Don’t Quit On Being Fit


 

Lately, life has been throwing me some heavy-duty, rib-breaking body blows. Compared to many I am blessed, but sometimes I don’t feel that way. The reality of owning a business in these current economic times can impact us all. I feel much like I did a few years ago. Similar situations caused apathy, which in turn, led to laziness. The result was my weight ballooned to a ponderous, pachydermian three hundred and forty pounds.

 

This morning when the alarm clock sounded, for the first time in a long time, I had the desire to shut the buzzer off and roll back over. Awakened by my current mood, my inner demons reared their ugly heads.

 

Thoughts of pancakes, home fries, doughnuts and waffles for breakfast started bubbling to the forefront of my brain. Later, I could go for a pizza and a nice pot of pasta. Then in the evening maybe a pie and a pint or two of ice cream. The comfort foods would work their soothing magic.

 

The demons screamed into my skull:

Why exercise?
Why eat right?
What is the point?
Think of how nice it would be to sleep, on a full belly, an extra three hours each morning.

 

I knew that the combination of sloth and gluttony would once again isolate me from the outside world. The calming influences of empty calorie, carbohydrate loaded foods would help me sleep. The lack of exercise would convert the excess consumption into a protective layer of fat, thereby insulating me from the rest of the human race.

 

I looked up and studied the proverbial rope that is keeping me from plunging into Hell’s fires. The repair jobs from the previous occasions life almost took me down were once again frayed. The results of gremlins hacking away revealed they were now more than half way through.

 

Would the rope give all together? Would my life and future plummet into a great abyss? It may very well. When it desires, life can be a cold bastard. The big question is:

 

Will I embrace my inner demons thus hastening my demise?

 

I stayed in bed and wondered what it would be like to have had a charmed life. How different would it have been if my father hadn’t been forced on to disability by a life altering injury? How would it have been if my parents could have afforded to send me straight to college out of high school? Was my judgment to enter the Navy and alleviate the burden of at least one child to care for the correct decision?

 

Yes, the self-doubt and self-pity of despair were being cheered on by the demons. Much like talk radio hosts, my inner mischievous sprites were the harbingers of doom — joyfully fanning my flames of despair, discontent, doubt and disillusionment.

 

How easy would it be to embrace their self-destructive message!
How simple would it be to return back to my former indolence!
How effortless would it be to add a hefty burden to the rope!

As these thoughts ran through my head, a truck driver outside my window slammed on the brakes. As the tractor-trailer came to a very loud halt, its cargo violently shifted and I was jarred by a thunderous clang. My still sleeping brain interpreted the clamor into the clang of iron plates being dropped onto the gym floor.

 

Thoughts about clanging and banging iron sent a familiar shiver through my body. I jumped from my bed and the demons hid in terror. I would not give into their cursed cheering.

 

There is no time for self-pity.
There is no time for self-sorrow.
There is not time for self-destruction.

The rope is starting to show threads.
I am not sure how long it will hold out.
I will not increase its burden by adding weight to my frame.

 

As much as we tend to think otherwise, there is very little in our lives over which we have control.

 

Well run businesses fail everyday.
Bad, at times awful, things happen to good people.

Politicians pass laws regardless of the actual outcomes.
Hard working, loyal employees often find themselves without a job.

 

The one thing we can control is ourselves.

We can control our mental attitude.
We can control our fitness level.
We can control what we eat.

 

By being physically fit and strong, if that rope does give out, I will be powerful enough to reach up, grab the secure end and support myself.

 

Don’t quit on being fit!

 

Extreme Obesity


This morning I was introduced to a disturbing new term; “Extreme Obesity.” I couldn’t believe my ears. Have we now taken obesity to a new level?!  After doing research I learned the term is not that new, but it is still disturbing. According to a Kaiser Permanente study “extreme obesity” affects 6.4% of our children.

What is going on here?

The rise in childhood obesity and obesity in general appears to have really taken off in the late 1970’s and early 80’s.

Two changes occurred during that time frame. Soda and food companies moved away from expensive sugar and replaced it with cheaper, chemically alter corn known as high fructose corn syrup (HFC). HFC is a primary sweetener in many of the foods now consumed. Though there is conflicting data and reports, we can not dismiss the timing of the introduction of this dietary additive as a potential contributor to the ballooning of the nation’s collective girth.

The second change? In the that time frame the ground work, for what would later became known as the food pyramid, began to rear its ugly head and from it’s mouth a fountain of misinformation began to spew.

Fat, in all forms, became public enemy numero uno. Food producers, looking to increase profits unleashed a barrage of low and no fat products. There is a dirty little secret; to make up for the fat and to increase palatability, the sugar and HFC content were amped up. They even took it a step further and started labeling existing; sugar shocked junk as “low fat foods,” absurdly insinuating that the product was “healthy.”  The mindset evolved into sugar be dammed, as long as it doesn’t contain fat — eat it to your hearts content and, as we are discovering, eventual damage.

We went from eating balanced diets, to eating carbohydrate saturated foods. Please realize, no matter how complex the carbohydrate; once digestion is over — it becomes a simple sugar. In turn we went from a relatively small amount of obese folks, to now having more people classified obese, than simply overweight.

Dietary considerations are only part of the problem. When I was a youth I was excited to receive a football, baseball, basketball or any sports related, activity encouraging, item. Today’s youth often are showered with sloth inducing products; video games, smart phones, computers, etc… The concept of going outdoors to play and socialize has been replaced with sedentary instant messaging and texting.

Schools are just as culpable. They serve nutrient lacking foods, allow empty calorie dispensing soft drink machines in their lobbies and, because of standardized academic testing, arguably see the need to restrain activity.

Recess is a thing of “the olden days.” Gym class is either cut back or dropped. In some cases youngsters have gym for a set number of days and then not again until it returns in a cycle.

For the health and well being of the children — gym class must be daily.

As the extreme obesity generation passes into adulthood, diseases that do not usually show up until humans are more aged will start making appearances in people as young as twenty.

Will this be an acceptable burden on the nation’s health care system?

Ad campaigns claim, age wise, “60 is the new 40.” That may be true for my generation, but it looks like for succeeding generations, 40 may turn out to be the new 80.

Progressive Resistance is the Key


Since my physical transformation I am often asked many questions. I don’t mind answering, but I find it frustrating how little people actually follow suggestions.
I have worked out at the same gym consistently for the past two years. I really enjoy the atmosphere and the people. The owner takes great care of the facility and the equipment. One thing I have noticed is that some of the same people who have been there the same duration that I have, the same folks who have asked my advice, have not altered their physiques very much. A reason why is because they do not follow one of the basic tenants of weight lifting; progressive resistance.
Progressive resistance is exactly as it sounds. More “work” is required and must be continually added as you improve your physical condition. .
The human body is an incredibly adaptive organism, it is the world’s most complex machine. Our bodies respond to all sorts of different stressors. Muscle and fat respond to stress as well. The more often you exercise your muscles, the stronger they become, the better conditioned they become. The more you tax the body’s energy needs, the more fat it will burn. So to continue to see results and improvement you must alter the stress placed on the muscle and the body’s energy requirements. That maybe in the form of running more distance, running the same distance in less time, doing more repetitions, taking less of a break between sets, doing more sets and/or increasing the amount of weight.
In the beginning taking the stairs over an elevator, walking around the block, changing the plates on the barbell or putting dumbbells away will condition and strengthen an unconditioned person. However, as time goes on, the same work will not produce results. Losing body fat and gaining muscle will cease and stagnation will occur.
The solution is simple; one must increase workout intensity. Do more, do it with less rest and do it with great consistency.
If you do, stagnation will be the only thing that will cease.