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November 06, 2012 8:48 am

CULTURE SHOCK: Oh, what the health!

Written by Dante Geoffrey

In roughly one month from now (date yet to be determined) the Tribune will publish its Holiday Health & Fitness edition.

The special edition will come out just in time to help you combat the caloric intake brought on by an array of turkey, pies and the sudden need to sedate yourself with food before your aunt makes another “observation” about “those people.”

Not that I needed the threat of binge-eating to make me feel like I should get in shape. Health and fitness should be year-round practices — something I’d be smart to keep in mind.

Now, I know that by looking at me I don’t seem like someone who sorely needs to hit the gym. But looks can be deceiving.

My back already feels like it’s three times my age and my knees make a nice velcro-like sound every time I go in or out of a crouch.

Not to mention that my metabolism has started to decelerate the past couple years, and a few phantom pounds have started to stick the past few beers.

So now I’m approaching a tipping point. My acute body dysmorphia and chronic back pain have begun to overpower my overt laziness and desire for salty foods.

So I decided for one full month I would live as (reasonably) healthy as I could, and hopefully continue this beyond the month needed to complete this gimmick of a story.

Being healthy is an admirable goal, but a little broad for practical purposes, so I decided to write down what I wanted to gain by living healthily, and then set smaller goals to help achieve those desires.

Above all else, I want to ease my back pain. This barely beat out desire No. 2: look good. Since I’ve learned having a strong core (read: abs) is a key to healing back pain, these kind of go hand-in-hand. You know, if you’re into that whole Ryan Reynolds, stomach-grooved-like-a-guiro (Google it, it’s safe for work) sort of thing. (Not that I’m capable of having abs, but it’s the kind of distant fantasy that might get me on a workout mat a few times a week.)

Thirdly, I just want to feel healthy. I know that sounds about as broad as possible, but in my head, I know exactly what it means. It means I’m alert, I’m energetic, I feel accomplished and sore. It should feel like I’m actively improving my life instead of spending four hours a day imagining what it would be like if I were to work out and eat right.

So here’s my plan, such as it is, organized by the wills and won’ts of food and exercise.

First, the wills of exercise. I will exercise every day. But before I do so I will stretch. I will work out my core — abs, lower back, and butt (don’t giggle!) — every day. I will go to that spin class that my friends peer-pressured me into. I will do cardio every day. I will probably throw up afterwards.

And I will hate it.

As for diet, I will eat breakfast. I will eat more fruits and vegetables. I will take vitamins and probiotics (because my mom thinks probiotics are second only to water in being necessary for life).

Now for the won’ts, which I imagine I’ll be much better at.

I won’t drink beer. I won’t eat foods high in saturated fats, sodium or sugar. I won’t eat red meat. I won’t eat food late at night. I won’t be deterred by the fact that exercise is the most boring thing in the world.

Hopefully.

I also thought of some bonus ancillary health routines that I think will benefit me.

Every once in a while I need a reset day. These days are aimed at completing and eliminating clutter and distractions. The apartment gets thoroughly cleaned. Things that just take up space get thrown out. The car loses 12 pounds of random papers, receipts and water bottles. And I have a bit more clarity in my life.

And I know, for me, that is how I work best. I am better able to maintain focus on whatever task is at hand, may it be a 30-inch story or a 30-minute run. So I will “reset” twice this month.

Also, I love sleep, but I don’t always get as much as I’d like. I mean, who can sleep when there’s still so many YouTube videos that have gone unwatched and so many podcasts that have yet to be heard?! But I will flex some willpower and make sure my apartment is lights-out by 11 p.m. every night. (My laptop received a waiver to remain illuminated up until, and sometimes past, the point I fall asleep.)

And in one month I will report just how much progress one can make in 30 days of discipline and (fairly) hard work.

Then probably right back down a path of sometimes-rewarding self-destruction. A path well-trodden by many proud journalists.

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