Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Yeah. So new job. Which is fun, but also sucks. That's how it is to be starting new. There is never enough time in the day and you never feel like you're going to get over that hump of learning new. I will, and it's an awesome new job, new possibilities and challenges and goodness, but hard.
We've got a week long orientation coming up next week. I'm excited about that, to learn and ask questions in a comfortable open environment. They sent out some pre-work. In it was this:
And I read it and thought about it deeply. Spark is built on this. And so is my current lifting routine. It's about small things that make big changes and focusing on mindsets and behaviors and not the big end goal. A peachy little friend of mine once told me to set small goals (and not to get too ahead of myself (which incidentally I still suck at)) and I find it works. It's not about the weight on the scale, or the look in the mirror. It's finishing the set. It's putting on another five pound weight. It's making sure I'm tracking. It's counting the glasses of water I've had today.
The little things, when piled upon each other, lead you to new little things which lead you to big things.
So change something. Make it small. Make it meaningfully small. Don't do the radical change. Do the small change.
And change your heart too.
Because it works.
Monday, September 22, 2014
Saturday morning I woke up and decided I wanted to get a little "light workout" on.
Light workout in this case was a three or four hour walk through longwood gardens with my kids. First, it's a great way to get the kids out of my wife's hair for a few hours of much needed alone time, second, it's a great way for me to get exercise while enjoying private time with the kids. I will admit I really love doing this, and am so glad to have a membership, to just be able to drive there as I see fit and walk. One direction or the other. This way or that.
So we walk in the new meadow. It's the big thing these days, and the kids are enjoying the flowers and the trail, and we make jokes about the animals in the acres. Leon the lion, shhh, don't wake him. Tim the Tiger, shhh, don't wake him. Veronica the Velociraptor, shh don't wake her. We laugh and giggle. Alan the Annaconda, watch out if you hear slithering. Brenda the Bull, be careful of her temper if you're wearing red. Caroline the Crocodile, she's just misunderstood.
As we walked towards the fountains, amid a crowd of people, my son begins to look around questioningly. We're in a large crowd, and we've been walking for miles (seriously, miles). I thought he had to use the rest room. So I slowed down to ask him. He looks up, and then at the top of his four year old voice begins to yell...
"SHOT THROUGH THE HEART. YOU'RE TO BLAME..."
and then my girls chime in, breaking into a half dance as they walked.
"YOU GIVE LOVE A BAD NAME"
The crowd looks, some join in almost involuntarily, as they finish the chorus. Others are aghast at the outburst. I myself. We'll I'm just proud. Sometimes the best blessings of being a parent are hidden in the moments when you realize they've been listening to everything and it turns out okay.
(because frankly, knowing they listen to everything means they could have said some other stuff).
So six miles of walking. Troopers of kids. Several bottles of water drank. Smiles abound.
And then I went off to a party with my old fraternity brothers. We laughed and drank (too much) and told old stories. It was awesome to catch up. And we continued to tell dirty jokes and play drinking games into the night. Add to that a few wonderful notes from amazing friends, and I was filled with joy. My entire day was filled with peachy thoughts and wonderful moments.
I got exercise in, and also fell off the wagon. And I woke up with a smile. I went to sleep with a smile. And everything in the middle, well, it just fit.
Today, back to the routine, the diet and the exercise (5x5 today, BEAST MODE), and work-- because it's monday, y'all. Monday. But I'll carry with me the memories, the wonderful memories of all the amazingly impactful moments and they will be the thoughts that compel me on.
Friday, September 19, 2014
You know how when you need to wake up for something you're up earlier than the alarm.
Yeah. This morning.
What was I waking up for? What was this thing I had to be so on time for? I had a hot date with this incredibly attractive, absolutely overwhelmingly mind-consuming woman. I was getting up to go see her. The thoughts in my mind were totally and completely dream-like, taking me places that only the imagination can take you, and I was totally engulfed in them. I was so filled with want for this date, and I couldn't help myself.
I brushed my teeth, rinsed. All the while thinking of this hot date. I did this little breath check thing, you know, where you blow into your hand and sniff. It was passable. Mornings are hard.
I had laid out my clothes the night before. Set them out on the bench in my closet. I pulled them on slowly, carefully. Admiring myself in the mirror. I enjoyed the sense of excitement in my belly, and the joy in my heart. Oh, and I think I looked good too. I was definitely dressed perfectly for this early morning hot date. I was rocking it, working the spartan look, blacks and greys.
(yeah. I was going lifting. That was my hot date)
I ate some cottage cheese and drank 16 ounces of cold water and then hopped to the car. Drove the brief ten minutes to the gym and got out with a smile. Front desk guy checked me in before I even showed my card "Morning Rich" he said with a smile. I gave him a sly wink and walked past.
I put the music on loud and I began to slow dance with the iron. I grabbed the bar and wrapped my fingers around it gently, hoisted it carefully and began to lower myself. Keep the head up, let the body do the work. Straight back, pressing out the rear as you descend. Going all the way down. Feeling that sudden tension when you change direction and press it back up.
I'm squating one-seventy-five. I'm one workout away from squating my body weight. Damn, it felt good.
(and I felt strong too. Powerful. As if I were dominating the world.)
And as I walked to the bench for part two, I felt totally into this date. I felt like I could take the bull by the horns and own it. I was on top of the world. How could I even begin to stop. Not as I pulled my shoulder blades together and lifted the weight off the rack and pounded it up and up and up. Five times. Five times Five. I'm not yet to my one rep max there but I'm getting close, and the way the stretch across my chest pulled me I knew I was getting my work in. Ninety seconds of rest and then back at it. Ninety seconds and then another set. She kept teasing me with getting so close and I kept teasing back.
I finished the set with a smile. (note. this is not a smile...)
Final part of the date. Rows. I felt how wonderful it was to be there, to be present, to have the comfort of this place, this work, this effort. She was mine for the moment, and I was hers. It was beautiful.
So I pulled, letting each rep touch the floor, pulling her up against my chest in that wonderful way that I so desired. Each rep a new embrace. She's heavy metal, she's beauty and power. It was wonderful. Each rep, each set another moment of clarity for me.
This is worth waking up for. Sure, it's not easy. It's not something that anyone can do. But I so very much enjoy it. It's my time to shine, to be free, to do whatever I want. It was me, and her. And it was lovely.
I may not be perfect, far from, but in this moment, it was amazing. It was a great date.
(despite not smiling at the end...)
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
It's all in the shadows.
The mornings are filled with them. The way the earth is lit by nothing more than a reflection and the distant horizon. The way my room is lit only with the faded light of a nightlight in the bathroom and the distant lights of electronics trying to tell time to my blurred vision. I get up anyhow. It's wednesday, a lifting day.
Now, my back and neck have been hurting for two days. We'll call it a "shower accident" -- a reach for a fallen loofah in the tight confines of the gym bathroom and a sudden pull in the lower right of my back. Near the hip flexor. It wasn't so painful as to cause me to curse (although I had a few choice words rise to the back of my lips) but it was enough to know I'd done something wrong.
These last two days since, it's been stretching and heat. And this sinking feeling. This falling from the wagon feeling. This missing out on the thing that charges me.
And I used a curse then.
No [censored] way I'm not going to get my [censored] workout in.
So I woke. and I stretched. And I pulled on my shorts and my shirt. I pushed my messy mop of hair under the comfort of an old (and smelly) ball cap. I kissed my wife in the darkness and went out to the world. I chugged my 16 oz of water and ate my half cup of cottage cheese. I packed my juice and my nuts for post workout. I went into the cool fifty-five air and got in my car and drove.
And then I grabbed my towel and I went to the squat rack and I put the bar on my back.
Down. Up. Five times. Deep. Pausing each time at the base to feel -- to figure out if it would work.
And then I put on the weight. First tens on each side. Then twenty-fives. Then thirty-fives. Then I felt good. The sweat began. By the time I had my sixty-five on each side and was hammering through the five by five. The slow drop, the pause, the press. The stretch in the hamstring, the pull of the glute, the tension in the quad.
Five in. Overhead press. By now the sweat was rich and I could feel the throb, the pump in me. Remembering the comments recently heard about my leg muscles. I smiled as I pushed the bar up and overhead, the strain in my delts, feeling the swell in my shoulders. Another set of compliments runs through my head. I struggle. This time ninety-five pounds pressed. Up and overhead. Up and Overhead.
Five in. Time for the deads. It is one of my favorite lifts, but also one I fear given back pain.
The warmup was clean. My body filled with endorphins and my ears with music. I crank and crush it again. Push. Push.
Forty-Fives on each side. Fifty-five. Sixty-five. Seventy-Five.
Crush it. Crush it.
I sat in the steam room, sweating, breathing heavily, feeling the sweat pour off me and smiling. I fought through. I fought every moment and pushed every moment and lifted everything. I felt the rush and the pump and the smile. I heard the compliments, the good-jobs, saw the points in my SP app and the way I felt like I had all this support.
From pain to pleasure, from pain to pleasure.
and it felt good.
Monday, September 15, 2014
The alarm goes off at five fifty. I am up and out of the bed and off to pull on some clothing. It's a half drunkards walk, albeit minus the prerequisite alcohol that often drives such things. I stumble more than walk. I seek without lights for a something that has become second instinct. Shorts, shirt, hat. Sneakers get tied. Teeth get brushed. Dress clothes grabbed and then out to the car.
It's fifty this morning. I enjoy the way the breeze makes me shiver a tiny bit. I like that in the future, I may have to consider a sweatshirt or some sweatpants to keep me from freezing myself out. I drive to the gym.
Today, I start a new role with my company. It's in a new business and I'm going to be doing a completely new thing. I have a whole new set of direct reports. I have a whole new set of people to get to know. I'm the new kid on the block being named to the all-star team before he arrives and that means people filled with fear and resentment, others will be all smiles and hoping for a bunch of quick wins.
So I go to the gym. I look at the bar and ignore this crick in my neck and then step under it and push it up onto the meat of my back. I relish it's pressure. The iron on either side hold steady, only providing the slightest ring of friction as I lower and raise. I lower and raise.
Each plate I pick up is a new way to push my own emotions back into check. Sliding them onto the bar and then getting back in place. It's breathing in the new and breathing out the old. It's a sacred bond, between the metal and me, and I breathe deeply and feel sweat form and wrench my face a little as I crush it.
The Bench comes next, and then the rows. I'm feeling more calm, yet more tired. The last week was emotionally quite tiring, and I know I'm on the way back into the game. My head and my heart, so easily upon the sleeve will be rechecked, tenderized by the power and the pressure and then returned comfortably to the place inside. I need to win today, I need to feel powerful.
Each next movement is the one that reminds me of the fact that I am old, and I am out of shape yet. The way the pressure on my arms and chest pulls at my neck a little too much. The way the rows pull at my lower back, feeling sore.
I might need an extra day of rest.
I'm okay with that, but in some ways, not at all. I want to stretch it all out, feel the rush of the pump and the wonder of the flesh and surrender myself to it completely, but I feel weak and tired.
I still push. I still push.
These mornings give me great comfort. They represent the best of me in some ways. Consistent, dedicated, unwavering, Simple. It is me versus some steel, some iron. It's my own mental sense of never quitting against an inanimate challenge that displays equality to all. We measure by the same stick, and yet every stick is different. Today, it was a stick that reminded me of my long journey yet to go, and also quite how far I've come. I'm sore, but I did it. I'm tired and spent, but I am accomplished.
I can squat most of my friends. I can deadlift my friends. I'm getting there with bench and press and pull. I'm getting there. The better me is only a lift away, a rep away, a breath away.
My back hurts today. My neck hurts today. And I am filled with the uncomfortable shudder of so much new in such a short time. Even so, I have given myself the start I needed. I walked in tired and off, I walked out confident and powerful.
No matter what they say, sometimes you need to don your armor and mount your horse and ride into battle with your colors flying. Some new things need that. For me, today, this was my armor. This was my sword. This was my charge.
I am flying my banners today, sore but happy.
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