We Were Making Such Good Progress

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Submission to time's unstoppable forward motion dismays and amuses me, and I involuntarily reach to pause its flight. A summer that barely arrived after two months of marine layer is now about to depart.

Amusement and dismay, thin soldiers in a mock battle of survival, clash briefly and we press on, smile in place. We shall not be overcome by the bleak winter's onslaught with its gray frown, shriveled and shrunken days followed by nights of no end, flus, runny noses, coughs, flaring joint pain, pumpless and burnless workouts by stiff bodies bound in layers of long johns and sweat shirts, disciplined lives hanging like one-winged moths in successive holiday gusts smelling of cookie dough, stuffing and rum.

You may have guessed I'm not crazy about winter.

I laugh out loud, an anxious and nervous burst, looking through the window as the wind leans on the redwoods, grooming the giant forest. I lightheartedly wonder when a spiraling, ancient limb will crown the rooftop, block the wooded roadway or shear the power lines and collapse the waterways. Amenities, like responsibilities, who needs them?

Just five months till Spring.

Do you have a plan? We need a plan before we're lulled into winter hibernation and isolation.

Winter will be here; maybe not today, but unspeakably soon, and it's a different creature. Good. You like skiing and bundling up, snowballs and the fireside. Take heed, the shorter and colder days during which we reside furthest from the sun are harsh on the system. We tend to fade -- lose ground, defect.

We need to adjust quickly, both mentally and physically. You can do it; it needs to be done. Too often we find ourselves accidently neck deep in calories and bodyfat, irregular training, misplaced goals, bitter and guilty self-consciousness, low resistance and the ensuing vulnerability to flus, colds and viruses. Diminishing disciplines, increasing television bloat, pronounced pear-shapeness, attitude spats, lost friendships, newfound enemies, hysteria, nightmares, paranoia and occasionally the mumps.

And we were making such good progress.

Make a plan. Reinforce it. Write it down. Scroll "URGENT" across the top. Post it on your icebox door and outhouse wall. Study it, memorize it, recite it. Quote it.

Your goal is to make progress in your training through the coming months leading to March, every month a silent and secret step forward. Another movement mastered, a new PR, a satisfying exercise combination practiced, a pound of fat gone, an ounce of muscle mass acquired, workout after workout.

Mere maintenance or only a occasional slip backward is not sufficient. A slip backward is how we usually survive the off-season and find ourselves eventually tumbling backward with ever-increasing momentum until we're out of control, disappointed and angry.

Put order in your workouts now. Prepare for the psychology of winter, its physical limitations, its tastes, noise and demands. Be ready for the altered atmosphere, attitudes and energies around you, at work, at home and at the gym.

It's a different game, different rules, different scoreboard.

Have you noticed? Less skin showing and we tend to fatten up.

Less daylight and fair weather, we tend to be sedate, indoors and comfortably confined, less active and less motivated. We burn less fuel and eat more; there are holidays, parties, long nights, wet days, boredom, depression and developing bad habits with crumbling disciplines.

Let's vow to not falter through the six months ahead: a personal promise with an eye on each other and encouragement along the way. We see it each year about this time. Friends fade from the gym floor, returning months later, upset, stressed, out of shape and regretful, "If only I stuck it out."

To many, this sounds harsh. Many identify, and others would rather talk about one-rep squats and get on with it. It breaks my heart when an innocent, well-meaning trainee gets swept away from a workout routine, and returns months later, lost and helpless.

We all stumble and regularly need a hand. Let's do winter together.

Brother Dave


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