to get bigger! My goal was 165. I continued lifting. My clothes did not fit me anymore and some said I was fat, but I insisted I was bulking up. 161 and proud. The following summer I followed a similar routine, but went down to 147 pounds. I needed to climb back up. I aimed for 175 pounds. For many years, I chased that dream until I tipped the scale at 171 pounds. It was the fall of 2003 and I was closer than ever before. I proudly boasted to my friend, Sunshine. Unexpectedly, she said the bulk look was disgusting. Instead, I should attempt to achieve a lean physique such as that of Bruce Lee. I asked another friend, Lisa and she agreed 100% with Sunshine. Around that time, I was working on a scene for acting class with my friend, Rani. As we recited lines from the scene, I held her in my arms and she rested her head on my shoulder. I made a comment about how sore I was due to my latest session and she popped her head up and asked, "What? You work out?" I half smiled and asked, "Doesn't it show?" She leaned her head back as though to study me up and down and after a long pause she said, "Uh, yes, of course it does." She then rested her head on my shoulder again as we resumed with the scene. Her reaction was the final straw. I had to alter my philosophy and approach. Starting on January 1, 2004, I resolved to work out five days a week. In addition to the pushups, sit-ups, and ten pound weights, I now had access to a treadmill and a bench and barbell so I could add leg extensions, leg curls, bench press, bicep curls, military presses, and other exercises. I watched shows and read online articles on fitness and nutrition. Maybe this new inspiration would be short lived, but I was going to make the best of it. Most important, I would fight all urges to do exercise which would add mass and bulk. Less weight. More reps. Lean physique machine like Bruce Lee! I surprised myself when I was able to keep that resolution the entire year. I tried again in 2005 and I maintained it all year long once again! Then in 2006! My bulking 171 pounds went down to a lean 130 pounds!! Male and female friends all raved about my physique especially whenever I would take off my shirt. Yet, due to my theater and film writing and performance commitments, the training slowly stopped and I have struggled the last few years in trying to refocus and recommit myself to a routine. Then on the course of the 30K, I found myself feeling those sparks. That flicker of excitement which came over me in 1998. Those same emotions which came about to begin 2004. Now, it is 2010. I wonder if this is destiny. I did not realize until just a few days ago, but these emotions of determination and inspiration seem to touch me every six years. While those five friends may not realize it, their words changed my life. Iva-Marie and Mr. B pushed me to push myself. Knowing what I know now about my work out and eating Sunshine, Lisa, and Rani saved my life and health. This year has yet to be lived, but I feel it in my heart, I am going to experience something tremendously special as I once again aim for that lean physique and seven percent body fat!!