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Summer of 2008

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I received my 300-dollar stimulus check from the U. S. Treasury Department this afternoon. Just in time! Earlier this morning I spent 75 dollars to fill up my truck with regular gasoline at the Costco pumps. According to my exhaustive calculations (I’m a math whiz) I can expect four tanks full of gas at the current prices from the government’s stimulating generosity. My problems are solved.

Now, if only I could lose this gut and put some meat on my shoulders.

It’s summertime in the land of the free in case you’re setting your watch. It’s that time of year when life is most abundant and hardworking folks want, need and seek a vacation, a break from the norm, to rediscover the beauty that surrounds, yet escapes them; to relax and bask in the goodness and joy, the excitement and inspiration that encompasses, yet eludes them.

May I be so bold as to ask what kind of shape you’re in?

“No!”

Are you as ripped as you’d planned?

“None of your beeswax.”

It’s not like you didn’t have time to prepare for the sunny and energetic days that now surround you.

“Scram!”

We started our plans sometime in the late winter and early spring. How’d it go again: drop fat, add muscle, get lean and build endurance; train hard, eat right and be consistent?

“How’d it go again? I’ll tell you how... How’d you like to wear a 45-pound plate for a bandana?”

I can read between the lines: You really wanna know how I’m doing. Well, I’m doing just peachy, hitting the gym three days a week like any sane and sensible musclehead. Any more is too much, any less and I fall apart at the seams. I take it you’re training less... just an observation from a safe distance, oh, pleasant, portly one.

Good plans often go unattended -- strong reasons or weak excuses. Good plans, though enacted dutifully, sometimes don’t work, suggesting they were not very good plans in the first place. And some good plans work better than expected. Everything falls in place; we’re encouraged, we’re inspired. They were very good plans, indeed. Take notes, worthy student teacher.

The important question is, “What are you going to do now?” The summer season is a different animal altogether and calls for a different training approach. There are vacationing vacationers, long holiday weekends, hot lazy days, crowded byways and highways, family off in opposite directions, visiting guests and just plain good ole summer stuff.

I’m sorry if you fell behind in the past few months, old iron buddy. It happens, and whether it was unavoidable, a big mistake or a mystery, it’s a miserable feeling and state of affairs; it’s pervasive and troubling and needs to be fixed. June through September are great months for fixing things in our own backyard: a broken bike, dangling gate, faulty diet, neglected health, out-of-order training and failing disciplines.

We’ve gotta go with the flow. It’s the summer of 2008 and the trip to the Mediterranean is off, Paris and Brussels can wait, and the Alaskan tundra will still be there next year, which is good cuz we’ve got some exciting, very personal, local celebrations to attend and they’re productive and free of charge.

Our best vacations, most relaxing and satisfying, are the one’s where we just hang out: no pressure, no tourists, no schedule, no airfare, hotel, rentals, topping the gas tank, topping the credit card, tipping the waiter, tipping the doorman and tipping the parking attendant, and getting tipsy.

“I’ll have another thingy with the fruit in the tall frosty glass with the little umbrella sticking out, please.”

Too often a vacation is a blurred reverie; a thing we enthusiastically plan and anticipate, and a succession of events we vividly recall from memory, but not a thing we live in the moment.

Enough already about vacations and gas prices and airfares and missed goals and economic woes. Here’s our summer of ’08 plan: Three workouts a week without a commitment to getting huge, ripped or first place at the local bodybuilding championships -- simple, clean, realistic, playful and applicable. We want to approach the gym without anxiety, regrets, guilt, groveling, confusion, doubt, fear, anger, dread or low blood sugar.

We want to enter the gym, train and exit -- no records, no great expectations, no live-or-die last reps, no extra body-breaking sets, no excruciating pain, no exhaustion, no screeching.

Some of you are saying, “Why bother?” Because I said so!

To live fully is to relax and enjoy life’s grandness, not only to strive and drive to stay alive. To slow down and ponder the very moments and experiences of which we are composed is our privilege and purpose. Spare me transcendentalism, but give me my life in my arms to know and to squeeze with affection. Summer workouts should be celebrations -- enthusiastic and applauded occasions.

I recommend three workouts a week with a less intensity for good reasons:

• We won’t set ourselves up for training overload (there’s more to life than barbells).

• Wisely arranged and practiced, three training sessions work.

• We avoid the risk of missing workouts and enduring the guilt should we plan too many.

• We remove a weighty training schedule from anticipation. We liberate the mind.

• We provide freedom for summer activity, activity planning or relaxing inactivity.

• Allows the workouts to match our summer motions and emotions.

• We’ll more likely look forward to fun workouts without fatigue and aches, overtraining and injury.

• Less demand for recuperation, less demand for preparatory eating, though we will eat right.

• One day the summer of 2008 will be a memory. We want it to be an excellent one. “That was the year I grew like a weed.”

“That was the summer I grew like an oak tree, sonny; huge, I tell ya, and ripped to the bone. Benched 400 or 500 for reps. They called your ole’ Grandpa the Rhino in the day. Yup.”

I choose five exercises from the iron heap and complete five sets of each -- you and your sis’ can do four -- of enough reps, generally six to 10 and as many as 20 to 30 for triceps or core work. Superset or not, whatever feels right. The workout is serious but not desperately crucial, if you know what I mean. Considering there’s so much muscle redundancy in the exercises we choose (for example, pushing works shoulders and tris, pulling works back and bis), we can mix and match movements to fill our workouts to the brim. Legs get blasted once a week because it’s summer and I ride the bike (not much) on off days. The basics are used extensively. There’s enough training order and hard work to satisfy a corporal, but not a drill sergeant.

I hate it when I miss one of only three workouts a week, but I don’t cry.

Big Bombers don’t cry. They don’t snivel or pout. They boldly go on, though a workout has been lost to the past. Goggles firmly set in place, they fly above all sorrow and foe.

Gotta go...

Gone... DD

Which reminds me: As next week is Forth of July week, and as Laree and I are patriots who love their country, we will celebrate the grand holiday with you and not publish an IOL newsletter.

Blast on, firecrackers... dd

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