First Things First

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Obstacles in Your Way

Dave Draper protein
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My oldest brother graduated from NYU by his 21st birthday; my older brother graduated Yale University with a doctorate after six years of full academic scholarship. I attended the Elizabeth YMCA in the summer of '59 before entering my studies at the Weider Research Clinic, New Jersey, and four-year internship at the Weider Institute of Advanced Clinical Anatomy, California.

Though I'm from a well-schooled family, I reject in-depth scientific exploration in determining the methodologies of building muscle and losing fat. That narrows my online instructional presentations to "see iron, lift iron," or "eat, lift, sleep and grow."

Intelligence is good, especially when combined with commonsense and understanding. Intellect and knowledge alone obstruct muscle growth. Be smart, be dumb.

So much for an extensive exploration in cellular division as related to the coefficient of effort multiplied by mass squared. Such teaching is enough to make a prospective musclebuilder throw in the chalk before his hands develop a callous or her shoulders get a pump. Time to blast it, bombers, and spare me the details.

"Blast it he says. I'm unable to blast it. There are obstacles in the way."

What obstacles, real or imagined, are in your way? Be specific. Give us one, just one... I dare you:

1) Apathy -- I've totally lost interest.

2) Unlikable -- unpleasant -- unbearable -- weight training is a drag, man.

3) Boredom -- Lifting weights is sooo borrring.

4) Laziness -- Weightlifting is hard work, too hard.

5) Fatigue -- I'm too tired to lift barbells and dumbbells.

6) Guts -- I don't have the courage, the mettle to lift the metal.

7) Discouragement, disappointment, depression -- I weight train and nothing happens, no muscles, no strength, no romance.

8) Know-how -- I don't know how to train. What's a barbell?

9) Discipline -- I don't have the patience and perseverance to exercise.

10) Time -- There's not enough time in the day to toss the tin.

11) Job -- My career consumes all my time, energy and thought.

12) Family obligations -- Kids gotta go here, spouse has to go there and the house needs paint.

13) Injury -- It's my back, shoulders, knees and elbows, doctor.

15) Health -- I'm nauseous, faint, see double, have a temp of 105 and can't stand up. I smoke, drink, eat junk and work 24/7.

15) Finances -- Can't afford rent, not to mention a gym membership or home exercise equipment.

I asked for one obstacle, not 15 excuses.

Two are legitimate: injury and health. The remaining 13 are doubtful, a loss of perception or a blatant abandonment of enriching challenges. Consider the first four on your list: loss of interest, loss of appeal, loss of excitement, loss of spunk. Combined, they reveal a loss of spirit. Life is a magnificent gift and wonderful adventure and your eyes have become glazed by every day mediocrity -- lifeless and unseeing.

You need to revive your desires, arouse your passions, stir your heart and reignite your spirit. Take one minute and recall your musclebuilding purposes, motives, incentives, payoffs and goals. They are sunshine bright, warm and life-giving.

Fatigue, when real, indicates an excess of work, training and stress, and a lack of sleep, rest and right eating. Often fatigue is a ghost, and once again we're haunted by the shadowy loss of spirit, not energy and strength.

Weariness in any form will hinder a workout. A review of the fatigue's source and its regulation is smart right about now. A little rest or change of pace or upgrade in nutrition might be just what the good doctor ordered. Neglect the weights and you open the gates for fitness to escape and more weariness to enter.

Observing your lack of guts or fortitude to confront weight training and its demands indicates you need the weights more than the person beside you, the wimp whose head is bowed low and shoulders are sagging. The absence of courage is not a reason not to train -- it's a reason to train. Courage grows as the iron moves steadily.

Who do you know who is not discouraged or disappointed? No one. We all bear life's unfairness. Frustration and accidents and mistakes and broken dreams and lost loves accompany us like baggage on a long journey. We must carry the load or we'll fail to reach our destination in one sound and solid piece... and without a change of shorts.

Troubles are an opportunity to grow stronger and wiser. Don't look for them; they'll find you. If you exercise, eat right and stay strong, you'll grind them into bite-size pieces. We eat trouble for fuel. Troubles unchecked become depression -- a grim and lonely place. Iron is the antidote, the gym our first-aid station.

What we need to know about weightlifting and musclebuilding can be learned by a 10-year-old. Are there any old-timers out there who will attest to that statement? Yes, I admit, it is a broad stroke of the broom-size paint brush, but it's true.

Any one of us can take a willing youngster or oldster and in 60 minutes show them the way around the gym with five exercises to practice day by day to advance their being. Between sets we can even outline a simple menu for them -- tuna and water and celery spears... Wait... Come back... We'll add carrot sticks... ice cubes.

We learn daily at a significant pace, if our eyes and ears and minds are open. Practice pays quick and generous dividends. Time and iron is muscle and might.

And this is where discipline comes into play. Discipline is more precious than an iPhone. It's not a nature we inherit as much as it is a skill we develop.

Lifting weights (hard work, pain and sacrifice) requires discipline and develops discipline. Discipline begets discipline. Noting you lack it is perceptive and honest. Not working on it is weak and submissive. Weakness and submission, like strength in character, multiply themselves.

Now's the time, unless you don't have the time, in which case you must find the time. One hour three days a week will do... it will do wonders for your back and bis, your brains and brawn. Either they are fed and grow or they shrivel and die. Exercise is not an option. Advanced training is. Relax.

The weights are not all-or-nothing. Loosen your grip if you must, but don't let go now. Adopt a routine to serve your needs, your health, your fitness and your life today. Get huge and ripped later.

There's that special time before you go to work (beat the day, get a head start, arouse your energy and spirits and brain); there's lunchtime (gotta be swift and efficient); and there's that hour or two before Mr. Sandman visits your bedroom to sprinkle sweet dreams. The job or career is tough and the world is a mob... honk, beep, hiss, missed my train, that's my parking place, #[email protected]% rush hour commute, same to you, Bozo. And you dare to abandon your muscle-developing, strength-producing, character-building, stress-reducing and friend-making workouts for the fierce, selfish, plummeting world. We need them more than ever.

Tough choice. Hoist the steel and save a soul. One hour... Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Your spouse and kids will love you more, and you'll find a small place in your heart for yourself. Be your own best friend.

When it comes to money I am of little value... literally. We're all broke. Rob from Peter and forget about Paul, sell your Timex, collect refundable containers from your neighbor's garbage. Take up donations at work and invest in a set of rubber exercise bands at Play it Again Sports. They work.

There are pushups, chins and dips in the garage... free... all you can do.

That leaves us with injury and poor health -- exactly what you're prone to suffer if you don't get under the bar and before the rack. Are you sure you're under the weather, that's not just a tummy ache or a strained pinky? Ya look okay to me, a little out of shape, maybe.

But that's easy to fix. Get in the gym and blast it.

Zoom, boom, whoosh... Godspeed... DD


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