Lander, WY. March 3, 2020.

When Lent started four days ago, you might have thought that you were missing something. Surely there is more to Lent than giving up day-old donuts and the meaningless YouTube videos you usually watch for 1.776 hours a day. As you look down at the place where your abs would be, if you had any, you realize that nothing you’ve committed to is going to make you better. By the end of Lent, you will still be just as lazy and dare I say, pleasantly plump, as some of the guys in my dorm currently are. With your supposed sacrifices, you’ve gained nothing and the empty space left by donuts and YouTube will be filled by something. Where is the mortification, where are the gains?

At which point, you realize: the gains! What hurts more, what can be more in line with the movement of self toward perfection than a rigorous fitness routine? And it isn’t too late. If you start now, you can still get in 40 days of real penance before Easter. Gluttony and obesity never sleep, even on Sundays. Why would you? With this in mind, where does a person start?

The obvious place to start is with body weight exercises. Everyone has a fair amount of poundage to work with commensurable to their body type anyway, and at no additional expense, and thanks to the academic life, some of us have a lot of extra poundage. For this penance, the more you start with, the merrier, although ultimately, we all know that one guy who could stand to lose a few…

The basic body weight exercise is the push up. You’ve got to get the form right if you want maximum effect, arms bent more than 90 degrees as you go down and your head, shoulders, and glutes properly in line with one another (this isn’t yoga and the up dog, down dog is not a push up). You need the discipline to keep your core in line throughout the exercise, like when you’re planking, which is another good exercise when your arms have died but your core isn’t in pain yet. Speaking of pain, you deserve that. It either means that you are too heavy or too soft, you couch potato! You know what the wages of sin are, so letting your arms feel like they’re dying now might save you some pain later.

If you really want to go hard, pull ups are another option. You can even take up running and add some of last semester’s books to your pack in order to increase the penitence and the cardio. The options are limited only by your imagination. If you don’t have any imagination, maybe you have an enemy somewhere on campus. In that case, you should ask them what the most suitable exercise should be. After trying this in the past, I’ve found swimming across Worthen Reservoir with four cinder blocks tied to my chest is a very difficult and exhilarating workout.

Finally, there is diet. You want to lose the pounds, not pack them on. Everything you eat should be in smoothie form. Lots of eggs, lots of veggies, and a little bit of fruit. No carbs, no sugar, and no extra meat or fat. You probably have adequate reserves of the latter, anyway. If you feel that you must have extra protein, you may permit yourself to eat the dryest chicken Frassati has to offer, just to make sure that you don’t enjoy it too much or eat more than you need.

At the end of the day, be sure to get enough sleep. Never sleep in, because that takes away valuable time when you could be making the gains and feeling the pains. I suppose you should reserve a bit of time for studying, but not too much. Many wise men shuffled off of this mortal coil, but when you go, you want to go out running.

I look forward to seeing your results come Easter. Until then, here’s to your health, to your family, and most importantly, to your gains!

All the best,

Pierre Aronnax

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