Hey Google, Can You Break Your Spine With A Burpee?

Seriously. My DadShirt game is strong…

I’m 43. I have to think really hard every time someone asks, because after car insurance getting cheaper at 25, there really aren’t any milestones to look forward to in life. Oh, you thought a blog post about burpees would be motivational? Yeah, no refunds, sorry. (Not sorry)

I’m 43, I’m about 5’11”, and I weigh about 220lbs. I’m officially obese, but don’t worry, I, “carry my weight well.” I’m pretty sure that just means I’m so unattractive, no one notices I’m *also* fat. But here’s the deal, I really want to wear the Reptar shirt my friend Josh gave me, but it’s too tight.

Oh, you were hoping for an inspiring weight loss journey involving health and self-discovery? Yeah, no. I like wearing absurd DadShirts, and a couple of my best ones are too tight. I’ve come to the realization that no amount of exercise will bring back my hair, and my bald option looks far more like Uncle Fester than The Rock. I want to wear my pink button up shirt with cartoon dinosaurs on it. That’s my main motivation. Again, no refunds, you’ve read this far, you should realize there’s little hope for a talk about lifestyle choices.

Huh. Not giving a crap. I guess that’s another milestone worth looking forward to. I have no idea at what age that gem is attained, but it’s sub-43. Maybe that’s the question to Life, the Universe, and Everything, and last year I stopped giving a crap. Cool.

But back to burpees. Back, heh, get it? Yeah, my back hurts. I don’t know for sure, but I think when you find yourself googling “spine pain burpee”, you’ve achieved peak fitness shame. Why would I choose to attempt burpees? Because I’m lazy. No really.

I wanted to find the best way to get serious exercise while doing the least possible exercise. Burpees are reported to engage like, every muscle in your body, count as cardio and strength, and can be done anywhere. (I don’t actually recommend parking lots, especially if you have a mouse-clicking job like me, my baby-soft finger sausages get bruises on carpet…) Plus, a co-worker (Michael Aliotti) recently set the world record for most burpees in 12 hours. He did 7,295. I kid you not. So I figured if I did burpees, I’d have the same chiseled, eternally-25 body he has. Lol, actually no, I never thought that. But I thought if I did enough burpees, I might be able to button my men’s size large Reptar shirt.

Why does a pink Reptar shirt come in men’s size large? Shut up, when you’re 42 you’ll understand what things are cool.

ANYWAY, I knew that starting with 7,295 burpees would probably go poorly for me. So I decided to do 100 burpees. That seems like a nice, round number. It’s also a fairly common number of burpees for super-fit people who could totally wear Reptar shirts can do. BUT. I’m not an idiot, so I searched for an online “plan” for getting to 100 burpees. Eventually. I found a 30-day schedule somewhere online, and decided I could ramp up to 100 burpees in a month and not die. (Yes yes, you see where this is going. I’d never done a burpee, and well, let’s just say they’re not as satisfying as their assumed namesake, burping.)

Day 1 on the schedule calls for 8 burpees. 8. The OCD part of my brain (ie, the part inside my skull, the whole stupid thing) was really annoyed by it being 8 and not 10. But whatever. Day 2 is 11, and that’s somehow worse, so I’ll just do 8 and shut up. If you’re expecting me to say I tried the first burpee, and questioned life or something, well no. 8 burpees were surprisingly easy.

Don’t get me wrong. When I do a burpee, it looks like I’ve dropped my keys, fallen over trying to pick them up, and then eventually stand up and celebrate the retrieval of my keys with a sad 2″ hop. Nevertheless, I did 8 burpees in a row, forgetting to breathe until about burpee 4, and apart from a small twinge in my spine, everything went well. I actually thought perhaps I should do more burpees. Possibly 100 on the first day, because really, my heart was pumping, but I wasn’t out of breath or anything. Oddly, the same OCD that was annoyed by “8” burpees on day 1 wouldn’t let me change the schedule. So I stopped.

That was before work on Wednesday. By lunch on Wednesday, I was pretty sure I’d severed my spine and secretly replaced all my cervical discs with shark teeth. It literally felt like if I went into a plank position, I might break directly in half. I considered going to the doctor, but thankfully I’m over 42, so I don’t give a crap anymore. Also, the doctor would assuredly tell me that I needed to rest. I figure since I’ve been resting for the past 20 years or so, I have a bit of rest built up, and I should be fine.

Then dinnertime came. I don’t think I ate dinner, but not because I thought fasting would improve my health or anything. No, I didn’t eat dinner, because I couldn’t lean forward enough to point my face at the table. My stomach muscles DID apparently decide to rest, and refused to do simple things like help me lean forward. They made this refusal clear by stabbing themselves with extra shark teeth they found laying around my spine area. It’s not really a big deal though, because my arms wouldn’t have been able to lift the plastic fork all the way to my mouth anyway. So I fasted. Slowly.

If you’re thinking I gave up, well, you’re right. On life. On ever being able to move again. I gave up my belief that Michael Aliotti is human. But I did *not* give up on the 100 burpee schedule, because again, OCD. The next morning, I did 11 burpees. Sort of. See, Wednesday evening after not-dinner, I googled ways to adjust burpees for people with jellyfish spines. It turns out you can “walk back” to a plank position instead of jumping (or thrusting, or whatever crazy crossfit term is correct for jumping into a push-up position). And then you can either walk back to a squatting position, or “explode” back from the plank position. The term “explode” seemed to indicate what my back would do, but nevertheless, I did jump back after walking into the plank position. And I did it 11 times.

This time, I WAS out of breath. I’m not sure how it happened, because while carefully walking back into plank position, I paid very close attention to not snapping in two, and I didn’t realize I was huffing and puffing. But I did all 11 SadBurpees, and I called it good.

Look, day 2 hurt. I won’t give you details. If you want an object lesson, just like, drop bricks on yourself in your various tender parts. It kinda felt like that.

Today is day 3. Oh, again, you were looking for a motivational blog post about how the destination was worth the journey and crap like that? I just want to wear a Reptar shirt. I don’t care about existential bliss. Also, this morning I did 14 burpees. I didn’t walk them back, because my spine felt strong. (LOL LOL, no it didn’t, nothing on me feels strong, except my cynicism muscle.) I did regular burpees because I’m lazy, and the walk-back thing took longer than normal. It’s been about 20 minutes, and I won’t lie, my back hurts. Today it just regular-hurts though, not “I think I’ve severed my spinal cord” hurts. We’ll see what lunchtime brings. But tomorrow is a “rest day”, so I figured if I had to schedule a rest day, I should expect it to be a day of hospitalization and regret. But that’s tomorrow.

So what’s the point of this post? I have no idea. I’m in my recliner, questioning my life choices, and my laptop was within reach. I probably won’t blog about my 100 burpee schedule again, because I suspect tomorrow’s day of rest might be a biblical rest metaphor, and I’m going to die sometime this evening around dinner. Nevertheless, if you see me around town in a super awesome Reptar shirt, you’ll know the burpees worked. Or that I gave up and found an XL somewhere online.

The Martian Movie (A Quick Review)

The MartianMost people who follow me on Twitter or Facebook (or know me in meatspace) are familiar with my excitement regarding, “The Martian” book and movie. I still think it’s my favorite book of all time. And that’s saying something. So how did the movie compare? Surprisingly well, and not surprisingly, it was less awesome than the book.

The casting was probably the best part of the movie adaptation. Matt Damon is an incredible actor, and his personality is perfect for the main character. The other characters are well cast too, but Damon really did Mark Watney (the main character) justice. The science, which was extremely accurate in the book, was a bit on the loosey-goosey side in the movie. This was normally not a big deal, but at least one scene left me slack-jawed and eye-rolling.

Even though the movie was 2 hours and 21 minutes long, there was a LOT left out. Like, a lot lot. Lot.

Really, a lot. 🙂 I’m actually waiting to hear from folks who haven’t read the book to know if the movie had continuity. For me, the parts left out were automatically filled in mentally. Thankfully, the parts that were in the movie were very close to the book. I hope the movie makes sense to folks who didn’t read the book. I also hope there’s enough in the movie to make people fall in love with the story.

There were actually a few of the minor changes that I preferred over the book. Without adding spoilers, the ketchup scene and the ending space scene were awesome differences from the book. Will the changes, the focus on action over science, and the incredible acting make The Martian as popular as I hope? Probably not. It will be awesome if I’m wrong, but I worry it won’t inspire the passion for space exploration that I imagine. I’m not sure anything can quite inspire the passion we had in the 60s, but gosh I hope something does!

Lastly, two things: the 3D is very subtle and quite well done. If you don’t see it in 3D, you’re not missing anything important, but at the same time, the 3D does a good job of immersing you into the world as opposed to being gimmicky. Also, while the book has profanity out the wazoo, the movie is PG-13, and has very limited swearing. There are 2 F-bombs, which I think is the legal limit for PG-13 rating. There are some other cuss words, but it’s not obnoxious.

tl;dr version: GO SEE THIS MOVIE AND READ THIS BOOK. (but not at the same time)

Phobias and Tiny Potties

I'm trying not to think about the sticky tray...I think it’s still “Mental Health Awareness Month.” Or whatever it’s called. This post is the 38,000ft edition of, “Crazy Things About Shawn.”

I’m currently somewhere over Iowa, and just had my traditional ginger ale and Delta cookie treat. (Truly, they taste amazing together, but only when you’re 7 miles up in the air)

As I finished my delicious cookie treat, I grasped the tray to help scooch up in my seat, and discovered that the back edge of my tray was sticky. Thus, my hand was sticky. We might not know each other very well, but you should know that apart from bees, nothing freaks me out more than being sticky. And since the plane has been going through turbulence, the seat belt light has been on for most of the flight.

I had to sit in my seat with a sticky hand.

Just to put a little clarity in the conversation, I’d much rather jump OUT of the plane (with a parachute, I’m not suicidal) than to sit in the plane with a sticky hand. Finally, after about 63 hours of waiting (it’s a 4 hour flight, my chronological senses might be skewed) the seat belt light finally shut off. So, for what I think is the first time in my life, I used the bathroom on a plane. I did try to actually “go” while I was there, because I just had all that ginger ale, and I was already in the bathroom. But I didn’t attempt to use the tiny facilities until AFTER I washed my hands with the most inconvenient (but so blessedly wonderful) sink. And yes, I washed my hands again afterward too, because my mother trained me right. 🙂

So, I said all that to say: Airplane bathrooms are TINY! And I must confess, I’m concerned for the ladies, because as a guy, peeing into a tiny metal bowl while the plane jostles around the sky (the seat belt light went back on whilst I was in the bathroom) is challenging. While I personally peed like an olympic diver (no splash), I suspect that entire little poop closet is FULL of tinkle spray. It’s actually kind of gross. I’d really hate to have to sit on that tiny toilet.

Also, as an aside to my already derailed post (proof of mental illness?), I have no idea how folks do the hanky panky in those things. Maybe that’s just in the movies, or maybe the first class bathrooms have couches or something.

But the sink. The sink works. THANK GOD!

Mental Illness Month

I think May is mental illness month. It might be October though, because Google tells me both things. It doesn’t really matter though, because honestly it’s not something that only happens once a year. I mean “Christmas Month” makes sense, or “Pre Spring Break Tanning Bed Month” — but Mental Illness isn’t seasonal. Well, unless it’s Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is seasonal by definition. Even that isn’t just one month long though, so leave me alone about it!

In case you haven’t already realized it, I suffer from mental illness. Some of it might be a result of my accident, but for the most part it’s just the way my brain was built. I rarely talk about my mental illness, because it’s horribly embarrassing. Plus, I generally try not to think about it, especially since overthinking is sorta one of the symptoms. Nonetheless, I’m feeling OK today, and thought it would be a good idea to use the whole “Month” thing as an excuse.

I always try to do my best, and in the case of mental illnesses, I’m a bit of an overachiever. I have the “Trifecta of Crazy”, or more specifically, I suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Anxiety, and Depression. Before you line up to get my autograph, it’s important to realize that the three disorders are very closely related, and are sorta like symptoms of the same issue. (I know, the issue is called “crazy”, har har har) I’ll explain them in order of their crippling effect…

OCD – This is the one that is hardest to believe is real. For me, I mean. Because really, it feels insane WHILE I’m doing it. My particular manifestation of OCD is that I have to do things evenly. If I turn the volume up on the remote, I need to also turn it down. If I step on a sidewalk crack with my right foot, I have to step on one with my left. If that weren’t enough, I then have to step on one with my left again, followed by stepping on one with my right. Because it has to be “even” (I stepped on one with my right foot first last time, now I have to step on one with my left foot first). I know it’s crazy. Boy do I know it’s crazy. That doesn’t stop me from slapping my own butt cheek, however, if my wife nonchalantly slapped one cheek without slapping the other. When it gets out of control, this particular mental illness is very frustrating, as you can imagine. Not just for me, but for people trying to watch television when I have to pass the channel I was switching to so I can press the “down” channel button since I’ve been pressing the “up” button. Thankfully, this one is managed fairly well with medication. It’s absurd, I know. Still, it’s very, very real. If you have symptoms of OCD, and you’re embarrassed to get help — SEE A DOCTOR. Yes, it embarrassed the crap out of me to tell a sane, rational doctor that I had to slap my own unbalanced butt cheek — but he prescribed medicine (a small dose even), and it works. It was worth it.

Anxiety – This is the one I still attribute to the car accident. After my accident, I had such horrible anxiety (and Agoraphobia, a common bedfellow of anxiety) I almost couldn’t function. I wasn’t afraid of anything in particular, except for maybe that I was going crazy. I really only have issues with anxiety when I’m in a crowded room for too long, or if I’m particularly mentally exhausted. If you see me at a party looking particularly nutso, it’s safe to assume my brain is overwhelmed, and I’m currently certain the world is about to end. Or explode. Or I’m going to explode. Or everyone is out to get me. Or that I’m part of an intricate television show where everyone watches me and knows all my secrets. (I don’t even have good secrets, so I suspect the show will get canceled after the first season, especially if it’s on FOX) The good news is that medicine helps here too. I’m told that counseling really helps too, but thanks to insurance issues after my accident, I never spoke to a counselor. I should probably do that now, but it’s not like I have this mental illness thing all figured out. It’s still embarrassing, and what if the counselor uncovers some secret past of mine, and finds out I’m really a serial killer. Or spy. Or Libertarian. But really. If you have anxiety, see someone. At least your doctor. Drugs aren’t always the answer, but they’re almost always *part* of the answer.

Depression – I don’t very often suffer from depression. Part of that is because my OCD/Anxiety medication also treats depression. (Remember I said they’re all related?) I’m actually very thankful that this is the one I struggle with the least, because it’s the most scary. When I get depressed, I get really, really depressed. And when you’re really, really depressed, you don’t want to get help. You don’t want to do anything. You don’t want to BE. I’m going to be very transparent here, even though it scares the crap out of me. When I’m in a valley of depression, I’m pretty sure I only hang on because of the people I care about. The depression would have me believe that everyone would be better off without me. Because dealing with a depressed person is HARD. It’s painful for me to see how much it hurts my family when I’m depressed. And it feels like it’s all my fault, because, well, it’s ME! I keep going because of the truth that I’ve told myself over and over when I’m *not* depressed; depression lies.

Depression lies.

It gets its own paragraph because it’s so simple, but so, so important. Dealing with a clinically depressed person *is* really difficult for those around them. Heck, dealing with a grumpy person is difficult. But that’s NOTHING compared to dealing with the loss of someone you love. I don’t know this first hand, thankfully, but I know others who do. I know that when my wife struggles with her own form of mental illness (it’s not my story to tell, so don’t ask), it’s very difficult to be the loved one. But never, ever ever ever is dealing with someone’s struggles worse than dealing with the loss of them.

There is medicine that helps with depression. It’s not magic, and it’s can even lose its effectiveness after a while. If you have issues with depression, please talk to your doctor. You should probably seek counseling too, but at the very least, talk to your doctor about it. There is help available, and it’s NOT a sign of weakness to ask for help. Holy crap it’s the opposite. It’s SO HARD to ask for help, that doing so is a victory in and of itself.

So that’s my schtick on mental illness. I have it, in spades. It affects my life on a day to day basis too, in more ways than just the TV remote thing. I’ll try to post some more this month about it, because I’d rather embarrass myself a bit than to have someone think it’s shameful to have issues. If you get nothing else from this post, just remember, depression lies. It really, really does.