I Work Out Cuz I Feel Lousy if I Don’t

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It’s been a long day and you feel pummeled. Not everything went as planned and you grope for hope. You check your attitude as you buckle your seat belt, refusing to submit to the trivialities of the workday. You remind yourself that your strength of character is reflected in your behavior under minor stress, good days are around the bend and things could be a lot worse. Relax… Yeah, right!

The key slides into the ignition and cranks over the engine with a zoom, signaling that part one of the day is over, no small feat. You feel free for a moment, the tether that binds you given slack by the forward lurch of the vehicle, your private space that moves you to your next workplace or playground, objective or challenge. These small interludes provide time to collect your thoughts, visualize your day, converse with yourself and otherwise glean the chaff from the wheat.

What’s your plan, where are you headed and what’s on your mind as the open road rolls away? I suspect a large number of folks across the fields and fences and cities are headed home to couch, fridge and TV. Good to kick off the shoes and let the hair down. Some need to take a deep breath before wrestling a second job or a long list of unending chores. A carefree -- or troubled -- handful, of course, moves quickly and without distraction to strategically placed watering holes. Whatever it takes, I guess, to move the pieces across the board.

But wait a minute. There exists a rare breed unaccounted for in the above collection of characters. In a certain place where the sun shines and the air is full of oxygen, the navigator of his or her vehicle steers clear of the traffic and heads to the gym. Thoughts are on grander things, life, love and the pursuit of happiness; or, as interpreted on another level, discipline, patience and the pursuit of pain. Whatever it takes, I’m certain, to improve the worth of life.

You know this singular sort whose habits do not resemble those of his neighbor. His countenance glows, his gait is sure and determination marks his actions. The rare breed is you.

And the time and place you spend before entering the gym are rare as well, be it on Main Street or in the garage. As the gym is a space for executing mighty work, so the mind is the space for preparing a mighty workout. A powerful training session is established in one’s head before entering the inner sanctum of the gym’s walls.

Compromise, sacrifice, long-suffering and discomfort, no one said the task was easy and no one knows but the one who performs it. The groundwork begins in the mind, is effected in the body, transferred to the gym floor and finally to the iron where it is consummated by the fortitude, courage and heart of the pursuer.

Pre-training encouragement is a powerful force. Anticipate your training with a brief yet energetic review of its benefits -- health and strength, the afterglow, the mental and physical purge, the gratifying steps toward achieving goals, the personal investment in goodness and right -- and the constructive overview of your exercise scheme. Fill the mind with these dynamic thoughts and there is no room for the twin enemies of doubt and apathy.

Not that good thing don’t take place without psychological and intellectual preparations, mind you. I rely heavily on the unseen work of the subconscious and the spontaneity of instinct, intuit commonsense.

Oddly, unplanned, impromptu training sessions often turn out to be superlative. I’m drawn to the iron by desire, not obligation. I don’t have to lift, I want to. There’s no pressure, no rush, no ground lost, no ground to make up, just the playground where time floats rather than flies. And so it goes with physical preparation and mental psyche. They happen.

What do you want to do, what stirs you, what would you like to practice and perfect, or investigate, create or devise? The field is open and letting the workout evolve is a relief and can be most instructive. Sufficient spontaneity is needed to provide freedom in your training without allowing it to become random and loose and unproductive in the long term. Here you may wallow in your favorite exercise combinations, try a personal best, switch to high repetitions for pump and burn and experience, or you might exact a dumbbell movement to work that part of your deltoid no standard exercise ever has. A little creativity and thinking on one’s feet goes a long way to add to self-esteem and training maturity.

Invention rings a loud bell.

Here’s what I did the other day when time was on my side and I lived life as if it was mine and not a tyrant of urgency, the demon of conformity or the brute of convention.

I grasped the iron and proceeded to pick it up, push it and pull it. Hold on... it gets more interesting; I lift it and lower it, raise, press and extend it, all the time planning to swing it while contracting and isolating it. Do you get the picture? I’m hoisting, straining and laboriously maneuvering. I shove and thrust with might. Plates are flying. My heart is throbbing, I’m wet with sweat and I gasp for air. I’m hot now. Under the heavy metal I drive it away from my chest, over the metal I tug it to my shoulders and beneath the cumbersome weight I force it upward with my legs. Lost in spontaneity and gaiety, I grab a pair of ungainly dumbbells and walk -- rather, clomp -- around the gym as if on a mission. I wind down after four breathless, staggering circuits about the equipment-strewn floor and finally collapse.


Gotta run… Laree has tuna and water on the table for dinner.


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