100 Days of Fitness: Week 21 – Reflections

How long does it take to change your life? Follow author Robert Fure as he begins a 100 day trek to a fitter, healthier life by following this simple program. At this point he weighs less than he did several years ago at his peak of fitness. Today, we talk about the journey and success so far on the 100 Days Program.

I learned a few things this past week, about myself, the program, and fitness in general. Not to sound cheesy or anything, but intense exercise can bring about a certain clarity in your head.

I never understood marathoners. First, I don’t like to run, second I don’t necessarily like collapsing into a broken sweaty mess after it’s all over. Why do people do that? A few days ago, I sort of figured out way, at least in a way that makes sense to me. Living in Los Angeles there is a nearby hiking area called Runyon Canyon. It’s a very popular spot offering great views, off-leash areas for dogs, and a variety of different paths that offer varied levels of difficulty. While you can mix and match almost any path in any combination, to explain it simply to those who’ve never been there, there are three ways up: Easy (a road), Medium (a dirt hill with some intense steps), and Hard (the highest points, with very steep ascents). The ways down are pretty similar and basically involve just heading down one of the up trails.

While hiking the Medium trail (and hey, it’s no easy medium) the other day, I wondered if I could do the Hard trail. After the Medium trail. And then go down the Medium trail to exit, avoiding the easy road. Now, just doing any of the trails can kick your ass, especially the Hard one, but my plan was to go up the Medium trail, come down the easy road, then turn up and  go up the Hard trail and come back down the Medium trail. Basically like hiking most of the way up a mountain, then going back to the bottom and picking a harder ascent.

Damn. That was hard. The day started with me walking to the canyon, about a mile uphill through the city streets at 10am. By the time I finally stumbled, dead and starving, back into my apartment, two and a half hours had passed. I’m not sure how many miles I covered, probably four or five, but with most of them heading up and up. The hike kicked my ass, and hard. I’m not sure I ever want to do it again. A few people familiar with what I had just done asked why I would do such a thing. And the answer I had seemed so poignant at the time. “Because I didn’t know if I could.”

I never wanted to give up on the hike, but definitely had a few moments of reconsideration on the hill, but having completed it, despite the heat, the sweat, and every other bit of pain – damn it felt good. I did something that was, for me, difficult. Probably just beyond what I thought I could handle. And I did it. In that moment, with legs made of concrete and clothes dripping with perspiration I felt like I knew why people pushed themselves to do marathons. Iron Man competitions. It is just a sense of pride and accomplishment you don’t feel until you feel the pain.

Again, apologies for the cheese, but the second thing I finally understood were some strange lyrics to a Cake song, Mr. Mastodon Farm. In it, John McCrea sings about birds that fall past his window, flying up at the last second, saying “Now, due to a construct in my mind, that makes their falling and their flight, symbolic of my entire existence” he has to go watch and make sure they fly up every time. While the song definitely sounds cool, I never really related to what he was saying. That is, until I was heading up the Hard trail and at the top of every peak, as I was beat and tired from the long trek already undertaken, I was faced with yet another peak. Another uphill section.

Tired and weary, I forced myself up every one. In a way, it was symbolic of … well, maybe not my entire existence, but life in general. There’s always a new peak to climb. There’s always room to go up. It’s a long road to the top if you want to rock and roll. Whatever you want to take from the idea that every peak is just a new beginning until you reach your goal. And the only way to reach that goal is to dig down deep and keep going. Keep climbing. Turning around gets you nothing.

Yeah, that’s pretty generic, but after ninety minutes and several miles of sun covered hiking, it means something to you. I’d love to say the road down was nice and easy, but aching legs made it more arduous than I’d like to admit. But I did it.

So you’ve probably heard some of this before from, hell, everywhere. But it’s true. If you push yourself you’ll reach new heights.

My Results

At the start, I talked about the 100 Days of Fitness program being a way to slowly change your habits. I said it would take more than 100 days because it had ‘cheat days’ built into it. I think if you’re really on board with the program, you’d probably do it in 17 or 18 weeks. Here we are at week 21 (though technically week 1 wasn’t an active program week, so 20 weeks on the program) and I’m not done yet. Why? Well, I haven’t reached the goal I want to end at.

The program has worked to the point where I don’t need to try anymore. I don’t need a calendar all up in my face telling me to tough it out or get one more day deep. I make the right food choices on my own. Working out is just something I do, and enjoy, five or six days a week, not something I have to pencil in. In the interest in completion, I am going back to my calendar to find out where I mostly stopped counting and run it through to the finish, but hey, maybe the program only needs to be called 70 days or something. When it works, it works.

I had hit a few rough weeks, due to parties, holidays, work, travel or whatever, and that slowed me down more than I would have liked, but I’m in a good place right now. Stepping on the scale I weighed in at 225lbs, that’s down three pounds from last week and puts me at my lowest weight in probably seven years. I was 226 near my best in college, now I’m 225 and just as strong on the power lifts and have better conditioning on exercises like push-ups and pull-ups. Feeling pretty good.

Robert Fure is a fitness, lifestyle, and entertainment writer living in Los Angeles. He is also a certified Personal Trainer and the Creator/Editor of Fit and Furious, an online outlet dedicated to the pursuit of a fit lifestyle. His entertainment work can be viewed at Film School Rejects.