Soooo, I'm going to write personal ruminations as inspired by other threads in the Random Thoughts thread and see if that is more tolerable for others. I don't want to distract from sensible speculation in the Arrowverse thread with thoughts on fitness. We've been talking a bit about how Tom Welling did some intense stuff to keep looking 25 for 10 seasons of SMALLVILLE and how since then, Welling has allowed himself to look like a 42 year old man.
Superhero Fitness: Because I do not play a CW superhero, I do not exercise as those actors do which is probably why I've been hovering at about 40 pounds heavier than I'd like to be for awhile. But actors in shows I watch have affected my attitudes to fitness in ways positive and negative. Tom Welling, Jerry O'Connell, Stephen Amell, Grant Gustin and Brandon Routh have all affected my approach to my body.
Bulletproof Diet: I eat somewhat like Brandon Routh does (grilled meats and vegetables, low carb, high fat). I don't go to his extremes of saving lard from cooked bacon for reuse and light-heating/moderate-steaming methods of the Bulletproof Diet are too troublesome for me. But I pick and choose my methods from various actors.
Tom Welling: I remember being a chubby and acne-covered 15 year-old and seeing Tom Welling onscreen and wishing I could be that good looking and being told I couldn't because Tom was genetically gifted and a model and an athlete whereas I had to do a makeup credit to pass high school gym. I accepted that I would be a bloated, awkward, scarred person and, I suppose, accepted the low self-esteem and self-loathing that resulted. Tom Welling made me give up. (Wow, that makes it sound like I'm blaming him.)
Five years later in university, I lost a ton of weight due to a poor student diet, became extremely skinny and discovered skin care and how small, daily cleansings and treatments could give me a fresh-faced look that I retain today. Another five years later, I was eating 'normally' again and regained all the lost weight. Clearly, weight loss was possible for me but not necessarily convenient or sustainable.
Jerry O'Connell: Quinn's body is an interesting but not necessarily enlightening study. In Seasons 1 - 2, Jerry would film SLIDERS and have a lot of physical activities with fencing and workouts. He maintained a lean, lightly muscled body even with a little weight gain during Seasons 3 - 4 when he was out all night drinking and eating junk food. His daily activity and some supplemental exercise was enough to keep him in shape during SLIDERS and it's not like Quinn Mallory wore tights. After SLIDERS and a period of weight gain that nearly got him fired off his kangaroo movie, Jerry adopted a Routh-type diet and exercise regime, but he describes it as his job.
Jerry described how when he switched to only eating meat and vegetables he cooked himself instead of foods he defrosted or ordered in, the fat "dripped" off his body. I tried doing that, but I would experience crazy hunger pangs, crave pizza and croissants and bagels and always gave in and fall back into sugar highs and sugar crashes that would lead to more binges.
Stephen Amell: Superhero fitness is an illusion. Stephen Amell has talked about how he can't even look at bread or beer when he's staying in shape for ARROW and that he has to constantly work out for specific shots and scenes. I don't need to look like that and Amell's diet and exercise regime sounded too insane to consider. I wouldn't have minded looking like the lean, trim Grant Gustin, but weight control seemed out of my hands; deprivation just led to binging. I couldn't eat less, couldn't exercise more.
Then a subsequent interview with Amell sparked something in me; he talked about how he ingested a large amount of fat and protein for breakfast and then his blood sugar would stay stable right into the afternoon and he wouldn't feel overly hungry and wouldn't overeat. Amell's words hit me when I was spending my evenings of consuming three helpings of lasagna. I realized that while it was important to eat the right things as Jerry O'Connell did, there was also an aspect of timing and what I ate in the morning would affect what I wanted to eat later on.
But after a few mornings of getting up an hour earlier to cook bacon and eggs before going to the office, I couldn't keep doing it. I am someone who sleeps later, has time to shower and make coffee and then I'm off to work. Amell's methods would work if I could execute them, but I couldn't.
Grant Gustin: I decided that I would like to look like the Flash. That seemed healthy and achievable. I started doing moderate daily exercise and started measure calories in versus calories out. I tried to make the bulk of my meals ones I cooked myself to avoid all the added sugar in processed foods. This worked to a degree; I lost quite a bit of weight and currently, I feel like I'm a few months away from looking like Barry, but I feel like I've been a few months away from looking like Barry for YEARS.
Every time I get a cold or get upset, I find myself lapsing back into frozen macaroni and cheese or pizza, and when I come out of it, I've regained about half to three-quarters of the poundage I've most recently lost. I recently had a fight with my niece and spent the next four days bleakly eating ice cream.
Bulletproof Coffee: In recent months, I read more of Routh's interviews where he explained that, like Amell, he consumes a large amount of fat first thing in the morning. But he does so in the form of a beverage: he stirs coconut oil extract and butter into a coffee and drinks 400 - 500 calories' worth of fat, preventing hunger pangs later in the day. The coconut oil metabolizes quickly and encourages the brain and body to burn fat instead of sugar and reduces cravings for processed foods.
Traditionally, convincing your body to burn fat instead of sugar is achieved through severe carb restriction for 3 - 4 days, but this high fat coffee supposedly gets your body into this state within a day. I tried this and it helped quite a bit. Whenever I fell into a carb heavy day, I used coconut oil and coffee to reduce the sugar withdrawal symptoms after resuming a healthy diet. This time last year, I was about 80 pounds from Grant Gustin's weight. I'm currently 40 pounds from his weight.
My version of Bulletproof Coffee omits the butter, so it only contains 180 calories per cup instead of the 400 plus. I'm contemplating adding the butter, drinking 400 calories every morning and seeing if that helps me avoid falling back into carbs again, and I also need try a few sugarless pudding recipes to try to replace ice cream in my life.
William Shatner: I find myself thinking about poor William Shatner. Shatner would start each season in shape. However, the low budget of the show meant that Shatner was filming 12 hour days. There was no time off for him to exercise. The producers demanded that he be in perfect shape, but did not supply Shatner with periods between filming to exercise or dieticians to manage his food or trainers to guide him in maintaining his physique. Instead, they fat-shamed him, encouraged him to crash diet. He would starve, binge, not have time to exercise, gain weight.
Also problematic: the Starfleet uniforms he wore were dry cleaned every episode. With each dry cleaning, the peculiar material of the uniforms shrank. The show didn't have the budget to manufacture more than a few for Shatner to wear, so his weight gain would show because his costumes kept getting tighter every week.
Admittedly, nutritional science was not where it is today with Stephen Amell and Brandon Routh and showrunners now know: if they want their leading man to look a certain way, they need to support him with hiring a trainer and a dietician and supply what the dietician stipulates. Even civilians can do fitness on a budget with a fitness tracker to monitor calories burned and a phone app to track how much one has consumed.
Serenity: Anyway. I've tried a lot of stuff and I really think that if I stop using junk food and frozen foods as a crutch for illness or mood swings and stick to cooking my own meals and maintaining my exercise, I will get my body into the shape I want in a few months. There's something to be said for the cost as well: it is a lot cheaper to buy raw foods and cook them than it is to buy frozen, processed products. When I don't buy processed foods, my food costs go down by 60 per cent.
I am struck by how Brandon Routh doesn't see fitness as his job. For him, it's his life. He has talked in interviews about the state of mind that comes with proper exercise and diet. The sense of knowing precisely what your body needs and giving it exactly that and no more and no less. The feeling of controlling not your weight, not your shape, but your health and well-being. The satisfaction of eating what you need and enjoy but not more than what you need and never more than what is good for you. I don't want to be Brandon Routh, but I want that sense of peace.