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Soar When You're Inspired


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Life happens in spite of our brilliant efforts. In fact, it is quite independent of our presence, continuing miraculously with or without our input. Not only is the incredible force apart from our management, it is creative and unpredictable.

We know a few things. Some days are better than others...terrific. Some days are worse...not so terrific. Amateur examination tells us we cannot attribute the superiority or inferiority of any single day to any one thing. Several matters -- conditions, happenings -- account for noticeable daily differences. Life, and our existence, we conclude, is simply complicated.

More than complicated, life's a mystery. Everything can be going superbly well -- weather, eating, rest, attitude, relationships, work, bank balance, stress levels, hair -- yet your time in the gym becomes a minor catastrophe. You enter the asylum of clanging iron, and gravity gushes into your body through every pore, scratch, pinprick and orifice. At first this phenomenon is unapparent; everything looks and smells the same.

'Hi, guys... dolls (the latter salutation accompanied by an imperceptible wink).'

Your voice is deep, words articulate. You drop your gym bag in its private space, retrieve a water bottle and needed gear and choose the starting point for the big attack; dumbbell inclines are in your sights. The tris flex, the lats are thrown into place with sufficient effort.

'Stand back, muscle mutts, the sparks are gonna' fly. Yes siree, Bob.'

No siree, ma'am. Not today, Annie Mae. Not so, Billy Jo. The weights you snagged for a warm-up feel like they're painted to the rack... good thing no one was looking, big guy. What's that all about? Your tail curls between your legs and you retreat to the corner like a scolded brat, where you sit quietly nursing your water bottle. The iron has a way of keeping us humble.

'A lesson in life; I should be grateful.'

The noble thought crosses your mind as you consider your next move, but generosity is not your strength. You're stricken, stunned and devastated. Those dumbbells, the nasty immovable ones stuck permanently to the rack, are girly dumbbells. More water, scowling and despair.

There's a season and reason for all things. It's time to grow up if you can't grow strong. You concede, but you do not surrender. Unable to move the iron, you fake a decent midsection workout. A mild performance of leg raises and rope tucks is stimulating and gives you space to hide out, recover emotionally and prepare a new approach.

Within 15 minutes of counting sets and reps, rhythmically extending and contracting and pacing, you feel warm and invigorated, invested and reassured. Monkey-man has left the body and gorilla-boy is assuming his place. Perhaps small gorilla can sneak up on small weights for a small workout. Humility tastes like rust to the palate, but is titanium to the soul.

There are times when we must put our expectations in our back pockets and save them for another day. The body in all its wisdom speaks to us loud and clear. We learn to listen and speak its language. This is tricky, requiring willingness and close attention for a long, long time.

You're feeling mildly philosophical. Defeat does that to the driven, a strategy of survival to conceal personal weakness. It doesn't take a doc to tell us we have our ups and downs. Life is peaks and valleys. It all evens out in the end.

Your clear thinking, acute perception and understanding spirit are inspiring. You move on without impediment, like freshly erupted lava on the slopes of time. You're hot.

A willing spirit and immovable weights an odd couple makes. A quick review of possible relevant influences should explain the negative training response. Hair, like the tightness of one's t-shirt, is not the least of the factors prominently affecting a successful workout. However, I'd be checking bodyweight, muscle fatigue from previous super training sessions, regularity of water consumption and protein intake, insufficient muscle recovery due to improper rest or inadequate nutrients, or false or misread wellbeing indicators.

You're experiencing a slump. It's decided. Slumps are the silences between beats. There's no rhythm in blues, no rock in rock 'n roll and no mo in Mozart without the silence between the beats. Slumps are good, necessary and unavoidable; you just gotta use 'em. Using slumps means enduring them with courage, hope and confidence. Thank God for slumps and the teaching they provide.

There are other conflicting combos, more common, that throw you for a loop. Recognizing them is part of the solution. Been there, seen this?

You feel tough as steel, yet you can't face the iron's noisy, cold and stubborn sameness -- not today. You'd rather be bowling and you hate bowling. Almost literally you feel hands, tentacles, clutching and tugging you away from the gym. You wriggle and writhe... toward the gym, in the exit, out the entrance. You squirm and struggle. You're ready to submit. Don't you dare, not even! Whatta ya think this is, pre-school and lollipops? You think you can go home 'cuz you don't wanna play muscles today?

Stand strong. Push that iron. Lift that steel.

Count those reps... and do two more.

And you wonder why your muscles don't grow. 'I don't want to go to the gym today and lift those heavy weights, Ma.' Stay home today and tomorrow never comes... just another day. You call it freedom to do as you please. I call it copping out.

And then there are the times you crawl to the gym in a cold sweat, temperatures in triple digits and you've got the shakes. 'No power on earth can keep me from my workout, man... cough, cough... I just gotta get my hands on the iron. It's, like, my best friend... gag, snort, sniffle.'

Train today and everybody in the gym gets sick and you die tomorrow at dawn. Don't run your body down. Go home, feed it chicken soup, stay warm and -- special concession -- watch the tube without guilt. You can't hustle nature. She's lovable, but she's stubborn.

Wait a minute. I almost forgot about the fanatic, as if that were at all possible.

A large number of bodybuilders are authentic fanatics, which drives their non-bodybuilding friends nuts. Is that all you think about: lift weights, eat protein, train like animal, get huge, milk cartons, get ripped, bench presses, deadlifts, squats and your one-rep max? Get a life, gorgeous. You ain't gonna be governor or marry the prettiest and brightest girl on the farm if all you can do is stack plates, count reps and eat eggs. Get a job, read something besides Men's Health, watch something besides Pumping Iron, have some pizza and beer, resist shaving your body for a week, and, no, I will not put oil on your back; we don't want to see your latest posing routine, and the theme from 2001 is not appropriate background music for your mental or physical development.

You're going to overtrain, short circuit your central nervous system, go into catabolism and implode. You'll wake up one day and refuse to go to the gym ever again the rest of your life. Iron will become your enemy. You'll grow hairy and get fat. What then? They'll kick sand in your face.

How about the guy and gal who never miss a workout, yet never quite work out? They arrive on time and leave on time, but nothing worth remembering happens in between. They stretch, roll around on a floor mat, mount the stationary bike, do some curls and presses with a pair of nifty chrome weights, sip from their official ESPN water bottle and unfold and refold their authentic Nike sweat towel. At the first sign of perspiration, however, they slow down, cool off and shower.

Pain and strain along with gain go mainly down the drain.

Health is wealth and organic vegetables keep them slim and regular. 'We have boundless energy,' they say. How would they know? They wouldn't recognize the stuff if they tripped over it. They're exhausting.

There are basic rules we discover when common sense is allowed to accompany us along life's merry flight. Keep 'er steady as she goes. Use the tailwinds, butt the headwinds and never let 'er stall.

Depend on steady cruising for most of your journey, soar when you're inspired and glide when you must. Autopilot is for airheads -- You want to get where you're going and be there along the way.

If you're prone to air sickness, stay focused; closely attend your mighty pursuit, appreciate its fascinating actions, welcome the benefits and anticipate the rewards. How many people do you know who can fly? There are so few of us with wings.

Zoom, zoom... DD

*****

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