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Another Week, Another Newsletter




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Now, let’s see, where are we? Oh, yes, the middle of December. We’re building muscle and eating right and considering ways to enjoy the Christmas Season. Other things crossing our minds are how to end the old year right -- no regrets, no recriminations, no debts, no doubts -- and how to begin the New Year bright -- new resolutions, new goals, new underwear and new socks (making use of handy Christmas gifts).

I’ve got part one down, the muscle and eating and Christmas thing, but part two of the plan is a bit rocky. Rocky sounds better than, say, dismal, don’t you think -- rugged, outdoorsy, tough and all-natural?

I’m on schedule with my training and eating, though both have been light this past week. Laree and I were visited by a mysterious funk we attributed to non-lethal, yucky food poisoning. I managed to drag myself to the gym, convinced the demon was merely a ghost, but returned my wretched body to the still warm and creaking bomber-mobile after a whopping nine sets.

I was a hump, a green and silent crawling thing with a minor pump and a lukewarm burn -- a pathetic sight, but slightly content. Laree was a lump shivering on the floor under two blankets and a quilt. Do Not Disturb -- Quiet Zone.

The following day our bodies washed up on shore to dry out. The storm had passed, the seas calmed and the winds subsided and the sun warmed. 

Dark cloud with silver lining: Of 16 scrumptious pieces of Laree’s famous chocolate toffee, 12 remain unscathed in the box... in the garbage in the garage. No appetite for it.

A rippin’ workout is on my schedule for this afternoon, though I plan to remove rippin’ from the training description and replace it with mild milktoast. My bodyweight, I note with despair, is as low as it’s been in 25 years, a pitiable combination of digits causing a pouty downturn in my quivering lips.

Poor baby.

I immediately go into denial (stupid scale, water weight, atmospheric pressure, global warming, the economy), as I dig out a bulky hooded sweatshirt from the depths of the attic closet. I’ll slip in the back door of the Weight Room when no one’s looking, hood up, head down and go about my routine, but in a meek, ineffective and faltering way. They’ll think I’m some reject from Santa Cruz County Social Services down the street.

“Yo, dude. They call me The Mouse.”

Man, it doesn’t take long before I plunge headfirst into bodybuilding hell. I get a bug, lose a few pounds, have a cheesy workout and my self-image descends from bomber to that of a scrawny rodent scurrying along the perimeter of the dumbbell rack. Where’s the strength of character one develops while lifting weights and building muscles?

Um... did someone say cheese?

While you pondered the question, I slipped out the secret passage and fought my way to the gym. I don’t need no stinkin’ disguise, hooded sweatshirt or cowering attitude. I’ll thrust open the double doors to the gym floor, throw my shoulders back, adjust my thick leather lifting belt and head directly to the exercise ball and start bouncing. I dare anyone to stop me.

The first set was touchy. The rope at the end of the cable was rough on my hands and the resistance it presented felt uncommon and unlikable. My shoulders slumped and my chest caved. What the... Where on earth did that evil reaction come from, an all-time first?

Shaken and confused, my inner characters (got me a handful) and working parts and processes gathered in revolt. Never Quit! I blurted a few greetings to the friendly faces nearby (no one really-really sees you unless you’re undressed or on fire) and proceeded to tighten my grip on the hefty rope and assert my body with a new and unfamiliar will.

“This must be done or you’re goin’ down, boy.”

We do not want to go down, bombers. Agree? Agree! It’s unanimous.

I always start my workout with rope tucks. I can’t overemphasize the agreeableness and worthiness of the exercise. It starts out plain and simple and becomes a multi-directional body work-all, as I let my mind and muscles do their thing.

The first rep pleaded to be the last, the second rep wept like an abused child, the third rep groaned, an unwilling workhorse under the whip. The forth rep howled in rebellion, the fifth hissed and the sixth snarled. With the growl of the seventh repetition, boldness supplanted fear, aggression replaced submission and a triumphant workout was within my grasp.

I stopped at 25 reps to pant and review my odd condition. I felt like a rack of bones strung together with loose string, not the pile of rock hard muscle lashed together with thick ropes and cable. The pause allowed time for me to drift to the dip machine where I propped myself on the handles and squeezed out 15 reps with a once-laughable weight. I was not laughing, but I was grinning, and grinning is a very good sign on a day when the famous light at the end of the tunnel is heading your way.

Zoom. At the end of four supersets, the bone rack was beginning to tighten up and gain some flesh, albeit grey and splotchy, and I was looking for more trouble. Another good sign for a cowboy at the OK Corral.

Amid the flow and rhythm of the sets and reps and the focus of the strain, I bumped into myself and aroused the spirit of the good fight. I needed to push and I needed to pull and I needed the feel of the weights. Machines and cables do the trick, but are like smoke and mirrors when you need an iron fix. I was very needy.

A pair of dumbbells caught my eye, cute and cuddly little things, and I decided to give them a heave on the low-incline bench. Little rascals are getting plump and unwieldy in their old age. Must have something to do with physics and gravity and the angle of the bench in relation to the curve of the earth, and the recent cooling of the sun.

These pec and shoulder builders gave a nudge to my triceps. Love it when things work together in basic harmony. I’ll superset these with lighter-than-usual stiffarm pullovers, thereby enabling me to focus on transferring the work from the arms, the first and obvious responders, to the powerful and preferable lat region, the late responders.

Oh, feels so good... like scratching an itch...

Four supersets and I substantially increase the angle of the bench for more deltoid action and an altered chest and triceps engagement. Just the facts, Ma’am. These I superset (yes, I said superset) with seated-on-the-floor lat rows from a high cable with a pair of looped handles for superior freedom of action -- like rowing a cool and fast rig across a lake on a brisk day: full-forward, stretch and dig in, tight contraction on the arched-back return. Again. Have fun.

After I dock this thing... glub, splash... I gotta dry off and head home before the traffic gets crazy. Rumor has it there are holidays in the air...

God bless you... Draper and Co.

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