By Will Shelton
As we grow older, many times we allow our chronological age to determine our mental age. Our mental age effects how we feel about ourselves and we can never rise above our thoughts. We tell ourselves, “Oh I’m too busy. The job, the family- I need to relax. I’m not a kid anymore. I have so much to do tomorrow.” All this does is age us physically. Stress alone disrupts the levels of cortisol, a hormone released from adrenal glands, throughout our body. Cortisol is affected by our circadian cycle (the alteration of being awake and sleep), blood pressure, metabolic processes of carbohydrates, protein, and fat (controlling appetite), and insulin release (controlling blood sugar). So, why do we turn from exercise when it actually is the “fountain of youth”? It keeps us feeling good, looking healthier, and feeling young. Exercise is not just a leisurely activity. It is just as important as eating, sleeping, hygiene, and personal grooming. It’s essential to living a better life.
The biggest enemy to our health many times is ourselves. We work against ourselves when we could better ourselves. Not only do we turn from a consistent exercise regiment, but we eat fast food or simply food that is non-conducive to our overall health and physical appearance- foods full of sugar, salt, bad fats, and bad carbs. In addition, if we have a condition such as type 2 diabetes, things are complicated even more when we don’t invest time and energy into fitness and a balanced diet. At the age of 10, we are full of energy. At 20, we are entering our “initial” prime. However, at 30, things seem to slow down because our energy is placed in mental and emotional “exercises” such as caring for family- especially children, making sure our home is in order- bills and such, and then being concerned about our health. By 40, health is an afterthought to most. However, the less we do for our health, how can we expect to live well? Exercise ensures our bodies function properly, thus extending not only life but the quality of it.
Originally, I started weight training at 13 years old… what young boy didn’t, considering basketball, football, soccer, or baseball? Currently, at 45, I am in the best shape ever. For 32 years, my body, mind, and soul have gone through numerous forms of maturity and development. The path to better health, fitness, and improving our appearance is a never-ending process. From 13 to 45, I have been working out with no plans to ever stop. Weight training for many seems like a chore or burden. This is toxic thinking; they essentially are planning to fail and undermining the glory of being at their best and feeling great. One of the biggest lessons I learned from weight training had been that one can never seek the best without being the best. The greatest competitor is the face we see in the mirror. Now, if we frown at that face, what does that say about how we really feel about ourselves? This leads to a number of psychological and physical problems, so instead of simply accepting it, we need to change who we are by focusing on the best we can be, physically, mentally, and spiritually. We cannot settle for less. If that’s the case, the face we see in the mirror will continue to frown back at us as if to say, “You need to do better than this.” “Most people accept the grim reality that they have been given.” We have to push ourselves, and make the best of our abilities to improve and thrive in life. When we are at our best, our list of achievements is limitless.
Weight training for me has been the underpinnings of how to be successful. It has taught me how to set goals. With such goals, we overcome anxiety and fear. With anxiety and fear removed, we can visualize how best to embrace our goals with strategies and means to assess our progress and growth. Pain and discomfort are no longer issues of concern; they are no longer obstacles. Any form of adversity only becomes a means to better strengthen ourselves. Even when it comes to the ability to harness our emotions, compress them into a sphere of energy, and release their power, there is a specific form of training that opens us to the world within and rewards us with better health and a broader sense of control over our impulses and drives; this is resistance training.
With this philosophy of wellness and the act of exercise in mind, I have been able to flourish not only in physique and general health, but in life. Yet, even among the healthiest people in the world, genetics and hereditary can give us a predisposition to being susceptible to a number of diseases. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at the age of 41. For 4 years, I have been even far more conscious of my diet and exercise regimen, still driven to be my best and let no obstacle stop me from achieving my greatness. I hadn’t competed in a powerlifting meet since I was 17 years old, 26 years ago. A year ago, I made the decision that it wasn’t too late for me to enter and be the best again. I trained relentlessly for 12 weeks. In my first contest, the result was first place in my division. In my second contest, I took second place and beat an all time record in the 198lb masters category, benching just under 400lbs.
After having, emergency back surgery, in addition to diabetes, many would feel my bodybuilding regimen would have been derailed long ago. Yet, the with fitness at the core of my being as a means to transcend pain and discomfort, easing the body, the mind, and the soul, I have successfully endured years in the gym where adversity was only a matter of giving up. However, I never surrendered to such failure, and I continue to overcome. I learned the more we live in discomfort the more we grow. From my back surgery, my range of resilience has been limited; however my range of willpower has not. At times, my blood sugar levels may be elevated, yet my level of tenacity and vigor exceed levels of anything holding me back from planning, pursuing, and achieving my goals.
One of my greatest goals of achievement I give to you. This is my high intensity training regimen for chest development and strength. Begin with the warm-up sets with 135X15 and 225X10. After the warm-up, the workout routine consists of six sets of four reps, flat or on an incline. The working sets are 315X5, 365X4, 365X4, 405X4, 415X2 and 315X15. Later, follow up with two more exercises, the Hammer strength incline and dips. The Hammer strength incline is 4 sets. I do 5 to 6 sets of dips as a finishing exercise to my basic routine. You can always extend it to suit your needs or simply to push the limits of your strength and capabilities.
Don’t let anyone tell you that at 40 and over, you can’t accomplish the workout goals that you still envision for yourself. You are your greatest coach, and the only opposition is self-doubt. With the principles of commitment, dedication, and determination, you can reach your goals, constantly excelling with limitless potential.