First Things First

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The forest in our edge of the world is looking good, thick, healthy and strong. It's had an abundance of all the right ingredients: rich mulch from a season of falling leaves and recycled brush, plenty of life-giving sun and water, moderate temperatures and none of the damaging excesses -- flood, bitter cold, scorching heat or human invasion.

If this was a gym, we'd be producing champions of phenomenal proportions. It has the perfect atmosphere for serious muscle growth, ideal elements to support the mind and the spirit, and a rich anabolic environment prepared by nature. All that was added by no one's assistance was time -- priceless time, free of stress, force, doubt, boredom, apathy, contempt and scheming.

It is during these flourishing days that folks break out the weed-whacker, the rakes, machete, shovels and wheelbarrow, and cut back and thin out the surroundings. Spring cleaning: what does the ole' household look like? We whack the weeds, trim the wild vegetation, cut over-hanging tree limbs and cart away the excess.

This, too, reminds me of the bodybuilding scene. After a year of hard training and wild growth, we want to see what the body looks like after eliminating the thick overgrowth. Furthermore, careful trimming and cutting present a more appealing and athletic body to the world around us. Pride, the rascal, often helps keep our house in order.

Trimming your forest -- getting muscular and shapely -- Where do you start, how do you proceed? No, a controlled brush fire is not the obvious answer. Nice try.

The first place is the mind. You must assess your body and your accomplishments toward its muscular development and decide whether you are ready for the leaning process. Have you gained sufficient muscle mass through your past training efforts to merit defining and muscularizing, or is it too soon?

This is a big question. Mass and strength are often evident while muscle density and maturity lag behind. Reversing course too soon will cost precious invested time and work should you discover only slight-to-modest muscle development remains after trimming the bulk. This can be devastating to the image of who you are and where you're going. The loss of weight, strength and confidence can be a struggle to overcome.

The mind continues its primary role once you decide to embark upon the adventure of muscularizing and shaping the body. The decision must be accompanied by commitment. Though much is to be gained in the good fight, much that you enjoy and appreciate and is valuable is lost: power, size, anabolic conditions and a good pump. Letting go of these qualities to grasp others is tough.

That's life. Be prepared.

Of course, the role of the mind never ceases. It must be ever active to urge, encourage, balance, define, correct and console as you plunge -- or plug -- along. Your attitude is either your driving force or your millstone. Save the heavy weights for the gym floor; cut loose the millstone that weighs you down and allow the driving force to propel you forward.

Your menu -- the foods you eat, how much and how often -- is the next major consideration in hacking off the unwanted body mass. Your diet might be near perfect, needing only an overall reduction of intake. Good for you. Start by lowering your consumption by concentrating on the least valuable carbs.

Too often during seasons of hard training and bulking, the diet assumes wide margins and an entire revamping of one's eating habits is necessary. Oh, boy. Are you ready for this? Call me bulky, call me fat, but don't call me late for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks.

You'll be fine, bomber. Keep your eye on the premise and apply your discipline with continuing finesse: breakfast always, smaller meals throughout the day, keeping each high in protein and live food and low in sugar with lots of water. When you're tightening the screws in a bigger way, cut back on milk products and bring on the fish and kiss the carbs goodbye, except for vegetables and maybe some fruit. Your favorite protein powder and water make for vital pre- and post-workout energy and repair meals.

I'm not boring. The information is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow. I'm just reminding you of the good news. Do it. Always.

About your training, though we're all different, the same general principles apply: moderate weight, higher and more focused reps, increased pace without haste, multi-set training techniques, intensity in performance, no misplaced workouts and a zeal that comes from the inspiration of high hopes and unswerving confidence. You're bound and determined, on target and heading for a destination. You're not wandering about aimlessly.

There are various levels of bulking up and leaning down. The longer you invest in the bulking phase of training, with high performance, the bigger and harder your muscular base grows. Thus, upon the implementation of the defining phase, the end product will be larger and more impressively defined, and with less gut-wrenching difficulty.

Mounds of dense muscle mass to mold, less fatty bulk to trim away.

However, few winter months of bulking are not enough. And a few months of bulking for today's preening bodybuilders are far more than they generally can stand. If they don't start out fat and overweight and in a rush to lose the fatty pounds, they start thin and under-muscled and in a rush to gain muscular pounds.

The first signs of a roll around the midsection and they freak; they go on a diet and increase their aerobic exercise. The roll fades along with their scant muscle gain and they repeat step one of the weight-gain process. Oops! It's that nasty roll again, and the cycle continues. At best they increase their general conditioning, which is good, great even, but frustrating to the burgeoning muscleman inside.

Real musclebuilding requires a dedication to construction-zone training. You don't build your dream house or custom hot rod or garden retreat without creating a mess in the process. There's the bare ground and foundation, the raw framework, tools in heaps and various stages of unfinished work. Long before it all comes together, it all falls apart again and again. That's how things are built.

Each of us is a work in progress.

Too many modern lifters are daydreaming or scheming and not prepared for the work or the mess, the teardown and repair, the clearing, building and trimming. When offered the hard hat and shovel, crowbar and sledge, they say, "It's time for a coffee break, boss." They'll never hear the sweet roar of their hot rod as they park in the front of their dream house and retreat to the garden for long hours of satisfaction and joy.

Apart from a simple diet, this is what I did in the past when I got the urge to trim back the gathering overgrowth.

~ Have your resolve firmly, unequivocally in place. Accentuate it with passion -- the only way mankind accomplishes great things.

~ Imagine your goal in the making, visualize your goal in its completion and enjoy the stages of your participation and control as totally as if they were real. To your mind's eye, they are. This is no trick of the mind. It's the principle of positive thinking, the oldest method of successful achievement known to man and muscleheads -- Perceive and know a thing and it's yours.

~ Break out the tuna, poultry, lean red meat and salads -- the ingredients to energize and build lean, strong muscle as the fat slips away.

~ Have your Bomber Blend and basic supplements on hand and ready -- Great achievers rely on the best nourishment for the mind, body and soul.

~ Every time you say "blah" or "ugh," hit yourself up-side the head -- A little affection and timely encouragement go a long way.

~ Never miss a workout. Modify them according to intelligent needs, but do not skip -- Disciplines never rest in the hand of the persistent, and cunning has its place.

~ In harmony with your commitment and imaginings, train with enthusiasm and zeal -- Know the mountaintop and the travel is not without excitement, joy and certainty.

~ Train intensely with focus, form and rhythmic pace -- There's water in a rock when pressed hard enough. There's poetry in iron when one carefully transports it and listens to its silence.

~ Train always, but don't overtrain -- Know your limits and go toward them regularly. Take it to the edge, but not over.

~ Rest in peace and fulfillment -- Let the body grow and regain balance. There's tomorrow.

We're never satisfied. We're works in progress.

Push that throttle, lift that steel and go with God... DD

*****

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