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Physical and Mental Strength

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Thoreau said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” To paraphrase, “Most modern men adapt to frustration and its resulting mental and physical stress.” We are surrounded by frustration—with our government, with our daily “adjustments” to the ebb and flow of life—and we adapt, but not without cost.

Frustration causes stress. Modern stress is unrelenting in its nature and is not natural in an evolutionary sense.  We evolved to have a mechanism that deals only with short-term stress—flight or fight. Long-term frustration and stress cannot be eliminated but may be reduced by careful control of our minds and emotions. Stress can be an indispensable part of  getting anything done. The goal is to use your stress wisely and also to decompress from it through your workout.

For most of us the workout is the most challenging thing we do and also the most rewarding. Since we are in complete control of the workout—its intensity, duration, and makeup—the process and the execution become the antidote to the negative aspects of stress. This intensely personal time is at our core; everything else we do depends on our physical and mental strength, and the workout is where it all starts.

There is a reason you feel physically exhilarated and emotionally charged after a workout. It is, of course, partially due to the chemical changes the exercise has created, but equally important is the fact that you accomplished something. Nobody gave you anything—you did it for yourself. It may sound a little farfetched, but some of our frustrations occur because we don’t feel that sense of accomplishment very often in our daily lives.

I hear the term “recreational activity” when medical professionals try to induce couch potatoes to find an activity that will give them some exercise.  They mean, find something physical that you like to do. Re-creation, even more than recreation, is what the workout is all about—building and sustaining strength and muscle and the mental tonic that comes with it. The average person never sees the workout as more than work. He or she is sold on the exercise prescription of it rather than the pleasure of it.

The bodybuilding lifestyle informs and has an impact on everything you do. Sure, the workout is the core, but nutrition, supplementation, rest and other factors become players. You are aware of how you feel in a positive sense, and you enjoy feeling strong.  The mind controls the body, but the body and the way you care for it affect the mind as well. The latest research on the aging mind is that exercise is the best way to preserve and enhance it. The idea of a strong mind in a strong body is exactly right. IM

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