First Things First

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Some Things Never Change



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At any age under any circumstances exercise and eating right will support the body, mind and spirit of every participant. The younger you start, the better the foundations. The longer you continue, the more durable the structure. The later you start, the more dramatic the life-sustaining renovations you experience. Never to have exercised with at least moderate passion is to have somehow withheld opportunity and dimension from your life. It's never too late to start.

Okay, already. What do we do?

A large share of slackers are the once-in-shape, now out-of-shape, over-forty-yet-not-one-hundred, back-in-the-gym and wondering-what-to-do bunch. What they must do is... well... start; get the immovable object in motion and keep it in motion despite all imaginary and real obstacles. This demands desire, commitment and guts. If these can't be arranged, it's back to the recliner and refrigerator with their expanding britches and narrowing arteries and diminishing muscles and failing self-image. Face the facts, consider the consequences and hop in the pool; the water is fine. Exercise, eat right and be happy.

Wow. Aren't you glad you're past that stage? To those who are not, I usually say something like this:

What must be done? Exercise vigorously three days a week with the weights, and throw in some aerobics between workouts. It's wonderful, exhilarating and joyful. It's a challenge: a challenge that restores the body and revives the soul and regulates the emotions. What have you got against challenge? Too hard, too much trouble, no time, no interest, no courage, no confidence... exactly what is it? And about eating right, can we put some order in the menu, increase the meal frequency, add some protein and lower the sugars? Can we dump the junk and add living food packed with goodness? Can we apply discipline and satisfy our body's needs and not our cravings? Absolutely. It takes time to rethink exercise and diet and embrace them for the rewards and benefits they offer, and the downright fun and fulfillment that accompanies action and control.

Has it been awhile? To the vast group of unconditioned I say this: Take heart and start walking. Over the weeks add mild jogging to your walking and do ten minutes of crunches and leg raises at some specific time during the day (before dinner, before breakfast). Start planning to expand your exercise to the gym floor. A good gym can be a refuge, a rewarding diversion, a place of redemption and that bracing, long-absent challenge you need for fulfillment. Without these we wilt.

Once in the gym (and, please don't put it off... see you there) do a little aerobics for warm-up, some rope tucks and leg raises for midsection and one basic exercise recalled from your past experience for each muscle group, two sets times ten repetitions.

Hazy-days reminder:

Chest... bench press (dumbbells are safer and more effective) or dumbbell fly
Back... wide-grip pulley pulldown or seated lat rowing motion
Shoulders... bar or dumbbell press or sidearm lateral raise
Biceps... standing barbell curl or seated dumbbell curl
Triceps... dips or pulley pushdowns
Legs... leg press or squat... plus heel raises

Three whole-body workouts, three alternate days a week for the first month as you practice, concentrate on the task at hand and the muscles at work. Observe your surroundings, smile, nod and be extraordinarily happy. You are an extraordinary person applying quaking courage, reluctant responsibility and staggering persistence. These, too, are about to flourish and thrive.

Curious: What needs to be said about the technicalities of the workouts (sets, reps, exercises and combinations) is just... so technical. Workouts are workouts, mixed and matched to people, situations, circumstances, genetics, injuries, the past, the present and the future, moods, attitudes, doubts, conclusions, chemistry and character. What we think about and talk about between the lines is where the real questions and answers are exchanged.

Men and women, you are building all the main muscles throughout your body for balance, efficiency, health, strength and appearance. And today, what works for him works for her. As the climb continues, the course will change, but not much. That's another matter. For now don't wander from the basics and don't expect miracles beyond the one that you are experiencing. Enjoy yourself and continue to be hopeful and positive -- the perfect environment for muscle building, health and long life.

God’s Might… This is your Captain speaking… Ahab Kangaroo

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