Monday, February 26, 2018

How Thor Ragnarok Made Me Wanna Exercise

It all started with Thor Ragnarok. I was sitting in the theater and there was a scene where Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth, is standing there shirtless in all his Hemsworthiness. A few people in the audience gasped. Some whistled. Maybe things moved in pants. I just sat there and thought to myself “Why don't I look like that?!” Besides the obvious reasons like the fact that I consider going to do my laundry a physical activity and all of my hobbies require me sitting as still as possible there is no reason that I shouldn't look better than I do. Not a 28 inch waist and 60 inch shoulders like Thor, but just better than I did.

I wasn't what I would describe as fat. I was definitely not in good shape but better shape than I was a few years prior. My attempts to be healthy started late and slowly. In 2012 I started drinking water. When I was little I would drink it from hoses outside while ants crawled on my hands. In 2013 I started taking multivitamins. Just small steps that made small differences. By 2014 I was beginning to eat salads sometimes and vegetables. In 2015 I was close to 260 pounds (I am 6 foot 1 and it doesn't sound bad to be that heavy...if you're an athlete) and while still drinking water and taking vitamins my diet consisted of pizzas, pastas, about six sodas an evening at work, and a huge bowl of Fruity Pebbles with orange juice an coffee every single morning. You do not want to know how many calories that was a day.

After hearing calories broken down in a simple way that I understood I decided to start making more changes. No more crazy sodas. No more delicious, colorful cereal every morning. Pizza and pasta were special occasion meals and chicken dishes became regular. I went from 260 to 220 in a few months with no exercise. Some people noticed I lost weight but I was still not in shape. My knees were still shit (right knee from being hit by a car when I was little and left one from broom ball injury a few years back) and I sweated very easily when walking. Even though I could now wear smaller shirts I had hit a plateau and while happy to weigh less had no real desire to get in better shape.

Then last November I saw Thor: Ragnarok.

After leaving the theater I made a decision to try and look better. I told just a few people about this because I am someone that would rather do something and show you the finished product than announce plans. I contacted Sarah Rodenbaugh who is a personal trainer and let her know that I wanted to get in shape. Even as I talked to her my brain began to revolt immediately. “Wait. What do you wanna do? Exercise? That involves pain and sweat. Real sweat. Real pain. You are gonna hurt yourself. You should change your mind. You aren't too big. There's no need to do this. Hang up the phone!” I can say that I've been inside of a gym less than five times in my life. I am not a fan of sweating around someone that much unless we're both naked and wanted to focus on getting healthier, not staring at yoga pants.

Sarah had me send a photo of the weight equipment I had. I had weights totaling 90 pounds that I pulled out of the closet and an exercise bike that was doubling as a dust holder. A few weeks later she came over and went over the exercises she had personally set up for me with links showing proper form as well as showing me in person. And it kicked my ass! I am used to being sore from hurting myself or lifting something heavy wrong. Not from doing one movement repeatedly like lifting weights. After a couple of hours of this and a plan in hand it was time to begin this journey.

Each day of exercises focused on different parts of my body. Sarah told me to let her know if something felt too heavy, too light, to stop immediately if pain began. Not sore from working out pain, but “Oh, no, that shouldn't make that sound...” pain. I listened to my body and let her know when something was not feeling effective and she would modify it. My exercise bike is pulled out every day and used. My weights get used now. This is awesome. I even installed a pullup bar to use.

The programs she gave me are not impossible. Based on what you have available and what you desire she is able to build a program just for you. This isn't one of those things like you see on TV that gives everyone the same thing to do which ultimately leads to disappointment. “That lady had abs and a new haircut after three weeks. I just hurt.” Even though Chris Hemsworth was the catalyst for this I was not trying to have his exact body. I wanted my arms to look nice. I was not doing this for a wedding, for the summer, or for anyone else. I just knew that I could look better for me and decided to do something about it with Sarah's guidance.

I took my measurements and a few months later once again and was happy with the results. I could tell there were changes just because of how my clothes fit. I have trouble rolling my sleeves past my biceps. My jeans that were skinny jeans are just jeans now. My legs which I consider my best feature got new muscles from squats. My stomach got some give beneath chubs from planking. My chest got flatter which is a new experience for me. When I went to work people complimented me on how I looked, particularly my arms, and when asked what I did I would say “Working out with Sarah.” My biggest problem has been eating enough calories and even with that Sarah has made suggestions regarding proteins and such.

I am still working out almost every day and not close to finished. I have a sort of goal of how I want to look and know I'll have to maintain it and to do so will need Sarah's help. I wanna do more cardio and running. I want to work on getting my stomach looking nice. Right now its like a doll. Just smooth. I wanna fix that. Not aiming for rippling abs that cause unexpected pregnancies when I pass women on the streets but...

Contact Sarah through email at and click here to contact her on Facebook at Sarah Rodenbaugh Fitness.

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