My family and closest friends know all too well of my affinity for President Theodore Roosevelt. While there are a multitude of reasons driving my admiration for this tremendously amazing American, one of the most profound is by far, the unbridled and fathomless zest he demonstrated for the arduous task. His own words best capture the essence of this passion: ”I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life.”
It is hard to imagine a person living a more full and accomplished life than our 26th President. Like Roosevelt, I have grown to appreciate the importance of hard work towards the attainment of success in life’s endeavors. And, I am also keenly aware of the enormous benefits embracing the “strenuous life” can provide in terms of reducing personal stress and enhancing mental fitness and physical well being.
For me, working out is just as important as eating and sleeping in the pyramid of critical functions I need to do on a daily basis to facilitate the circle of life. In fact, as my wife and a smattering of my closest friends know, I will gladly forgo sleep in order to get my time in the gym.
By friends and family members alike, I have been called “obsessed” because of my passion for working out. Far from being aggrieved though, I have insulated myself from these well intended barbs by pledging allegiance to an anonymous quote I stumbled upon a few years back – “Obsessed is a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated” – and finding great comfort in the physique staring back at me during my daily appearances in front of my bathroom mirror (to shave of course, nothing more grandiloquent.) As I noted in an earlier post, though I realize the futility of trying to reverse the hands of time, I do believe it is possible to slow down the trickle of sand rushing thru life’s hourglass.
So, working out is a very important part of my daily routine and has been a steadfast habit for much of my adult life. While it would be easy for me to blame the Army for this passion, truth be told, it is a self-inflicted “wound” borne of a strong need to stay active and an even more pervasive desire to retain a level of fitness adequate to enjoy my life to the absolute fullest.
For me, nothing can supplant two hours in the gym as the perfect tonic for getting right with the world. Whether it’s reducing my tension level, clearing my mind, providing me time to ponder life’s great mysteries or alleviating my guilt from finishing off a full bottle of syrah the night before, hitting the weights and elliptical is the ultimate curative.
Seven days a week is the rhythm that I have adopted and one that serves me well. Admittedly, some would deem this regime extreme and it certainly flies in the face of conventional workout wisdom which mandates: Take at least 1 full day off per week from all forms of exercise. Nonconformity aside, though, for me, every day I wake up presents a valid reason to hit the gym. For me, working out is a reward, not a punishment. Like the Arctic Circle to Superman, the gym is my “Fortress of Solitude.”
The 18th Century French philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau claimed, “A feeble body weakens the mind.” I could not agree more. I so believe in the benefits of exercise that I encourage all of you who are not doing so to please give it a try. Make no mistake, I am not imploring any of you to stop what you are doing and rush out to your local YMCA – geez, I cannot even type those four letters without subconsciously starting to sing along in harmony like some sixth member of the Village People – or grab a lifetime membership to Anytime Fitness (my exercise sanctuary of choice.)
Instead, I am simply asking you seize hold of an activity, any athletic function that appeals to you, one that ideally you find enjoyable and fun to do and one that raises you heart rate and causes you to sweat. (After all, sweat is nothing more than fat crying or for the more sensitive; the more you sweat during a workout the less you will cry on the scale.) Find something you enjoy and a balance you can maintain and embrace it. It is never too late to initiate a call to action.
If you take this challenge, I promise you will feel better, think better, function better and yes, live better.
Stealing a promo line from Nike, “Success isn’t given. It’s earned. On the track, on the field and in the gym; with blood, sweat and the occasional tear.”
And always remember, “Life does not end at the Half Century mark. It actually BEGINS at the Second Fifty.”
This blog entry is dedicated to my Mom, Jeanette Reynolds, who at age 75, walks 90 minutes a day, every day, as she has for the last 30 years!