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From Wimp to Warrior

All my life I have been scrawny. Bullies targeted me on the playground. Girls defeated me at arm wrestling. Even my baby sister could knock me down.
As a boy, I always assumed that once puberty hit, muscles would magically appear. Puberty passed by, so did my teen-age years, yet I was still a pathetic little wimp. I could still suck in my gut, show off my rib cage, and pull off a decent impersonation of those starving children seen on those depressing, late night infomercials.

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When I hit my twenties, I realized that just wishing to gain muscle mass wasn’t going to do anything. To make the jump from geek to Greek God, I needed to work for it. I signed up at a gym, worked out for several hours, became nauseous, almost fainted, and subsequently discovered that I hated exercise. I became content with my lack of muscles and spent the rest of the 90s satisfied with my meek physical condition. “After all,” I told myself, “I’m not fat. I’m not unhealthy. I’m just weak. I’m far too old to become an Olympian, so who cares about exercise?”

On top of these thoughts, I am married to a beautiful woman who loves me for who I am, in spite of my wimpy ways. What did I care if I didn’t have the physical prowess of a young Arnold Schwarzenegger? I was happy.

Today, I am 35 years old. I am still happy, but a few things have changed. For one, although I am still rather thin, my bumble-bee metabolism has slowed down a bit. it’s easy for me to develop love handles if I eat one too many donuts. For another, I have kids now: two terrific and terribly precocious girls. When they were babies, I would carry them around the house, soothing each one to sleep. Once, while carrying my youngest daughter, I thought to myself, “I want to always be able to carry this little girl, no matter how grown-up she becomes.” Well, a few years have passed since then, and my girls are really starting to grow. If I want to be able to pick them up when they are 10, 15, or 30, I’ll need to make some significant life changes. And of course, the ability to lift my kids isn’t the main reason why I want to become stronger. I want to be the type of father that can physically protect his children, whether its carrying them out of a burning building, or kicking the crap out of a potential date-rapist. I want to be physically stronger and heathier so that I can be a better father and husband.

Like the title of this article says, I want to go from Wimp to Warrior. And today is Day One of my journey.

Current Weight: 168 pounds

Current Activities: Walking (about a half mile a day. Reading, sitting, working on the computer, watching television, playing with the kids.

Current Exercise: About ten sit up every other day.

Current Diet: Pizza, pasta, mean and potatoes. Fruit. Carrots. Fast food any chance I get. Lots of Coca-Cola! In fact, I’m one of those Coke worshippers who decorate their house with various Coke memorabilia.

Today I’m going to a gym to get my first real work out in months, maybe even years. My wife and I are members of a club; we’ve been coming here for about 6 months, but other than the swimming pool I haven’t been making use of it. Today, that will be changing. I am going to become familiar with all of those alien contraptions.

That way, I’d know what equipment to use, and how much I should exercise. However, when I found out that the personal trainer would cost me $520 a month, I decided that I would be a cheapskate. For the most part, I don’t think that personal trainers or any other form of outside motivation is really that helpful. There aren’t going to be any short cuts in this process. It’s going to be nothing but hard work.

If I am going to become stronger, it will happen because of my choice, my commitment, not some personal trainer or coach. (Of course, its easy to say that now… I haven’t worked out yet!)

I have a friend named Joel. About a decade ago, he was just about as wimpy as myself. He worked as a chef at a hotel restaurant. One day, he realized that he was no longer satisfied making fancy pastries. He wanted to do something more meaningful. Since he was young, he had always daydreamed about being a police officer. However, he never seriously pursued the thought because he had never been the athletic type. But after baking his last batch of Crème Brulee for the Beverly Hilton, Joel realized the only thing stopping him was self-doubt. He started going to the gym on a regular basis, and began jogging three miles a day. Today, he is a member of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. He’s buff, tough and gets to rough-up bad guys every now and then. If he can undergo such a dramatic transformation, then so can I.

In fact, Joel has recently given me some work out ad vice: “Run a little bit on the teadmill. Do sets of 3 – 6 – 3.”

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“Set the weight at something difficult. Let’s say you’re doing curls. You could probably just barely curl seventy pounds.”

“If I’m lucky.”

“Okay,” he continued. “So do three curls at 70 pounds. Then lower the weight to fifty or sixty pounds. Then, do six more reps. Then, put the weight back up to 70, and do three more reps.”

“That’s it?” I said. “Three, then six, then three again? That doesn’t seem like a lot.”

“It’s enough,” Joel replied. “Do that on each machine they have. Workout four days a week and in about six months you’ll see a big difference.”

Well, I am on my way to the gym now. I’ll tell you how it goes. Wish me luck!

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