It’s November 2018, I’m a 354 pound 23-year old lying in a hospital bed with a fatty liver and no desire to workout. How I got there is a story of its own, life got out of hand quickly while food got into hand quickly. In one moment I’m a college baseball player with a healthy arm, the next a comedian on the road shoveling fast food into my mouth with a surgically repaired elbow that never quite repaired. But in that moment it changes; the abdominal pains are shooting me in machine gun fashion and I’m ready to toss on my bullet proof vest, that vest being a doctor recommended gluten free diet. It doesn’t sound like much but it starts to work, six months of steady weight loss go by until my body decides to plateau.
June 2019 rolls around, work has me in Los Angeles for the month so I sublet a place in West Hollywood and fly out. Within minutes of landing, a friend, in what seems like a common LA rite of passage, invites me out on a hike the next day.
Knowing I’ve plateaued in my weight loss and diet alone is no longer working, I reluctantly agree. My response probably read as fake as some of the faces I was now passing in the city I’d just landed in. I had no hiking experience, no hiking attire or desire, but I had an idea: If I’m going to force myself to be athletic tomorrow morning I’ll hit the dispensary tonight and pick up some treats, reward the healthy behavior.
A cloudy gray sky greeted me as I walked out of the door the next morning. June gloom was upon us in Los Angeles but green has a way of making the gray a lot prettier. I sat down on the ledge outside my apartment and lit a pre roll before starting the walk over to a coffee shop near Runyon Canyon to meet the friend who so graciously invited me hiking.
This was the first stoned walk I’d taken in Los Angeles and the vacant sidewalks helped produce a feeling of isolation that comforted me, moving my body through the world while stoned, feeling free and ultimately being free in my surroundings, I felt like something was shifting inside of me.
With a Pineapple Express pre-roll already in my lungs, I set out on what would be my first hike ever.
By the time I reached the coffee shop my outlook towards hiking had already changed, if anything a part of me may have been excited. I waited for my friend to arrive while studying the orders of the healthy customers ahead of me. Matcha seemed to dominate in the beverages of people wearing athletic attire so when I reached the counter I decided I’d follow suit. With matcha green tea now in hand and a Pineapple Express pre-roll already in my lungs, me and my pal Greg set out on what would be my first hike ever.
Runyon Canyon wasn’t the most difficult, a 2 mile loop, but it was June in California and I was still over 280 pounds. I was wearing a black shirt because I thought it was slimming but my labored breathing and sweat-logged clothing easily gave away what the shirt was hiding. Oddly enough I didn’t mind it, sweat and hard work usually clouded my mood like air pollution in Los Angeles but on this stoned morning I seemed to relish the challenge.
When we made it to the top and saw the view I felt accomplished, I had never stood in a spot where you had to earn the view you were currently looking at. Cannabis had started to plant the seeds of change into my life and mind.
Smoke, lift, smoke, cardio, repeat. The foundation was laid.
The following morning, still feeling elated from the hike, I decided to ask the owner of my sublet apartment about gyms in the area. To my surprise he handed me a key and said the apartment complex had its own little gym. It had a few dumbbells, some machines suffering from old age and a punching bag in the corner with gloves that looked like they housed bed bugs instead of hands. Everything I needed was right there.
I stepped outside, smoked a joint and started to lift. When I got tired I hit my vape pen, when I hit my vape pen I hit the punching bag. This became the cycle for the entire month, after 3 lethargic years I was now back to working out everyday. Smoke, lift, smoke, cardio, repeat. The foundation was laid.
My weight loss plateau shattered by the magical hammer of cannabis.
July 2019, everyone at the apartment complex is excited to see stoned Rocky leave. Neighbors go as far as to have the punching bag removed from the gym by the third week of my stay. Luckily, angry neighbors aren’t the only thing I’m leaving behind in Los Angeles. Some 30-pounds of me decide to hang back as well, I return home a 250-pound man. My weight loss plateau shattered by the magical hammer of cannabis.
In a perfect story I maintain this regimen upon returning home, my story isn’t perfect however. Months go by and I drag my feet on joining a gym, I enjoy the isolation of an unused apartment complex facility, the overcrowded chains still seem like a bit much for my insecure-self. Near the end of October I finally go for a jog, I make it a quarter mile before quitting. Feeling lost, my mind wanders to that freeing feeling of walking down a Los Angeles street stoned, nobody in sight. I close my eyes and remember the view atop Runyon Canyon. I’m reminded of how the breeze felt on my face, like my stoned cheeks were welcoming the wind, working hand in hand to propel me towards my goal.
A raw cone gets filled, my shoes get tied and I step outside for my first stoned run.
Memories trigger action, I go out and buy an ounce of weed and new running shoes. A raw cone gets filled, my shoes get tied and I step outside for my first stoned run. The quarter-mile turns into a mile, within a few weeks 3 miles becomes the norm. Running stoned starts feeling like I’m playing a video game with a cheat code, within months I run a stoned half marathon on the boardwalk in New Jersey in 20 degree weather without ever running further than 4 miles before.
Fast forward to today, I’m 26 years old and weigh 175 pounds. In March I completed my first ultramarathon running 41 miles over 5,000 feet of elevation in the woods of Pennsylvania. I’ve spent hundreds of hours on my feet, stoned, covering thousands of miles of terrain. When I get asked what I love most about running I still say it’s simply the freeing feeling of running through nature with the wind rushing against my face. A feeling I never knew existed until the day I decided to get stoned and go for a hike.
Cannabis planted the seed for change in my mind.
Some people say stoners are lazy but I say there’s no such thing as a lazy stoner, just a stoned person who happens to be lazy. Cannabis planted the seed for change in my mind. It started as a reward, became a preworkout and ultimately ended up a gateway to reestablishing a relationship with nature and my body. There’s a lot to be said about running stoned and I plan on saying it all, but for now use this merely as inspiration to try even a small workout stoned. You never know where, or how far, it may lead.