Poop And Love, Entry 4: I. Am. Iron Man. (Success!!!!!!!)

IMG_8377IMG_8401Let me just go ahead and throw this out there: I blew the roof off of the goal I created in Poop And Love, Entry 3: Project Iron Man: To break my personal body mass index record, coming out of my worst ulcerative colitis flare since my diagnosis in 2003. I’ll share the scoop with you, if you will agree to be infected with positivity and sexy confidence.

A QUICK REFRESHER

In January of 2015, I went into my worst ulcerative colitis flare since my 2003 diagnosis. From January to early May, I would drop from about 145 lb. to 122 lb. due to this chronic bastard &*%$ illness. That’s the closest I’ve come to my 2003 record low of 112 lb., when I was first hospitalized. Here’s what 122 lb. looks like (pretty sure the hair weighs around 10 lb.):

From January to May, I spent a whole buttload (badump, chhhh!) of time in the usual self-pity, anger, resentment, yada yada yada. I finally had enough, I got some stellar coaching from a few friends and mentors, I got off my sappy ass, and I created a plan to gain the weight back and become a confident, sexy-ass beast.  I ran with this change in mentality and created my first goal: To return to what I weighed before the 2015 flare (145 lb.). I started with pushups and a 20-lb. kettlebell, which I affectionately named Rose Bud. I improved quickly and in June moved up to a 35-lb. kettlebell. I named it Pain. By July, I’d met my first goal. This is me in June at 140 lb., and closing in on my first goal:
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On September 24, 2015, after I’d maintained my original bodyweight for a few months, I created a brand new goal to push it a step further: Break my personal body mass index record by gaining an additional 12 lb. of muscle in 32 days. Easy right? (Yeah, I have a lot to say about that, and I’ll address all the naysaying canker blossoms in a later post). I digress. I’m what you call a hard gainer, an ectomorph. I’ve been skin and bones all my life. Combine that with ulcerative colitis and you have a condition that I like to call Jack Skellington Syndrome.

In a society where being slim is the Holy Frickin’ Grail of all that’s sacred, maybe that seems like a luxury. But when you come from a background (as I do) of always the weak one, the frail one, the bullied one, the last one picked for sports, etc., then being slim serves you about as well as a Motrin for chlamydia. It’s all about perception, my friends, and everyone has a unique one. For more on the life of an ectomorph, see Poop And Love – Entry 2: You Are A Sexy Beast. In the spirit of being fit for life and a confident, sexy-ass beast, on September 24, 2015, I got started. I charted my progress:

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I used the kettlebell workouts from Pavel Tsatsouline’s Enter The Kettlebell; I added knife-handed diamond pushups; and I threw in some good old fashioned deadlifts using a standard barbell and some stacked concrete blocks. These were some of the toughest workouts I’ve ever experienced. I occasionally found myself dry heaving during and after. To build muscle, you must push them to COMPLETE FAILURE to trigger the release of growth hormone. I discovered that this takes tremendous mental discipline. When your mind says you’re done, you usually have a few more reps left. You have to push yourself beyond your mental limits.

And yes, you have to diet to gain weight too (and even more so with ulcerative colitis, because you also have to avoid foods that can trigger another flare). Sorry to suck the Febreeze from the naysayer’s last BM, but it’s damn sure not as simple as scarfing Big Macs and fries and donuts and Funyuns all day. You have to limit your sugar intake. You have to limit your fat intake. You have to measure your carbs and protein. And you have to count calories like Dustin Hoffman counts toothpicks in Rain ManBy the  October 26, 2015 deadline that I declared on September 24, I had exceeded my goal by a pound, weighing in at 158 lb. BOOSH. Here’s what that looks like:

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Stepping into the arena, declaring a goal, and blowing the roof off of it will light you up. And it’s within the realm of possibility for anyone. I got so proficient with the 35-lb. kettlebell that I moved up once again to a 53 lb. kettlebell. I named it Rebirth. Here are some expected (and unexpected) results:

  • A back of steel, and hips and shoulders that feel like freaking machines.
  • A core that’s stronger than ever.
  • Years of frequent shoulder pain, pops and crackles have disappeared.
  • A resting heart rate of under 60 BPM.
  • A new weird-ass bunch of bulging veins in my upper biceps and shoulders; I haven’t decided if they’re sexy or creepy.
  • I can totally jiggle my tits at will.
  • A return of confidence.

I’m not Bodybuilding Magazine‘s next cover model, but I don’t really give a crap. This project wasn’t based on comparison to anyone else. I did it as a testament of personal power and discipline, and as a means to light you up, to inspire you to dream up something and go after it. Let me tell you a secret about experiencing the miraculous in life: Declare a goal, something big, something that scares the shit out of you, something that seems impossible, and then make a relentless commitment to deliver on it, even if you have no idea how you’re going to do it.

I like to make promises that I’m not sure I can keep, and then figure out how to keep them. – Sophia Amoruso

I’m not superhuman. Hell, maybe I am. But if that’s true, then so are you. If I can do it, anyone can. Change your mentality. Stop obsessing over all the reasons it won’t work, and start obsessing over all the reasons it WILL.

Mural1

Dream big. LIVE BIGGER.  

tripp.life

Poop And Love – Entry 2: You Are A Sexy Beast

IMG_1241 (1)This is me around mid-June 2015. I’m approaching 140 lb. from 122 lb. About six weeks prior to this photo, I was down to 122 lb. from my latest ulcerative colitis flare, which started in January 2015. Skin and freaking bones, man. But I had a breakthrough in my mentality, my way of being, and I will happily share it with you in this second entry of Poop And Love, if you will agree to be infected with positivity and sexy confidence. Poop And Love – Entry 1: Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosis.

If you want to create change in your life, strive first to accept the way you are now. To clarify, that doesn’t mean you have to LIKE the way you are now. For example, I’m a sexy-ass beast. And so are you. And I mean that in a most non-arrogant way. It’s how I choose to carry myself. It’s joy, not pessimism. It’s confidence, not conceit. But here’s the thing (the part I don’t necessarily LIKE sometimes): I’m a relatively small guy, an ectomorph, i.e. considerable strength packed into a body made out of pipe cleaners. Chances are you won’t see me flexing on the cover of Bodybuilding Magazine anytime soon. Between the ulcerative colitis and my body type, my historic challenge has always been keeping the weight on.

Now, before all the canker blossoms chime in with how amazingly kickass it must be to have no worries about obesity, allow me rattle off a few challenges for my fellow stick people in this obesity-focused society:

  • Good luck finding legit literature on how to GAIN weight; you’ll have better luck finding the Yetti sipping on Cognac and playing Spades with a Chupacabra at a hookah lounge in France. Incidentally, a few years back I did land on some solid lit by life guru Tim Ferriss, and I did some extreme self-experimentation from his book, The 4-Hour Body, to prove whether or not it could be done. See the results here. BOOSH.  
  • Whether you’re circling the death drain from fluid depletion at 115 lb. (true story) or getting ripped kettlebell style at 150 lb. (true story), it’s all the same to the handful of people who will tell you EVERY time they see you that you look sickly and need to eat your meat and potatoes. Never mind that an hour ago in your quest for weight gain, you nearly sacrificed a testicle in your efforts to leg press to muscle failure, or that shortly afterward, you swallowed a smidgeon of your own vomit when your body attempted to regurgitate that 1000 calorie weight gainer concoction you forced down.
  • When brute strength of any kind is being requested, if those seeking assistance have a choice between you and a 450-lb smoker with congestive heart failure, well, let’s just say you can go have a nap.

The aforementioned list is characteristic of the way I USED to be: self-conscious, pissed off, working out daily because I despised my frail, sickly body. In January 2015, I went into another ulcerative colitis flareup, and within three months saw all that hard work quickly waste away, from 145 lb. to 122 lb. But this time I tried something different: accepting my body for what it is, and for what it isn’t; letting go of the anger, the stress, the resentment; accepting it and creating new possibilities. So I got to work. I reconnected with some great mentors and found a good doctor who prescribed some alternative meds. After I held 122 lb. for a week with no further weight loss, I picked up the kettlebell, weak and fatigued, and Pavel Tsatsouline (Enter The Kettlebell) and I returned to the mat, where I’d left off six months prior, not because I hated my body, not because I wanted to look like somebody else, but because I know and accept who I am, and I know who I want to be: fit for life, e.g. a sexy-ass beast!

We have this common misconception in society that the fastest way to progress is to hate who you are so much that you are driven to change it. Here’s a news flash: If you don’t like who you are now, you won’t like who you are then. Just have a look at the numerous studies of the relationship between hitting the lottery and personal happiness (hint: it won’t fulfill you as much as you think it will). Learn to generate lasting change by first seeking to accept yourself exactly as you are, for everything you are, and for everything you aren’t. From there, you have a blank canvas, my friends. You are not attached to any pre-conceived notions or hindering circumstances. You are free to create a life that you love.

Cheers.

Poop And Love – Entry 1: Ulcerative Colitis Diagnosis

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I’ve been entertaining the idea of throwing out a periodic entry on The Impossibility Movement about dealing with the chronic condition known as ulcerative colitis. You can thank my defective, rotting gut for the inspiration. Calm your life. It won’t be loaded down with force-fed anatomy lessons or sultry emotional agony that would rival angst-filled teenyboppers thrown headlong into premature menses at the news of Zayn’s departure from One Direction.

I’ve been inspired to share a little personal nugget about my life that you may not know about me. It might inspire you. It might give you the warm fuzzy tinglies. Or it might make you want to vomit.

Well anyway, I shall tell you the story of my diagnosis. I will spare you the gory anatomical explanations. All you need to know for this entry is that UC means “ulcerative colitis,” and its most recognized defining characteristic is lots and lots (did I mention lots?) of shitting.

As it happens, I’ve been in and out hospitals a lot in my life. A torn ACL; a head contusion (twice); bloody noses (multiple); dislocated and broken fingers; deep foot laceration; complications from some rare bizarre bleeding disorder (for which I still have no diagnosis); and a host of hospital stays for the UC (amongst other things) have led me to the receiving end of medical care many times. It’s part of what inspired me to become a nurse.

One thing that happens when thrown into a hospital setting for the first time is that you lose certain parts of your dignity right swiftly. Many people resist it. Me, I chose to embrace it. It’s actually quite liberating to stop giving a crap about how you look. For example, during my first hospital stay for UC, multiple nurses and medical staff bore witness to my numerous sprints to the bathroom, open butcher paper gown traipsing merrily upon my exposed naked ass, breaking wind and/or other substances, left hand flailing violently in front of me as if to clear traffic, tips of right fingers crammed against my asshole like a mobile home versus a tornado, not a chance in hell of stopping the great deluge of Montezuma’s Revenge about to vacate the premises of my bowels.

When an imminent liquid bowel movement comes forth, your life’s priorities are suddenly quite simple. Nothing in life matters at that moment except making it to the nearest toilet; not bills, not looks, not relationships, not personal safety, and you certainly don’t give a rat’s ass about how many total strangers lay eyes upon your sunshine and biscuits.

During that particular hospital stay, I was scheduled for my first colonoscopy. That’s where they shove a small camera into your brown star to inspect around 80 feet of your colon. You have to prep by completely emptying the colon, hence the aforementioned sprints to the bathroom (as if I wasn’t crapping enough as it was). Twelve years ago, prepping for a colonoscopy was simple. I’ll paraphrase as instructed by the nurse:

Only consume clear liquids the day before this fantastical, magical experience; twelve hours before, quickly drink a half gallon of this pasty liquid that tastes like Vomit of Lucifer on a decaying possum carcass, with just a smidgen of skunk piss; you may add grape or lemon lime Gatorade to sweeten it. Try not to yark.

Bollocks. Lady, Wille Wonka and a Pope’s exorcism wouldn’t touch this forlorn concoction. I think I vomited more than I shat.

Anyway, the next day, after like 30 days of round the clock bloody diarrhea, my new GI doctor would report to my hospital room to deliver the official news that I had ulcerative colitis. Admission weight: 112 pounds as I recall (down about 30 pounds from my average weight at that time). I looked like Skeletor on Speed and Adipex. He would go on to explain all the wonders of this exciting new disease for which there was (and is) no cure, and with which I should be prepared to deal for life. So here I was at 25 with no major medical history, thrown headlong into the world of chronic disease.

I must say that I’ve been blessed to have spent the majority of my life since my diagnosis in remission. That is to say, I usually only average a flareup about twice a year, and through self-experimentation I have developed several methods for quick recovery.  Over the years, I’ve been surprised at how much I’ve learned about life with a chronic condition. You learn that you can take much more than you thought, that you can find peace and happiness even in the midst of excruciating pain, and that your outer condition and circumstances have little (if anything) to do with your inner spiritual state.

My friends, true peace is possible in any circumstance or condition. I am the evidence.

Cheers.