Once you get to the inside of the exercise world — of which I am now a part, thank you very much — there are a number of myths and legends that persist. One of the most popular, and one that I can now vouch for, is that getting in shape is a “lifestyle change.”

[media-credit name=”Daily Nexus File Photo” align=”alignleft” width=”140″][/media-credit] How did I discover this? In my first week writing this column, I made it to half of my classes. After really committing to it last week, I made it to each of my six before it all fell apart Thursday night when I went downtown for my roommate’s birthday. Countless shots, a possible moment of drunken shit-talking to a Gaucho soccer player and $113 later, I didn’t feel so in shape. It was better than if I hadn’t exercised at all last week, but I think I took one step forward and two drunk stumbles back.

So if it’s a lifestyle change that I have to make, what are my new rules? And how do I implement them without throwing my social mojo out of whack? As seems to be the case in all aspects of life, it comes back to balance.

What my ESS classes help most with is leading an active general lifestyle outside of the binge drinking thing. When I’m getting in at least an hour per day of semi-strenuous exercise during the week, I’ve had the urge to get out of the house on weekend days, too. You might think you don’t like to exercise, but that post-workout buzz you get from upping your heart rate back into positive numbers? Everybody loves it. When you finally train your body to think about how you’re going to feel after you work out instead of the slam-your-head-into-the-wall-awful feeling of starting a run, the working out becomes a lot easier.

This weekend, I played tennis on my own time. That’s right, kids. I got out of bed, threw on some shorts, walked my ass to the RecCen and rallied. I even recruited a few friends to play doubles with me. I’m not sure if one round of tennis can be considered an entire lifestyle change, but I take the fact that physical activity has already spilled into my precious weekend time as a good sign.

There’s one other word that goes along with exercise: diet. For a lot of people, diet is an even more daunting concept than hitting the gym. I guess it’s something about college, because my diet consists exclusively of cereal and burritos. It bugs the shit out of me, too, because I know how easy it would be to eat somewhat healthily.

Step one: Buy and cook things from a — gasp! — grocery store. Cooking food, even if you’re cooking the same shit you would buy from Déjà Vu, is a lot cheaper and also better for you. Plus, Bobby Flay-ing it up in some girl’s kitchen is going to score you more points than pulling off that bottle cap with your eye. I’m no nutritionist, but if I’m going to be putting gasoline into my hot bod (see picture above) in the form of food for the next few decades, it should really be premium unleaded.

Exercise has already started to improve the quality of my life outside of the PE classes, and I’m going to make a concerted effort to have the same thing happen with my diet. Of course, I’ll have to balance my newfound healthy lifestyle by jamming burgers down my throat every once in a while, but no one said the transition couldn’t be gradual. At the end of the day, I’m not trying to be a pro-athlete, just a non-fatty. I’m allowed to take my time with it, and you are too.

Fatty Points v. Effort Points:

Mark’s Total This Week: 12 Effort Points