Welcome To The Brotherhood Of Iron

When I was a young man I served in what was considered an “elite” unit.  I still remember the first time I got to wear my jump boots and my beret with my dress greens and see all the people in a room – or for that matter all the people in an auditorium – take notice.  And while we trained long and hard to the extent that my four years in the Army seemed more like eight simply due to the long hours we spent in the field, that feeling of pride, of knowing that I was something special in a way that everybody could identify, never went away.  If nothing else, we constantly were going to new Army schools and receiving new badges, we constantly deployed and added ribbons to our so-called fruit salad bars (the display of all the ribbons worn on the left chest of a dress uniform).  We simply constantly added to the pride that we all first felt when we put on our uniforms for the first time.

When a soldier puts away his uniform for the last time, he has to say goodbye to that direct experience of pride.  You still remember and feel the pride, but you don’t get to wear it anymore.  And, of course, when you don’t get to wear it any more, the only person in that room or that auditorium who knows what you’ve accomplished is you.  Which of course can still be satisfying, but it just isn’t nearly as fun.

All that said as my setup, it turns out that even though I’m not wearing a beret and dress greens replete with all my badges and ribbons, well, I still get to enjoy that feeling of “standing out.”

I don’t have a uniform that I can put on and take off; what I’ve got instead is a bunch of muscle.  Muscle that also stands out and sets me apart in a way that anyone can identify.

And just like the uniform that used to give me so much pride to wear, I don’t have pride just because of what I look like; I have pride because what I look like represents a lot of hours of hard, grueling work from which came strength.

A couple of weeks ago, I was at the kitchen counter at my church getting a cup of coffee, and a strikingly pretty young girl who was a member of the Hispanic congregation came up to me and said, “Are you a bodybuilder?”

Well, that question always discombobulates me.  Because, no, I don’t think of myself as a “bodybuilder.”  A bodybuilder is somebody who shaves off all their body hair, puts on a speedo, rubs on a bunch of oil and flexes onstage in competitions with other bodybuilders.  I’ve never done that and I’ve never wanted to do that.  Me, I’m a weight lifter, not a bodybuilder.  But, well, then again, I usually do a “bodybuilding” weight lifting routine, although I also do quite a bit of powerlifting stuff, and so I guess I’m kind of a bodybuilder…

Well, this pretty young girl bailed me out of fumbling to answer what had been intended as a very simple question.  And she said something I will probably never forget: “I saw you walking by and you looked like a super hero.”

That’s right.  A super hero.

Let me tell you why those words meant so much to me.  Two things.

The first thing you should know is that, as the years passed me by following my career as a soldier, I allowed my body to basically go to pot.  Eight months ago, before I finally decided to do something about it, I weighed in at over 300 pounds.  And I am now over sixty pounds lighter – even as I’ve put on quite a bit of muscle.

Now, sixty pounds in eight months is right in the range of the 1-2 pounds of weight loss per week that is considered optimum (overall, I’ve lost nearly two pounds a week, on average).  But for anybody who has ever tried to lose a lot of weight, I don’t have to tell you what a struggle it is, how hard you have to work to succeed, how many battles you have to win against your out-of-whack desires and most of all how frustratingly – even agonizingly – slow it feels to lose weight over a long period.  I’ve had an awful lot of compliments about how well I’ve done and how much better I look now, but that “super hero” line took the prize as the one that I will most treasure.

I’ve come so far in reclaiming myself and attaining some difficult-to-win goals.  And in that sense, all appearances aside, I AM a super hero, aren’t I?

It sure feels nice to be one again.

The second thing about that comment from that young girl is that it underscores why I started lifting weights in the first place when I was a kid.

I didn’t grow up in the computery-world of smart phones and apps; when we had our family vacations, my brother and I loaded up on comic books.  You know, the Marvel and DC kind, the kind that are replete with “super heroes.”

I wonder if there was ever a boy who read a comic book who never had it occur to him that he would very much like to look like the comic book super heroes they were looking at.

What sealed it for me was when my older brother – who was already lifting weights himself – got me turned on to the Robert E. Howard Conan the Barbarian character.  Believe me, Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t even come CLOSE to holding a candle to the incredible warrior that comes to life in the short stories of Howard.  Howard wrote so vividly and so viscerally and so visually that you could SEE Conan in your mind’s eye.  And I wanted to bring out my inner “Conan.”

And the only way I knew how to do that was to follow my big brother – which of course I’d already done so many times in the past – and start lifting weights.

I was already a big strong kid, and it didn’t take those weights very long to start leaving their mark.  The muscles came out just in time for the coach of my high school football team to notice them.  And those muscles made me one of the best players on the team.  Thanks to Conan the Barbarian.

I really got into lifting after I got out of the Army.  I seriously injured a knee during my service, and fell back into weight lifting during my rehab.

As I got big and strong, and then bigger and stronger, one of the things that I observed was the fact that those muscles gave me presence.  I couldn’t help but notice that people noticed, much the same way they had noticed when I was wearing my jump boots and beret with my dress greens.  A fair number of times I was in night clubs back then and women would come up to me and say, “Everyone in here is looking at you!”

I became used to that attention, such that it kind of went into the background as a common experience.

Which was why, as I first started to get away from weight lifting, and then as I began to put on the wrong kind of weight, I hardly noticed that I wasn’t getting quite so noticed.  And then one day it was gone entirely.

Eight months ago, when I decided that it was time for me to start loving myself enough to start taking care of myself, I didn’t start out thinking about reclaiming my former glory.  But it didn’t take long as I started dieting that I realized that I had to have some kind of vision of what I wanted to become.  When you need to lose sixty pounds and beyond, you aren’t just going to lose weight; you are going to TRANSFORM.  And as that realization came, I knew that I could never be content merely becoming smaller and thinner.  Because I’ve always had that drive to stand out.  And because when I closed my eyes and tried to visualize the ideal “me,” that “me” was always muscular and powerful.  It took me about three weeks to decide that I needed to join a gym and get to work transforming myself from what I was into what I wanted to become.

I never dreamed any of the muscles that I’d fought so hard for only to allow to vanish would ever come back.  But it turns out that there truly is something called “muscle memory.”  As I started hitting the weights for the first time in years, my body remembered the experience and started working overtime to rebuild.

Weight lifting is probably not for most people.  It is hard, grueling, even excruciating work.  You’ve got to want something bad enough to force yourself to the limits of your strength and endurance.  And then do it over and over and over again.  When you lift weights, you literally tear your muscle fibers apart and force them to keep growing so they can survive the next torture session you are going to put yourself through.  Every day is ass-kicking day, and it doesn’t matter if you’re the biggest, strongest, baddest dude there; because you are going to be kicking your own ass.

It takes a form of courage to go through workout after workout, day after day, week after week and month after month to keep pushing yourself past your previous limits.

I’ve had it all, and I’ve lost it all.  Now I want it back, I’m willing to work hard to get it back, and I will never take it for granted again when I get it back.

It’s a fascinating thing: I can’t say I enjoy lifting weights.  For example, I’ve got a case of tendonitis in my right elbow.  And so I know that when I do those five heavy sets of standing curls that it is going to HURT.  Oh, I could take three or four months off and get over that annoying pain – but don’t hold your breath waiting for me to do that.  Sometimes I take a little longer to hit that next set because I’ve simply got to screw on the courage to do it.  And even in the other lifts that don’t bother that nasty tendonitis, nothing is easy: in the brotherhood of iron we push our bodies to the point of failure and then past that point, and that kind of failure comes only with pain after an awful lot of exertion.

That’s the thing that makes weight lifting and bodybuilding a “brotherhood.”  Every guy in there who keeps coming back for more knows what every other guy has to put himself through.  In between our own sets we can watch our brothers struggling through their own.  And there’s a respect for one another that comes as a result.

Now, I call it a “brotherhood,” but there are some women in that group, too.

There are some real beautiful women in my gym who push themselves real hard to get in shape and to improve that shape.  The women are working toward a different goal, but they’re hitting a lot of the same exercises that hurt the most in their programs.  But it’s mostly us guys who are doing that hard pushing.  I’d say the hard-core lifters are at about a 15-1 male-to-female ratio.  Women are most certainly welcome – please don’t ever think for a nanosecond that guys don’t enjoy watching an attractive woman work out!  But until a lot more of them show up, the gym is a “brotherhood.”

Unfortunately, many women continue to believe the rather silly notion that if they lift weights, they’ll put on a whole bunch of muscle.  The thing is, if putting on muscle were really that easy, don’t you think that all the guys – who have on average at least 20 TIMES the muscle-building testosterone hormone that women have – would all be walking around with giant muscles?  Sadly, these women – along with not giving the men the credit for the muscles they had to work so hard to earn – are undermining their own abilities to transform and shape themselves by denying themselves the incredibly powerful tool of weight lifting.

There are women who work out hard several days a week in my gym.  And these women are just absolutely gorgeous.  Believe me, NOBODY confuses them for men.

But let us talk a little bit more about a gym as a “brotherhood.”

I can’t speak of every gym in the world, but in my gym, there are a lot of hand shakes and even more “fist bumps.”  Many of us tend to train on the same schedules.  We therefore see each other for a couple hours a day several times a week, we obviously have many of the same interests, we encourage each other and we start growing rather fond of each other.

Those of us who keep coming in and working hard have something else in common that unites us: we each of us have that sense of soul-deep vision as to what we ideally look like – and we’re each working to make that vision of ourselves a reality.  No matter how hard it is or how long it takes.  We’re the kind of people who are willing to fight to make what we dream about happen.  That’s where the “Brotherhood of Iron” part comes in: we’ve each got to lift a lot of iron and we each need iron resolve in order to keep doing it.

Every man and woman has his or her own ideal self-image.  Some guys just want to be big and powerful and they frankly don’t care whether they’re blocky-looking or don’t have “abs.”  Other guys – and I’m in this group – want to build the muscle and eliminate the body fat.  But there are a LOT of other potential ways to go, aren’t there?  Runners and cyclists and swimmers all have a very different idea as to what they ought to look like, for instance.  And that’s the way it ought to be.  We each have our own bodies and we each have our own ideals and our own goals.  What’s important is what we are willing to do to make those ideals and goals happen in the real world.

That’s the ultimate question: the dream or vision you’ve got – just what are you willing to endure to make it come true?

At this point I’ve probably got about twenty pounds more to lose – while working hard to keep the muscle I’ve got if not build more of it – in order to reach my own vision.  Twenty pounds is a daunting challenge.  But then again, I’ve already been there and done that three times as I’ve lost that sixty pounds, haven’t I?

What I love about my gym is that I’m in the right place, and in the company of the right people, to help me get where I want to be.

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Update, July 21: As of today, I’ve lost 71 pounds in 10 months (and 7 pounds since I wrote this). And I have done it through a combination of nutrition/diet changes and an exercise level whereby an overloaded draft horse would look at me and say, “Well, at least I’m not THAT poor bastard!” I like exercise and I have made that work in my favor. But at the core of my program has been the fact that I literally envisioned and SAW what I wanted to become, and then I began to use weight training to help me accomplish my goals and make my vision a reality.

I’m getting there, and you can do the same. But it won’t happen until you make up your mind and truly resolve to MAKE it happen.

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17 Responses to “Welcome To The Brotherhood Of Iron”

  1. Dog Walker Says:

    That is a pretty cool essay. I missed the boat when it came to bulking up, so my self image is more of the tri-athlete sort of form factor. But fitness and the image of fitness is something to be valued. Maybe I should say health. God gave us these bodies. I think he wants us to take care of them. I don’t know if it says that in the Bible.

    My impediment to gym motivates this question. Does “Brotherhood of Iron” transcend political, philosophical or religious differences?

    I guess when we are focusing or actually acting or working on our health and fitness we don’t need to talk to the guy we see every other day or so about politics or that kind of stuff. If I could keep that out I might be sticking with it better. I guess don’t talk to them about it. But hell, it always comes up, and it ain’t me shooting my mouth off. I just ain’t the kind of guy that can be everybody’s friend.

  2. J.C. Says:

    Wow, i was expecting a fist pumping anti Democratic slam. This was a welcome change. You let down your guard and let us know a little more about you.

    First and most importantly – Thank you for our freedom. As a middle aged man, I will also tell you that you are a super hero- not for your body (that’s for the girls to say), but for your service to this great Country.

    Second, Thank you for the motivation. I was an athlete through college and a little beyond. Over the years I also have joined the 300 club and searching for the motivation to start my quest. I am still search for a diet and work out regiment that will work for me.

  3. Michael Eden Says:

    I missed the boat when it came to bulking up

    Dog Walker,

    I don’t think you missed any boats. I mean, you may not have both oars in the water in the boat you’ve got (that being a joke of course!), but not wanting to be muscular isn’t any more of a “missing of the boat” than WANTING to be muscular.

    We each of us have our own souls, our own identities, our own desires and our own aesthetics.

    And, yeah, you tri-athletes most certainly appear and ARE “fit.” You’re out doing it. You’re out doing what I’m talking about. We’re in different places training, but we share a lot in common. We’re both willing to “go the extra mile” to keep improving.

    You asked a good question: “Does “Brotherhood of Iron” transcend political, philosophical or religious differences?” And my answer would be, “Most of the time, it does.”

    As I’m sure you know, God liberally sprinkled the world with jerks to make the world more interesting and entertaining (that reason for “jerks” having once been provided by Gary Larson of ‘Far Side’ fame). And there are jerks in the gym, just as there are jerks in every other walk of life.

    I’ve had quite a few political discussions in my gym. And I always love to be surprised and find out that somebody is a LOT more conservative than I ever would have guessed.

    But most of the time, “politics” or “religion” or “philosophy” just doesn’t come up in our conversations. And that’s because we go to the gym focused on a particular task and we tend to talk about what we ALL have in common when we talk.

    My gym is owned by a couple. The wife has always seemed nice and friendly; the husband is a raging lefty. But even with him, I’ve been able to connect on certain environmental views that we share in common.

    It’s never easy dealing with people because you don’t always know what sets them off. But we DO know that things like politics and religion can be such triggers. And, as with family gatherings, if we’re smart, we’ll tend to focus on the “family” part and temporarily turn down the volume level of our political and religious beliefs. That comparison isn’t all that crazy: the gym is like a family in the sense that you’ve got a relatively small group of people who share the same equipment together and have to learn to get along with each other in order for everyone to get what they want.

    That said, there are some people who go to the gym wearing headphones. They spend their entire workouts listening to their music and don’t do much interacting. When I see somebody with headphones, I don’t bother them and they don’t bother me.

  4. Michael Eden Says:

    J.C.

    Thanks a bunch for your very kind and gracious words.

    In a way, I AM returning to my military roots by hitting the gym: I’m on the verge of being able to wear those uniforms that I talked about for the first time in YEARS! It is SO cool to be able to put on clothes that I frankly thought I would never be able to wear again. I’d given away most of my “small” clothes; but there were just a few things that I thought, “Maybe a miracle will happen” and held on to. And in my own case, there was no way I was going to toss my uniforms.

    You hit on a big point in your “super hero” thing: of course neither I or anyone else is a “super hero” because of how they look. But when you consider what a hero is, there are an awful lot of heroes walking around in America. The people who served on the front lines are at the very top of that list. Of course. God bless our veterans, and I pray that God bless me as a veteran. But we can ALL be super heroes by standing up for what is right and doing what we ought to do to make our nation, our towns, our churches, our families AND OUR OWN LIVES better.

    There is such an obesity epidemic in America it is beyond unreal. And that epidemic and all the diseases (such as diabetes) that result from that epidemic of obesity are part of what is tearing our nation down: we simply cannot afford to pay for the health care of a sick and diseased and obese people. And when you consider that a) our food supply is less healthy and more fatty and sugary than ever before; and b) the terrible self-esteem that so many of us have, it is no surprise that we have become fat. And once you’re fat, your life turns into a vicious cycle. Because the fatter you get, the worse your self-esteem becomes. And the lower your self-esteem, the less likely that you will be able to believe that you are worth the very hard work and long process that would have to go into getting rid of that weight.

    But it doesn’t have to be that way.

    I finally realized that if I loved myself, I would start doing the things that I knew I needed to do to take care of myself. And I realized that no matter how good my excuses were (example, terrible knees featuring nine screws and a plate!), I couldn’t allow myself to be ruled by reasons why I couldn’t succeed. Rather, I needed to put my excuses aside and do what I could do.

    It’s a really bad metaphor for fat people who got into their rut by overeating, but it remains valid: how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. PLEASE don’t start eating elephants, obese people, but realize that the day you begin to lose weight you will enter into a lifelong process that will be very difficult and take a long time. But what you get on the other side is just so worth the effort. And YOU are worth the effort!!!

    I would encourage you to find an activity that works for YOU. Weight lifting and gyms most certainly aren’t for everyone, but if it’s for you, then join right now and get started. I also take a long walk with my dog every single day – and that walk is the highlight of my day (and my dog has definitely said that it’s the highlight of hers, as well). Find something that you enjoy doing and do it. Find something that you can become passionate about and get passionate about it.

    As for diet, I have never found “the perfect diet for me.” I’ve come to believe that it is ultimately a matter of calories: if you put it in your mouth, you’ve got to burn it. I’m eating more vegetables than ever. I’m eating more fiber than ever. I’m trying to learn to limit myself – or just walk away completely from – the foods that offer nothing but taste and sugar or taste and unhealthy fat. And between my much higher activity level and my much better diet, I’m losing weight at a healthy rate.

    I feel so much better. I look so much better. And I want that for everybody. Yes, I even want that for Democrats.

    I’ve never wanted this blog to be about me. But that doesn’t mean I can’t use myself as an example to communicate important ideas.

    Thanks again, J.C. And here’s to hoping you find what you need to fulfill your own vision for your health and for your life.

  5. Dog Walker Says:

    I forgot to mention fun. When we get our bodies back, our muscle memory of the fun things we used to do comes back. My opinion anyway. When I was a kid I used to live on a dang bicycle. Now I am back to that. On Saturday of Memorial weekend, I started a brief vacation. US 550 between Durango and Silverton was closed to automotive traffic for a bicycle race. It is sublime when they do that. I ride that wearing a heart rate monitor. Don’t know if you know what that is about, but it reads physical exercise output in calories. So my 6 thousand feet of climbing is more or less 5000 calories. That is me burning 3 days worth of metabolism in one sitting.

    I am hanging out with some pretty healthy and fit people during that weekend. My sports hero is a guy named Ned Overend. He is a triathlete a couple of years younger than I. So in my mind we are kind of peers. That is a bit of a stretch maybe but it ain’t like a stretch of me imagining myself a peer with Tim Tebow or John Elway.

    Anyway, after a 5000 cal bike race, I take a recovery day, then the next day rent a mountain bike at a ski area and ride up the road to mountain top for 2500 cal. Ripping down the mountain bike trail. Now that is more fun than a 60 year old is allowed! Take a recovery day and do another repetition of that!

    So this is me describing a 10,000 calorie vacation.

    There ain’t nobody that will go on vacation with me. My wife used to, but she insists on a bed and breakfast. Me, I have taken to camping at 10,000 feet in order to acclimate some.

    Man o man! In July… Colorado state hill climbing championship. That race has a finish at 14,265 feet. I am going to do it. If I finish, fine. If I don’t I will get some good pictures.

  6. Michael Eden Says:

    Dog Walker,

    I’ve taken several 10,000 calorie vacations. But they’ve always gone the other way (you know, where I ate the buffet to put them on rather than riding a bike to take them off).

    What is interesting about weight lifting is that it doesn’t burn all that many calories in and of itself. Basically, as I understand it, calorie burning is more about movement than exertion. If you run ten thousand feet to catch the train, you burn more calories than if you actually push the damn train 1,000 feet. Even though you dang near killed yourself with the effort of pushing that stupid train.

    At the same time, when one performs an activity such as bike riding or running (or at the gym, elliptical training, for example), you burn calories, but once you’ve burnt them, that’s it. As opposed to weight lifting: because as you gain muscle, you increase your metabolism. Such that your body burns calories at a higher rate constantly.

    There are a lot of fascinating topics or questions for discussion about various types of exercise or sports. But many of the answers tend to depend on one’s priorities. For example, which sport or exercise is best for your health? Well, what do you mean by “health?” One might lower your cholesterol more, but the other might lower your blood pressure more. Which is healthier?

    Or which is harder. Is it harder to win the Tour de France, or is it harder to bench press over 1,000 pounds? And, of course, number one, they both seem pretty damn impossible to all but a very few people, and number two, it kind of depends on your physical abilities (i.e, do you have more strength than endurance or do you have more endurance than strength?).

    Then there are the downsides of various sports. For example, I don’t have to worry too much about getting hit by a bus in the gym or falling off a bench that is travelling at 40 mph and breaking bones. But you probably don’t worry about tearing your shoulder trying to lift your 350 pound bike over your head.

    Ultimately, it boils down to what floats your boat. And if you want to get on that bike and ride like a fool rather than go to the gym and lift like a fool, than that’s the kind of fool you should be.

    The most important thing is picking something you love and doing it.

  7. Dog Walker Says:

    My buddy wrote this …

    http://explorernews.com/opinion/article_ab309c26-cdbe-11e2-a902-001a4bcf887a.html#user-comment-area

  8. Michael Eden Says:

    Dog Walker,

    The para I found most interesting in your buddy’s article:

    For those athletic types who think it’s OK to slack off from time to time, I found some interesting information from a recent study of elite athletes and couch potatoes. Muscle loss begins in 72 hours from the time of last physical activity, regardless of your level of fitness. Additionally, within one year without any physical activity, there’s no difference in the physical condition of the spud/couch potato and the athlete. So it seems the notion of use it or lose it is alive and well, and walking, yoga, resistance exercises, and everything in between is better for us than sitting around every day.

    Having let myself go to pot, and now having fought my way back from that “spud,” it’s a word to the wise.

  9. Truth Unites... and Divdes Says:

    Have you ever heard of Frank Zane?

  10. Penumbra Says:

    Michael, hi

    Very inspiring reading, although I am not at all fond of this sort of physical training. But one can apply the same ideas and enthusiasm in other contexts; what ever you want to develop.

    And I like the combination of physical and mental strength with a strong faith in Jesus Christ that you represent. I wish more Christians had the same attitude.

    We are bodies, minds and souls, and we have to take care of all three of them. But there will be a day when we are forced to accept that the body has become old and exhausted, accept its decay and be ready to leave it. Otherwise, we risk becoming just ghosts.

    I see lots of victims to plastic surgery. They already look like ghosts. Immortality and eternal youth is the result of belief in Jesus Christ, our Lord and God. Trying to find it anywhere else is to fail him.

    God bless you Michael, my brother in faith and conviction!

  11. Michael Eden Says:

    Penumbra,

    Very good to hear from my good friend in Sweden!

    One of the things I’ve (finally!) learned is to not be an exercise or body image bigot. What I mean by that is that when I was a younger guy, I valued two things in a male physique: size and strength. If you were a cyclist or a runner or a swimmer, you were a “wimp.”

    Imagine how surprised I was to learn that some people had the same sort of “body image bigotry” against my weight lifting!!! I was shocked and appalled. How could anybody possibly not admire a weight lifter’s physique?

    Now I “get it.” I understand that it literally takes all kinds to make up a world.

    On my new “nuanced” view, I understand that everybody who seriously thinks about their body has their OWN vision of what they should look like. Maybe they see themselves getting bigger and stronger; maybe they see themselves as developing their muscles to a more limited extent and then cutting down fat; maybe they see themselves as the much less muscular but uber lean cyclist or runner bodies. Maybe it’s something else.

    It comes down to whatever floats your boat. You’ve got an image, a vision of yourself, in your soul, and you are working to make that ideal image of yourself a reality.

    And, yes, I thank you for noting it: I tie my physical image to my spiritual image: I am named after Michael the archangel, and I WANT TO LOOK LIKE MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL.

    I am wearing Christian pendants and Christian symbols more than I ever have; because as I develop my body into something special, I want people to see who – and I mean Who – is responsible for my body.

    We live in a postmodern world where – unfortunately – how a person looks is all important. The beautiful inherit the earth in this world. Especially in California (where I live).

    Another unfortunate thing is that many of the “beautiful people” who shape so much of our culture use their physical appearance to warp culture and keep driving it downward. How many of our Hollywood beautiful people are liberal secular humanists blatantly opposed to the Judeo-Christian worldview? Nearly all of them.

    I want to be – to the very limited extent that I can be – salt and light in this culture. I want to bring EVERYTHING about myself captive to Christ. And harness everything to and for His glory.

    Very inspiring reading, although I am not at all fond of this sort of physical training. But one can apply the same ideas and enthusiasm in other contexts; what ever you want to develop.

    And I like the combination of physical and mental strength with a strong faith in Jesus Christ that you represent. I wish more Christians had the same attitude.

    We are bodies, minds and souls, and we have to take care of all three of them. But there will be a day when we are forced to accept that the body has become old and exhausted, accept its decay and be ready to leave it. Otherwise, we risk becoming just ghosts.

    I see lots of victims to plastic surgery. They already look like ghosts. Immortality and eternal youth is the result of belief in Jesus Christ, our Lord and God. Trying to find it anywhere else is to fail him.

    God bless you Michael, my brother in faith and conviction!

  12. Penumbra Says:

    Good Michael. You stand on a solid Christian ground, with the Bible close to your heart. Bless

  13. Michael Eden Says:

    Penumbra,

    Thank you, good friend.

    It is amazing what you can do – including transform yourself from “pathetic” to “strong” when you use the Bible as your guide and allow it to define your values rather than letting your perverted values define the Bible!

  14. Truth Unites... and Divides Says:

    Hi Michael,

    Any upcoming posts about SCOTUS and their decisions on DOMA and Prop 8?

  15. Michael Eden Says:

    Truth Unites…and Divides,

    You were reading my mind again, weren’t you?

    I only just today wrote an article that brought up both the SCOTUS AND Prop 8.

    https://startthinkingright.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/was-muslim-brotherhood-cheated-by-democracy-as-a-california-prop-8-voter-join-the-club-btw-i-didnt-start-rioting/

  16. FMC Says:

    Michael,

    I haven’t looked at this post in weeks, but I didn’t notice the picture near the bottom, which I assume you may of added later after losing the additional 7 pounds and that the picture is of you. I must say that you have a tremendous physique! However, I am still trying to picture you 70 some pounds heavier.

    If I remember correctly, I think we both started to get back in shape about the same time and that we both prefer free weights, good old fashioned iron. Although I hadn’t gained much weight, I had just simply gotten out of shape and was starting to get soft, as I rapidly approach the age of 40. I am still at it, but have struggled with a couple of injuries, the latest a hamstring pull from doing wind sprints. Hopefully, I can work out some of the kinks and continue on to the vision that I have for myself.

    Keep it up, Michael, and your story and picture are definitely an inspiration.

  17. Michael Eden Says:

    FMC,

    Actually, that picture is about as old as the original article. I TRIED to embed it, but since I updated to Windows 8, my ability to post pictures on WordPress pretty much went kaput.

    I was finally able to load the picture by using my tablet. Still not able to do so on my regular computer. And WordPress – which had pretty darned good support when I started out – has virtually nothing now.

    But, yeah, that pic is of me (seven pounds more of me, in fact!).

    It’s just as well. I’ve been “shut down” for a month in terms of upper body workouts. I’m having physical therapy for rotator cuff issues, and my physical therapist (I told her that there are three levels of evil: there was “Nazi evil”; then we get more evil to “personal trainer evil”; and finally one degenerates to the true evil and enjoyment of suffering that leads one into physical therapy. Anyway, she didn’t want me training while doing physical therapy – which of course I attributed to her desire to make me suffer psychologically – which I have because DANG I WANT TO GET BACK TO MY PROGRAM.

    I’m continuing to go to my gym, but I’m doing leg training, cardio and abs.

    I wanted to keep the “gym schedule” rather than fall off the wagon and have to try to get back on it; I wanted to sustain the momentum that I’ve built up; and frankly, if you can’t go over an obstacle or through it, you keep working and try to somehow get around it.

    I really never intended to get back so much into weight lifting. What happened was I joined a gym and was just planning on doing modest stuff. But there was something called “muscle memory” that I’d never really heard of. It turned out that if you were big and strong at an earlier point in your life, well, your body remembered that and tried to get back to it with even a little bit of encouragement. I started seeing dramatic results and just went with that flow.

    That “muscle memory” thing is just amazing. The Bible calls us “fearfully and wonderfully made.” I keep marveling at just HOW wonderfully God made us.

    That said, I know how you feel about dealing with training injuries. Apparently many of us 40+ year-olds who are trying to recapture our days of yore are experiencing the reality that we just aint what we used to be. In addition to my rotator cuff issues (which I’ve had for several years, having once had an ortho surgeon assure me that no, I didn’t have a torn rotator cuff when yes I certainly did), I’m resting a strained bicep tendon.

    Stupid laws of gravity (and aging!).

    Best wishes to you as you also transform into your own vision for yourself, FMC.

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