Over the past four weeks, I've made some breakthrough fitness discoveries that I'm generous enough to share with the world free of charge. First and foremost, I've learned that a monthly workout regimen that includes one week in the gym and three weeks away from the gym does little to improve strength...quite the opposite in fact. Disappointingly, further research suggests that increased ice cream consumption does not offset this loss in muscle mass. It's been a rough month.
I can't honestly say that I'm looking forward to my return to the gym this evening. It's unfair how strength disappears in a matter of days but takes months to rebuild. And I can't get over how seven short days can make all the difference in the world. One week off every few months? No problem--it's a welcome and much-needed rest, usually without any noticeable loss in strength. Two weeks off in a row? Major issue--that first day back in the gym always feels like a fat woman is sitting on the bar on every rep.
I can still remember my disappointing--and life-threatening--return to the gym after two weeks of vacation last summer. I fully expected the overwhelming weakness, but still I managed to overestimate my diminished strength. I approached the decline bench press, lowered the weight to embarrassingly low levels, and proceeded to almost plant the bar directly on my neck. Fantastic!
I further lowered expectations after this year's vacation. This time I managed to clear the pathetic hurdle I'd set for myself and kept the bar safely off my neck, but the second day back was worse than I expected. I hoped to slowly claw my way back to the glorious niche that I had previously occupied at the gym, which I affectionately refer to as "not that weak for a skinny guy."
But after one week on this long journey, I returned to Iowa for the Fourth of July. The local YMCA is stingy with the guess-passes, so it would seem that for the foreseeable future, my weakness will keep me relegated to my new status at the gym, which can be best described as "sickly high school JV basketball bench-warmer." At least I won't have to hang out near the crowded end of the dumbbell rack with all those heavy weights. But it'll be a long while before I can glare with disdain at those annoying half-rep idiots.
Now I have to restart my comeback, and I have some additional motivation to fuel my efforts. While in Iowa last weekend, I drew the attention of a waitress at a Mexican restaurant who was impressed with my hearty appetite. After devouring a substantial plate of food in a few short minutes, the waitress came back to retrieve the empty plate and commented, "You ate all that? You're so small!"
Needless to say, that comment came directly out of her tip. But I'm sorry to say it wasn't the only indicator that I need to get back in the gym ASAP. When I first arrived in Iowa, Mom momentarily mistook me for James. Honest to god--James! I can't do much about the face, but I couldn't be more motivated to return to the gym as reestablish my dominance in the "not that weak for a skinny guy" segment of the population.
It may take a few months, but eventually I hope to look as good as Brandon here, at which time I'll be able to flex in situations where it makes no sense at all and have people take my picture. I just hope that I won't be so unfortunate as to find myself holding a baby in the process.