For almost my whole life, I have been overweight. In my opinion, there are two types of overweight people. Those who have always been overweight, and those who were thin and fit when they were younger and then became overweight, either due to having children, having a sedentary job, slowing metabolism due to age or other factors.
As New Year’s 2011 approached, I considered possible New Year’s Resolutions. Like most people, I had been largely unsuccessful with New Year’s resolutions in the past. I wanted to be sure if I established one, to come up with something I could stick to, something that would result in self-improvement, yet something achieveable.
I decided not to resolve a diet right away, which I feared would be destined for failure, you know, the kind people make where they say “I’m not going to eat pizza or ice cream any more. I knew that there would be times I would want pizza or I would be at a birthday party and there would be cake and ice cream. So rather than take something away from my life, I decided I would add something to it.
My resolution was simple: exercise a minimum of 30 minutes a day. I realize this is broad and generalistic. That was kind of by design. I wanted to have fun and variety with it.
The toughest part of course, is getting started. It was winter in Cleveland, so outdoor activities are a little tougher. Luckily, my town has a Civic Center with a small weight room, stationary bikes, treadmills, indoor track, pool, and racquetball court.
My routine started simply with walking on the track or treadmill. I had allowed myself to get out of shape enough that there wasn’t much more I could do than walk. There were some days where I would shovel snow in the driveway by hand, and I counted that as my exercise.
Inevitably there were days that I just did not feel like exercising. There were days that self-doubt creeped into my thoughts. But I had faith in my simple plan. I had faith that if I established the habits of a fit person, and kept at it, and followed through with 30 minutes a day, that I would inevitably see positive results.
On the days that I didn’t feel like it, I forced myself to get to the civic center anyway, just walk for 30 minutes and get out. On days that I was motivated, I might do more: 45 minutes or an hour or longer.
On the days I was not motivated, I reminded myself that continuation of the streak (the commitment to exercise EVERY day, no matter what) superceded the self-destructive thoughts I might have like: Will the 30 minute walk I would take day really mean anything? or Would it really hurt if I missed ONE day? The important thing was the establishment of the habit, not the outcome of one particular day’s exercise.
So, in concluding today’s blog, my recommendation is to commit yourself to 30 minutes of exercise EVERY day. Not just the days you feel like it or are motivated, but do it every day, even when you are not motivated. Those are the days that your commitment is most important. Find an activity that you like, something that you can do in your current health state. Be careful not to overdo it at first, as soreness and injury could impede you from going back the next day. Living in an instant gratification society, we tend to want to solve the problem in one day. It took a long time for you to get overweight and out of shape. It will take a long time to reverse that and reach your long term goal, whether that be a certain number of pounds, a dress or pants size, lower your cholesterol or improve your blood pressure.
So far the results I have realized, aside from the 40 pounds and 2 pants sizes lost, are a better attitude and outlook on life, more energy and something to look forward to every day. I feel like I have a sense of control and accomplishment. I am nowhere near my ultimate long term goal. But I have faith that I will get there, through thirty minutes of exercise EVERY day.
For almost my whole life, I have been overweight. In my opinion, there are two types of overweight people. Those who have always been overweight, and those who were thin and fit when they were younger and then became overweight, either due to having children, having a sedentary job, slowing metabolism due to age or other factors.
If you are reading this blog, there is a very good chance you live in Ohio or possibly Michigan or Pennsylvania. All three states are beautiful from May-October because of the temperate climate, abundance of lakes and rivers and forested areas. But one thing these states have in common are rough winters.
My exercise program really blossomed in the spring and summer months this year because of how much I enjoy walking and riding my bicycle outside in our beautiful Cleveland-area park system. As much as I enjoyed the outdoor exercise, there was a concerning thought looming in the back of my mind. As the days grow shorter and the tree leaves turn beautiful shades of yellow, red and orange, it starts to creep into the forefront of my consciousness: what am I going to do when winter comes?
Obviously, it does not make sense to spend lots of time and effort in exercising and getting fit throughout the spring and summer just to hibernate during the winter months only to re-emerge next March 30 pounds heavier and having regressed to where you were in March of 2011. Once that habit of exercising for a minimum of 30 minutes every day has been established you must fight to stay in that habit.
Here is what I have decided to do to make sure I stay in the habit:
1) Join a fitness center. I am fortunate in that the community in which I live has a beautiful fitness center complete with Nautilus and free weight equipment, indoor walking track, indoor pool, stationary bikes, treadmills, step and elliptical machines. Because I like to go straight from the fitness center to work, its also important to me that my fitness center have a nice locker room and shower facilities.
2) Carve the time into your planner. If you are working, going to school, are involved in a relationship, have children or other social commitments, chances are your day fills up very quickly, and thats not even considering the holidays coming up. I believe you will be more successful if you “Make a fitness appointment” with yourself every day. What that means is, get your highlighter out and block out a time in your schedule and go and get your exercise in.
3) Find an exercise buddy. Actually, find several. I have probably a half dozen people that I can reach out to to exercise with me. They each have different days and times that they are available and exercise activities that they like to do and sides of town on which they live, so depending on what day it is and what kind of exercise I am looking to do and where I am, will determine who I ask to exercise with me. Frequently I will make exercise appointments with them and plan it out a few days in advance. The point is that exercise is more fun with a friend. You can talk and catch up with them over exercise instead of over food or booze.
4) Take a class. Follow one of your interests or try something new. Yoga, Zumba, body sculpting, spinning (which used to be called stationary bike), aerobics, etc. I have always had a ”Rocky fantasy” so I occasionally go to Empowering Punch boxing studio and take a fitness boxing class. I put on the gloves, hit the heavy bag and pretend that I am duking it out with Appollo Creed!
5) Don’t be afraid to exercise outside. I know its cold, rainy and snowy. But if you dress appropriately you can still walk, run and hike safely and (semi) comfortably outside. And I think the cold temps will make you tougher and heartier.
Enjoy the colder temps and change in weather. Enjoy the upcoming holiday season. Instead of going into a food coma after Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner, I am certain you can find someone to go outside and take a nice long brisk walk!
Closet shopping is a term I recently learned AND I LOVE IT!
On January 1, when I made my commitment to exercise a minimum of 30 minutes daily and tipped the scale a biscuit or two under or over 400 pounds, I was wearing a size 56 and moving into size 58 pants. My shirts were a 3XL or 4XL and my suit jackets were a 58 sometimes 60.
AS I have delivered on the commitment I made to myself, I have lost weight and inches, to the point where the clothes I had been wearing were much, much too big anymore!
Thats a great problem to have, but because society says we can’t walk around naked (sounds like a good idea at first, but in reality it really isn’t) we have to find new clothes to wear.
For some people who love to shop, love fashion and have deep, deep pockets, it presents an opportunity. For those of us who don’t, it is a new challenge.
Luckily, I had hung on to clothes that I was wearing in 2003, the last time I successfully had a weight loss campaign of 100 pounds. But because I was unsuccessful in keeping that weight off (I eventually gained it all back and then some) those clothes had been relegated to the back of my closet.
Over the last 8 years, and 3 changes of residence, I had been very tempted, several times, to throw these clothes away, or donate them, or take to a consignment shop. But in the back of my mind, I had held out hope that I would eventually get myself focused and back on track to regain control of my weight, my health and my life.
Now, in 2011, at the age of 40, as I am in the middle of a successful campaign THAT WILL result in lifelong, sustained weight loss and maintenance, I am reaching back into the depths of my closet and finding clothes that fit me again!
The irony of it is that even though these clothes are 8 years old, they are actually in pretty good shape because they were not worn very long or often. Also, because of the nature of the clothes: jeans, khaki pants, golf type casual shirts, button down dress shirts, and sweatshirts, they are the kind that are pretty immune from going out of style.
So, I have a brand new (old) wardrobe that really has not cost me any money because they were clothes that I had bought 8 years ago. Actually, in one pair of pants, that I probably had not worn in 8 years, I found $40 cash in the pockets!! So an argument could be made that these clothes and my “closet shopping” had actually made me money!
In closing, I want to remind everyone that its not too late to make a commitment to yourself, to make yourself happy, healthy and more attractive. Commit to 30 minutes of exercise every day and get back into your “skinny clothes!!”
I love hearing words of encouragement from friends, family and well wishers. I never get tired of people telling me they have noticed positive results from my commitment to exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes daily.
As these words are being typed on September 19, 2011, I am down 85 pounds, so I am certain at this point it is quite noticeable.
The obvious and logical question I frequently get after “How much have you lost?” is “How are you doing it?”
I have to say that there is a certain percentage of people who are disappointed when they hear the answer.
I think what they are hoping to hear is the Magic Diet or some kind of voodoo where I tell them, “Oh well what I do is sit on the couch, watch TV, eat chocolate, say the magic words and the pounds come off.”
I wish it was like that. But its not.
The truth is I have literally sweated (is that a word?) off all 85 pounds. Walking, bicycle riding, elliptical step machine, boxing class, racquetball, snow shoveling, cutting the lawn is what I have been doing.
A commitment to exercise 30 minutes a day every day. No matter what. No excuses. Every day that ends in -Y is a day that you exercise.
As far as what I eat; no magic there either. To me, my diet is all common sense. I know thats not sexy and its not exciting and it won’t sell books, but my common sense tells me to eat a breakfast every morning because I have to stoke the fires of my metabolism. My common sense tells me to stop eating when I recognize that I am full. My common sense tells me its better to eat fresh fruit, veggies and raisins instead of chips, ice cream and cookies when I want a snack.
My common sense tells me to eat 2 slices of pizza and not the whole pizza! My common sense tells me that when I go to a restaurant to ask for a to go container because portion sizes are ridiculously big and I can make 2 or 3 meals out of one restaurant entree.
This is going to be a short blog post today. But the point that I want to make is there is no substitute for doing the work and there is no substitute for making good, healthy food choices. Deep down you know that you are supposed to eat your fruit and veggies and take it easy on your carbs and meats and fats. And deep down you know you are supposed to exercise. There are no surprises, no magic words, no voodoo, no easy short cut.
Start today. Exercise 30 minutes, make good food choices. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Fate has a way of introducing people in your life at the time when you are ready or need to meet them.
This weekend, on a short 6 mile train ride aboard the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad “Bike Aboard” program, where bicyclists can hop aboard the train, with bicycle, chance allowed me to meet an unassuming, yet remarkable and inspirational person named Alicia Hansen.
Alicia topped out at 250 pounds in college. She was motivated to take action from a photo, although face, eyes and smile very vibrant and lovely, her body looked bloated and unflattering.
She undertook a journey that would eventually take her weight down almost 50% before ultimately leveling out at a healthy 150 pounds.
Alicia conquered her obescity through making healthy food choices, portion control and vigorous exercise which included walking, yoga, bicycling and eventually running.
Her odyssey has been featured in Women’s Health magazine and on MSN’s website fitness page.
I immediately recognized Alicia as a glimpse into my future. She has walked the path that I am walking, she has felt the feelings I am feeling, she has battled the fears that I am fearing.
I started asking her questions about her journey: how she got started, how much did she lose, how long has it been, how has she kept it off. I told her about my journey up to this point: the successes I have experienced, the plateau I currently seemed to be on, the distance of my journey that remained, the successes and failures of past diets that resulted in triple-digit pounds lost, only to eventually gain back.
My questions revealed the fear and concerns I have. Because like any alcoholic or junkie, an overweight person, who only knows being overweight, always is at risk for relapse.
But Alicia’s strength and conviction, and more importantly, her success and results are a glimpse that I can do it to. I have lived my first 40 years as an overweight person, but I don’t have to live the rest of my life that way. I am in control and I can make the decision to live my remaining years at a healthy, comfortable weight.
If you see me, don’t be afraid to ask me about my journey. Hold me accountable. Remind me that I have a duty and obligation, not just to myself, but to other people undertaking the same journey that I have undertaken. Remind me to inspire others the way Alicia has inspired me.
Fans of the rock group Bon Jovi will recognize this line from their mega-hit “Living On A Prayer”. I stole this line directly from that song and it has become the theme of my quest for lifetime fitness, health and happiness.
Last December, my weight had gotten out of control. I don’t know exactly how much I weighed, but my guess is that I was a biscuit or two under or over 400 pounds. I felt helpless because it seemed as if I were so far beyond the point of no return that there was no way that I could ever get to a healthy weight where I looked and felt good about my appearance.
I thought that at my weight, although most of my vitals like blood pressure, cholesterol, pulse, etc. were in a normal or close-to-normal range, that I was only a handful of years away from a heart attack or stroke.
My weight had made almost everything in my life uncomfortable. My clothes were unattractive and I was disinterested in buying new clothes because no matter what I bought or spent, I would look fat, because I was fat. Getting in and out of cars was uncomfortable. I always felt bloated and uncomfortable, even before meals. I didn’t sleep well, as I was a loud snorer and had begun to suffer from sleep apnea.
When I looked at myself and my life, I did not like what I had become due to years of inactivity, sloth, overeating, poor nutrition, bad food choices and making excuses for myself.
Like many other people, I wanted a change. I knew that I wasn’t far away from that heart attack or stroke and an early death.
I adopted a mentality of being backed into a corner, with nothing to lose, and came out fighting.
It so happened that my focus on myself was coinciding with the changing of the calendar to a new year as well as the year during which I would turn 40 years old.
The early days of my program were the toughest. I was fat. It was winter. It was cold, dark and snowy out. I was taking night classes which would keep me at school until 10pm. It was the busiest part of our work year.
I made a New Year’s Resolution that I thought would get me started in my quest for a healthier lifestyle, was quantifyable, was totally in my control, so I felt empowered, was easy enough that it was achieveable, yet effective enough that it would be productive and yield results.
My resolution was to simply exercise for 30 minutes a day, no matter what. If it was cold out: exercise. If it snowed out: exercise. If I felt sick: exercise. If my work or school load was demanding: exercise. If I was in a bad mood or not motivated: exercise. If it was a holiday and the gym were closed: exercise. There was not a reason or excuse I would give myself to miss a day of exercise.
I couldn’t have an excuse that would grant me a leave of the exercise because I knew to do so would make it easier the second time and even easier the third time and before I knew it, I would be back to where I started.
I had nothing to lose. My commitment to my resolution was all that I had. I reminded myself of it. I said those words to myself often: YOU LIVE FOR THE FIGHT WHEN ITS ALL THAT YOU’VE GOT.
The good news, 61/2 months later, is that because I stuck to my resolution and did not allow myself to abandon it. Because I stayed focused on my daily goal, I am now about 70 pounds lighter and I feel fantastic. I recently had my blood pressure taken and it was 119/70. I no longer struggle to climb stairs. I enjoy trying on new clothes. I even more enjoy getting into clothes that I had kept, that on January 1 I could not fit into, and can now wear, or have even lost too much weight to wear now! My attitude and outlook on life are better. My energy level is through the roof. I love it when people who are 100 pounds lighter than me tell me that they can’t keep up with me on a bike ride.
I love the fact that my muscles and joints are no longer sore. I love that I no longer have back problems from carrying around too much weight. I love that I am not embarrassed to go to the pool. I love that I am not afraid that I might break a chair when I sit in it.
I love the feeling of sweat pouring off of me when I exercise. I love the fact that I am no longer constantly sleepy and unalert at my desk. I love that people tell me I look great and ask my what I am doing and encourage me to keep it up. I love it that people are asking ME for exercise and nutrition advice! I love that I have found fun ways to socialize with friends, and have made new friends, through biking and walking and working out in the gym and taking fitness classes!
I love that I feel stronger and more attractive and younger and vibrant. I love that I feel in control of my life and not a victim.
I love that I feel like I am helping other people through publishing this blog and through words of encouragement and offering to exercise with them.
If you are reading this blog, then I am hoping you will do what I did. Just make a promise to yourself to find 30 minutes a day to exercise. Deep down, you know its the right thing to do.
Last week I was riding my favorite bike path. For those of you who live in Cleveland, I was riding at the Ohio and Erie Canal Reservation of the Cleveland metroparks. I like to start at Rockside Road and Canal, park my car and ride north the 5.7 miles to the end of the path and then back, a total ride of 11.4 miles. Along the way, you enjoy scenic meadows and picturesque views of the Cuyahoga River. The river has a bad reputation for catching on fire back in 1969. But that is downtown in the flats where the mouth of the river meets Lake Erie. When most people think of the Cuyahoga River they think of that unfortunate incident and what it looks like in the city, dredged to accommodate large barges and industrialized.
Along the bike trail, only about 5 miles upriver, its much different. Its very shallow. The river is in its natural state, there are no buildings or any other signs that a major industrial city is very close by. The water looks clean and inviting. Many times as I look out on to it I think that it might be fun to swim in its deeper areas and walk across it where it is probably only a few feet deep. Its common to see a tall Blue Heron or turtles in the water and many different, multi-colored species of birds or deer that you see nearby.
As I was riding on this beautiful July day, enjoying my ride and savoring the sweat and the workout, I started to think about when my commitment to lifestyle change started a mere 6 months earlier. January and February in Cleveland are a lot different than June and July. Its cold, snowy and dark. The sidewalks and trails are covered with ice and snow for the better part of 3 months. Occasionally we’ll get a 40 degree day and all the snow will melt, but within a few days it will snow again and you will be reminded that a warm, green, Spring day is still very far off.
I started to think about how the hard work that I did all winter allowed me to enjoy the beautiful summer ride I was taking at that moment. You see, it was in the earliest months of my commitment that the groundwork was set. During those bleak winter months, when my positive habits were not yet as firmly established and my psyche was still vulnerable to the negative, self-sabotaging thoughts that creep into your brain, that I began to set the foundation. Its fun to wake up on a sunny, warm summer day and grab your bike. Its not fun to wake up at 6 in the morning when its cold and snowy and dark out and pack a bag and get into the climate-controlled fitness center and walk on the treadmill or ride the stationary bike or climb the elliptical stepping machine.
Looking back, I am so thankful that I had the intestinal fortitude to push through those dark, cold, snowy days and get my daily exercise in despite a very busy workload that time of the year and classes that I was taking at the local community college that lasted until 10pm on Monday and Wednesday evenings.
It would have been very easy for me to forget about my resolution and quickly slide back into my bad habits, inactivity and sedentariness. After all, every other New Years resolution I had ever made had failed to survive until Groundhog Day. If this one had done the same there wouldn’t be much sting of disappointment since at first, I probably didn’t expect to succeed anyway.
But I did. I pushed through it. I avoided thinking about long term goals, which seemed so lofty and distant, and I just concentrated on that day’s exercise. Just get through today. Get your 30 minutes in and get on with the rest of your day.
But as those days were stringed together, and as January became February and February became March and the days started getting longer and warmer and the ground thawed and the snow melted and pounds started to come off and clothes started to feel looser and my energy level and attitude improved with each passing day and the muscles and joints were a little less sore with each passing day and it became less and less of a chore to climb a flight of stairs and people started to make comments about noticing an improvement, the workouts seemed to be like less and less of a burden and an obligation and became more and more fun and rewarding and enjoyable.
I started to think about my weight loss up to this point. As of early July, I was down about 60-65 pounds from the first of the year. Six months earlier to say, “I am going to lose 100 pounds this year” would have seemed a “pie in the sky” dream. Unattainable. Inconceiveable. But now, I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I have already lost 65 pounds. Another 35 pounds was a foregone conclusion. I am now absolutely certain that I will hit 100 pounds lost by the end of 2011 and be under 300 pounds for the first time since 2004.
I thought about celebrating this milestone. A New Year’s resolution kept for an entire year resulting in the loss of 100 pounds was worthy of celebration and reward.
Last summer, when I was having problems with my bicycle and three consecutive bike outings with my (then) girlfriend Susan were ruined because of mechanical problems, she was putting a lot of pressure on me to buy a new bicycle. I avoided doing so because deep down, I think I believed that I probably would not get the usage out of it to justify spending $300-500 on a new bike just to have it collect dust in the shed.
But now, although my current bike has served me well over the years, and I put $150 into it this spring to have an entire new drive train put on the bike, I am starting to think “How better to reward my accomplishments up to this point, and to ensure many future days, weeks, months and years of enjoyable bike rides than to go ahead and reward myself with that new bike?!”
So my decision is made. When I ultimately hit 100 pounds lost, I will go down to the Independence Bike Shoppe (not Dick’s or Wal-Mart because I prefer to support local, small business owners when I can) and pick out a great new bike as a reward and a symbol of me overcoming the obstacles of obescity, age, inactivity, self-doubt, bad weather, bad habits, etc.
So I am telling you: set a goal and go for it. Whether your goal is to exercise every day, or a certain number of pounds lost, or to complete your first 5K run or to participate in and finish the Pedal to the Point. Commit to it. Write the goal down and share it with friends and family. Decide on a reward and then enjoy the reward once you have accomplished the goal.
If you haven’t started an exercise plan, start today. It doesn’t matter what your current fitness state is. Get out tonight and take a 30 minute walk. Then take another 30 minute walk the next day, and then the next and the next. Do something positive just for you. Make a commitment to yourself to be happier, healthier and more active. Make a commitment to yourself to enjoy your life more and have more rewarding relationships with your friends and family. Your improved health, happiness and relationships are their own reward!
2011 is halfway over. I really believe the first six months of the year were very critical. I may realize at some point that they saved my life.
As 2010 closed out and 2011 rolled in, I made a New Year’s Resolution. I had not done it often in the past. I wanted to keep it simple, accomplishable, yet still meaningful enough to get some positive results.
My resolution, simply stated, was to exercise a minimum of 30 minutes each day.
Until now, I never shared the numbers with anyone. They were very embarrassing. But I am going to do it right now. As I type these words, I am more anxious about being vulnerable and exposed than if I were a stage actor involved in a production of “HAIR”.
I do not know exactly what I weighed on January 1. My guess is that I was a few biscuits under or over 400 pounds. My waist was a size 56 moving into a size 58. When I walked up a flight of stairs, I walked up each foot on each step, one at a time and I was winded when I got to the top. When I went to a baseball game or basketball game, my butt barely squeezed into the seat and it was very uncomfortable. I felt sluggish and tired all the time like at any given moment I could fall asleep. I felt uncomfortable in “intimate situations” with my girlfriend because I felt fat and unattractive and at times avoided those situations.
I did not get on the scale for the first 3 months. I guess I was afraid of actually seeing the number. I was afraid that I would be discouraged by it. I finally got on the scale for the first time in early April. By then I was down to 372.
As of July 1, I had gotten down to 333. The size 52 pants I am wearing now are very loose on me. I have even squeezed into some old blue jeans shorts that are size 48.
I can also definitely see other benefits of my exercise. My blood pressure at last reading was 125/82. My resting heart rate was 68. I no longer am winded taking the stairs and I now walk up them alternating steps like everyone else does.
When I first started my exercise program, walking 30 minutes on a treadmill or doing 30 minutes on an elliptical machine wiped me out. Now, I am doing lots of different types of exercise. I enjoy riding my bicycle the most. Last summer, 6 miles would wear me out. Now, I consider 10-12 miles a short ride, 15-20 miles an average ride, and I have done rides of 22, 25 and 30 miles. Walking 3-4 miles now is my average and I feel very comfortable doing it. I have even started taking Fitness Boxing classes at a local fitness studio which mixes basic boxing skills and cardio workout.
I feel like I am no longer hooked on food. Food is no longer a dominating thought of mine. I used to Live to Eat, now I feel like I eat to live. I have been experimenting with healthier foods, consuming lots of fruits and vegetables and listening to my body’s indictaions that I am full and satisified.
I am drinking lots of water now. I still have my large coffee every day, but I have almost entirely stopped drinking pop, even diet pop, and iced tea, even iced tea that is sweetened with non-sugar sweeteners. Once I have my morning coffee, I drink only water or low calorie sports drinks like Powerade Zero or G2, low calorie Gatorade.
My hip and knee now feel a lot better. I have an arthritic right hip from my high school football days and I injured my right knee in 10th grade wrestling. Carrying around 20% less body weight has helped both and the walking and bike riding has strengthened the muscles around the joints. When I first started exercising, I had to ice my knee almost every night. Now I do it about once every 2 weeks.
Prior to January 1, I would also occasionally be awakened by unexplained severe pains in my thighs that may have been caused by a lack of blood circulation in my legs. Since beginning my daily exercise regimen, I have not experienced these pains once!
What I have learned through the first 6 months of the year is that what I needed was a lifestyle change. I didn’t need a quick fad diet to cure me of my obescity. I needed to change my attitudes towards foods and exercise. I am nowhere near my long term weight goal. I really think that I can get that down, ultimately to 200-225 pounds. I think that I will feel healthiest and most attractive at that weight.
But I am also not obscessed with the scale. I know that if I continue my commitment to daily exercise that I will ultimately get there and maintain that weight for health and fitness.
Aside from my own personal fitness goals, I hope to inspire others to do the same. I encourage all of my readers to start my committing 30 minutes a day to your fitness. You will be so glad that you did.
I recently caught a program on PBS called “Younger Next Year”. It was an informative lecture by Dr. Lodge about the concepts in his book by the same title.
Dr. Lodge asserts that, although we can not affect our chronological age (the number of years we actually have lived), we can affect our physiological age. Dr. Kirsti Dyer defines physiological age as: (1)A person’s age as estimated by his or her body’s health and probably life expectancy. (2) A person’s age estimated in terms of function.
Dr. Lodge’s theory and research suggests that you can actually reverse the aging process by taking simple steps. By reversing the aging process, he means, that you can affect your health by improving your blood pressure and resting heart rate, improve your blood sugar count, cholesterol and triglycerides. By achieving these things, you can reduce your chances of heart attack, stroke, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimers Disease and other diseases, therefore leading a better quality of and prolonged life.
The first step, according to Dr. Lodge, is to introduce an exercise program. His suggestion is a minimum of 40 minutes a day, 4 days a week. He refered to examples of patients who were diabetic and had high blood pressure, who, by incorporating exercise, were able to return their numbers to normal rates and to get off of medication altogether within six months.
Dr. Lodge says that you can begin exercise at any age, regardless of your current state of health. He said that we are far more likely to “Rust out before we wear out.” A great source of exercise that can be done by almost all patients is simply walking one or two miles a day, 4 days a week.
He gave examples of a patient who, up to age 47, had smoked 2 1/2 packs of cigarettes a day and was in very poor health. That patient began to exercise and at age 96, completed the New York City marathon. Another patient, an 80 year old woman, completed the NYC marathon, but was unhappy with her time. So she trained harder the next year, and at age 81, completed the NYC marathon, shaving an hour off of her time and was passing 30 year old runners along the way!
You can look at the recently departed Jack LaLaine as a great example. The fitness icon led a long and healthy and active life up until his last few weeks when he passed away peacefully at age 96. For those of you who live in my town of Independence, Ohio, you probably know Joe O’Brien. The “old coach” as I fondly call him, is a retired high school teacher and wrestling coach who, at age 81, works out religiously every day and is in great health, both physically and mentally.
Dr. Lodge said that patients who do not have a weight problem, but are inactive, can be lulled into a false sense of being healthy. Something he said that stuck with me was “It is better to be fit and fat than to be thin and inactive”. As someone who has always been overweight, but committed himself to daily exercise 6 months ago, this made me feel good that I was taking positive steps in my life.
Although it was great to have a doctor reinforce something that I believed to be true anyway, I could reference my own experience to prove his theories to be true. Prior to making my commitment six months ago, I was constantly tired, yawning, unalert, felt like I could take a nap at any moment. What the exercise has given me, aside from losing about 50 pounds and 3 pants sizes, is an amazing amount of energy. I am experiencing an energy level similar to when I was a teenager, maybe even better. I am alert, mentally sharp, vibrant, enthusiastic, never lethargic or sleepy. I jump out of bed in the morning and look forward to the challenges of the day ahead of me.
So, in the end, I believe, just as Dr. Lodge does, that if you introduce and commit yourself to an exercise program of 30 minutes every day, or 40 minutes a day four times a week, that you will notice an amazing transformation, and you could be younger next year!
The biggest reason why I made my New Years Resolution to exercise a minimum of 30 minutes each day was because in reflecting on my impending age change to 40, I started thinking about the things I really enjoyed doing, among them being playing softball, riding my bicycle, pickup basketball in a friend’s driveway, volleyball games with friends and family at a picnic, etc.
It saddened me to think that I had gotten too out of shape to do these activities any more. I really don’t think that I could walk onto a softball field, hit a ball and run to first base.
I was wise enough to realize that if I ever wanted to do these types of activities again, that I really needed to get myself back into shape and the sooner the better.
My thinking is that every year that passed and every year I aged would make it that much more difficult to get started on a fitness program. I had to do it NOW!
Five months later, reflecting back, I am proud that I have only missed one day in 2011. It wasn’t always easy. Your brain plays tricks on you, tries to sabotage you. As I was solidifying the habit, I tried to make it unconscious. I tried not to think about it, just get out and do it.
There were days I was sore and my muscles and joints hurt. There were days that the weather did not co-operate. There were days that my schedule was full with work, business meetings, and classes. I remember one night, after a full day at the office and then my night classes, it was about 10pm. I still hadn’t exercised yet, the fitness center was closed, it was about 30 degrees out and there was ice and snow on the sidewalks.
It would have been very easy to just say “Oh, I’ll just do it tomorrow” or “No one will know if I miss today” or “Today’s exercise isn’t going to mean that much in the grand scheme of things” or “Its so cold out and its late and dark, I just want to go home and go to bed”. But the point is that I would know. I would know that I shorted myself.
So I went to the town square plaza in my town of Independence which was plowed and mostly clear of ice and snow, the plaza where CVS, US Bank and Brielle’s Coffee Shop is, and I walked around the parking lot of that plaza for 30 minutes. A police officer even pulled into the parking lot, probably wondering if I were up to something, and watched me until I finished and left.
I did exactly 30 minutes that night, not a second more or less and got into the car and went home to my warm house and bed.
I guess what I am getting at is that that is the kind of commitment I believe it will take for me to reach my long term goal. 30 minutes a day means exactly that. 30 minutes EVERY day. It can’t be just the days that you feel motivated, or the weather is nice, or that you aren’t busy.
See, if I had cheated myself that night, and skipped my 30 minutes, it would have made it easier to justify skipping the next time I was too busy to exercise, or the next time it was cold and rainy or snowing.
No one else would have known. But I would have known. And that was something I just could not allow myself to do.
So carve some time into your schedule. I know you are busy. I know you have commitments to your job and to your family. I know you might be taking classes or have commitments to a charity. But you have a commitment to yourself also. You have 24 hours in the day, just like everyone else does. 30 minutes is 2% of your day. I am certain that if you are committed, that you can somehow find 2% of your day to do something thats just for you.
You’ll be glad that you did.