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Old 04-17-2008, 06:10 PM   #1
Daniel Mick
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From Japan With Love: An English Teacher-cum-Firefighter Hopeful

I already keep detailed daily paper records, but a digital version is nice too and the log allows for extended comments. I doubt anyone will ever read this but I hope they gain something if they do!

A bit about me:
I'm a 27 year old male originally from Kansas. After degrees in Digital Media Arts and Construction Management at a small college in Arkansas, I bartended for 6 months before going to India to do volunteer work and travel for 6 months. After another 6 month break doing wine/alcohol sales and bartending, I came to Japan where I've been for the past 3 years teaching English at a high school with the JET Programme. In July I will be moving to Portland to pursue my dream of being a firefighter/EMT with Portland Fire and Rescue.

A (funny?) physical history:
I was not a slender child. Looking back, it’s embarrassing to think that I was once proud whenever I got a new pair of “Husky” jeans. Of course I didn’t realize then that “husky” was synonymous with “fat kid.” I had always thought it was just a cool brand name. Too bad my scope of knowledge included information about those amazing tundra animals, but was lacking in any references to fat kid’s clothing sizes.

Lack of knowledge in the fashion world aside, I was cognitive enough to understand the humiliation resultant of weak physical performance. I made a killing in Four Square at recess, but that’s not one of the areas of performance in the “Presidential Fitness Test.” We all remember those torturous days in gym thanks to Bush and Arnold. I think you would agree it’s hard for an 8 year old to deal with the fact that he always lost to the girls in sprints and had to do the “hang test,” an experiment in child shame in which kids unable to do pull-ups were required to just hang listlessly from a bar for as long as they could.

My lack of physical prowess coupled with friend repellent good grades made me a favorite target of ridicule. But I endured it through a variety of rec-league sports and my continuing participation in summer swim league.

That magical natural hormone injection we call 'puberty' transformed me at about 11. I was still a bit chunky, but I filled into my frame like all the other impressive men on my dad's side of the family. I was also still a friendless nerd, but the coaches started paying attention to me. I became a leading athlete, in my town of 12,000...: first string fullback in football, a star sprint swimmer, and a proficient powerlifter (thank you coach for those early fundamentals!!).

I was still thick but a lot was turning to muscle, especially in my legs (remember the husky jeans?). I was squatting 250+ at age 13. And I shamed the weight guesser at the fair who refused to believe I weighed 165lbs without rocks in my pockets. Those legs weighed me down though; I didn't do my first pullup age 13. But at least I was beating some of the girls in sprints!

I continued blossoming in high school. While not a star I was still always near the top. I was bumped to varsity football my sophomore year and was head lineman my junior and senior. Our swim team was (and still is) almost undefeated in our league and I went to State every year on a swimming relay and twice in diving. I got 5th at state in javelin despite track being a throw-away Spring sport for all of us throwers were just in it for fun. Oh, and I finally had some friends, a girlfriend even!

I joined rugby in college, the purest field sport of them all. --Rugby is growing at the grassroots in the US and will become huge. It has the hits, tactics, grandeur of football and the finesse, speed, and plays of soccer. Americans will eat it up once they get enough exposure.-- I lacked skills but excelled because of my growing fitness foundation. As a club team without funding, every played joined because they loved rugby. Our passion showed and we were ranked 10th in the nation a couple years, after eating the others teams in our league for lunch.

Lack of money forced me to join the swim team second semester my Freshmen year. My rugby borthers still held my heart and I joined them whenever I could, but I swimming paid some loans. I did go to Nationals three years in a row in both swimming and diving. Though it's not so impressive considering it was NAIA... I quit swimming my senior year after leading the team on calling my coach out on falsifying times and played rugby full time for the next couple years.

After college I suffered some yo-yoing fitness and weight.
India: no exercise + constant diarrhea = weak Daniel
US: no exercise + sedentary job = all time high of 215!

Then I came to Japan and dedicated myself to lifestyle changes and realizing the fitness potential I have approached but never reached.
-Plenty of free time allows me to workout whenever I like.
-There is a gym on my way to school.
-Japan is a walking/biking country.
-Portion sizes are normal (I couldn't finish my first meal back in the US on vacatino).
-Food selection is fantastic (mostly fish, veggies, seaweed, and rice but it's changing rapidly in the face of US food colonialism).
-Eating culture is still constructive (eating in public is still kinda taboo, they are OBSESSED with freshness, meal times are consistent, etc)

(Japan has plenty of terrible lifestyle standards too:
-ubiquitous smoking
-rampant drinking as a cultural mainstay (though lacking any negative behavior like the West)
-Japanese deep-frying is the perfection of the art
-convenience stores on every corner (though stocked with amazing selections of fresh foods)
-explosion of US fast food chains
-a youth culture abandoning cultural tradition so fast as to be considered a generational plummet by most observers)

So on top of all that I've been going to the gym 3-5 times a week for the past three years. I also tried out kendo for a year, and last Fall I trained for a marathon I was going to break 4 hours on until a last minute knee injury kept me to a 1/2 marathon, though still with a respectable time.

Now it's on to CrossFit for the rest of my time and into my transition back to the US and into firefighting/EMT!
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Old 04-17-2008, 06:28 PM   #2
Daniel Mick
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Re: From Japan With Love: An English Teacher-cum-Firefighter Hopeful

Monday April 14

After discovering Cross Fit on Saturday and reading till my eyes bled, I started right in. I did CF Total to benchmark.

M
26
5'11"
84.4kg/186lb
13.5% BF

Stretch

SQ: 145kg/320lb
PR: 60kg/132lb
DL: 162.5kg/358lb

TOTAL: 367.5kg/810lb = 4.35xBW

This is 10% less than I was expecting/believe I could do; I was shooting for 900lb. A lot of that has to do with my gym though. All the old Japanese people here already think I'm crazy for merely grunting during my normal weightlifting. I'm lucky to have freeweights at all though since I don't know of any other gyms even within a wide radius with them. (The Japanese LOVE machines and gadgets, and especially health fads. The current is a variation on the old-time 'giggler' quackery. "Shake the fat off in minutes a day!")

Anyway, lacking knowledgable people to spot me and being afraid to let loose, I played it a little safe.
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Old 04-17-2008, 06:42 PM   #3
Kirez Reynolds
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Re: From Japan With Love: An English Teacher-cum-Firefighter Hopeful

I haven't been to Japan, but I presume that like Korea and China, you've got tons of park and walking-trail fit stations with pull-up bars and a variety of other steel-pipe furnture...

How long till you return to the US? Oh, and Mr English Teacher, I believe you meant "cognizant" when you wrote "cognitive" in about the 4th paragraph... ;-)
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Old 04-17-2008, 06:58 PM   #4
Daniel Mick
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Re: From Japan With Love: An English Teacher-cum-Firefighter Hopeful

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirez Reynolds View Post
I haven't been to Japan, but I presume that like Korea and China, you've got tons of park and walking-trail fit stations with pull-up bars and a variety of other steel-pipe furnture...

How long till you return to the US? Oh, and Mr English Teacher, I believe you meant "cognizant" when you wrote "cognitive" in about the 4th paragraph... ;-)
Not so many public fitness trails/equipment. Too tight for space maybe? Plenty of sadistic public "furniture" though.

Yeah, there needs to be an edit function. There are bout 20 glaring errors in that post. (^_^)

Did you spend time in Korea in China?
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Old 04-17-2008, 07:16 PM   #5
Daniel Mick
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Re: From Japan With Love: An English Teacher-cum-Firefighter Hopeful

Tuesday April 15

My CF Total Monday didn't leave me sore at all, so I went to the park to practice my CFWU even though it was a rest day.

M
26
5'11"
84.4kg/186lb
13.5% BF

3x
Samson
- 30secs each leg
OHS - 15, form focused
PU - 10 slow descend
SU - 15, loose heels
Dips - 10
BkX - 10 supermans since I didn't have anything fix my feet on

I always spend about 10min stretching before every workout. I love the feel and the mood it puts me in. I'll drop my 5min jog in favor of CFWUs now.

Samson is a nice addition. I push for the sky and feel the stretch in the groin. It's a lot harder to hold at sustained effort than I expected.

OHS are awesome! They were my first ever. I use a slightly wider stance and wider toes than I always have with my strict olympic squats. But OHS are a crucible for form. A new favorite. I wish I had an experienced coach to give me pointers.

Pullups are by far my weakest exercise and always have been. My leg size to body weight ratio is a bit unbalanced so I lack the strength to pull my a$$ up. Of course, it may just be that I'm a wimp who has never worked his pullups hard enough... I am driven to be able to do 15 consecutive pullups after 3 months.

I'm doing 'Ab Mat' situps now with a flattened squat bar pad under my lumbar. My abs protest at the difference it makes in the motion's muscle requirments.

Normal dip bar dips. I blend the tricep and chest focus and/or alternate in the middle of the set.

My gym only has the incline back extension racks, but I think they're better than having someone sit on my legs or something.
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Old 04-17-2008, 07:17 PM   #6
Derek Maffett
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Re: From Japan With Love: An English Teacher-cum-Firefighter Hopeful

Cool to hear from the Japan segment. I'm studying the language myself and I think it might even be fun to visit there sometime. Of course, I'd probably find it a lot worse than my expectations, so I probably shouldn't.
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Old 04-17-2008, 07:19 PM   #7
Theresa Meyer
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Re: From Japan With Love: An English Teacher-cum-Firefighter Hopeful

I enjoyed reading your background information. Everyone has an interesting story to tell, but we don't always spend enough time telling them. I suppose, like you, we assume no one will care to listen. Not true!

I find it interesting that I joined the Air Force and became a medic (also an EMT), and after completing both a BA and MA in English, I want nothing more than to be an English teacher. The AF is sending me to the west coast in a couple of months, and I would really like to get my PhD so I can teach at the college level.

Good luck! CrossFit will change your life! I look forward to checking in and hearing more of your story!
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Old 04-17-2008, 07:28 PM   #8
Daniel Mick
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Re: From Japan With Love: An English Teacher-cum-Firefighter Hopeful

Today is school trip day, a mainstay for every Japanese school at the beginning of the school year, but I elected to stay at school. The weather is crap so it was a good choice. And I now have yet another whole day to spend cruising CF. I should do some of my Japanese study though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Derek Maffett View Post
Cool to hear from the Japan segment. I'm studying the language myself and I think it might even be fun to visit there sometime. Of course, I'd probably find it a lot worse than my expectations, so I probably shouldn't.
I love Japan. Some aspects have taken a lot of getting used to, but as a whole it's a wonderful country. If you've never done any international travel before sit down and really think through whatever your 'expectations' might be and/or even your mindset concerning expectations. If you come flexible, you'll enjoy every minute even though a lot is unexpected. If you come with a preconceived image, you'll reject things that don't fit and miss out on experiences.

I hope you get here some day. I wish I could share it with everyone!
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Old 04-17-2008, 07:28 PM   #9
Derek Maffett
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Re: From Japan With Love: An English Teacher-cum-Firefighter Hopeful

Quote:
Originally Posted by Theresa Meyer View Post
Everyone has an interesting story to tell, but we don't always spend enough time telling them. I suppose, like you, we assume no one will care to listen. Not true!
Nonsense! Here's a wonderfully boring fitness story - Two years ago I started exercising, liked it, did internet searches, got a couple books, took some injuries for being stupid, found Crossfit, and now here I am.

Succinct, boring, and a thread hijack (sumimasen).
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Old 04-17-2008, 07:33 PM   #10
Theresa Meyer
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Re: From Japan With Love: An English Teacher-cum-Firefighter Hopeful

Quote:
Originally Posted by Derek Maffett View Post
Nonsense! Here's a wonderfully boring fitness story - Two years ago I started exercising, liked it, did internet searches, got a couple books, took some injuries for being stupid, found Crossfit, and now here I am.

Succinct, boring, and a thread hijack (sumimasen).
I guess you have to be committed to the storytelling process for it to be interesting, Derek!
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