Music, as well as health/fitness, is a passion of mine. So when I found out the lead singer of one of my favorite bands Mikel Jollett (The Airborne Toxic Event) wrote an article for Men’s Health back in 2006 I was excited to read it! Mikel Jollett was a freelance writer prior to the band; I already knew he was ridiculously good at writing from his music, but this Men’s Health article is damn good! I’ve attached that article below. I relate to his article so much because as funny as this may sound, while I was going through my weight loss transformation of 80lbs I was really motivated by the character Jason Stackhouse (Ryan Kwanten) of the HBO series True Blood.
Jason had the exact body I always dreamed about since I was a little fat kid. After each episode of True Blood I felt like working out, haha! When I felt tempted to cheat on my diet, I would think of Jason Stackhouse, and as silly as it sounds this kept me on track with my diet. Motivation can come from the oddest places, but whatever that motivation may be, use it! Put up pictures around your house to keep reminding yourself. Constantly visit whatever motivates you, whether it’s a person, a thought, a feeling, a goal; use the heck out of it!
Here’s the article by Mikel
“Brad Pitt Whipped Me Into Shape”
By Mikel Jollett
I was a big fat slob. Then I went to the movies.
You can find the motivation to get in shape in the oddest places.
Some guys find it in a doctor’s office after a sobering chest exam or blood test or biopsy. Others find it at a high-school reunion when That Girl from 10th-grade biology doesnt recognize them through the haze of cheap vodka, male-pattern baldness, and so many forgotten years. As any good Russian novelist could tell you, life reaches a crossroads – and big changes follow – when sex seems less likely than death.
I found my motivation in the back of a movie theatre in Santa Monica, California. That’s where Brad Pitt comes in, but more about him later.
I was 25 years old, working a hundred hours a week in an office. I hadn’t really set out for that life, but you know how those things go. You’d trade a kidney for an extra zero at the end of your paycheck, and so on. My days were filled with 5-year plans, capital-amortization reports, key-performance indices – i.e., the tortured lexicon of the modern office. For the first time in my life, there wasn’t much time for exercise. Hell, there wasn’t much time for anything but sleep and work. And eating.
Why do so many office events involve food? The candy jar on the secretary’s desk. Doughnuts at morning budget meetings. Rubbery chicken lunches at the Yale Club. Steak dinners with board members. It’s like we’re trying to feed some existential hunger, trying to fill a dark void at the center of office life with caramels, Hershey’s Kisses, and muffin baskets. People eat at the office for the same reason they drink at a bar: to forget they’re there.
I don’t know exactly when it got away from me. In college, on the track team, I had been all-Pac 10 in the 10,000 meters, a svelte 148 pounds whipping around the oval at 70 seconds per quarter mile. At that age, those of us on the cross-country team, those of us who ran 12 to 15 miles a day and ate mountains of food at night, felt like wild beasts. Like we were born to leap boulders, like we were panting, pawing, screaming to run. It’s probably mixed up with some milk-toothed adolescent fantasy, but we really felt like we were pushing the limits of mortality. All that pain and strain and exhaustion and exhilaration. How far can we go? How fast can we run? How much can we take? Let’s find out.
But by age 25, after 3 years in office purgatory, 3 years of meetings and dinners and lunches and drinks, I was up to 225 pounds. Sitting there, listening to these middle-aged men make jokes about their wives over two-martini lunches, I felt caged, fenced in, trapped, old, tired, fat, bored.
I would find myself walking the fluorescent-lit corridors of that ungodly building with reams of green-and-white printout paper covered with endless rows of numbers, a big, round gut hanging over the 38-inch waistline of my green slacks, seething about the budget. “Have you seen these numbers, people?” Every now and then I’d catch a glimpse of my reflection in the office glass and wonder who the fat man was.
Then it happened. In that movie theater in Santa Monica. Fight Club. I know that sounds trite. I know it should have been the birth of my first child or something. But it was Fight Club that did it.
I remember seeing Marla Singer (played by Helena Bonham Carter), with that ragged eyeliner and waifish body. She was so trashy and dirty and hot and broke. And Tyler Durden (Brad Pitt) lived in this abandoned house in the middle of nowhere with the anonymous narrator (Ed Norton). All they ever did was get in fights, wreak havoc, work out, and make fun of the automatons. Though it all ended miserably – but triumphantly! – with that Pixies song when those buildings blew up, God, my life just seemed so tame by comparison, so forgettable, so compliant. I thought, What the hell am I doing? I’m 25 years old.
I saw the movie four times in one week. And I cracked. I quit my job. I dumped my girlfriend. I started working out constantly. Running, swimming, lifting weights, drinking protein shakes, eating apples.
My routine was basic. I thought of it as a matter of simple physics: If I burn more than I consume, my body will metabolize fat. It has to. I figured that at my weight, with my metabolism, I burned about 2,500 calories a day. So I kept to a 2,000 calorie diet and worked out like mad. Four runs a week (100 calories per mile), three swims (100 calories per 15 minutes), four weight sessions (300 calories per hour, plus beach muscles). I made sure I never rang up more than a 7,000 calorie deficit (which equals 2 pounds of fat) in a given week, since your body freaks out when you do that.
It was tedious at first. The runs were painful, I was always sore, and it took so much damn time. I had to make a decision: The plan would come first – it was the only obligation I absolutely had to fulfill. Everything else in my life would have to fit in around it.
After about a month, after the initial shock had worn off, once my feet had calloused over and my hair had become ragged from the chlorine, the plan became something else. A dare. Not in the okay-tough-guy, No Fear, come-over-here-and-check-out-my-glutes kind of way. More like it was a daring thing to do.
Because if you think about it, it’s kind of absurd. Grown adults running through fields, unprompted, unchased, lifting heavy objects for no practical purpose, swimming back and forth repeatedly across a rectangle of water and heavy chemicals. It prompts a question in your mind, while you’re pursuing these senseless tasks: What sort of creature does this kind of thing, anyway?
Over time, the answer becomes obvious, even if it’s just something you feel in your bones: Because this is what I was born to do. This is what this body was made for.
As for the desk job, those hellishly vapid budget reports: Was I honestly made for that crap?
When the money that I’d saved ran out, I started working as a carpenter, walking around with a tool belt on all day, driving a 5-ton truck, familiarizing myself with the layout of Home Depot. It was good to be paid to sweat. The guys I worked with couldn’t quite understand why I was doing basic construction instead of the cushy office job I’d left. “Hey, Stanford U,” they’d say to me, “think you could nail this two-by-four in that frame over there? They teach you how to do that in school?”
The work itself had its benefits. At the end of the day, when my back hurt and my hands ached from pounding a hammer or wielding a screw gun for 8 hours, I felt as though I’d earned a drink. And anyway, there is a certain manful pride in knowing your way around a miter saw and a speed square. But it was mostly monotonous and nothing I had aspired to. I wasn’t in it for that.
I was in it for the sense of possibility. For the idea that you can shake your life up like a soda bottle and smack it against the wall. That whatever prisons we construct in our lives – whether it’s an awful job, a gut, an unhappy marriage, an addiction, the things in life that hem us in, that make us wake up in the morning in a cold sweat and think, How did I get like this? and How can I escape? – all these things are transient. For me, and maybe for anyone, the answer was, just leave. Tear the entire thing down.
In 6 months, I was down 55 pounds – to 170 – and had all the accoutrements that so famously go with exercise: more energy, more confidence, better sleep, less stress. In place of the gut, I had the six-pack I’d had in college. I was also broke and single and had squandered what I had once understood to be a promising future. I didn’t care.
I met a girl in Las Vegas. We exchanged phone numbers, and when I got back to Los Angeles, I called her. She invited me over to her place, a real dump in Culver City that was brimming with empty wine bottles and Liz Phair posters. When I walked in, she was sitting on the couch – skinny, big eyes, flat chested, her shirt half unbuttoned, dirty blonde hair, and lots of eyeliner. My own private Marla Singer. I nearly cried.
“Have you seen this movie?” she asked, pointing to the television. And I couldn’t even make this up: It was Fight Club – the scene where Ed Norton fakes a fight with his boss to get fired. In the process he destroys the office, cutting his hands and back and face on the shattered galss of a coffee table. He walks out, whistling, pushing a pile of office equipment in a cart, with a smile on his face and blood dripping down his shirt. Fantastic.
I know, I know. Sophomoric. It is, a bit. But whatever the motivation, once I started taking exercise seriously, I felt more alive. I felt that my life had possibilities. I felt stronger. There’s really nothing so basically transformative, nothing so regenerative, as getting in shape. Some of it is simple blood sugar, blood pressure, metabolism, and endorphins. Your high-school P.E. teacher could have told you that. But it’s also the sense that if you can change your body, you can change anything. You feel your muscles working beneath your clothes, you become aware of your heartbeat, and you remember that you’re an animal first and animals do not like to be fenced in.
The fact is, we’re going to be dead someday, and I don’t care how important we are or how much money we make, how refined our taste in wine, music, clothes, literature, art, women. Those things are great, but there’s just no escaping that your life begins and ends in your own body, your health, your ability to talk to That Girl with confidence, smile in the face of sobering news, senselessly lift heavy objects, swim great distances across various geometric figures, test your mortality, shatter some glass, eat an apple, tear across the plains, and run down a bloody gazelle.
It may be absurd, but honestly, you have to fill the void somehow, and you’re simply not going to do it with muffin baskets.
The right music at the right time can shift a negative mindset to a positive one. Music moves your soul/helps get your mind right.
Keeping up with our monthly ritual; I present to you our top 10 workout songs as of March 2012:
10- Of Monsters And Men – “Little Talks”: This Icelandic six piece resembles a lot of other bands; Arcade Fire, Edward Sharpe, Mumford & Sons, and The XX come to mind. This song in particular has catchy rhythms and happy narrative lyrics. I find myself shouting “Hey!”, give this song a listen and you will too.
9- Wolf Gang – “The King And All Of His Men”: Their debut album ‘Suego Faults’ has been on my music rotation for weeks now. This track in particular is pop-tastic! It sounds like an instant “radio hit”.
8- The Rapture – “Whoo! Alright – Yeah…Uh Huh”: This indie-rock band from New York City has been making hipsters dance for years now. They have an aggressive guitar/funk sound that’s really fun to listen to.
7- The Airborne Toxic Event – “Missy”: It’s actually kind of funny because when this song comes on during my workout I STOP working out and I START dancing; I just can’t help myself. I’m going to say this once again; if you haven’t heard of The Airborne Toxic Event, give them a listen and thank me later. They are that GREAT.
6- Yeah Yeah Yeah’s – “Zero”: Lead singer Karen O’s voice is mesmerizing. This song is awesome right from the opening line, “Shake it like a ladder to the sun, Makes me feel like a madman on the run”. It’s an electro-rock whoop that will make you shout You’re a zero-ohh!
5- Foster The People – “Helena Beat”: Want some good music to dance to? Quick, play some FTP! These guys get me “pumped up” during workouts! I love the high-pitched falsetto vocals of Mark Foster in this fun, synth-rock track.
4- The Killers – “Read My Mind – Pet Shot Boys Stars Are Blazing Mix”: Truth is, you could never go wrong with a Killers song; no matter what mood you are in they will scratch that itch every single time. This remix has an 80’s vibe to it courtesy of The Pet Shot Boys.
3- Silversun Pickups – “Lazy Eye”: If you didn’t know any better you might mistaken this band for The Smashing Pumpkins, but listen closely and you will see that they have their own unique sound. The guitar riffs alone make this track jump my list. It has an epic build up that makes me want to push harder.
2- Walk The Moon “Anna Sun”: The best way to describe this track would be unique, but easily relate-able. Their sound is an infectious blend of indie rock and indie pop. The hook of this song is gigantic and so much fun to sing along to!
1- Arctic Monkeys “R U Mine?”: It kicks off with a thumping drum intro and a dangerously waving guitar riff. NME magazine describes this song as “a riff-tastic, 70’s-indebted monster”. The music video is really cool, make sure to check that out.
You can view, listen and subscribe to my entire SHREDFAT workout playlist below. How cool is that!
To get the most out of my workout I need to be listening to my favorite tunes. Even when I was going through the P90X program (a total of 3 times!), I had Tony Horton guiding me through the workout while my favorite music was blasting in the background. Music get’s me pumped up and makes working out more enjoyable. I’ve mentioned this before; there have been many recent studies that show if you listen to music while exercising, your brain will probably work better too. Our emotional ties to music can also help us perform our best.
With all of that being said, I present you with my top 10 workout songs as of February 2012:
10- Florence & The Machine – “You’ve Got The Love”: This song has become a staple for me as the first song I play during my workout. Florence Welch’s soothing yet powerful voice helps me get through my warm-up/stretching routine, and prepares me for my workout.
9- Neon Trees – “Everybody Talks”: This uptempo song is fun to sing along with especially the part where lead singer Tyler Glenn shouts “Hey honey you can be my drug, you can be my new prescription. TOO MUCH CAN BE AN OVERDOSE, ALL THIS TRASH TALK GETS ME ITCHIN!”
8- M83 – “Midnight City”: This French band lays down a dance-pop song that’s loaded with some awesome synths and stadium-sized drums. It also has a sexy sax solo in it! I like to shout out the line “THE CITY IS MY CHURCH” when I workout to this song.
7- Modest Mouse – “Float On”: While this song is not new (released in 2004) by any means, it is a classic for me. This indie-pop march is my go to song for cardio. Theres something special about reaching that exhaustive point while “and we’ll all float on” plays in the background.
6- Eminem featuring Royce Da 5’9″ – “Above The Law”: Eminem is the master of lyrics, he’s also my favorite hip hop artist. When I listen to him spit rhymes I can feel the anger in his voice and words, it makes me angry which is definitely a good thing when I’m lifting weights. Try this; sprint during Eminem’s entire verse. I do it every single time, can you last the entire verse?
5- The Killers – “Daddy’s Eyes”: The combination of Brandon Flower’s vocals, Dave Keuning’s awesome guitar riffs, and the rest of the bands near perfect musical talent are enough to put me in a good mood every single time. The lyrics “dreams should last a long time, this is not what I call goodbye” is followed by a euphoric feeling as the entire band plays in harmony; that part always makes me push myself harder.
4- Young The Giant – “My Body”: Lead vocalist Sameer Gadhia increases in tension until the chorus blasts forth with an overwhelming flow of emotions. “My body tells me no!” he exclaims, “but I won’t quit ‘cause I want more.”, what better way to describe my workout?
3- Fun featuring Janelle Monae – “We Are Young”: This fairly new indie-pop band is climbing my list of favorite bands. The chorus is massive with frontman Nathan Reuss’ singing “Tonight, we are young/ So let’s set the world on fire”. It’s a catchy track that leaves you feeling good about yourself.
2- The Airborne Toxic Event – “Innocence”: The build up in the song is epic; it starts out slow paced with the beautiful sound of Anna Bulbrook’s violin, it then proceeds to explode in your face. Lead singer Mikel Jollett is one of the most talented writers in the music industry; I can feel his pain as he shouts “And I tear, I tear, so hard, And I tear, I tear, so hard And I beg and scream, I was wrong. It’s over, she’s gone.” By the end of it I am overwhelmed with emotions, it makes me want to fight for what I want in life. If you haven’t heard of this band, you should really give them a listen, you can thank me later.
1- Gotye featuring Kimbra “Somebody That I Used To Know”: I admit, I am utterly addicted to this song. It’s getting more play than any other song for me at the moment. Gotye’s sound is different than others, this song in particular is haunting, overflowing with emotion. Kimbra’s beautiful vocals explode onto the track. The backing vocals towards the end of the song are a great touch. I dare you to listen to this song and not sing it all day in your head!
You can view, listen and subscribe to my entire SHREDFAT workout playlist below. How cool is that!