Disclaimer: You know that friend. The one that thinks that by adding "with humility" or giving credit to their teammates when telling you about their workout or race, they are being modest. The one that tells you "I won", alluding that they won the overall when there were 2 competitors in their age group.
My last few blogs have been about me and sports and quite frankly I am feeling like "that friend". Don't let my self-deprecating tone fool you. I am telling you about me. Cloaked under the cover of sharing, the meta message "my life is interesting" undeniably exists. This is the conundrum of autobiographical works. They are ego driven, even if it is an ego filled with self-doubt.
In 2012, there was too much of everything in my life. Except exercise. I was ashamed to go shirtless even when I was alone. A confluence of events had conspired to create a lifestyle of slovenly excess. The culmination being a hernia operation which undetected for two years had slowed me to a feeble pace. Resigned to my fate I rationalized my situation as age related. I was 55.
Until I saw this video:
Gerry was in his 60's when he dropped into the barrel of this Mentawai bomb. There certainly is a freak of nature aspect to Gerry Lopez, but I also knew he took very good care of himself.
The follow day I went to the gym. I had no plan, no program, no partner. In past attempts to restart, I had written elaborate training schedules mapping out my path to greatness. In my sorry state I couldn't conceive of greatness, so I set a single goal. Drive to the parking lot of the Athletic Club of Bend. I didn't have to go inside, I just needed to get to the parking lot to meet my daily goal. I didn't know it at the time, but I was forming the habit loop for the most important aspect of any training program – consistency.
My training plan was simple: 3 different workouts; chest, back and legs. No set days. No set training exercises. Each day doing one body part. A continuous rotation of chest, back and legs. The gym opened at 5:15 am. I arrived at 5:30. Like a hamster spinning on a wheel I did this day after day. Weight lifting has a simple formula: The progressive lifting of heavier weights on a consistent basis, and at elite levels on an individualized program. The weight on the bar never lies. I could see progress. I could see change.
Physical change was my goal when I returned to the gym. But mental changes were also happening. I was happier. I was more tolerant, patient and productive. I made lifestyle changes which were beneficial rather than self-destructive.
This exert for a commencement speech to the graduating class of the University of Texas by Admiral William McRaven, sums up my feelings about my morning gym workouts. Weightlifting is my version of making my bed.
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