First Things First

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Enjoy, Relax, But Stay Alert


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It’s been another wonderful week well-lived, another summer passed as we head into the Labor Day weekend. You are a rare and active audience -- responsible, thinking, seeking, concerned and hip to what makes this magnificent yet sorry world go around.

We look to the vessel in which we live and plan ways to make it stronger, healthier and more appealing. We sort out ways to rid ourselves of sluggish excess bodyfat and build lean and strong muscle. We do this by eating right, lifting weights, exercise, sports and play.

We do this with courage and discipline. We’re cool. It’s been observed that this planning, practice and attention improves character, the mind, the mood and general well-being. It nurtures us and nourishes us and brightens our light.

This sounds like a arrogant statement of who we are. I believe it is, instead, a healthy and hopeful comment. It’s not unrighteous pride to note good in oneself and after careful assessment, recognize its presence, thank God, smile and move on. What a wretched group we’d be without the hopes, dreams and realities we pursue and share. We are a salient remnant of seekers and performers. Stay alert. We need to help each other so we can help those who can’t help themselves.

Three young gentlemen, smart and unassuming Europeans, visited the gym during the month of August. They trained, traveled about, watched and listened. One day they apologetically commented that there are a lot of fat people in America. Oh, my. Please, excuse the three-letter ‘f’ word. They, in their struggle to express themselves in English, didn’t think quickly enough to apply the tolerant, politically correct verbiage of ‘overweight,’ ‘heavy,’ or ‘weight-challenged.’ How crude of them. Poor fellows.

Then my rugged friend Bob, a popular wrestling coach, added unhappily with shoulders shrugged, “Americans are soft.”

Ouch.

These pronouncements were not intended to sting, the nasty sting having already been inflicted by the unsuspecting subjects themselves. In fact, quite the opposite effect was conveyed by the observers, one of pathos, regret and quiet alarm. These weren’t judgments, criticisms or mean put-downs by mean men. These were raw facts.

Why, with all our skill, talent, awareness, sensitivity, research, progress, opportunity and vision, are we fat and soft? Is it a social disease? Can it be laziness, apathy, unwillingness, character-lessness that has us couched before televisions, slurping and gobbling and stuffing ourselves with sweet, fatty, processed goop? We’re seduced by entertainment, gaudy distractions, noise and clamor. Are we brainwashed?

There’s irony and incongruity in our culture of intelligence, generosity and beauty -- our culture of ignorance, gluttony and self-destruction. We are so rich, yet so poor. Smart, yet dumb -- and it’s killing us.

“Enough already. Dave, give it a rest.” Laree, my neat wife and webmaster thinks I get carried away and wants me to go back to my cage. Here she comes now with a chunk of ginsing root and a saucer of warm milk. That’ll do it.

Before I go, take heart brothers and sisters. Don’t fall; the bottom’s not for us. It’s not for anybody.

Okay, who’s in charge here? Bring in the bulldozers and let’s clean up the mess. No grumbling, no excuses, we’ve got work to do.

You want to lose weight? Cut out the junk, eat more protein, fewer carbs and less fat, stay hungry and blast the workouts. Move faster. You want to get huge? Cut out the junk, eat more protein and carbs and fats; stuff yourself and blast the workouts. Move heavy iron.

We don’t miss workouts around here. We don’t mutter about overtraining, or pain, or dinky injuries. We push forward, no turning back, no stopping. The foundations upon which we build need our watchful eye around the clock. Allow no gaps, deterioration, neglect or procrastination. Eat, sleep, work, and work out with keen eyes and a knowing grin.

The rest of the time, aspire. And be nice to your mom.

Brother Dave

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