The 10 day Booze-Free Challenge and Sacred Cows
Marcus and I were having a beer discussing the fact that he had been in Paris exactly 12 years that day. I arrived in Paris just one month before he did, even though we only met 2 years later.
Marcus has always been a well-built guy but over the years since he became a fitness instructor. His obsession and passion for fitness have left him cut like a mixed martial arts fighter. I looked down at my bulging midriff and realized that my years in Paris have been decadent to say the least. What I was carrying around on a daily basis was the dubious trophy of the good years. Beer with friends is a sacred pass-time I’ve enjoyed for 20 years after all.
I joked a bit about my spare tire and Marcus remarked that I’d look good in a muffin top. I agreed (smart-ass) and said that even at the age of 42, frankly, I should be looking a lot better. He challenged me to 10 days no beer or alcohol and an exercise regime right then and there.
Naturally, I told him I wasn’t that concerned and that of course, I could easily do that, but that I like my lifestyle in general (I was lying). A few sentences later after he had explained that bad health can literally kill you one day, I was suddenly all ears. “Cardiac arrest, strokes, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease and some cancers are just a few reasons to take some time off the booze” he continued. Did he mean I would have to change my beer diet…permanently? I was reassured to hear that it was more about moderation than obliteration.
I sipped again from my ice-cold Carlsberg can and said “Alright, you’re on”.
He always said one day he would be happy to train me when I was serious. When a personal trainer who normally charges towards 100 euros an hour for his services, you say yes.
Suddenly things were spiraling ‘into control’. I was freaking out a bit but after seeing ‘Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead’ a few nights earlier. For some reason, I bleated out that maybe vegetable juice twice a day (with a sensible diet of at least one solid meal a day) might make the trifecta? He agreed, and we started the 10-day booze-free challenge. I was committed.
No big deal. I would buy a bunch of celery, spinach, apples actually anything I could find at the fruit and veg and zap myself a veggie juice.
First mistake was not taking the leafy part off the celery (bitter result). Second mistake was that spinach is not a substitution for kale (recommended in every American diet blog and totally unavailable in France).
The gunk I finally produced was close to undrinkable, none the less, Tristan (my partner in slime) and I gulped it down with naive enthusiasm.
Note to self: Find better recipes online.
My business associate and I had both separately and secretly yearned for a healthy shock to the system for months so I was happy to have him along. On our bikes, and off to the canal to meet Marcus. Down to business immediately, and all joking soon put aside, we were being weighed and examined like cattle getting ready for market.
And soon that analogy became even more apt when Marcus revealed that I was topping 99 kg(!). An Irish coffee away from ‘the tonne’, as we call it in Australia. Holy shit! I knew I was ‘large’ but now I was scared.
I guess it explains why subconsciously I had been avoiding my wife’s scales in the bathroom every morning. I recently noticed my upward trajectory from 92kg to 94kg then 96kg since our wedding a few months ago.
Using his high tech super fitness assessment gadget, he went further and I was informed of my imminent death. At least, that’s the affect it had on me. “Basically whilst your BMI (Body Mass Index) isn’t atrocious, your visceral fat level (the fat packed between organs in your abdominal area) is abnormally high even for your age. Keep this up and your chances of –insert ways of dying– are very high. Your metabolic age to top it off is 54 years old. Not good” Marcus added in the greatest understatement of the year.
Tristan’s outlook was better but not by much. The marked difference between one’s own sense of health and reality is something I hadn’t expected. I knew I was bad but not that critical. Marcus warned us that it gets harder every year to reverse these things but that it possible.
And with that, we were on the deck on a sunny day in a park in the 10th arrondisement doing ‘walk outs’. I kind of boot camp-esque sadistic exercise where you bend down, walk your hands away from you keeping your legs still and stiff. Followed by reversing the process and repeated 10 times. Later he would throw in a push up halfway for good measure. Now I was reconsidering my premature acceptance of this outrageous regime that was counter to every beer-bone in my body.
After a bunch of laps around the garden, a few more torturous calisthenics and some pity from Marcus we drew the first session to a close. He gave us some good advice I’m told, but I was too busy recovering in misery.
And yet, a wave of satisfaction swept over me as we dragged ourselves back to the office. My body hurt but it also felt good in a strange way. I knew I would be back for more, stay off the booze and I was happy to have started deflating this sacred cow.
Stay tuned for future installments and the results.