Man, was I ever in bad shape a few years ago. I smoked cigarettes, was dangerously overweight, and never, ever worked up a sweat anywhere else but from behind the drum kit. It’s hard to pinpoint the catalyst that finally motivated me to get off my butt, except for a nagging feeling of disgust every time I looked in the mirror. The bottom line is that I finally began to take better care of myself a few years back, and couldn’t be happier about it.
My first step was to quit smoking. After a couple months, when it became clear that I had successfully kicked the habit, I began dieting. Around 20 fewer pounds later, I finally got up the nerve to join a health club. And the funny thing is that after a lifetime of procrastinating, once I made the commitment I dove in headfirst. Within weeks I was going to the gym practically every day.
It seemed as if the more I put into it, the more I got out of it. Inches dropped from my waistline, prompting me to buy new clothes every couple of months — and I didn’t have to go to the big and tall clothing stores anymore. To maximize my efforts, I subscribed to a weightlifting magazine and hired a personal trainer who tightened up my workout techniques.
I was on a roll and felt incredible — better than I ever had. So about a year and a half ago I decided to push the envelope and went on a high protein diet combined with a challenging three-times-a-day workout routine to quickly build muscle and drop more fat. I was cruising along, making great progress, until I pushed my middle-aged body too far and damaged the rotator cuff in my right shoulder. Suddenly, I could barely lift a newspaper, let alone a couple hundred pounds. My doctor advised me to stay away from weightlifting and ice down my shoulder until the pain subsided.
It took a full year, during which time I lost momentum and motivation. Instead of going to the gym every day I was lucky if I stumbled in once a week. Maddeningly, I regained some of the weight I had worked so hard to lose. But finally, in the past few months, I’ve managed to return to a regular schedule primarily of cardiovascular work with very light weightlifting, and am once again beginning to enjoy the results.
I was at the gym last Saturday, and ran into a friend who is a serious bodybuilder. We talked about my slow recovery from the rotator cuff injury, and I expressed my frustration about having to lift such measly weights.
“Oh Andy, that doesn’t really matter,” he replied. “The important thing is that you’re here, working on your health. Just showing up is at least half of the battle.”
Ka-boom! It was one of those illuminating moments when I realized that this little life lesson applies to almost everything. So do you want to be a better drummer? Then you’d better show up at your practice studio every day. And do you want a good reputation within the music community? Then show up to your gigs and recording session on time.
And if you decide that either of those things are too much of a hassle, then you’d better not complain if your drumming career comes to a standstill. You’ll have no one to blame but yourself.