It has been 45 weeks, since my last B30 Rundown post, all the way back in August 2020.
I’ve since upgraded from running on the streets with just limited T-shirts and one pair of short, to full-blown product placement Under Armour athletic wear.
I have also taken up tennis as my preferred means of staying fit and has kept a consistent diet, trying to limit my meals to smaller portions every day.
Although I will confess that lately, the past week or so, has seen me relapsed a bit. I do need to get my eating under control again.
Mind you, it isn’t anything drastic, but it is more an observation that I ate more sweets and sugary drinks the last 7 days than normal, (which is to say I actually don’t normally eat any of that stuff) so the priority this week is to cull that and really limit the amount of sugar and preservatives I am consuming.
Over the past 40 odd weeks, I have gone through another 2 weeks of lockdown, instability in my work-life balance and resumed poor sleeping times.
Despite those hindrances in the B30 Challenge, my overall fitness has increased and I can happily say that I am nearer my goal of sub-70kgs than ever before.
I am currently sitting at 72kgs, which is the lightest I’ve ever been and the leanest.
I credit tennis for keeping me this healthy and for the obsession I currently have with topspin. Tennis in combination with a stricter diet has allowed me to finally look at my body with pride and develop a healthy ego regarding my fitness.
It has also sparked a lot of side effects that I’ve adopted.
The first real carry-over that being fit has instilled in me, is a healthy work-life balance routine that means that I spend less time at home and more time outdoors, actually being around people and enjoying the sun. My days feel more full, more active and I feel better at home, knowing that I earned a rest, instead of feeling lazy.
Going home feels like I am recovering and that is a much more satisfying feeling than I felt about home for a long time. It is nice to go home with a bit of an ache/soreness in the muscles and then feel rejuvenated after a good night sleep.
The second effect was a desire to maintain my looks. Vanity has slowly crept in, my confidence now soaring higher than it has ever been, and I am now much more conscious of my fashion, hairstyle and skin. I experiment more with my clothes, from wearing a haori casually out and about to colour coordinating my UA outfits to ensure they all match and gel with other.
I have probably spent more on clothes this year than I have ever done the past 3 years and this all stems from a true desire to push my looks forward into something much more confident. I will humbly brag that my colourful wardrobe from UA does make me feel and look like a professional player and indicate that I have some kind of sponsorship (when that is far from the truth). From the mask, down to the shoes, everything is Under Armour and I take a certain amount of pride in that.
Skincare is another element that is now a serious factor in my lifestyle. Working from 10am to 6pm, then doing an additional 2 hours of tennis/football (split – 1.5 hours tennis : 0.5 hours football) means that my skin is taking a whole new level of dirt and particulates. In searching for a skincare brand that would suit me, my ever beauty-conscious girlfriend recommended me AESOP. It ended up being the perfect type of skincare for someone like myself, with my more lazy but expensive approach to skincare.
Aesop is definitely not cheap, but I could instantly tell the difference upon using their basic 3-step process to skincare. Cleanser – Toner – Moisturiser. I only use them once, daily, but the feeling I get from them, is quite luxurious. My skin feels cleaner, softer to touch and seemingly heals a lot quicker too. For someone who has been reluctant to wash my face, due to innate laziness … this has been something of a revelation to me and I now appreciate taking some extra time to clean my face after my daily exercises.
The final point in this vanity section is my haircut, which I have long maintained is the key between an average Damocles and an above average Damocles. I no longer wait 3 to 4 months between trims, instead preferring to go bimonthly to ensure I get maximum use out of my hair, and maintaining a neat, clean look at all times.
Speaking of hair vanity, another crucial development in my conditioning has been football. For Australians/American readers, I am referring to soccer, but I shall be maintaining the rest of the world’s vernacular and refer to the sport as football.
A recent new obsession, and I suppose with the world of sports (F1, Tennis, Football …. I wonder if NFL is next?) I have taken up football in my spare time, to improve my tennis skills. A key ability in football is the skill to accelerate, and perform rapid changes in direction, something that will help me immensely in tennis. I also happen to note that a lot of professional athletes in Formula 1 and tennis engage with a football quite often, as it improves conditioning, cardio, hand (foot)-eye coordination and a whole host of other benefits.
I wanted to emulate that spirit and promptly bought my first pair of boots (UA of course, but soon to be added are a pair of Nike Mercurials) and a football to practice.
Kicking something has never been so fun, and I was immediately transported to the fun I had in high school, as a member of the football team. Curving a football is now my most immediate concern, my desire to top bin the football via a ridiculous curve an obsession that has only grown with each hour of practice.
I’ve yet to pick a team to barracks for, but I am sure that will come soon. My timing could not be more great, as the UEFA EURO2020 is currently airing and I am finding myself absorbed by the game, atmosphere and tension.
Football is not something I want to compete in, unlike tennis, however owning to my ridiculous ego and competitive spirit, I do want to get to a level in football where I can best all my friends easily and hold my head up high, knowing that I can do advanced dribbles, score well and more importantly pass accurately.
I should also mention that since getting into football, a rather large crush has been developed on the star, Cristiano Ronaldo. His attitude, drive and confidence are all things I aspire to, and I’ve also become a lot more health conscious, following his rejection of Coca-Cola ($4 billion dollar loss … incredible). It still shocks me how a role model can truly affect the way how you live, and I am thankful he is one of the best men to emulate.
Tennis still remains my number one priority however, with a true desire to compete on a higher level and represent my club in some form.
The daily practice is slowly paying off too, with my usual tennis partner surprised that I could serve for once, after nearly 5 months of struggling. What also helped was a more critical and objective based mindset in my training, making sure that I could get a more narrow window of consistency and accuracy, really punishing myself when I couldn’t get a forehand in my narrow window of opportunity.
For this, I can thank both Cristiano Ronaldo for his infamous reputation of being first in and last out for training sessions and the quiet voice of Lucas Botkin from T-REX ARMS urging me to have more purpose in my training sessions. After all, I can’t expect to improve myself with sloppy and wasteful training. I need to ensure each session has set goals, and high standards so that my 90% becomes the new 100% and it only continues to rise from there.
The final side effect of my constant training is my competitive spirit, which has gone up considerably. I used to be in denial about how competitive I was, preferring to let things go and seethe quietly in resentment and envy. Nowadays however, there is a motto I live by: Second place is the first loser which I remember was emblazoned across a billboard in Japan’s Suzuka Circuit and has stuck with me ever since.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that I despise losing in whatever it is that I do. To lose, without any signs of improving is probably the worst sensation I can experience in sport, and is deeply bitter to me. I can handle loss, as long as it is another step to getting better.
A good example is my last tennis session. Having lost my last set, 4-6 to my opponent in our last practice session, I was not overly disappointed, as it was my first actual attempt at serving properly, with my racket actually serving a couple of aces, and putting into practice a lot of the techniques I’ve experimented with in my training.
Losing 4-6 was a huge improvement over my previous games, which I normally lose 1-6. It also helped that my football dribbling practice came in a huge way, allowing me to really move around the court with speed and precision.
What was key though, was that I walked away from that experience knowing what my weak points are and what I need to focus on in my training.
I’m grateful that nowadays with my routine and life, I can find the energy to be more serious about my hobbies and still get a lot of enjoyment out of them. I am also exceedingly grateful that all my exercise and dieting has actually allowed me to do a normal pull-up for once in my life.
Only the other day, I managed to rip 5 in succession, a huge improvement over my entire life, if I am honest.
It feels good to know that everything I am doing, is improving all aspects of my life, and that I am well on track to beating my personal challenge of being the best version I can be, before the ripe old age of 30.
This is probably the best version of Damocles that has come so far, and the beautiful thing, it can only go up from here if I keep at it.