Getting the most out of exercise

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 29, 2003

It's funny how exercise is a come-and-go thing with me. It seems the past few months I've neglected that aspect of my life, and now that I'm getting back in it, I realize what I've been missing.

And it really is a big part of my life. In the scheme of things, I started lifting weights when I was in sixth grade. I say "weights," but at the time, it was really just the bar. But, hey, you've got to work your way up, I suppose. And being puny - my mom said a stiff breeze could blow me away - was not how I was going to survive middle school. Not when there were guys who reached an obvious advantage - a sudden growth spurt allowing their arms to be the size of my legs. So I spent an average of two to three hours a day working on bulking up.

I didn't neccessarily bulk up, but I did surprise myself. I realized it was possible for me to have muscles. Who knew?

The remainder of my middle and high school years followed a long pattern of trying to keep up with the competition, even if I didn't play any varsity sports. It's a shame a guy can gain respect among others based on the size of his bicep, but I guess that's the way society is.

The truth of the matter is I grew to enjoy -- and still do despite the soreness in my arms and back --pumping iron. It makes me feel good, and in an akward sense is a way of bypassing meditation. I never had the patience for that anyway.

The body is an instrument; like anything else, you get out of it what you put into it. I liked toning myself to the point of mastery in high school. No, really, I could benchpress nearly twice my body weight at the time, which was 155 lbs.

I played trumpet in high school band. Like the trumpet, exercise had a rhythm. I had one album I listened too repeatedly during my workout. It became my "fight song," or anthem. And the routine and determination on my part paid off.

My sister thought I had either somehow put a tennis ball in my arm or I had taken on steroids. But as I said in a previous column, my philosophy on steroids (crotine included) is they kill the game. "Little helpers" or needles are cop-outs - dealing with the pain is where the true sense of self comes. You can apply that to any situation, because there are hard times, some days more than others.

On a sidenote, I would like to get back to playing my trumpet, even if it blisters my lips… and it does.