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Here Today, Gone Tomorrow, Never Forgotten


Gray Cook's Movement—now out in paperback!

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Do you ever wonder what you were thinking or doing 10 years ago? Me neither; I have trouble remembering this morning. Nevertheless, I was browsing dusty IronOnline newsletters looking for some fresh and novel (cutting edge, as we in the hi-tech world say) material for this week’s edition when I came across this patch of incongruity not worth mentioning.

If you were 10 when you first read these words (unlikely), your curious, accidental and chaotic teens have entirely come and gone. Who am I and where am I going are yet unsolved, though you don’t know that.
 
If you were 20 years old at the time of the IOL assimilation, the bright-eyed 20s are suddenly gone and you wish you could have a do-over. 30 is, like, mature… adult, serious, all grown up. Ick!

Say you were 30 when you skimmed the immortal words. You are, OMG, 40, four zero, and there’s no turning back. You tried. Time has deceived you. Life is set in stone. You blinked and you missed. Bye-bye, all gone. Are those wrinkles, is that fat, where’s my hair, my past, my future?

You read the blog when you were 40, and now you’re 50. Gee, half a decade! Able to look outside yourself these days, you note you’re not alone. Big number, you saw it coming and it’s not so bad on the morale. The 40s started with desperation and flailing, rejuvenating and restoring, and halfway through you grew weary and grew up. “It is what it is,” you say to each other, “get over it, get on with it. Never quit, never let go.”

Here the author is 60, going on 70,and life is in the rearview mirror immediately before him. Let’s take a short journey from here to there to see where he’s going and make sure he doesn’t get lost… or didn’t get lost… or whatever.
 
10 years ago, when we were kids--

Baring accident and illness, if you have been active and eaten in moderation since your high school days, you’re probably not in bad shape. You are also in the top 20 percent of mainstream society. Nice job. If you regularly lift weights and eat smartly, you are probably in very good shape -- the top 5 percent. Congratulations, brothers and sisters. If you are reading this newsletter with high hopes of applying its precepts, you are safe and on your way to consistent improvement in your health and physical condition. Bravo. That’s what happens when you train hard, eat right and stay hopeful.

The only category left is the big one, which includes those who are unenlightened, undisciplined, misguided, lethargic, time-poor, unable or unwilling… the remaining 70 percent. This big group needs big help, big time, now.
 
IronOnline is primarily comprised of hardy trainees between 30 and 50 years old; athletes, white-collar and blue-collar folks, moms and dads, powerlifters, bodybuilders, Joe-Bob and Mary-Jane, life loving characters all. What does time hold in store for us? What can we expect to compromise and when? What should we do now in preparation for later? What to eat, how to train, how much, how often? What about supplements and special foods? What’s the word on skin tone, muscle density, strength and endurance?

That’s the sort of the questions we’ve asked for years at every stage of our training, and now they take on a different hue and bear a bolder question mark.

Kicking rusty cans... I’ll offer my answers and points of view based on experience and observation and intuitive logic. I’m not gifted and I’m happily imperfect. Do not inscribe my words with a sharp instrument across your pectoral muscles. My training background, influences, motives and body chemistry do not match yours, yet I represent some point of reference -- a marker of comparison -- with which you can identify and adjust accordingly and from which you might gain insight.

Consider: I’m a guy who’s been under the iron for 45 years, have not always led a wholesome life to amplify my longevity and internal health, have worn parts, tingling nerves and joints that complain, and the usual allergies, hormonal inconsistencies and neuroses that face any compulsive, over-trained, highly stressed and otherwise arguably well-adjusted earthling. Hi. Glad to meet you.

The good news is I love to work out more than ever. I’ve basically accomplished the physical mounds we set before us: decent muscle shape and size, reasonably low body fat, sufficient strength, energy and endurance with a growing understanding of training. Therefore, trust in my training and enjoyment of its benefits are for me almost a daily experience. This doesn’t make it a walk in the park... it enables me to blast it. The simple point: Thus far, I’ve discovered weight training works well and it gets better. Stick with it.

Injury and illness befall the most careful, stable and healthy individuals. That’s life. Common sense develops with our attentive training and internal and external resistance improves with the rigors of exercise and proper eating. We’re stronger, more coordinated and better balanced, more flexible and resilient, smarter and wiser. Subsequently we tend to care for ourselves better, break less easily and restore more quickly. Nice return for the investment, no?

The injuries that come with years of impact, overuse and misuse can be dealt with because they must. There is no choice (note the attitude of perseverance that accompanies disciplined exercise). The painful shoulder, immobilizing lower back, stinging biceps insertion and hammered knee can be depressing and threaten to put us out of commission, and sometimes they do. Apply the ice, ingest the anti-inflammatory and give the injury its due rest.

But I encourage you like-minded, determined trainees of all ages to work around injuries and maintain whatever percentage of training intensity you can. Diligently investigate the damage, scrutinize the pain, understand the limitations and apply minor, lightweight movements that match the capacity of the problem area. Pain is your guide. Warm-up movements are precious and allow us to proceed with safety, confidence and familiarity; they provide blood support, warmth, alleviation of pain, awareness of mechanical tracking and estimation of exercise potential. They refine our focus and prune our patience and exact our form. When you’re 50 going on 100, who wants to let go and become idle and weak, fat and skinny? Get to the gym, exercise and thank God. You’ll heal faster and live longer and be happier.

We are more injury prone as we get older and repair is slower. However, we get smarter and wiser (worth repeating). With each passing year I become more attentive -- perceptive -- not wanting to endure again the pain, frustration and limitation of yet another injury, possibly one that is chronic and unfixable. And rather than intolerant, I am a graduate student of injuries, fascinated by what they have taught me and respectful of their power. By necessity and performance preference I am a more patient and focused lifter and am hopeful that the improving awareness, workout style and attitude permits me -- and you, my co-worker -- more productive years in the iron and steel toolbox. Or is that a toy box?

Go, going, gone and back gain… D

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Gray Cook's Movement—now out in paperback!

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