First Things First

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Don’t Rush the Days


Dave, in The Monkees

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It’s Monday morning and you drag yourself out of bed. This is the day of the week you gather together the responsibilities you dumped on Friday and ignored on Saturday and Sunday. You load them on your shoulders before standing upright, taking a shower or having breakfast. The neglected duties and tasks can wait no longer. Guilt, anxiety and urgency, unlikable companions, assist you in the deed.

The weight is not light, nor is it desirable and it takes a few minutes to find your legs and collect your spirits. As you focus and find success in a few mundane chores -- brushing the teeth (job well done), pulling on your clothes (got that right), pouring the first cup of coffee (hardly a splash) -- the burden lightens and the sky brightens.

“Today is the first day of the rest of my life. The streets are alive with the sound of music.”

Dribble. You grab your keys, wallet and necessary gear and head out the door.

May your face shine upon me, oh Lord, and you hop in the car.

Tuesday’s are better ’cuz Monday is over. You made it unscathed and had a decent workout to top it off. The latter, insignificant to your colleagues, is the thing that matters most. Without the workout, Mondays wouldn’t have a chance. You’d remain in bed curled up in a ball until the day was gone.

Furthermore, Tuesday is the day you train arms. That would be biceps and triceps with enough midsection to sooth the soul and rattle the six-pack. Let’s hear it for barbell curls and pulley pushdowns, dumbbell incline curls and dips. Ah, life ain’t so bad. Contract, extend, grunt, concentric, eccentric, focus.

You feel emboldened upon arising Wednesday morning, jumping out of bed early after a night of sound sleep. You have a sure grip on this thing called life, and you know why they say only the strong survive. You lean back on the kitchen chair as the second cup of coffee warms your hands.

“What shall I do today that’s daring? Won’t take any crap from anybody, that’s for certain.”

Squats during lunch hour sound like an adventure. Go heavy, with the thrust of a freighter. Make those plates clatter and clang. Dump the bar in the rack with a crash. Wrap up the routine with leg curls and extensions and calves and be out the door and down the stairs before the echo of metal grows faint.

The afternoon’s a breeze. You attend to your work, however tedious or difficult it might be, with efficiency and high spirits. Everything is light after moving several tons of iron; everything is simple. Colors are brighter, sounds more acute and what might otherwise be annoying is almost entertaining. You wallow in patience, lose yourself in concentration and see humor where stress generally abounds.

Man, do you sleep Wednesday night, and Thursday arrives right on time. Good morning, World. You have places to go and things to do, a job and responsibilities. The weekend is almost here and you don’t want to be caught in a lurch. Three down, two to go and today you work on deadlifts. Maybe have extra carbs for lunch and train late afternoon when the body’s better prepared, stronger.
 
You realize every day is distinct, unpredictable and unique, and you’re responding to mute social conditioning when you define the day by what day of the week it is. You hate to confine yourself by rules of habit, but sometimes that’s the way the game works. Go for it, what the heck.

You do the same thing with your training, once you pass the ABCs. Sufficient order is necessary -- guidelines, routine. There are certain exercises we practice to bring about desired effects. But within any workout we need plenty of room to allow our imagination and instincts, desires and needs to take control. That’s the best part about training, the joy of it: to express the self according to our personality and ability while achieving our purpose.

You arrive at the gym and find the Thursday mood is circulating the equipment. Faces are less somber, more hopeful than those displayed on Monday. The gym and the workouts soften anxious features by distracting, humbling and fulfilling the trainees early in the week.

And as the week rolls by, zeal and good cheer accompany the guys and gals as they walk through the front door. The weights are moved with gusto. They jingle, jangle and clang like musico de grande improviso.

And so we come to Friday. You count your blessings as you prepare to leave your castle: four super workouts this week and one more on the way, the job, my loving family, tuna, good health, farmer walks... and you’re out the door. Similarly, other iron enthusiasts thank God for beer, the pickup, the Rottweiler, waterproof eye-liner and strapless training tops.

Fatigue is evident, but strength and drive are sustained by the promise of the weekend. When the mind is willing and the body squirms, you recall the accomplishments behind you and imagine the joy and relief ahead. You continue your commitment to good and right in your work and communication, each step taking you closer to the Friday workout.

It’s the best, not because of records set, pump achieved or workload accomplished, but because of the feel of the steel, the awareness of exertion, the goodness of the cause, your presence in the gym and those around you, the clang and clamor and atmosphere, the successes and failures and fulfillment. Each rep is a charge, every set a blast. It’s Friday.

The weekend is the weekend. Except for those occasions when overtime hours and household chores extend the workweek, there are two extra days of life for sleeping in, watching sports, going to the lake, playing with the kids, praising God, visiting family and friends, going to a concert or just plain collapsing. Of course, there’s always the gym... in case you missed a workout or simply miss working out. (Word has it there are a few crazies in the weightlifting department.)

A large number of fitness and musclebuilding enthusiasts depend on Saturday and Sunday for their primary workouts, Monday through Friday crowded with, as if it were possible, more important things. You move time around like chess pieces, training when you want, as long as you want. The hard work and invested time in the gym feel like genuine recreation, a healthy diversion or a productive pastime, and less like an obligation, punishment or forced labor .

What freedom you have! Freedom to vote, speak, worship and work out -- work out any day of the week, any way you want and wherever you can. All you need is a purpose, some barbells and dumbbells, a little knowledge, a lot of heart and plenty of guts. From these basic ingredients great bodies, minds and souls are built.

Go as fast as you can, but don’t hurry. Monday is just over the horizon.

Steady as she goes... DD



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