Shred This…

Running again, you ask?

No.  I think I’ve got the running thing under control.  I mean that in the sense that I’ve been able to get back on track with relative ease.  I’m back to what I had been running before a blistered heel sidelined me.

Of late I’ve been refocusing my goals a bit.  And that is why my whole body aches this morning…

Let’s review.  You all remember my trainer pal?  We’ll call him TP.  One hires a trainer based on his potential to deliver solid results.  One might choose a financial adviser who has great personal wealth.  Follow along.  That adviser would have the tools to show you how to increase wealth.  So, a jacked-up trainer has to be able to show you how to get, well, jacked-up as well.  Keep in mind that TP is a friend and that I, therefore, did not hire him.  In fact I’m only paying him in boxed wine and tears.

Also of note, TP is a beast.  Let me restate that.  He’s not a man.  He’s a super-man.  This is the kind of guy who does it all.  Let me explain…

So on the running front, TP runs 2 min. miles.  Interestingly, he does not sweat.  Rather, like a hog, he concludes each 27 mile run by dropping into a pit of mud and rolling around.  He emerges from said mud, completely clean.

I asked him to give me some advice on how to really step this up.  “Fix your diet,” he replied.  I thought my diet, rich in healthy foods like Frito’s and onion dip was just fine.  But, you see, I was wrong.  In addition to little fixes like working out first thing (before eating breakfast) and avoiding something called “enriched flour” he suggested I not eat after 8PM.  I had actually heard these things before but never thought they’d do much good.  Of course he tells me these things right after I’ve eaten a five pound bag of enriched flour at 8:01.  Most important, he tells me, I should have a “cheat day” once a week.  Now we’re talking.  I began to imagine the joys of spending a whole 24 hours going through my favorite fast food menus with reckless abandon, knowing that I would still come out on top.


Apparently, enriched flour=new, whole grain=ancient.  Gotcha.

When asked what kind of things TP eats on his cheat days I was brought back down to earth.  “Pizza,” he replied.  I thought a moment.  “Wait,” I said, “You make your own pizza, right?  Don’t you use whole grain crust and put healthy crap on it?”  Even his cheat day isn’t a cheat.  Will power.  That’s what I need.

Having been at this for about four months now I expressed to TP my desire to take it further.  “I don’t want to be that jackass who asks ‘when do I see results’ but… still no visible six pack, TP.”

This is where he instructed me to invest in something called a kettlebell.  Not familiar?  A kettlebell is a small but dense cast iron ball with a handle.  It was invented in Germany in 1207 by a group of Saracen invaders with the purpose of defeating the Huns in Tuscany.  Unsuspecting Huns would ride their elephants through the streets of Navarre, France and the Germans would drop kettlebells on them from the roofs of office buildings killing both man and elephant instantly.


This thing not only defeated the Goths and Vandals but helped launch the Mars rover into low-earth orbit.  No joke.

Something like that.  Look, if you’ve ever picked one of these things up your first thought is that it is a torture device of epic dimension.  He suggested I go with something manageable like a 25-pounder.  At first I was offended.  “I can lift more than that!”  Came TP’s reply: “No, you can’t, tough guy.”  In fact when he started talking about this, his eyes glazed over and he became somewhat crazed.    “This is the one thing that will get you where you want to be!!”  I thought that was Uber.

During a long break at work the other day, TP and I headed to the torture chamber, AKA the fitness center, where he laid down the law.  “These are the 27 basic movements we’ll do with our kettlebells.  Ready?”  He prefaced it by telling me something I wanted and needed to hear.  “This baby right here (pointing to the torture instrument) is what’s going to get you shredded.”  Well why didn’t you say so?!  Apparently working out with a kettlebell a couple of times a week is one of the best things you can do to burn fat and build muscle (both mass and tone).  “Will the kettlebell help me look like you?” I asked.  “Ha!  No,” he said.

We started out doing fine.  Pull ups were first followed by the following bizarrely named movements: clean and press, hip swings, and the snatch.  Yes, the snatch.  Three sets of 12 reps on each.  By the third set I was faltering.  “Sorry I didn’t hit all twelve on that one,” I said.  “It’s OK.  Do what you can.”  That’s encouraging.  “And don’t forget,” he added, “I’ve been doing this since I was 17.  It’s going to take time to see results.”  In my mind I’m doing the math.  “Hmm…  17 to, what’s this guy?  35?…  I’m currently…  Wait, I think I’ve got this…  No, carry the 1…”  He was still speaking when I blurted out “56!”  Not sure he understood what I was saying.  But by the end of our workout I understood what he was saying.

That iron ball changed my life.  I grabbed some water and caught my breath.  “That was pretty awesome,” I said to TP.  “Not done yet…” he responded, no sweat evident anywhere on his body.  “Let’s hit the track.”

With that, beast-man took off on a 3 mile “cool down” run.  Actually I don’t recall seeing him after that.  He may still be running.  Because he can.

On a final note, to prove his beastly stature, TP recommended one more thing to me.  We’re both teachers and we had a long evening of parent conferences ahead of us.  “Do 10 push ups between each conference.  25 meetings, 250 push ups.”  OK, 10 at a time?  I can do that.  I swear it’s not a competition as that would be really, really dumb (he’d take me down) but someone who’s name rhymes with PT quietly upped his game and did 12 at a time.  This left me with a dilemma.  I swore it wasn’t competitive but there’s something in the man code that forbids a guy from making any rationale sense when another man is doing more push ups than he is.  I had to catch up somehow.  And yet, I still only hit 275.  Did I just say that?  Only 275?  OK, that’s actually not bad.


Kept a running scorecard of my push up’s on the board.  Parents who came for conferences were able to ask “What’s that?”  I was able to brag.

All in all, though, I still remember that less than two years ago I couldn’t do any of this.  I was broken, in pain, and declining fast.  So what if it takes me the next 18 years to reach the goal?  What else would I be doing by then?  And for how I already feel after just a few months, the humiliation is worth it.  Realizing what you couldn’t do is a good motivator to help you do more.  I chose this trainer because of his ability to deliver results.  And he’s been worth every penny.

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2 responses to “Shred This…

  1. You go, Harvey! You are using a real kettleball – I’d have to start out with a soup can…

  2. Pingback: Reaction to “Shred This” – Insights on Getting Shredded with a Trainer | Harvey Millican: Raising Your Kids Without Lowering Your IQ

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