Three weeks ago, I caught a cold. I did a leg workout that night. At the beginning of my workout, one of my inner voices urged me to take it easy because I convinced myself that a hard workout could hurt my immune system. During my second giant-set of back squats, front squats, calves, and weighted core work, my switch went off. My other inner voice motivated me with a scary thought. It said, “You’re getting old. Can’t cut it. Go ahead and use a cold as an excuse, you lazy @#$%&%^*&^.”

Then my mind automatically thought of those retirement commercials that are growing in popularity. There’s one particularly depressing commercial where an old couple reminisces to a country & western singer belting out a sad ballad that repeats “remember when” in the lyrics over and over again. The commercial is horrifying. It’s become my strongest motivator – to never live that commercial. Then there’s another depressing commercial of a perfectly healthy couple arm-in-arm talking about funeral arrangements and life insurance to “leave something behind for the grandchildren.” Those images took about 30 seconds. I loaded up the bar, went nuts, got my pump, hit the bags, and started running. At the 30 minute mark, I had to cough and spit. “Maybe my immune system is overworked.” I thought of stopping my run. Then, my mind went to another commercial of a grey-haired guy telling the audience that his sore back is now better followed by a scene where he’s teaching his grandson how to fish. I kept running. All the way to 60 minutes.

The next day, my wife convinced me that my cold was an infection and I should go to the walk-in clinic. I became a temporary hypochondriac. For about three hours, I increased the magnitude of my symptoms. I went to the walk-in clinic at 7pm. I texted one of my daughters to meet me there because I was feeling faint. My name was called. I convinced myself that I could barely walk from the waiting room to the doctor’s office. I texted my daughter again. “Where are you??” Asked where she was. I told the doctor I was concerned that I needed antibiotics. He asked me about 12 questions. I answered “no” to all of them. After a brief examination, I was told, “You have a cold. You don’t need antibiotics. You’re young and healthy.” Miraculous recovery. I felt like an idiot. That night I had my best chest workout of 2012. Personal best for 225 bench press for 2012. After, I had the best speed bag and heavy bag workout of the year. Then I ran. And ran. And ran.

Here’s my point. There are two inner voices. One that tries to soften you up to mush. It tries to make you retire early and drag you into the self-imposed old-age home better known as the dark side of your mind. The other voice fights it. Both voices use scare tactics. The difference between prematurely aging and staying young is which voice you listen to.

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