Body Conquest Articles | Simple Stuff
Simple StuffStaying motivated when the world is coming down on all sides is a problem many of us face regularly. We don't have to go very far before we trip over an obstacle, encounter a detour or fall into a deep, fiery pit where monsters live. Whether getting to the gym across town, entering the foreboding doors to the iron tonnage in the garage or approaching the bench -- , I mean the torture rack -- in the basement, heaviness in the heart and mind is like lead in the seat of our pants. I want pizza, TV and the couch, you think, but your fat and skinny conscience fights like a rabid dog.
You're a tough one; you made it and there they are, the roly-poly weights and all the neat benches, pulleys and gadgets you could think of, ready for action. You say, why me, why today... why? Because, that's why. Why is the sky blue? Because, that's why. You don't need an answer; the answer is in the first set. You're here and good fight begins.
It's those of us who don't make it to the gym floor or accept the clever, all-inclusive answer "Because, that's why" who have the big problem. Purpose has withered; it has become less than the need. Motivation has become clouded by the haze of the days. Inspiration, like dry fruit on a sunless tree, has lost its sweetness. Drive has stalled with the lack of direction. And there is little enthusiasm when the destination is forgotten.
But wait, there's more. Miss one workout and we surely miss two and three and four. We get soft, weak, unhealthy, unkempt, undisciplined, unstructured, irritable, rude and ugly. We eat crap food, stock the fridge with wine, stay up late watching TV, and all of a sudden health and fitness goes down the drainpipe.
Let's make a list of the enemies that attack our daily lives, bringing us down from the sky where we should be flying. We will set apart the assailants and devise counteractions to the common destructive force to all trainee's: lack of motivation.
Oh boy, where do we begin? Remember, this is not an exercise to summarise the negatives and wallow in the pain; it is a sweep of the dirt, crust and garbage that gathers around us over the years and needs to be attended. To see it is to know it, dumping what we can and keeping the remainder in a stinky pile by the backshed. Yeah, it's there, but it's out of the way. I don't smell anything. Do you smell anything?
1) World weariness... This mean-faced, two-faced and two-fisted scoundrel has been a dark resident of the world since the day there were two or more inhabitants, a long, long time. We are the chief contributors to his cause, along with thunder, lightning, wind, rain and fire. It's the economy, stupid... nothing that a stack of hundreds wouldn't fix. Not really; tell that to the mother of a kid who's lifeless after a bullying suicide. Did we elect these politicians to manage our country or cause its implosion? They're a bunch of crooks and idiots. Julia is great, but she's still selling the same labour message. And, by the way, what is the level of terrorist-alert this cold Thursday evening? Sorry I'm late, dear. Some man was threatening to throw his infant off the Westgate unless we improve our highways, something about tax dollars and freedom of expression under a recent amendment to the Constitution. He's got a whole bunch of supporters standing in the middle of the princess highway shouting "Kids against traffic." And, no, I didn't get the job today. Three illegal immigrants were there before me and were hired on the spot. Good thing I don't do drugs; they were passing them out to celebrate.
Another good thing -- I belong to the gym down the road where the pump replaces the anger; the challenge under the iron overpowers the stupidity of lawmakers; the camaraderie on the floor with my training buddies makes up for the loss of time on the road on the way to Splashy and the muscle and might fights against crime, slime and grime.
2) Injury and illness... It's the shoulder today, the lower back yesterday and I feel fatigue coming on with my runny nose. I train too hard when I train at all and, thus, overtrain, which stops me from continuing to train, so why bother? If it's not one thing, it's another.
That's the spirit: tough, undaunted and unstoppable. We know what the "C" stands for in your name, Courageous, not cowardly and complaining. If the hospital won't take you, go to the gym, that's what I always say. More healing, repairing, strengthening, energising, immunising and detoxifying takes place on the gym floor and in our heads than in most accident and emergency wards. This has not been proven yet, but I'm working on it.
Ask anyone who trains regularly: take a week off and everything hurts, you feel like you're gonna collapse and you want to bite people's heads off. I do bite people's heads off! Focus, learn from the pain, wear a belt, use ice, take ibuprophen occasionally and smile.
3) Plateaus... Plateau is often a synonym for impatience. Building muscle and losing fat takes Time with a capital "T," not a tiny, little "t." That means many moons, Chief Wannabe, and Hard Work (note capital H&W), healthy sacrifice, joyful compromise and stick-to-it-tiveness. Where have all these qualities gone? Slowly but surely will win the race. Incremental by incremental, you WILL get there. Don't be a Rushy Mc Rush.
A 20-something guy struck by his inability to accomplish his goals asked me for training and nutritional advice as I departed for home, late last week. I had my gym bag in hand. I felt compassion for the wayward guy and gave him all the counsel I could muster until my bag and belongings became heavy. As I left he confessed he hadn't been training all that long, two months. What plateau does one encounter in two months? You can't make, invent or discover a plateau in two months. It's not physically possible. That's not enough time to pile enough dirt to construct a bloody plateau.
If the door seems stuck, try another key, try another entrance, crawl through the window, climb over the roof or dig a hole under the floor. If those attempts fail, make another door or remove a wall. Use your logic, your imagination, revive your desire and realise your need. Do not submit to boredom, doubt or disappointment once or you will be afflicted by the demons the rest of your life.
4) The home front... Our home is our castle and the wards and inhabitants of the castle, the family, must be strong, confident, rational and quick-minded to defend and keep its walls secure. Why do I think drinking beer/wine and watching Dancing With The Stars and snoozing on the couch do little to preserve and perpetuate the home front? Avoidance of responsibilities and procrastination are on the top of the list of those persons who are failing and struggling in society today. The eat, live and be merry crowd will get fat, sluggish and die before their time. Paint that wall, fix that fence, save some money and forego the new SUV and the Mediterranean cruise to be paid for with a credit card now and forevermore.
Go to the gym, young man, and take your loving girlfriend. What an uplifting diversion the gym experience is when you share it with a friend and recognise its amazing benefits and rewards. The gym builds, matures, beautifies, sustains, glorifies and adds years of quality to your life. And don't you think these appreciations are evident within the four walls of the house and home? When trials rise before you, so do your strengths.
5) Job and career... A tough one for sure, boss. Who are we, where are we going, is this all there is, can I do better, is it worth it? The list of questions is long and confounding; it's presented early and is ever-present. If you don't like your job, your boss or your associates with whom you spend a third of your daily life, you're in dark place called a pit. Sometimes the money explains the compromise, the benefits, the hours and the convenience. Good enough. Hey, you say, I've got a job. Sterling response. We are an ever-hopeful bunch and you keep your eyes and ears open.
How about being your own boss, stepping up the ladder, going to uni, taking a series of seminars? These aggressive moves take a man and woman of action, stamina and guts. Do you know where one builds action, stamina and guts? In the gym under the iron day after day, forever without fail or excuses or grumbling, that's where. It's true. I read a study somewhere and that's what it said, really.
The first thing a person does when he loses his job is quit the gym... when he needs it the most: positive input, uplifting distraction, confidence building, back building. Folks are bored with work and school and play, they stop going to the gym... when they need it the most: restoring, revitalising, disciplinary. Can't handle the boss, the employee loses interest in striving and forgets his workouts... when he needs them the most: de-stresses, provides an outlet for expression.
6) Relationships... This includes finding a mate, keeping a mate, divorce, flirting and marriage, bad boss, staff or partners, neighbours and friends and training partners and relatives. For some, the more the better; for others, the less the better or none whatsoever. Here we make our way through the crowd with little invisible feelers protruding from our heart and mind and so forth. It's hard to distinguish a friend from a post sometimes, but we keep following the buzz. They come and go and when they go and you wish they hadn't, you wonder if it was you or they and it can hurt more than fire to the flesh. The iron does not distinguish between friend and foe, but responds to the love we offer it. When the metal is dormant, it's you who needs the work. Never let it die.
Oh yeah and...
Be good to your dog. And be very good to mine.
7) The gym... Where muscle-building takes place: crowded, funky, out-of-the-way, insufficiently equipped, wrong atmosphere and full of smudged mirrors and jerks and idiots. I hope that doesn't describe your local iron and steel watering hole. If it does, think garage, Olympic set, squat rack and a bench. The person who must work out can train in a dungeon, believe me. For the beginning trainees, the last impression they need is the most common scene they are introduced to across our fertile pastures and fruited planes: hyped energy, endless stationary running, climbing and cycling machines in a dazzling florescent white convention-hall setting, lined with mirrors and occupied with gaily outfitted, but disillusioned hopefuls strutting in unison. Who are they and where do they come from?
Choose your gym wisely. Seek a clean iron refuge, a steel workplace, not a comfy cushioned playpen for adult toddlers. You can either get the job done with purpose and be certain, or sample the colourful tinker toys, erector sets and building blocks till it's time to go bye-bye.
8) Personal resolutions... When the sum total of who you are comes under scrutiny and you are not entirely pleased with what you see, consider it a fine thing. Pride doth break our back and chase away the good. How can one so bright put aside his exercise? However, should we hate ourselves, our motivation pours out like fresh drinking water from a cup at the well; we need more time in the gym, not less. When we've lost direction and our place is not clear, rely on the work accomplished within our soul as we accomplish the work on our mighty and miraculous body. Time continues its fixed pace and we are all taken by surprise by the turn of a generation, dismay frequently in attendance. Train hard, eat right, care more and worry less... worry no more. About spiritual things: I don't know a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist or a Jew who isn't a better person because he works out and eats right. There'd be fewer battles, less drugs and less crime and more happy mums and dads if we all lifted weights... let's face it. In what recent medical journal was I reading that? Oh, that's right, I don't read medical journals.
9) Training uncertainty... I'm a day behind my training partner. You know, I was unable to train today. So what did I do? Moved heaven and earth, sold a kidney and got my butt down to Splashdown to put him through a session. What's in it for me? Well, it gets me down and bummed out when I can't train. Putting someone else through their paces lifts my spirits. I feel good. I witness someone doing PB's and that makes me happy. It also keeps me in that motivation loop. I now can't wait to train chest tomorrow.
10) Nutrition: too much sugar ... I think it's safe to state that too many of us -- eat too much sugar and therefore become agitated, get fat, disturb the hormonal balances, overload the system, distress the heart and capillaries, thereby advancing disease, diminishing energy and well being, sex drive and sex appeal, and the motivation to lift weights. Replace the sugar with salads and vegetables, meat, fish, poultry and milk products, some whole grains and nuts and EFAs.