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It Was the Worst and Best Workout I Ever Had

The worst workout I ever had was also the best. If that makes no sense to you, let me explain. It was a couple of years ago when I had a leg session with my personal trainer. Leg day is invariably my least favorite day, and if I go hard, my legs will inevitably be sore the next few days. Anyway, my trainer was beckoning me to get started, and there was no turning back.

Recently, I had only been meeting with my trainer once every three weeks, and the rest of the time I would train solo. It so happened that I had been doing a lot of German volume training of late, and I liked it. So, that morning, as I was warming up at my trainer’s gym, I foolishly mentioned my recent GVT bent, and his eyes lit up. He immediately got the bright idea to have me do GVT squats. Squats, mind you, were the one exercise that I hadn’t done by GVT because I hated squats, and doing ten sets of ten reps was highly unappealing at best.

The thing is, I wasn’t about to let my trainer get the idea that I was too chicken to do it. Call it my ego, and it was, but I agreed to his challenge. The thing about GVT is that it doesn’t require heavy weight. Doing ten sets of ten reps calls for moderate weight, which typically feels light for the first five sets or so. But the volume slowly builds the intensity of each rep, and the last two or three sets feel a lot more punishing. That said, this wasn’t bench presses or lat pulldowns; it was squats, and I had underestimated what I got myself into.

Furthermore, my rest time between sets was a mere forty-five seconds. My trainer, enthusiastic as always, wielded a big, black stopwatch to make sure I didn’t go one millisecond over either. The first four sets or so were tolerable enough, but it started getting uncomfortable around the fifth set. I believe in embracing discomfort, but honestly, I distinctly remember thinking to myself, God, I’m only halfway done!

My trainer still wasn’t having any mercy when it came to rest time, and by the end of the seventh set, I was struggling. The reps were much slower than in the beginning, and each one hurt. I was grunting involuntarily. It wasn’t just the muscle contractions that were hard. My heart rate was way up, and all of my rest time was spent just trying to catch my breath. He sensed that something had to give and finally added fifteen seconds to my rest time. Sixty seconds between sets still wasn’t much, but it was a hell of a lot better than forty-five.

The eighth set onward is when it officially became my best workout ever. It was terrible, and that’s precisely why. I was a sweating, exhausted mess, but I had thirty more reps to complete, and I was hell-bent on doing it. Sheer willpower took over. My legs seemingly had nothing left to give, but they somehow did what I ordered them to do. I had to pause between each and every rep, but I never put the bar back on the rack during a set. That’s when I learned that it’s not the muscles that give up; it’s the mind. I made it to eighty reps. The next set was even more excruciating, but I made it to ninety reps anyway.

Once I reached the tenth set, I knew with absolute certainty that I was going to overcome the struggle. I don’t recall how many minutes those last ten reps took, but they were some really long minutes. I squeezed out my hundredth rep, surely with poor form, but it wasn’t about perfect form or a perfect rep at that point. I collapsed onto the floor in pain and savored the victory.

For the next week, my legs ached. I haven’t done GVT squats since, but if only for that one time, I just had to know that I’m capable. That’s the only thing that kept me pushing through those last sets. I wouldn’t lie and claim to like discomfort, but I embrace it because getting uncomfortable is the only way to discover what’s possible.

Sayonara until next time.

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They Don’t Say It, but People Just Want to Have Some Self-Esteem

I’ll admit that I like to people-watch. Of course, I don’t gawk, but I notice what people do. I observe, if you will. This is especially the case when I notice a habit someone has. Even if they don’t realize it, I know there must be a reason for it.

Just walk into any busy gym, and you’ll notice a diversity of behavior. Some people spend most of their time stretching. Some come in every day just to do some casual cardio. Other people are seriously hitting the weights to build muscle or get stronger. You might see them with a notepad or smartphone, recording every detail of what they’re doing. Of course, there are always some socialites in the mix as well. You’ll find them talking to other people at least as much as they’re moving.

But to me, what’s more fascinating are the reasons. Over time, I’ve come to understand that, more than ambition or aspirations, it’s really our insecurities that compel us to exercise in the first place. We’re doing it either to cope with or avoid one of the following:

Feeling unattractive
Feeling undisciplined
Feeling old and over the hill
Feeling sickly
Feeling alone
Feeling puny
Feeling low-energy and listless
Feeling stressed and overwhelmed

And I believe there’s a theme that underlies all of those insecurities. Boil it down, and all of that coping and avoiding is really about increasing one thing: self-esteem. If you’re reading this and you exercise regularly, that includes you too. The bottom line is that you do it because you want to feel good, or at least better, about yourself.

In fact, people don’t say it, but they just want to have some self-esteem. And that’s a good thing because, if left to fester, insecurities can eat away at self-esteem and metastasize. Self-esteem, being neither quantifiable nor tangible, may seem like an abstraction, but it’s not. It’s as real as it gets because the outcomes it produces in your life are tangible. What you will and won’t do, and even what you will and won’t imagine for yourself, is tied to your self-esteem.

I truly believe our self-esteem matters, so we might as well do whatever we can to keep it high. It’s the real reason we work out, and working out really works.

Sayonara until next time.

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In a World of Instant Everything, Persistence and Patience are Still Virtues

Much respect to you if you’re putting in the work to get in shape. Most people either never start or don’t stick with it. I know it’s not always comfortable, and progress can seem slow, but embracing that journey sets you apart from the majority.

It seems everyone is selling something that promises instant results, and the appeal of the promises is understandable. After all, to most people, now is more valuable than later. Why waste your time on the journey if there’s a wormhole through space that will deliver you to the destination now, right? The problem is that not everything works that way. Like it or not, some things, like your health and fitness, require you to commit, persist, and be patient.

Persistence and patience are still virtues, even in 2023, when we expect light-speed delivery of everything and when students are using AI to spit out term papers and dissertations at the click of a button. There are no such shortcuts at the gym. There, you have to put in the reps and give them time to work. I know that there are all kinds of pills, powders, and elixirs you can buy that promise insane results, but none of those things come close to being as effective as putting in the reps.

The effects of what you do today may not become visible until weeks or months later, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Keep working at it and remain patient. You need something in your life to remind you that not everything worthwhile can be instant and effortless. There are some things you must do the good old-fashioned way, and training is one of them.

Being patient is not to be confused with being passive. It doesn’t mean not executing. To the contrary, when it comes to taking action, you should be impatient. Do right now the things that will move the needle in the right direction for your fitness. The effort you put in today is a leading indicator of a more attractive self and a better quality of life ahead. Just remember that patience is required to reap the harvest.

Sayonara until next time.

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Lay Down Lazy Habits: Is It Time for You to Reconquer the Stairs?

The first passenger elevator was installed in 1857. Later on, in 1899, the first commercial elevator was created. Both of those inventions would go on to proliferate by the millions throughout the world, and they make even the highest floors in the tallest buildings easily accessible to anyone.

Automation and convenience have been a plus for society in many ways, but there’s a flipside. Elevators, escalators, modern transportation, and office work have mitigated the need for people to be physically robust. Bingeing on fast food and other highly processed foods causes people to pack on pounds much more easily than they can shed them. And so for many of us, taking a flight of stairs up one or two stories is a major physical undertaking worth avoiding whenever possible.

This wasn’t the case for most of human history, but over the last half century or so, it’s become normal to be chunky, clunky, and completely out of shape, even among young people. The truth is that stairs have a thankless job nowadays. I watch what most people do when a flight of stairs is located near an escalator, and they can choose which one they’ll take. Stairs, more often than not, are shunned.

But good, old-fashioned stairs still appeal to me. Call me anachronistic, but I don’t care. Whenever I see a flight of stairs, I see an opportunity for automatic exercise. If I happen to be carrying something heavy, that makes the opportunity even better in my mind. Climbing and conquering a staircase is something I look forward to.

We’ve got to start turning our lazy habits around. Whenever you see a flight of stairs, see an opportunity. Get in the habit of bypassing the elevator or escalator and taking the stairs instead. It’ll keep your legs and hips strong and increase your heart rate a little. It’s a simple habit whose benefits add up in the long run. It requires no training, no equipment, no cost, and little if any extra time. If something so easy feels hard to you, that should be wakeup call.

Sayonara until next time.


*Pep Talk has not been authored in whole or in part by any artificial intelligence tools.
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When There’s Work But No Trophy: Why You Need Quiet Victories

Have you received a pat on the back for anything lately? Hopefully, yes, but if not, that’s just how life goes sometimes. I know what it’s like. You can be doing all the right and necessary things. You might even go above and beyond for weeks or even months at a time and see it go unappreciated or unnoticed by anyone else.

But while recognition is nice, what’s more important is achieving quiet victories for your own edification. They don’t need to be world-changing, but you need to be getting some on a regular basis. It’s not important for others to know about it and there’s no need to wait for a pat on the back. What matters is that you know you’re overcoming challenges and achieving good things.

Sometimes I have workouts where it seems like my energy is limitless. It’s not something I announce, and no one hands me a trophy, but I feel like a winner afterwards. The victory is mine, even though I’m the only one who knows about it. Likewise, every time you train, you give yourself a chance to achieve a little victory. It may be achieving a new personal best. Or it might be one of those days when you will yourself through a grueling workout despite being tempted to quit. 

There will be times when you have to build yourself up because other people won’t always do it for you. It’s not necessarily that they’re ignoring you. Most of the time, they’re just caught up thinking about their own stuff. This applies both inside and outside of the gym. People won’t always notice or care about the work you put in, even when the results benefit them. 

The point is that self-esteem is a real thing, and no one can have self-esteem for you. 

Sayonara until next time.


*Pep Talk has not been authored in whole or in part by any artificial intelligence tools.
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Always Working At It: Believing You Can Grow and Taking Action

There are people who’ve lived for decades and have barely, if ever, traveled beyond the borders of their state or province. They have no need, real or perceived, to venture farther. We’ve all seen the forty-year-old man who dresses every day the same as when he was sixteen. That’s who he believes he’s meant to be. Millions of literate people go years without reading a single book. And none of that is a problem if those people like what they’re getting out of life. Not everyone aspires to grow and excel, and that’s okay.

When it comes to beliefs about personal growth, we can divide mankind into two groups. The first group believes they’re more or less good enough as they are. They’re content with or resigned to beingwell, average. The second group believes they’re supposed to be continually growing. They obsessively seek higher levels of awareness, understanding, and achievement. If you guessed that the first group is vastly larger than the second, you’re right. The question for you is: which group do you really belong to? 

“Really” is the operative word. It doesn’t matter what people are apt to say when asked which group they belong to, because many who would claim they believe in continual growth do little to demonstrate it. Saying and doing are not the same thing, and ultimately, what someone really believes about their hunger and capacity to grow is evident from how they spend their time. It’s what I call a person’s growth paradigm. Earl Nightingale was telling it like it is when he proclaimed that 95 percent of people are stuck leading mediocre lives. It seems to be an unchanging truth.

Overcoming stagnation can be one of the biggest challenges of your life, especially once your youth is behind you. The more time passes, the more it seems as though life is what it is. And if you don’t believe you deserve more out of life, you won’t get it because your heart won’t be deeply invested in trying. But if you’re not okay with being average, I want you to know that you can pursue a new level and become a better version of yourself. You just need to think about things you can do now and then start doing them.

I spend a lot of time every day thinking about how I can grow because I know that I’m still not the best I can be. In fact, it’s one of my favorite things to think about. I believe I can broaden my knowledge, improve my body and emotional control, increase my wealth, and deepen my sense of purpose. That’s what being the total package is about. But more importantly, my belief compels me to continually follow through with my actions.

I’m not there yet, but I’m always working at it. Some things go well, and some things fall flat. What I can promise you is that nothing works better than action. In fact, you cannot upgrade your life without it. No effort is wasted as long as you’re learning something that helps you grow into the person you know you can be.

You want to look and feel better? Then get yourself in shape. Be mindful of what and how much you eat and drink.

You want to get better at conversation? Then spend some money on books and readaudiobooks count too. Put yourself in the company of smart people and be a good listener.

You want to be more disciplined? Then put down the TV remote. Rethink the ways you spend your time and set more purposeful priorities.

If you feel the gravity of mediocrity pulling you down, don’t just let the feeling fester. Identify some habits and aspects of your character you can upgrade. Be hungry to become more. Then start working at it.

Sayonara until next time.


Be The Total Package eBook – Bounce Pep


*Pep Talk has not been authored in whole or in part by any artificial intelligence tools.
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Relativity & Time Dilation: Einstein's Wisdom for Your Health & Fitness

Yes, we want to look fabulous and feel even better, no matter our age. That’s the right outlook to have, but it’s important that we don’t hustle backwards in pursuit of the goal. Assessing your health and fitness is more about the relative than the absolute. As such, a 45-year-old would be hustling backwards by comparing themselves directly to someone who’s twenty years younger.

It’s not that it’s impossible to look and feel as good as someone decades younger; it’s just misguided and even a bit silly to be intentionally and directly comparing and competing. The 25-year-old should be aspiring to get where the 45-year-old is, not the other way around. So, if you’re the one who’s older, your role is to be the inspiration and the template for the person who is much younger. I should add that the same principle applies if you’re comparing the you of today to the you of yesteryear. There’s no shame if you can no longer run the 4-minute mile after twenty years.

The idea of relativity is about understanding how you stack up compared to peers in your age group. But the basis of it is the theory of relativity, introduced to the world by the great Dr. Albert Einstein. Among other things, it posited the concept of time dilation. The gist of it is that the faster a person moves through space, the slower the person will experience time elapsing. At the extreme end, which is the speed of light, the person would experience no passage of time at all.

For instance, a time lapse of 15 minutes for Person B might be experienced as only 10 minutes by Person A. It all depends on how fast they’re moving relative to one another. This is difficult to grasp for the layperson, especially without an understanding of the mathematics underlying it, but the phenomenon of time dilation has been verified through experiments to be real.

For our purposes, the important thing to understand is that it’s not just weird physics. The same phenomenon applies in a real way to your health as well. Whether you are proactive or passive regarding your health outcomes, it will correlate to your fitness age. That’s an estimate of your cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and general physical robustness, expressed in years. It gives an indication of whether your body is old or young for the actual chronological age you’re at.

From a health and fitness perspective, being in the habit of physically moving more and faster will slow the passage of time relative to other people who are less active. For example, you and a cousin could both be 50 years old chronologically. But if your cousin is a couch potato, whereas you're in the habit of exercising regularly, then your fitness ages will be different. Your cousin is likelier than you to feel and appear to be closer to 60, while you’re more likely to feel and appear to be closer to 40. That’s a pretty big difference in vitality and a good indicator that you’re likely to live longer and stronger than your cousin will.

Remember, it’s all relative, and that’s where your advantage lies. Just look out into the world at the people in your age group. You’ll see so many who have sedentary lifestyles. They’re spending their time being distracted, passive, and lackadaisical about their fitness. The bar for overachieving is so low that if you’re exercising vigorously for a mere 30 minutes a few days per week, you’re easily ahead of the average Joe and Jane. So keep on moving your body with intent and gain that most precious of riches: time.

Sayonara until next time.

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Setting Milestones: Knowing How to Think Small Impacts Your Fitness in a Big Way

A great body and beaming confidence. The complete transformation. The total makeover. Who wouldn’t want to look great and feel even better if it were as simple as dreaming about it? But behind all the vivid imagery lies the real work that must be done. Wishing won’t make it a reality, and there’s a battle to win over negative emotions and beliefs that can make the transformation unattainable.

Half of new gym members completely give up going to the gym within six months of joining.* They lose their will and stand pat as established habits and a lack of conviction reassert themselves and bury their dreams. Often times, a person’s deeply held self-image simply doesn’t allow them to truly buy in. The gap between where they are and where they want to go overwhelms them. And that’s why there’s a place for thinking small when it comes to getting fit.

One of the most effective mind control tactics to use on oneself is to break a big transformation down into small, repeatable actions. Day by day, those actions will form the basis of new habits that lead progressively closer to the goal. However, it works even better when those repeatable actions are linked to milestones. Milestones are simply little checkpoints, and every milestone a person reaches builds their confidence and resilience. Perhaps you already know all of this, but are you in the habit of doing it? Do you have a written list of milestones for your fitness that you’re working on achieving?

Building muscle and getting healthier don’t happen overnight. As long as you stick with it, changes will take place, but it helps tremendously to set milestones for your workout regimen so you stay motivated to keep going. It’s no use trying to lose 50 pounds in a week. Keep your milestones modest and frequent. Just focus on losing the first 3 pounds and then go after the next milestone. The point is to break the mountain you’re trying to climb down into stones you can get a handle on. Every rep you perform is a pebble, and all you need to do is keep repping.

Sayonara until next time.


*Source: 51 Gym Membership Statistics: 2020/2021 Data, Trends & Predictions, comparecamp.com

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The Ultimate Feeling of Anticipation: Meeting the Ideal You

Life is dynamic. Not every day feels the same or goes the same way. There may be times when you start your day full of energy and optimism and others when you start off tired or uninspired. Hopefully, those days are few and far between, but they do happen. Even something as simple as the weather can affect your mood and how you decide to spend your time. So, if your motivation to work out waxes and wanes over time, it’s nothing unusual.

Staying committed is ultimately the key, but it’s always easier to get up and go to train when there’s a strong source of motivation, and we can broadly define three types: fear, anticipation, and hunger. Motivation doesn't have to be positive, and anxiety about future consequences can be a great motivator. A nagging fear about your health, for example, could be the thing that keeps you exercising regularly. In fact, some people would never exercise if not for being terrified of the consequences of not doing so.

On the other hand, you could have a compelling, seemingly unquenchable desire to overcome or achieve something, which is the essence of hunger. I would argue that it’s the most powerful type of motivation among the three. It’s literally the same feeling as being deprived of food and being unable to think about anything other than finding a meal.

So the happy medium between fear and hunger is anticipation. If you’ve ever been young and excited about your first date with someone you were head over heels for, you know what anticipation feels like. Perhaps you don’t quite feel so giddy about your fitness all the time, but in the same vein, it’s the feeling that there’s no better time than now to get up and go work out; the belief that you're going to have a great experience and a favorable outcome. Anticipation is powerful because it puts pep in your step and makes it easy to act.

Try to build a healthy sense of anticipation about working out as often as you can. Identify some positive outcomes you want for your body and mind, and then visualize them in detail. Understand that visualization is the log that feeds the fire that is anticipation. Do you remember that big date you were excited about when you were younger, when you would imagine the person, the places you would go with them, and the things you would say to them? Visualize being in your best shape in the same way. Anticipate meeting the ideal you, who looks great and feels strong, and discovering what you’re capable of with intent and discipline.

Sayonara until next time.

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Mindset and Movement: The Key Ingredients for Living a Fit Life

There are two key ingredients you must incorporate into any recipe for living a fit life. The first is mindset, and the belief that you deserve more must permeate your mind. Whatever “more” means for you is up to you, but you have to expect more out of life than mediocrity.

Of course, simply believing that you deserve more is not enough. Mindset needs to be paired with movement, which is the second key ingredient. The recipe could not be any simpler: if you’re convinced that you deserve to get more out of life, then movement is how you go and get it. Movement is essential to achieving any fitness goals you have, and it’s also a principle that applies to the achievement of all your aspirations.

Each day, you should be aspiring, just as plants aspire to obtain sunlight. That’s the mindset, so to speak, of a plant. And each day when the sun comes out, it will bend towards the sunlight and grow a little taller. That movement is called phototropism, and it’s powerful enough to overcome the force of gravity and produce the plant growth we see in nature. In the same way, moving will generate momentum for you to defy the gravitational pull towards mediocrity and grow in the direction of your aspirations.

Your exercise routine is the training ground for living a fit life. People who think it’s only about having big muscles, being able to run fast, or being more attractive are mistaken. The constructive mindset and habits you build are preparation and practice for other areas of your life. Many of the concepts and skills are transferable to matters unrelated to working out.

The last point about mindset and movement is that they require one extra ingredient to complete the recipe: decisiveness. It’s the only thing standing between mindset and movement. There’s no point in endlessly pondering or doubting whether you can do something. Decide to move now. Train your mind to resist the idea of Can’t and its close cousin, Too. Can’t make time. Can’t afford it. Too uncomfortable. Too complicated. Those are messages of mediocrity. Banish them from your mind.

So decide on a path and get moving. Even when you make mistakes, you’ll gain insights and learn lessons along the way. That’s just part of the learning curve. But learning is never a loss, so choose to move and improve.

Sayonara until next time.

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You Can’t Level Up Without Being a Little Selfish

What do you think? Are most people simply passing time, or are they trying to get the most out of it? It seems that much of mankind is some combination of busy, bored, and distracted for most of the day, but not very intentional about growing into the best person they can be. At work, they’re busy doing whatever the job requires. Outside of work and in their free time, they’re running errands, doing chores, or entertaining themselves. Leveling themselves up seems to be a lower priority.

The OECD created a breakdown of how people spend their 24 hours each day based on data from working-age people aged 15 to 64 in 33 countries. On average, sleep consumes 8 hours and 27 minutes. Leisure activities and external demands on time, such as work and family matters, consume another 14 hours and 39 minutes. That’s the lion’s share of the day, and it means most people simply don’t allot much time to personal improvement. In fact, activities such as exercise and education take up a mere 48 minutes of people’s time on average. (Data source: OECD Time Use Database) A lot of them spend more time than that stuck in traffic every day.

If that looks anything like your daily schedule, maybe it’s time for you to start being more selfish. Selfishness is not necessarily bad. At Bounce Pep, we define selfishness as time spent solely on your own improvement for reasons that have nothing to do with other people’s wants or demands on you. In other words, it's time you spend to level yourself up for your own reasons. Training at the gym, reading, and taking courses are good examples. You do it for your own improvement, and any benefit to others is merely a by-product.

Working, doing chores, eating, spending time with friends and family, and relaxing are not bad or unproductive uses of time. We all do those things. However, avoiding stagnation and mediocrity requires that you examine your priorities and take time to do things that move the needle in your life. Imagine the transformation you could experience by doubling those 48 minutes of exercise and education to 100 minutes or so each day. It may seem like a big change, but you’d still be giving 90% of your time to everyone and everything else. So go ahead and be more selfish.

Sayonara until next time.

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Right Now is the Right Time to Start Your Fitness Transformation

Start wherever you are. Don’t overthink things, and don’t find excuses.

I was not a young man the first time I set foot in a gym for weight training. In fact, I was well into my forties at the time and had no previous experience lifting weights. I had always had some vague interest in it but never felt compelled to do it until that point in my life.

I started noticing how other people around the same age as me were beginning to deteriorate physically. The forties are not old, so it seemed a bit premature to me that so many in that age bracket were showing clear signs of going downhill. Distended bellies, hunched shoulders, a few too many pounds in the wrong places, rickety gaits—you name it, I was seeing it among people in my age group. More concerning, however, were the health problems I saw creeping up on people. Thankfully, I was still in decent shape for a guy who did not exercise regularly and still looked fairly young for my age. But I realized it couldn’t last if I didn't get intentional about upping my fitness game.

The main problem I had physically was that I had never been very strong. I was an ectomorph, with long limbs and a rail-thin frame. I knew I couldn’t allow nature to take its course and make me weaker than I already was, so I set modest goals of gaining 5 kilograms in weight and building some visible muscle for the first time in my life. I immediately hired a personal trainer, and the rest is history.

Even today, I’m not completely sure why I was hooked on training after my first session, but I was. All I can say is that my first session felt like the start of a transformation. I went into it thinking it would become a new habit, but a transformation I had not anticipated. It wasn’t merely physical. There was a psychological boost that I perceived immediately. I sensed I was going to grow into a different person.

But none of this is really about me. I’m giving you my story because it may be something you can relate to. Perhaps you’ve noticed the same things I did or had some of the same concerns. You might be skinny or perhaps a bit chunky. You might be younger than I was or older. Whatever. Just start where you are.

There are no advantages to not exercising regularly, and if you do weight training, it’s all the better. Continue doing it until it becomes a habit, until you become anxious about missing it, and until you begin looking forward to your next opportunity to do it. Squeeze every bit of vitality you have out of this life.

Sayonara until next time.


Discover Yourself | Ideas for a Fit Future

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