Saturday, March 10, 2007

Rolling Start at the Gym

I RETURNED FROM THE gym about a half hour ago. Feeling good. More crowded than I might have guessed. I was able to navigate my way around with little trouble, because I was doing a whole-body routine with only one rep each. I have been reading the posts of a classic old-school bodybuilder, Dave Draper, a contemporary of Arnold Schwarzenegger in his weightlifting heyday. I had been fumbling my way through a homebrewed routine for some weeks, with gaps in attendance due to soul-crushing bullshit at work. This is unwise from a health standpoint and wasteful of money. So I selected a beginner's program from Draper's site and decided to begin it with deliberate, humble care.

This week, I have trekked over to the gym three times. I created a chart in InDesign at work, in my copious free time, to track my progress. This act alone put me in the spirit to be able to look back a year from now and see just how much work I've put into improving my health and cutting my body fat. I set it up for three lifting workouts per week, as opposed to the four I had been trying to do before this. Insofar as I've been doing some work before this, I consider this less of a cold beginning than a rolling start, a reboot.

This was a practice week to test out the exercises on this plan. I wanted to make one change per week. The next is to adopt a better diet. I am returning to eating five to six small meals per day, including a decent, homemade breakfast every day, and special attention to pre- and postworkout nutrition. I want to develop one solid habit at a time. I have tracked my spending for the past several months, including a category for "junk food" purchases, and I can see where my will has been weak. If I'm stuffing myself with filling and nutritious clean food each day, I'll have less desire for trash. I'm looking forward to rustling up large multiday meals on weekends, especially on the Foreman Grill or my cast-iron stovetop grill. I anticipate setting off my smoke alarm at least twice per week at this rate.

I will take a day every so often to "cheat," either to eat like mad or to snack on "forbidden" foods, which will coincide with my birthday each month. I can't be expected to be a monk each and every day! But my reward will be baggier clothing, more stamina, better sleep, and lingering glances from women who are moderately (as opposed to blind stinking) drunk.

My time away from work, if extended, needs to be disciplined. I've seen how I can slide off an established schedule without structure. Including regular, healthful food in each day, premade as much as possible, along with regular, progressive exercise, will keep my spirits high and my health on the grow while I look for a job. I know there will be streaks, especially if it takes a while, when I will be discouraged in my job hunt. Having a solid record of successful physical training and nutrition will buoy me through these spots.

Once I do get my next gig, I will decide how best to integrate my program into the new arrangement of hours in my day. With any luck, I'll have to bring in a photo to show my new coworkers just what I had to do to get into the shape I present to them. Believe me, I have plenty of potential "before" pictures. I am very eager to craft the "after."

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