06/19/2008 09:21 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Fixing My Health Stuff and Whatever

So I think Ballard -- my roommate -- is freaking out about whether or not I'm going to take this new project seriously. Here's why:

He said to me once, "Dave, do you want to do a 12-week transformation with me?"

"What's that?" I asked.

"Gym stuff," he said.

"Sure, yeah," I said.

Maybe it sounds like a kind of flaky answer about something that involves, evidently, 12 days of correcting my diet and sleeping patterns followed by 12 weeks of six-day-a-week workouts and some other stuff for 12 months. But it wasn't flaky. It was premeditated.

Through the course of grad school, I gave up: cooking, eating well, sleeping well, eating, sleeping, going to movies, reading books, nutrition, malnutrition and exercising. It left me pretty beat-up. I got sick easily. I screwed up my left foot and actually limped around doing beat reporting in Brooklyn for about three months. It was a heel bursitis, which means my Achilles' tendon was super mad at me. Like I-stole-its-girlfriend mad. We made up, but we'll never be as close as we used to be.

The point is, when I graduated, I knew I needed to get a job, get an apartment and then figure out how to live again. Job, check. Apartment, check. And then the other one. My roommate had been talking about a book written by someone he knew. I knew it was some 12-week boot-camp-style workout regimen and I didn't know a lot beyond that.

Initially, it kind of doesn't matter. What does matter is that I recently turned 25 and had a certain realization of permanence:

I'm me forever.

I've moved a lot lately, and I keep a lot of fake mustaches on hand -- four in the desk drawer, seven in the glove box -- so it may have taken me a little too long to realize that.

Not long ago, when we were both still living in Boulder, Colorado, Ballard said to me -- and this isn't fair, I can't remember the context, so I apologize -- Dave, let's get ripped. Or do you wanna get buff? Or what do you think about getting totally covered in muscles and stuff? Or some variation on that. And I laughed it off, referring to my genetics. My grandfather was an inch taller than me and probably five pounds lighter, making him 6-foot-2-ish and 67 lbs.

No chance, dude. Not getting ripped.

Actually, I opted for running. I really liked it. But I got shin splints. Twice. Once from running and once from trying to dance at a funk/soul/jazz show (Soulive, anybody?). So that was out. I bought a bike on craigslist. Then it snowed a lot, so I couldn't ride much and once it got warmer, it rained one day and my shoddy brakes got slick enough that I broad-sided a slow-moving van. Take a hike, bike.

And so it kind of lapsed from there. I mean I walked to work every day (that I had a job) in Boulder. Then, once in New York, I was studying journalism, so there was a ton of walking -- the average day hit six or seven miles, but that's no big deal for this walking city. But I need some kind of structured... thing.

Well, I still don't plan to get ripped. But I do plan to jump-start my health. Because again: I'm me forever. So along with roommate, buddy and accomplice Ballard, I will be following, as closely as I can, the guidelines set forth in Shawn Phillips' Strength For Life.

My friends who made fun of me at first, asking, "Are you going Vegan?" (answer: not by a long shot) will almost certainly make fun of me later once they see the cover of the book, with the muscle-bound Phillips demonstrating the classic "You Can Do It" health-author publicity shot.

Whatever, I'm already feeling healthier, and there's actually also an intellectual component to it that's for another blog post.

Ballard and I started the "Base Camp" chapter next week, which accounts for two weeks of sort of tuning up your body, getting it in shape to get it in shape. There's a detox element, too, which has been the focus of most conversations this week: no fatty meats, no bread, no dairy, no alcohol. And we eat five meals a day.

And so begins Dave For Life. Tune in next week to read me grousing in much more specific terms about how much I miss cheese and booze. Hint: It's so much.