I came up with the name ShrinkGeek during a weight-loss challenge at the office — our “team” was made up from a bunch of folks in the IT Department. Short story shorter, Mike and I liked the name, so here we are. In the wake of that, via one thing and another, I’ve kind of ended up encouraging a bunch of folks at the office to get into fitness, and some of them have turned into serious gym rats. I think that’s pretty frigging cool, frankly.
I’m not going to suggest that Revenge of the Nerds was any sort of life-shaping or self-affirming cinematic masterpiece, but it does cast a pretty long shadow. The stereotypical geek comes in a handful of default configurations: there’s the Ominously Unwashed and Overweight Dude (oh, Comic Book Guy and Sword of a Thousand Truths, you cut so close to home), there’s Mr. RPGs (and that doesn’t stand for Rocket-Propelled Grenades), and there’s the Band and Theater Dork.
That last one would be me, circa 1990.
Not that I did much about it; I was on the cross-country and track teams as a distance runner (read: scrawny little SOB), and college wasn’t much different — the biggest change was the introduction of drinking beer while playing table-top dice-based RPGs and DOOM. On my way to a Bachelor’s in English (after an unintentional John Galt impersonation when I started out by majoring in Mechanical Engineering and Philosophy), I padded some of my later semesters with stuff like Tennis, Badminton, Weightlifting, and Jogging (don’t laugh; to get an A, we had to run two miles in under 12:00… at eight in the morning).
I’ve always enjoyed athletics and sports. I would frequently go to sleep listening to Rick Jeanneret’s play-by-play for the Buffalo Sabres when I was a kid, and hockey is still my first sporting love. I have a large box of rollerhockey equipment in my closet, which has been sadly neglected since moving to the South. I played soccer from the time I was seven until halfway through high school, at which point, the focus on winning rather than enjoying the game tipped the balance away from doing it any more. I was even a FIFA-certified referee for a couple of years as a summer job. I preferred working the under-8 games a hell of a lot better than the under-14’s for the same reason I stopped playing.
These days, I think soccer is two dozen guys doing a lousy job of mowing a lawn. I also think baseball is two guys playing catch and one guy being a dick about it. Doesn’t stop me from playing either of ’em with some friends or coworkers, but any inducement to get me to watch them on television is going to require good beer and a non-trivial amount of [redacted due to adult nature of content].
I became a computer guy by immersion, not choice. I wanted to play Diablo and Command & Conquer via LAN, and it was pretty much all DIY in the mid-90’s. Following directly from that, I ended up in tech support because, due to a keen aversion to jail time combined with a desire to continue eating and living indoors, I don’t berate everyone who comes to me with a computer problem. Users think I’m helpful, funny, and charming. I think a dead body stops bullets just as well as a live one. Better, actually, since it doesn’t do all that yelling and struggling.
[Ed.: *stern glare*]
[Ed.: *crossed arms*]
No, I will not stop being a grouchy, demanding, cantankerous pain in the butt. Mike can play Good Cop. There are any number of supportive, encouraging, and help-the-novice folks out there. They’re great. Anyone starting out on (or returning to) a healthier lifestyle needs a big old bucket of that. Most of the time, I’m going to be right there with them, exhorting folks to go for it; maybe push a little harder, try something more challenging, whatever.
That said, I think that folks need the occasional kick in the pants to try harder and get jostled out of a comfort zone. Frankly, I think a lot of people have found their way to the gym, or the track, or wherever we do our sweating because, somewhere along the line, we got pissed off. If you get pissed off at me, that’s good. If you get pissed at yourself, that’s even better.
For me, getting miffed happened for a couple of reasons. First, I got tired of being squishy, scrawny, and generally dissatisfied with how I looked and felt. Second, and more importantly, I gave blood in late 2004 and learned that my cholesterol was way, way, way higher than I thought it was, and well into “this is really bad for you” territory. As a result, two things happened — I started trying to eat healthier (less processed junk, basically), and I began being more diligent about going to the gym, or running, or whatever.
These days, I’m also haphazardly studying the NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training, and working out pretty much five days a week after work (and occasionally on my lunch hour, too). I’ve lost twenty-five pounds and cut my body fat percentage from 23% to about 12%. I’m not done getting where I want to be , but I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished so far, and will absolutely encourage any and everyone to go for it. If a perenially lazy slacker like me can do it, pretty much anybody else can, too.
I’m not one of those “No pain, no gain” cretins, but I know that if I want to do anything beyond simply losing some weight, I’m going to have to put in more effort. Making muscles stronger comes from breaking them down a little bit so they can, much like the Six Million Dollar Man, be rebuilt better, stronger, and faster. This isn’t the sort of thing that happens by accident. I kick my own butt, vigorously and often, at the gym. I sweat an unbecoming amount. However, I won’t make anyone do something I won’t do myself. If someone comes up to me and says, “This exercise/routine/whatever sucks!” you bet I’m going to try it.
I get the occasional ration of sass from somebody watching me push myself the way I do, but I know something about them, too — as EA Sports used to say, “I’m better than you, and I can prove it.”
You’re better than you, too. And we can help you prove that.
 I know there are abs under here somewhere. I want to find them in time for Dragon*Con 2009. I also want to get myself close to the Advanced category in terms of strength, without turning into That Guy. My fitness and workout shenanigans can be found on my personal workout blog (you can get there via my name in the Blogroll at the upper right, too). The somewhat shorter, saltier version of this is also over there.