Sunday, November 10, 2013


I was getting ready to work out the other day, getting my gym clothes on and chatting with the guy next to me in the locker room. He was clearly not in the mood to be there - not looking forward to working out. He said working out was like taking a pill that tasted really bad. But he knew he had to do it.

In my mind I contrasted this with a comment Mark (my work-out bud for the last year or so) made a couple of weeks ago. He was a bit stressed when he got to the gym - worried about the young adults in his math classes.

About half way through our work out, after doing 3 sets each of chin-ups and pull-ups with a 60 pound dumb-bell between our feet, and after 6 or 8 sets of our abs routines, out of the blue as we were going to get a drink of water, he tells me how good he feels!

One example of what we both comment on periodically. It just plain feels good to work out hard, to know we are doing the best thing we can possibly do to keep ourselves fit, to ward off heart disease and diabetes, to keep our bodies doing what we want to do.

So, let’s compare this with a nasty-tasting pill.

Can I say I am passionate about my workouts? Yup, can and do. In an earlier post I talked about entitlements. About my being entitled to work out - it is something I gave myself when I retired. The right to workout as long as I wanted. I do my best to translate this into the thought that my workouts can not be taken away from me. This means I usually make it to the gym 5 times a week. Because I am entitled to be there - not because I have to be there. Can you say “mind set”. That is what this is all about - coming to believe in your workouts, and refusing to let others take them away.

I sometimes try to understand and try to figure out how to share the kind of commitment I have for my passions. Working out, playing the hammered dulcimer, finding special times with my lady, restoring clocks... These things are all rewards that I cherish. But, as I also wrote in an earlier posting, sometimes the difference between a nasty-tasting pill and a passion is all in our heads. Like the example I used in a previous post: When in college I had a rule that I could visit my girl friend after I took a test. Made me come to look forward to taking tests. In a similar manner - what is working out for me? It is a chance to positively impact a number of peoples lives, it is a chance to see people who are glad to see me, it is a chance to make a little progress on so many different exercises that we are working on, and it is the way I keep my body in a shape that makes me glad to look in a mirror.

Do I picture the strain of doing 60 pushups? No, I picture the satisfaction of being able to do 60 pushups.

How else to put this.

When we finish a workout it is not uncommon for Mark to thank me for a great workout, or, vice-versa. We push each other - we are each others crutch. But, at the end of the workout it is hard to get across the feeling of accomplishment - the feeling that, even if everything else today went down the tubes, at least we got in our workout.

Passionate about working out versus dreading the experience. One sustainable, one not so much.

Brings to mind a favorite quote from the book “Younger Next Year”: “We are stuck with aging - it is inevitable. But, decay is optional.”

It’s up to each of us to find a way to make working out a part of our lives. Way too much research has documented the multiple ways that workouts make us healthier, both mentally and physically. Brings to mind a conversation I had with a friend a bit ago. He had started working out but, as he put it, he wasn’t ready to commit to the whole thing.

He’s my age (since when is 59 old???). He has kids, and grand kids.

I was so very tempted to slap him silly. OK, a childishly emotional response to someone saying something I find unbelievable stupid. Or perhaps a mature response to someone saying they aren’t willing to do what it takes to continue to live a healthy life.

I really wanted to ask him if he was committed to seeing his grand kids grow up. Sitting on ones backside will not improve his chances of being fit enough to enjoy their growing up. Heck, sitting on ones backside is an invitation to a host of diseases that plague America and result in shortened lives.

Isn’t ready to commit? What part of “betting your life” is he missing???

I can only hope you can begin to understand the passion I have for working out. And for how good I feel every time I finish a session.

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