Monday, January 02, 2012
After more than a year of not taking care of myself properly, I've decided to get physical. A couple of days ago,I started jogging, doing sets of push-ups and sit-ups throughout the day and taking my dog for long, fast walks through the dull but leafy suburban flatlands where I live. This afternoon, I'll begin working with weights and the Schwarzenegger-scale cardio' machines at my local gym, a small, friendly, family-run business where a cadre of serious natural bodybuilders train. I'm also going to swim and learn to box. I adhere to a strict diet. Every night, before I go to bed, I measure and prepare my food for the following day. The menus are balanced and healthy, devised by a nutritionist. The alarm on my iPhone is set to remind me to eat at five specific times.I'm tired and sore, very sore, but I also feel really fucking good. Being physical again enlivens me and draws me out of the confines of my own messy mind. I could do all this gradually, rather than take on such a relentless daily regime. But the process is as important to me as the outcome. The U.S. Marine Corps' boot-camp mantra – Pain is weakness leaving the body – is as much about building mental strength as physical. Hard training demands mental discipline and stamina. To put it in terms only a psychiatrist would use, it changes (therefore reprograms) one's internal dialogue, to encourage self-confidence and a determination to push through inevitable barriers. The last couple of years have been my worst, strewn with epsiodes of mental illness, a bankruptcy, and my father's death from an insidious cancer. I was forced to return to Brisbane and confront a deeply troubled past. My physical health declined shaprly and last month, I underwent surgery. I'd become withdrawn and allowed myself to grow frail, soft and fat.The state of my mind and body affect my creativity. Hard exercise and a balanced diet clear the manic static in my head better than any medication. They shape not only my body but also the way I think. The difference will be apparent in my new work.