I need to admit that I wasn't the kid who grew up watching anime. (Check the byline. This isn't Stephen writing.) But in 2013, my wife introduced me to Fullmetal Alchemist. And it was...alright. But then I watched the superior Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. And my life has been filled with anime ever since.
After committing "the taboo," Ed lost his right arm and left leg, Al was left as just a soul in a suit of armor. The way Ed saw it, he had a huge responsibility to return Al to his body. But before he could even begin to work towards fulfilling that responsibility, he needed to overcome the limitations of his broken body. He spat at the idea of taking it slow and easy. His brother needed him revving at full throttle, not lying in bed all day. "I NEED ONE YEAR!" he exclaimed. One year to rehabilitate himself. One year to overcome and conquer his disability. And then, the real work would begin.
For me, this story is so very familiar. Ed and I both ruined our bodies through selfish actions. Ed wanted his mom back and paid the price. I spent years selfishly indulging in all the unhealthy foods and habits that brought me pleasure. And the price has been heavy. Before I started training with our resident Anime Trainer, I was heavy, weak, and for the most part, useless for my wife and daughter. I may not have automail, or any kind of prosthetic disability. But I've allowed my body to work against me for far too long. I need to take control of my body, and it all starts with the mind.
Ed's resolve runs in the family. Al takes seriously the part he played in destroying his brother and himself. And their father, Van Hohenheim, left behind everything he loved to fulfill what he saw as his responsibility - stopping the monster he created. The idea here is that we all make mistakes and we all selfishly hurt other people. What counts is having the resolve to actually work to repair the damage we cause.
Guilt vs. Resolve
For me, the damage I caused was not only to my body, but to the wellbeing of my wife. I've become a weighty burden for her and my other loved ones. Continuing down this path would risk me dying an early death, leaving my wife as a single mom and my little girl to grow up without her father. And statistics have proven how detrimental that is for a child. For a while, I felt guilt. I knew the life I was living was useless at best and immoral at worst. But guilt and self-pity do not solve problems. That is why we need a will strong enough to create and retain a resolve like that of an Elric. Only then can we begin our respective journeys.
Ed was starting with some serious debuffs. But he knew he could overcome them, even if it meant throwing up blood and wanting to die from the pain. And while I am certainly not advocating that anyone push themselves hard enough to puke blood, you have to at least admire his determination. Ed's goal was to become strong enough to join the ranks of the military. Certainly a lofty goal for a double-amputee. Seriously though, don't push yourself that hard. It's not healthy.
Applying this to someone like you or I means analyzing where we are starting from, figuring out exactly where our goal is and determining exactly how to get there as soon as possible without hurting ourselves. The whole "as soon as possible" thing is going to be different for every person. It depends on your goals, your health, your age and a variety of other factors. In fact, asking your doctor or your trainer about what kind of pace you should aim for is a good idea.
Just like Ed, you need to focus on controlling your body. Get it used to moving. This is the first step for anyone just starting out. This involves stretching, walking, bodyweight exercises, maybe even some yoga. As your body gets used to moving, you'll begin getting stronger. Your endurance will slowly increase, and you'll be able to do more. Step by step, you'll find that your body is finally working for you instead of against you. Obviously, having a workout program is important.
Luckily, we have a lot of those here at Real Anime Training.
Do you know how easy it would be if I could clap my hands and instantly cook my food? I mean, cooking is technically alchemy. Unfortunately, I have not seen the Gate of Truth. Which means I still need to use the oven. But mastering this kind of alchemy is vital to our success. You'll never be able to out-exercise the food you eat if you are eating garbage for every meal. It is up to you to figure out what kind of diet you will be able to stick to. If weight loss is your goal, you need to figure out what kind of calorie deficit is gonna be best for you. If you actually need to put on weight, then you need to figure out the best way to do that. Again, consulting with your doctor is a good idea.
I relate this to alchemy because good eating almost always means cooking your own foods. While the Elrics may have used alchemy for the sake of convenience, convenience for you and I is essentially paying someone else to make and serve our food. It takes less work that way. But just like alchemy, the principle of equivalent exchange affects your food and the way you obtain it. If you go out to eat, you're paying money more than you would have if you had stayed home and cook. But you are also sacrificing the benefits of cooking at home. You don't know what's in that shredded chicken burrito, do you?
Well, the sign said it has 420 calories.
Did the sign also mention that it has 47 grams of carbohydrates?
Exactly. When we don't cook our own food, we are relying on someone else to look out for our own health. And the truth is, fast food joints and restaurants don't care about your health. Thus, we need to add alchemic cooking to our repertoire of skills. This allows us to know what exactly we are putting into our food. As for the "equivalent exchange" rule, doing it this way means sacrificing some time and energy. But it is so much more worth it, wouldn't you agree?
We've been talking about the principles of getting started on your fitness journey. For Ed and Al, that first year was nothing compared to the trials they would face at the Fifth Laboratory, the sewers of Dublith, and the Great Wall of Briggs. They had no idea the losses they would encounter, be it Major Hughes, little Nina, or even Greed. I can pretty much guarantee that moving forward, you too will encounter hardships and loss. But if you have the resolve of an Elric, and have been training your body, you will be better equipped to handle those losses and hardships.
So tell me. How long do you need? Is it one year? Six months? Maybe you need two years.
Whatever it is, just determine how long you need, and then meet that goal. Because people need you and me to be revving at full throttle.
We cannot let them down.
Duffy is a husband and father living in South Carolina. Though he spent a long time living an unhealthy life, he has made great strides in training his body and mind. He is the designer and visual content creator for "Real Anime Training."
Please log in again. The login page will open in a new window. After logging in you can close it and return to this page.