Real Life Is Not An Episode Of The Biggest Loser

It is so goddamned humid; I hate everything. Playlist. Let's go.

"Where Is My Mind," The Pixies

Seriously, it feels like it has been months of this humidity. Not only is it hot and the air feels like it will just spontaneously rain hot-ass water right in your face so you can't even go outside without needing a shower, but I also feel like I haven't seen the sun in weeks. It's just these constant, low-hanging, third-trimester clouds fucking up my life. The hair on my arms will probably fall off and die soon from powdery mildew.


Sometimes, after I get back from the gym—my entire shirt having turned a slightly darker shade of itself and weighing roughly 100 pounds more than it did before I did any kind of exertion—I will just sit in the car and jack up the AC all the way and relax. It is so much colder than my third-floor walkup will ever be even if it was the dead of winter and we had no power.

"Some Loud Thunder," Clap Your Hands Say Yeah


"I'm Waiting For The Man," The Velvet Underground

It's not so much that it cools my body down to an acceptable human body temperature, it just delays the inevitable. Just walking up the stairs re-starts the sweating process, and it picks off right where it left off at the height of it. There's no easing into it; just full-on bullets cascading down my forehead. I can't even do my typical cool-down where I just sit and dick around online while I wait for the sweat to stop. I mean, I still do that, but it doesn't work. I just sit there sweating until I just get fed up enough to shower. It's like an immutable law of physics: Objects sweating their fucking faces off in a third-story walkup will remain sweating their fucking faces off in a third-story walkup unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

"Moneygrabber," Fitz and the Tantrums

I went to the gym on July 4th. It was easily the most packed day of the week. It was like a quarter-to-nine and I guess everyone was like me: Let's get this shit out of the way so I can drink beer and eat delicious meats all day. I had another one of those Keanu moments where I realized I was in a gym on a holiday, which I'm going to pat myself on the back for (again) because, honestly, that is a legitimate lifestyle change.

But I also had sort of an ethical dilemma unfold before me. See, the day before, I had made my own delicious meat: I slow cooked a bunch of chicken to make pulled chicken tacos. It was banging, but all the spiciness did a number on my GI tract. And, so, I found myself running on the treadmill with a stomach that felt like a half-full two-liter bottle of soda that someone just shook the shit out of.

"Goin' Against Your Mind," Built To Spill

I have friends who fart in public with little-to-no remorse. I can't do it. I had about a one-week dalliance with remorseless public farting in seventh grade and, while it was one of the most freewheeling weeks of my life, I had to stop. I just always felt like people knew. I don't know why, it just seems like it's fairly easy to pinpoint the epicenter of the smell and who wants to be labelled the smelly kid? Oh, you know Sean, he's the kid who farts in class. I didn't have enough self-confidence to brush it off in that who cares? attitude all the cool guys in school always seem to have. Plus, it just seems impolite.

(Hi, mom.)

These feelings only heightened as I grew in age and waistline because let's face it, if you smell an obvious, odious fart and you see two people—Henry Cavill from Man of Steel and Seth Rogen from Pineapple Express—you fucking know it was Rogen. That's just the way it goes. One of the many ways being a schlub makes life difficult for a man. So I stopped farting in public, for the most part, unless I knew there was no way to track the source: like you're just walking down the street or surrounded by smokers or something. Oh, and running outside, naturally.

"Twenty Miles," Deer Tick

Running on a treadmill in a gym is unfortunately not one of those Public Farting is a go, I repeat: Public Farting is a go situations. It's definitely not one of those situations when Seth Rogen and Henry Cavill are both physically exerting themselves right next to each other, making the contrast even more stark. I also had a feeling about this particular brand—that it would be a bad scene in any setting—so I was stuck running with this problem popping up every now and then and it was both distracting and uncomfortable. I was only running three miles and I wanted to get it over with so I could start the process of beers and meats ASAP, so I just had to grit my way through it. I'm on a schedule now, too, so I couldn't just peace out on the run. It's on the calendar, it must be completed. And it was completed.

I unfortunately could not linger in the car this time.

"Civilian," Wye Oak

This song, man, this was a great experience for me on the treadmill. It's a great, driving song that just keeps my feet going—which is really all you can ask for out of a song on a running playlist—but then it kicks it into another gear and it made me want to just kick ass for at least the rest of the song and maybe longer. It was a great near-four-minutes.

That happens every once in a while, even with songs you've heard a million times before, just not in the context of running. All of a sudden you're listening to, I don't know, "Stairway to Heaven" or something and it's like you're hearing it for the first time and you just chase down that last quarter-mile. You've entered an alternate universe where some Variant You is running on a treadmill listening to Robert Plant wail and it makes you want to run. It's inexplicable, but cool all the same. I wish it happened every time I ran, but then again I guess it wouldn't be special if it did. Fucking life, always making shit complicated.

"Stairway To Heaven," Led Zeppelin...

Weird side note: the first version I clearly remember hearing of "Stairway To Heaven" was actually off the BBC Sessions. I have no idea how I made it through most of my life listening to classic rock stations on Long Island without having that song permanently imprinted on my mind, but I did. And now whenever I hear the studio version it is just so disappointing. Something about that BBC Sessions version is just...better. (...BBC Sessions, natch.)

"Anemone," The Brian Jonestown Massacre

I went out for a quick visit to the Island because my parents have central air and our rinky-dink window AC units are just not cutting it. The plan was to run when I got out here but I got a late start and [some other excuse that sounds entirely reasonable to the person making the excuse and eye-rollingly pathetic to everyone else]. So I didn't run. My first week back on the schedule and I skipped out on the last run of the week. Not five songs after I was just patting myself on the back for being such a new man. And just like that, I screwed it all up.

I'm not too bummed about it [tips head back, pours Blue Point Summer Ale down gullet], though. Someone asked about before and after pictures. I'm not sure how I feel about getting that personal and sharing, but I found some pictures (not many, which I'm beginning to think is not by accident) from law school graduation and they are a disaster. Real bad. And it's been six years since then. What I'm getting at is: it's a long road. It's taken me six-plus years to get myself back to something that more closely resembles man than Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

"Cheap Shot Youth Anthem," Kid Dynamite

It takes time and it takes patience to understand that your actual life is not an episode of The Biggest Loser. You don't have a personal trainer and a personal chef limiting your meals to Quinoa and iceberg lettuce. So you just do what you've got to do. You live your life and you succeed and you fuck up and you get bummed out about fucking up so you succeed some more. I'm drinking beers and eating hot dogs and drinking some more beers this weekend. And come Monday I will be real disappointed with myself and it will push me harder and, luckily, there aren't many more built-in excuses to cut loose until football season returns and essentially every sunday is an excuse to get shitfaced and gorge yourself with all kinds of fried animals. So you just keep plugging along and make sure your successes marginally outnumber your failures.

"For Whom The Bell Tolls," Metallica

One of the things I've enjoyed most about losing weight is being able to see my veins. Yeah, look out, Cavill, I can see my veins. Sometimes I let my hands hang down a little bit more than is comfortable so I can get a really good set of blood-filled veins to look at. I dunno, it's a strange thing I equate with health/being a cool dude in my sophomore bio class who was good at sports and maybe I was weirdly obsessed with him because he had crazy veins all down his arms and girls liked him.

Anyway. Being able to see my own veins was never a goal; I never even thought about it as something that was...anything. It just sat there in the depths of my subconscious until one day I saw my own veins and thought Holy shit, my own veins! It's something else to see your veins for the first time in, say, 20 years; it's another thing altogether to think about how weird that is and then realize that the only reason you couldn't always see your veins was because you were so fat and there were so many layers of lipids and calories and Chewy Chips Ahoy that it becomes a retroactive goal.

"Two Headed Boy," Neutral Milk Hotel

I want to keep my visible veins. It's like what I imagine people who had unplanned pregnancies deal with. Only, like, six million times more self-involved. All of a sudden, there's this tiny little thing that needs you to protect it. How can this little guy survive if you don't provide for it? You can't feed him that, he'll die. Visible veins are some bizarre talisman of fitness for me and I will fight my damnedest to preserve them. They are found money and I'm going to parlay the shit out of them into muscles or something.

"Titus Andronicus," Titus Andronicus

Finally, a note from my wife copy-editor:

Finally: YOU NEED TO SIGN UP FOR A RACE. And you are coming to the track with me this week for my speed-work homework. You don't have to do the same thing as me but I think it will be a good experience for you to write about :) (Including how I have a running coach because you refused personal training sessions) :-D!!!!!!

So, there's that. That's what we're dealing with.