That’s the number of full moons I can expect to see if I live to be the average age for an American male. I run, don’t smoke, and I’m happy, so perhaps my lifespan will be extended. But based on the science and betting averages, I’m looking at 336 more.
I didn’t think of this until yesterday, when I did a little math and came to this rather shocking conclusion. I think that ninety percent of my life is convincing myself I’m not concerned with aging, but I am. It feels like these thoughts have stolen into my writing– two years ago, I wrote this line, and it means a lot to me now.
I’ve lived through 576 full moons. That seems like a lot, until I realize it’s gone by in a blink. My son is nine. I’ve been married for ten years. I have old friends, getting older, and new friends who are younger. We speak of things they can’t have seen, but that are real to me. My stories are a Venn diagram of their life and mine, a common ground made real by shared words over coffee and cheeseburgers.
336 more. I’m not sad– I’m not even really counting. But moonlight has a pressure, however soft, and I feel it.
I love pie and cake and waffles and running, so this seems like a win/win/win/win to me. A bit of background- I got fat over the winter (gained 24 pounds), but I run in the summer, so it’s going to come off. Here’s where things get dicey.
I’m not giving up pie and cake and such. I may limit myself to reasonable portions, but I’m not going to give up the joys of life. I have some specific goals in mind, so let’s get down to some specific numbers.
Current weight is 249. Tragically, my height remains steady (for now) at 6’1″.
I’m going to eat an average of one piece of cake or pie per day. Waffles count as two pieces, because I rarely eat them without syrup.
My running routes are fantastic, but for this specific mission, I’ll run at a nearby park. Here are the specs–
As you can see, it’s a nice, small lap. I had a strange hip injury, took six months off running, and then got a vicious summer cold.
In short, I’m weak.
So, two days ago I started in earnest. I was able to run two laps and walk two, along with eighty pushups. Oh– about the pushups– I’m going to do twenty pushups or burpees for every lap around the track. Today, I ran 2.75 laps and walked 2. I did 100 pushups. The goal here is quite simple. It isn’t so much a weight issue as it is changing my body to be more muscular and less. . . middle aged. I want to run with my shirt off in full Dad Bod mode later this year, but not necessarily with the Dad Bod. Does that make sense?
There’s something about this park that enables good, hard runs.
I think that within three weeks of good work, I’ll be able to see and feel some results. I love running in the heat, and this park has an added bonus– there are MASSES of blackberry bushes around the park. If I run around the exterior of the park, it’s 1.2 miles. By summer’s end, I’ll be running around the park rather than in it. I’ll also have eaten myself silly on all those glorious blackberries.
Now, on to cake.
It turns out, I’m a princess.
It’s true. My bride baked me a prinsesstårta (Swedish Princess Cake) and I LOST MY MIND. It. Is. Magnificent.
There are layers of custard and home made raspberry jam and cream and OH LORD is it good. The outer layer is hand made marzipan and I’m not kidding when I say I’ll run in the sun ’til I drop simply to eat a slice.
You see? Totally worth it.
So, I’m keeping a journal of my running and such, to see just what happens over the summer. Send me a message if you’re running, too. I’m always up for challenges and buddies to join the grind, so to speak.
Now, if you’ll excuse me. The Princess needs cake.*
Oh, Fitbit. You may be small, but your ability to make me feel inadequate knows no bounds.
Let’s examine how an object that weighs an ounce can impact my day.
5:30AM: Get up.
Feed cats and dogs.
6:22AM: Glance at Fitbit, smugly judging me as I pant from animal chores. 331 steps, Terry. That isn’t very good, Terry. I’m not laughing with you, Terry. I’m laughing at you,Terry.
7:50AM: Arrive at college, park. Begin lumbering across parking lot to go teach, recall I wore boots and boots are stupid because I’m not a cowboy or a guy in a disco in 1985.
7:55AM: 1273 Steps. Now we’re cooking. A mere seven thousand-ish steps to go for my lower goal. Nine thousand for something legit, and fourteen thousand if I want to feel smug.
11:15AM. Switch into running shoes and walk at a sedate elephantine amble around the trail on campus. Sweat. Squint. Do some pushups, but out in the distant parking lot so people can’t see me and think I’m a douchebag who wants to brag about doing 18 pushups. CROSSFIT, BRUH. #no
* The pushups are so that I don’t get man-boobies. It works.*
1:42PM Exactly Get out of car after parking in pickup line to get my son from school. Begin walking around school and neighborhood to get more steps on Fitbit, which is still blinking in a judgmental way. Realize I “fit the description” for every serial killer, make effort to wave and smile in friendly manner at every car that passes by.
2:36PM Get back in car. Drink water like I just got off a raft at sea for six days. Curse that my metal cup isn’t larger. Turn on car, air conditioning, continue to sweat like a train that has cut power but won’t quit chugging. Look at Fitbit, tap in disbelief. Tap again. Resolve to walk laps through the living room until midnight if necessary.
5:18PM Go get mail. 23 steps. YES.
8:09PM Son is in bed, singing, bouncing, and twirling covers like a member of a caffeinated color guard in a marching band. Look at Fitbit. 15,583 steps? Pump fist. Dad victory. Glare at Fitbit. Resolve to do more the next day, if I don’t fall asleep after eating lasagna.
I’m on this stupid health and exercise kick, and it means giving up things like pie and cake for a while. As a man of a certain age, I have certain fears, which include (but are not limited to):
Losing my hair.
A larger belly.
Chewing food like I’m a beetle.
A compulsion to use coupons at dinner.
Socks and sandals together.
Thus far, I’ve avoided most of that. Teeth are still good. Mind still feels sharp, unless it’s car keys and then I act as if every day is an archaeological hunt. I’m writing more emotional, lurid scenes that ever before, so I feel that (professionally), I’m better than ever. Writing is a muscle, but you know what else is a muscle?
I totaled last month’s pushup total from my Exercise Log of Doom, and the number was 2805.
That’s a lot of pushups for a middle-aged guy, or at least it is for me. It’s having an effect. I feel like my mind is slightly clearer, with less tendency to be dreamy when I’m writing. Does that make sense?
It’s also vanquishing fear number nine from the above list, which I saved for here: Moobs
I don’t want to have the chest of an American Buddha, so this whole nightmare of pushupageddon is actually working out rather well.
I still hate it, though. It’s like work, but with your face on the floor and lots of wheezing.
The goal for this month is 3000. Oh, and no bra. Ever.
New book is at 60,000 words. Done in a week. you’re going to love it. I’m over the moon for Livvy and a new character, Danila. She’s amazing.
I am forty-eight, and I have achieved a kind of balance where I can now tell my friends I love them.
It’s liberating and invigorating and a lot of other action verbs (gerunds, I think) and I’ve waited my entire life for the satisfaction of having friends– some who have known me for thirty years or more– to whom I can say, without hesitation, “I love you.”
Yes, we may accompany this with an awkward male hug or no hug at all, but it’s an unexpected benefit of aging that, up until recently, had been wholly unknown to me.
I anticipated the aches and pains, the, ahem, thickening around the midsection. The, ahem, lines of character, hard earned and now worn as an emblem of experience and a life well lived.
What I did not anticipate is what I’ve seen older men doing around me all my life. They are both sweeter– yes, sweeter– and meaner all at once, a contradiction I’d previously only found in childish candy and chocolate milk on the verge of spoilage. It’s a heady sensation to me, since I (among everyone who knows me) am most surprised to see myself here, on the cusp of fifty– happy, rich with friends, and able to put away the concerns of a younger man.
I think it’s the best of both worlds. In my mind, I am twenty-something, an impervious wall of the me I knew from mirrors long ago, but a construct; a thing that existed only at a glance.
I like this aspect of me a great deal more. My son senses it. My bride, too.
I think getting older means that going slower means we are free. Free to say things like I love you without irony or care.
I’m also closer to the senior discount at Denny’s, and yes, I will use it.
As we roll into 2017, I’m one year closer to being fifty.
I can’t believe it.
Regardless, due too eating to much between the hours of 1-3AM, which is apparently when I MUST HAVE CAKE, I started running last year. I love it.
But, I only like running outside, and in the heat. The hotter the better, which leaves me in a lurch right now as Tennessee is in the midst of our own Arctic Winter. And then summer, and then winter again, but mostly winter.
So, I started a pushup challenge with myself. I did forty pushups (not all at once) about three weeks ago. Today, I just did four hundred. Again, not all at once, but you get the picture. To my horror, I seem to kind of like them, and I can do them anywhere that gravity exists. I think the goal is to run outside with no shirt (and not scare people) this summer, which means I’ve got five months to go. I’m keeping a log book, and when it’s time to run, I’ll add up my pushups and see just how many it takes to turn back the clock a bit.
In other news, I really appreciate Oreo Thins being sold in convenient single-serving packages of forty.
I hope your holidays are warm and bright. Mine have been filled with an embarrassment of riches, which will lead me to overeat, undersleep, and caffeinate like I’m going to swim to Mars.
After this period of eating and eating and then napping, I’m entering what I call the “Winter of My Discontent”. This is when I begin various exercise challenges followed by pulled muscles, mild anger, and wheezing.
Oh, there will be wheezing.
There are now word counters on my website, so you can see the progress of each book. At current rates, 2017 looks to be busy. I’ll have three titles, two short stories (more on those later) and two audiobooks. I also have new art, graphics, bookmarks, and other various goodies that I’ll be giving away at author events. I think you’ll love the new look of everything; it was time to freshen the place up, so to speak.
My travel calendar is full, and getting fuller. Or fullerer. Regardless, you know what I mean—I start the year off in beautiful Roanoke, Virginia, on January 28th. It’s a fantastic city, and I’ll be there twice during the year. If you haven’t been—go. They have all the things I love crammed into an old city filed with new life and American charm.
I’ll send out mailings as events are added; I hope to schedule signings in the Carolinas, Midwest, and California. Do you have a suggestion for a signing? Let me know—I love small events in interesting places.
I decided to get professional help. I’ve lost a good bit of weight, started lifting again, and was, until today, feeling rather chuffed about it (as the Brits say). I know the reality is different, but in truth—
Last year in one of my classes, I had a student who is a cover model and personal trainer. His name is Fred. He’s a nice guy, as long as he isn’t making you lift weights until you think you might die.
This is Fred.
So naturally, I booked for the full hour of training, because a half hour wouldn’t quite get me that six pack. Fred understood. The appointment was made. I went. I was confident. So is Fred, who I might add, works incredibly hard. Here is Fred being confident:
Oh yeah? Well nobody can outdo the unjust confidence of an aging formerly average athlete. No. One. Stretch? Hydrate? BAH.
Well then. The results were a bit different than I’d anticipated. There was good news– I’m ten pounds lighter than previously thought, thanks to a scale that isn’t clogged with dust bunnies and shame. As for the actual torture workout, it was a bit more challenging than I imagined.
As in, I was unsure I could drive home. Without dying. Twice.
Oh, and Fred gave me dietary information. He plans regimented meals with a fitness goal in mind:
So my ordinary meals are a thing of the past. I made it home– barely– and now, it’s time to be aggressive about taking care of my body. I’m sure that I’ll be cool in about two or three weeks.
I’m an American. Not an Americant.
*if this blog goes dark, I’m dead from health. please inform my wife. thank you.