"I need to be back to my routine." That was one of my friends. His father had died a few months before, and he was still dealing with the residual e. ects of the depression and grief that followed. Among the casualties: his workout regimen, and, of course, his gut. He'd gained more than 20 pounds and was now depressed about it, as well. "I was working out three or four days a week," he said. "But I just can't seem to get to the gym. I need some motivation."

Loss is debilitating. Even the small defeats can cause you to stagger after a Manny Pacquiao jab. The big ones (the loss of a job, the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship) can send you deep, so deep nothing else matters. Not eating right. Not getting plenty of sleep. And certainly not going to the gym or doing whatever you did to stay fit.

Even worse, you lose it a lot faster than it took you to get ..it. One day you're preening in the mirror, checking out your emerging six-pack and your bulging guns, and the next (or so it seems), your pants are screaming for mercy and your arms move like a child's swing.

Loss can not only kick your ass but also can make it fat.

I told my friend not to think about his routine. Trying to jump right back to where he left o. was like pushing the gas from 0 to 100 before the engine has warmed. Not good for the car. Not good for him. Instead, just think about going to the gym once. And rather than jump right back into the workout you once did (risking injury and perhaps feeling even worse because your body isn't able to do what you did before) do just enough to get your sweat on and remind the muscles what it was like to get pumped.

Do enough to feel good, then retain that feeling. Remember how good working out made you feel rather than how it made you look.

Sure, a lot of us work out for vanity— to look good at the beach or in a T-shirt at the bar. But we also work out because we like the way it makes us feel. Invigorated. Gratified. Strong. Happy. Confident. Ready.

Those feelings will send you back to the gym one time, a second time, and then a third. Pretty soon, I told my friend, going to the gym will be like brushing your teeth.

And it'll be far from routine. It'll be vital to your lifestyle, vital to your joy. Life will knock you down, probably more than once. But how long you stay down is up to you.

Roy S. Johnson
Men's Fitness
Editor In Chief