Mr. Universe Dave Draper
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Muscle Beach award, Draper.

9/9/99. Never again this day. Submission to Time's unstoppable forward motion dismays and amuses me and I involuntarily reach to pause its flight. A summer that never fully arrived is now about to depart. Amusement and dismay, thin soldiers in a mock battle of survival clash briefly and I press on, smile in place. I shall not be overcome by the bleak winter's onslaught with its gray frown, shriveled and shrunken days followed by nights of no end, flus, runny noses, coughs, flaring joint pain, pumpless and burnless workouts by stiff bodies bound in layers of long johns and sweat shirts, disciplined lives hanging like one winged moths in successive holiday gusts smelling of cookie dough, stuffing and rum. You may have guessed I'm not crazy about winter.

I laugh out loud, an anxious and nervous burst, writing and looking through the window as the wind leans on the redwoods, grooming the giant forest. I lightheartedly wonder when a spiraling ancient limb will crown my rooftop, block our nimble wooded roadway or shear the power lines and collapse the waterways. Amenities. Like responsibilities, who needs them?

Laree comes in from a sudden storm and breaks my reverie. "I could hear you yowling as I drove up." Laree can hear the muffle of a slug as it drags its belly across our deck in the early morning dew. "What's funny? By the way, the gutter's busted. We got us a flood by the front door. Think we should buy a generator this year? Stock food? Build an ark? Brrrrrrr. We need firewood. How's that newsletter coming along?" She says all this in one breath as she reads over my shoulder. "Hope the computer doesn't go down." I regain my composure. I feel pale. 189 days 'till Spring 2000.

Do you have a plan? You've got to have a plan. We need a plan before we're lulled into winter hibernation and isolation.

Winter is here. If not today, unspeakably soon and it's a different creature. Good. You like skiing and bundling up, snowballs and the fireside. Cute. Me, too. Take heed, the shorter and colder days during which we reside furthest from the sun are harsh on the system. We tend to fade — lose ground — defect.

We need to adjust quickly, mentally and physically. You can do it; it needs to be done. Too often we find ourselves suddenly neck deep in calories and bodyfat, inappropriate and irregular training, misplaced goals, bitter and guilty self-consciousness, low resistance and the ensuing vulnerability to flus, colds and viruses. Diminishing disciplines, increasing television bloat, pronounced pear-shapeness, attitude spats, lost friendships, newfound evil enemies, hysteria, nightmares, paranoia, schizophrenia and occasionally the mumps. And we were making such good progress.

Make a plan. Reinforce it. Write it down. Scroll "urgent" across the top. Post it on your icebox door and outhouse wall. Study it, memorize it, recite it. Quote it.

Your goal is to make progress in your bodybuilding through Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb, and March. Every month a silent and secret step forward. Another movement mastered, a new P/R, a satisfying exercise combination practiced, a pound of fat gone, an ounce of muscle mass acquired, workout after workout. Mere maintenance, or only a occasional slip backwards is not sufficient. A slip backwards is how we usually survive the off-season and find ourselves eventually tumbling backwards with ever-increasing momentum until we're out of control, disappointed and angry.

Put order in your workouts now. Prepare for the psychology of the winter, its physical limitations, its tastes, noise and demands. Be ready for the altered atmosphere, attitudes and energies around you - at work, home and at the gym. It's a different game, different rules, different scoreboard.

Have you noticed? Less skin showing we tend to fatten up. Less daylight and fair weather, we tend to be sedate, indoors and comfortably confined, less active and motivated. We burn less fuel and eat more; there are holidays, parties, long nights, wet days, boredom, depression and developing bad habits with crumbling disciplines. Inertia.

Let's vow to not falter through the six months before us: a personal promise with an eye on each other and encouragement along the way. I see it each year about this time. Members fade from the gym floor, returning months later, upset, stressed, out of shape and regretful. "If only I stuck it out." To many of you this sounds harsh. Many identify and others would rather I talk about 1 rep squats and get on with it. Breaks my heart when an innocent, well-meaning member gets swept away from his or her workout routine and returns, lost and helpless.

I'll post some material each week to keep us going. We all stumble and need a hand regularly. Let's do winter together. 

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