The First Step is the Hardest…

Draper here… The First Step is the Hardest

It’s June, a favorite time of the year, and you’ve resurrected your entire summer wardrobe. A fabulous fashion display — shorts, T-shirts and tank tops, most of them threadbare. You play hard. And you face the naked truth.


The stretch of warm and sunny days ahead presents pleasure or panic, depending on the shape you’re in. You knew last winter this time would roll around. You anticipated it eagerly and hopefully. You prepared for it as the spring approached. You made lists, scheduled time, set goals, renewed your gym membership and stocked tuna and water.


Winter dragged by as winters do: fireplace and holidays, down jackets and the slippery slopes. Tell me: Did your workouts get the big chill and your diet the cold shoulder? Did your arms minimize and your abs maximize as the temperatures dropped and the sun flopped? Do the garbage and the groceries and the baby weigh a ton, and does a flight of stairs look like the Rocky Mountains?


Did you eat smart and exercise… despite the wind, cold and gloom and layers of clothing? If you did, you are one of humanity’s special cool CATS (Characters Against TV and Snacking).


Or did you retire to the comfort of copious food and a cushioned shelter? You’ll know by the shape your shape is in. You are, perhaps, an honorary member of society’s — Warning: The following language is graphic and may not be suitable for human consumption — porkulent PIGS (People Intentionally Growing Stomachs).


What you do is who you are, or, more precisely, what you did is who you is.

There’s still hope for those who, through neglect, irresponsibility, laziness, ignorance, foolishness, lameness or apathy, have failed to apply their fitness disciplines throughout the past year. And some of you have endured life’s subtle difficulties — coma, solitary confinement, traction, amnesia, uncontrollable bleeding, seizures and delirium — and exercise and smart eating have not topped your priority list. It happens. It’s Life.


Take heart! It’s not too late; it’s never too late. I have 10 commandments for you. You may call them suggestions.

First, a disclaimer: You’ve heard them all before. That’s okay! Obviously you forgot them.

You’ve also heard the sharp directives: do not smoke, do not speed, do not litter, danger ahead, slow down and stop. How about, don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal and love your neighbor? They’re good. They’re keepers.


Let’s go over them one more time. 

1) Dispose of the troublesome food around your digs; soft drinks, sweets and fatty treats top the list. They are mocking you, controlling you, diminishing and hurting you. Toss them!


2) Balance your meals to suit your needs with your favorite proteins, carbs and fats. You can’t go wrong with 40 percent of your calories from protein, 30 percent from nutritious carbs and the remaining 30 from essential and suitable fats. The less sugar you ingest, the better. The more whole foods you consume, the better.


3) Eat five or six small meals regularly throughout the day to support your ongoing need for energy fuel (carbohydrates and fats), ingredients for daily metabolic functions (vitamins, minerals, micronutrients, enzymes), material for tissue growth and repair (proteins) and much more.


4) Start each day with a simple breakfast to greet the morning’s demands with strength and high spirits. Eat every few hours to fortify your system and your activity. Planning to gain weight, add a meal. Hoping to lose weight, limit your meals to three a day. Eating sensibly and frequently reduces one’s hunger, eliminating the need and desire to consume out-of-control meals.


5) Have water handy for regular and generous consumption: purifies, restores, energizes, harmonizes, mobilizes and, amazingly, quenches thirst.


6) The value of protein supplementation cannot be disregarded. Supplemental fortification can add to your wellbeing and your body’s ability to build muscle and might. Wise supplementation can save you time and money. Wild supplementation can drive you to the poorhouse.


7) Restate your training goals and purposes. Review your nutritional scheme and exercise regime. It helps to know what you’re doing, where you’re going and why.


8) If you’re new to davedraper.com, there’s a huge amount of training and nutritional information at your fingertips. It’s simple and straightforward, tried and true. Have fun, snoop around, discover, learn and grow. Go to the front page and click on any subject that catches your eye, rings a bell or grabs you by the wagging tail and won’t let go. The reading is always enjoyable and worthy.


If you’ve been around for three, five or eight years, you’ve matured and grown with us. You know where to go. The basics remain. Nothing’s changed, nothing’s cancelled, nothing’s new, but more bright and shining tips, hints and encouraging experiences have been added regularly. This is a reminder to dig in.


9) I’ll sneak this one in here where offenders will least expect it. Do you smoke?


How can you, with all you know about life and love and the pursuit of happiness?

Sure it’s a tough battle to confront. So are emphysema, cancer, hardened arteries, accelerated aging, incessant coughing, an ashen, wrinkled face, shortness of breath and impeded muscle growth.


Cigarettes also stink. Be strong and courageous, healthy and happy. Stop.


While I’m at it, do you drink excessively or do drugs? These common, everyday social habits are tearing us apart. Development ceases, destruction commences. The body is beaten, the mind is wasted, thoughts are scattered, emotions are abused, character is shredded and the spirit wanders aimlessly. Forget muscle and might, health and wealth, family and friends, joy and contentment. You have alcohol and its companions instead. Live life. Stop.


10) About exercise: Has it been a while? You still have your membership, but the gym went belly-up at the end of last year (and you know the feeling). The weights you’ve collected since high school have transformed into an unrecognizable, fuzzy pile of rust stashed under the dismantled go-cart with a lawnmower engine in the right rear corner of the garage.

Yes, we all have good reasons why our training is not on track, but our training must be done.

It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Walking works. Walking uphill works better. Walking swiftly wearing a weighted vest and weights in hand works best. Running is faster.


The first step is the hardest; the first rep is the toughest. Pick a handful of favorite coordinated exercises and practice them with order, good form, enthusiastic pace, bomber assurance, steady focus and true aim. Once you start, keep your eye on your goals and don’t stop.

Drop it in first gear and floor it. Ugh! This thing flies like a car.

Happy landings… Dave

Copyright (c) 2019 Dave Draper