The person who nudged me into doing the whole fitness thing is a remarkable guy named Stu Levy. I started working with him in 2011 when I became a part of the post-production team on his documentary Pray For Japan. If the name is somewhat familiar it should be: Stu started the company TOKYOPOP and was one of the first to put out English-localized manga in the US. TOKYOPOP was the very first to actually teach people how to read Japanese manga the way it is intended to be read, and stop reversing the layout to make it read left-to-right. (Obligatory disclosure: I do TOKYOPOP’s website and some of their social media.)
Basically he’s been so inspirational to me because his story is a lot like my story. Stu was a little past 40 and he was your basic couch potato geek. His wakeup call was a bout of illness that made him realize that he was aging more rapidly than the calendar said he was. I was even older and feeling like crap, carrying around almost 220 pounds on a 5 foot 2 frame. I couldn’t even say I was “big boned” because I have a really small boned frame on top of being Hobbit-sized.
The similarities end there, however. Stu went out of his comfort zone and got into the Big Blue Room with the Big Yellow Light. He began walking. Not much at first, but some. The distances began getting longer. Walks became jogs. And jogs became runs. He did one or two 5Ks. Then a 10K or two. Then he tried his first marathon. He finished his first marathon. Then his times began getting faster and faster. He’s now qualified to run the Boston Marathon (this is officially a big deal for runners) and he’s done Ultra-marathon running distances on his own. All this in the space of 4 1/2 years.
Here’s his before picture…
And for the after picture, all you gotta do is check out the video.
Anyway, his story is uber-impressive. Like all those weight loss product commercials, you have to say “results not typical.” For one thing, men in general tend to shed pounds quicker than women, even at mid-life. And women simply do not get bulked up like men do even when they lift weights. If you see a woman with huge muscles, chances are she is using…umm…”performance enhancing substances.” Why do guys get bulky when women do not? Testosterone. It’s the same with dropping the weight. Testosterone helps. A lot.
My results have been, well, more typical. I’m a year and change on my fitness journey. I’ve lost some weight but I’m nowhere near ideal weight. I’m getting stronger but it is most definitely a process. There is a lot I can’t do in Crossfit yet, and I have yet to get from walking to running. I do intervals while I walk, however…a bit of running sandwiched between solid walking. I still want to learn racewalking form, but I have yet to find anyone to teach me. I might or might not have walked one 1/2 marathon length walk a few months ago, but I need to get back into distance walking.
However, Stu and I would agree on this: the goal is improving health. Weight loss is good, but health is the main goal. A person can be super healthy and super strong even if they are bigger than average. Great example, the strongest woman in the Western Hemisphere, Sarah Robles. She’s big, but she can clean-and-jerk several times her own weight.
Incredible. I want to be like her when I grow up! ^_^
Anyway, the reason why I’m linking to this, to wrap this entry up, is that a lot of you are wanting to learn Japanese as well as become healthier and more fit. You can kill two birds with one stone here, as Stu intends this for Japanese audiences. There are literally thousands of channels on YouTube about fitness in English. Not as many in Japanese. Stu saw a need and is now filling it. Stu is starting with teaching how to do stretches properly, which is worth a look. And you can work on your Japanese comprehension at the same time! How cool is that? Enjoy!