Doing Weights – The Worst of Times, The Best of Times

In my post last night I wrote about doing weights and how hard it is to get started doing a workout with weights. Since tonight was a weights night and I just went through the experience I decided to post more on the subject. I failed many times when I was younger but I’ve been really successful for the last two years so I’m hoping I can describe the difference in a way that will help others with the same problem.

As I’ve said before and I’ll say often again:

I have never regretted doing a workout but I have often regretted not doing a workout

Knowing that, it should be easy. But instead it’s really hard. It can be so hard that sometimes you just cave. That’s a double loss. Not only do you lose the benefit, you regret it later. When you succeed, it’s a double win for the same reasons.

But here’s the thing.

Unless you’re different from me, it’s always going to be hard.

As hard as waking up and knowing the alarm clock is going to go off in five minutes and actually getting up when it does. Well, not quite that hard, but hard – and you don’t have a job on the line if you don’t show up for your weight session.

Ironically, accepting that makes it easier somehow. I’ve come to know that I’m not going to put up with the way I feel when I get home from work even on the days when it’s a weights night and I come home thinking “I’m just going to sit on the couch and feel sorry for myself”. Somehow I always end up doing the workout anyway even though I’m thinking “no way” right up to the minute I get up and go do it; although lately I don’t even go through the “no way” part.

It’s hard to put into words. There’s dread, angst, a sense of futility; it’s almost primal, like you’re afraid to start because then you’re committed, and what if you fail? Or maybe it’s the id, the infant that lives on in us all, feeling exhausted and not at all happy about lifting heavy objects; what the id doesn’t know is that the exhaustion is an illusion caused by low blood oxygen and probably a host of other chemical imbalances, all of which would be improved or corrected altogether by increasing the respiration and heart rate through exercise.

As best as I can describe it, the way I get past it is just to look at it as a temporary mental aberration. Just remember it’s nearly all about starting; once you do the sense of doom goes away. If you don’t, it lingers and gradually fades into regret until it happens so many times you give up altogether.

It’s not just you; it’s almost everyone (probably). You won’t come to any harm even though it feels like it. It’s like the Highlander, being killed is pretty painful I imagine, but he’s come back to life so many times he probably doesn’t even notice. That’s actually a pretty good comparison. A workout at the end of the work day is like coming back to life.

Anyway, you can’t fight blood chemistry, so:

Don’t waste time trying to talk yourself into feeling good or even ok about it, or worrying about why you can’t have a better attitude.

Just start, even though it seems horrible, because if you do you’ll find that starting is the only part that is.

Get past that often enough and the workout itself will become easier and seem shorter. Plus the id starts to realize there’s a treat in store at the end and doesn’t cry so hard.

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Workouts: Aug 22 – 23, 2014

Heavy Hula Hands
Arm Hoops
These are products that I actually use in my workouts.

These are some of the songs I hooped to this weekend, demonstrating “Heavy Hula Hands”, Multiple Hoops, and Arm Hoops. Unfortunately there’s no sound because of copyright issues. Next week I’ll have licensed or royalty-free music.

Just hooping without any “add-ons” is actually plenty of exercise and more fun actually. But I’d like to burn off the remaining fat, and these offer an additional challenge and conquering them makes “just hooping” that much more fun because you have more control.

These days I get in two sessions of 45 minutes or on Monday and Tuesday, 90 minutes on Friday night and 100-120 minutes on Saturday morning. Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday I do weights.

For me, the hooping and jumping is easy because it’s fun and always brings me out of my after work funk within minutes. Weights are not so much fun and I didn’t do them for the first ten years after I started jumping. Finally I started again about two years ago and I actually get better results than when I was in my 40′s and 50′s. I think it’s because jumping built my core over those ten years so that at the point when I would fade 20 years ago I can keep on going.

For me there’s no question that I’m going to exercise at some point, usually after work, nearly every day. It’s not about being fit, it’s about taking your day back from the fatigue that work leaves you with. Sometimes, on weight nights, I don’t want to start so, so bad. But by now I know so well that exercise is the very thing that will get rid of the very feeling that makes it so hard to start, so I can just get up and do it, and never once have I afterwards been sorry that I did.

When you don’t want to work out, ask yourself “Do I want to keep on feeling like this? How much worse could working out actually be?”

And during the first few minutes when you’re tempted to quit and just go flop down on the couch “If I stop now, am I going to feel any better than I did before?”

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Burned Out After Work? Do The Hardest Thing You Can Think Of

If you’re burned out after work, probably the hardest thing to do is exercise. You just feel so exhausted or bored or depressed, or any combination of the three, maybe to the point you perversely almost don’t want to feel better. Two or three hours of sleep would be nice, but you’re too frayed around the edges.

I know without any doubt exercise is the only way to get re-energized and get back my sense of well-being. It’s worked without fail for the last thirty-six years. Over and over again and still to this day I’m amazed at how I could feel so bad and thirty minutes later feel so good.

 Even after all these years I sometimes think I’m too exhausted to exercise after work, at least on nights I do weights. But if it’s a hoop and jump night I don’t have a problem even though I’m no less “exhausted” because I know within a minute of starting I’ll begin to feel better. Tonight is an example. As I sit here typing this I feel great; refreshed and energized – otherwise, believe me, I would not be sitting here typing this, especially not on a Monday night.

It’s an indication of how special hooping and jumping are to me and how much fun that I’m ready and willing to start in spite of how I feel. When it comes to weights I sometimes do decide to blow it off, but usually within about half an hour I realize I don’t want to keep feeling like I do, so I go ahead and do the weights, and I feel good, and one part of my mind is amazed once again.

Why is it such an effort when I know it’s going to make me feel good? And why is it different for hooping and jumping than it is for doing weights or riding a stationary bike.

It’s such an effort because you can’t control how chemistry affects your thoughts and mood.  If the chemical balance is off from a day of sedentary stress your thinking is impaired and you probably feel exhausted. It’s impossible to be in a good mood and even though you know it will make you feel better, it’s very difficult to force yourself to exercise, not least because even if you do it tonight you have to do it tomorrow night, and the next, and so on – your current mood makes that seem like an endless nightmare.

When I first tried to establish the habit of exercising after work every day, for about the first month, even though I knew very well that riding would make me feel better, I had to force myself to carry out the miniscule commitment I had made, to get on and just start, then quit whenever I wanted. Really perversely, I knew that once I got started I would keep going so I would actually end up exercising, which is what I didn’t want – I said it was perverse – that’s mood for you. But even though you can’t fight chemistry you can trick it. I would do some double-think and tell myself that today I actually was just too exhausted and so would stop after a few minutes. And then of course I would end up doing the whole ride and feeling good, and stupid for having doubted.

I’m telling you, it’s the blood chemistry. When you’re exhausted from a day of sedentary stress you’re just not thinking right and you’ll tell yourself anything to get out of any kind of effort. But if you do make the effort and keep it up day after day for a month or six weeks then if finally sinks in how good you actually could feel and will be feeling in a little while if you just do the workout so it’s not a big effort anymore; then it just becomes what you do. It sounds too good to be true, but I’ve benefited from it every day over all those years.

But the commitment to at least start every night is important. If I hadn’t made it then I wouldn’t have kept it up and I’d be in much poorer shape today and certainly fatter. If you want to start hooping and jumping then just commit to practicing a few minutes every night. Those are the only “exercises” I know that are actually fun, so of course that’s what I would do.

If you feel really awful or even semi-awful after work, think about it. Realistically, can exercising be any worse?

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The Joys of HoopRock & JumpRock – Eat Right to Sleep Tight

Don’t get the idea this post has anything to do with nutrition.  Not that nutrition isn’t important, but I think all things being equal, calories are calories, vitamins are vitamins, and trace elements are trace elements. Get too few or too many of any of them and you’ll feel less than optimal and compromise your health. Trying to micro-manage the issue, like most things in life, is tiresome. In particular I don’t want to hear things like I will live 30 seconds longer each time I eat a beet instead of an ice cream bar. I will actually give you 30 seconds to get out of eating a beet; you can even keep the ice cream bar.

All things are not equal of course. If you eat twenty ice cream bars a day and somehow manage to exercise enough to burn off the excess calories from the ice cream and the other food you’ll need to get the nutritional elements you’re missing there’s still a good chance you’ll end up with diabetes; and in my case I know for a fact that if I eat lots of, not sugar and fat per se, but “junk food”, I’ll feel terrible, even if I exercise off the calories – and the older I get, the truer it is.

And that takes me into my real topic, how what you eat affects the way you feel. It’s one that I’ve been involuntarily researching for a little over fifty years; let’s jump into the third person and back to about 1963 and look in on a fifteen year old boy shortly before supper. Incredibly, even though it is before supper, he’s doing his homework. What could the matter be? Maybe it’s raining outside or …; I actually can’t think of any other reason, and that one wouldn’t have done it, so why I was doing my homework before supper will forever be lost to history.

We seem to be back in the first person, so why fight it. Anyway, there I was, and this is even more incredible, I was enjoying my homework. To be fair, it was geometry, so I got to draw stuff with compasses and straight edges and make little tic marks, but still, it was homework.

That’s actually the most important part of the story. I was interested in what I was doing. The before supper part, while extremely weird, is only important because of the timing.

So I was engrossed in what I was doing when my mother called me to supper. The exact menu for that meal is also lost to the ages, but it undoubtedly included meat, bread, and potatoes with either peas or green beans. The meat would be beef (commonly hamburgers, my personal favorite at that and most ages), fried chicken, fried pork chops, fried calves liver, fried chicken liver, or rarely, a real treat, fried catfish livers; both of the latter two being deeply breaded so the crust was nice and crispy. Sometimes deeply breaded fried catfish.

Occasionally we had the despised creamed eggs on toast – despised because there was no real meat, only bacon, which only counts with eggs, hash browns and lots and lots of biscuits. As an aside, I can’t even begin to tell you how delicious creamed eggs on toast sounds to me now – the creamy sauce with the chopped-up hard boiled eggs, the yolks powdered to sprinkle on top. I’d take it even without the bacon.

Ok, I think I got a little distracted there. For dessert it would be pie, cake, or chocolate chip cookies with ice cream. It might not surprise you to learn I always had seconds of everything, including dessert – chocolate chip cookies until my father made me stop – which was always on the one I intended to stop on anyway – I’m sure he did it just to irritate me; the chances I didn’t have seconds on this night are literally so miniscule as to not be worth considering.

After supper I was anxious to get back to my geometry homework. I want to go all eighties right now so bad and say NOT!!!, but I can’t say for sure whether or not I literally got up from the supper table looking forward to my homework; I don’t even remember whether my sister and I had to do the supper dishes.

What I do remember is that when I got to my desk I was not even remotely interested in geometry or doing homework of any sort. Now true, my real families, like Donna Reed, My Three Sons, or even, God forbid, the Real McCoy’s – not that I had anything against them, but who wants to live in a shack – were on the TV, at least if it was Thursday night, and even if it wasn’t, there pretty much wasn’t a time slot, even with only three channels, that didn’t have something on that I would prefer watching to doing homework or most anything else. It had been like that since 1953, both the best and worst year of my life up to the long ago here and now of 1963. The year I fell in love with television at first sight and the first year of the hated school which cut deeply into my watching time. Morning game shows and afternoon reruns weren’t going to watch themselves. Actually I  think reruns in 1953 would be an anachronism but something was on. The only thing I can remember for sure in the afternoons was a show of taped  musical segments by artists like Liberace, Brenda Lee, and Snookie Lanson.

That ramble may seem irrelevant, but I want you to get an idea of where my priorities lay, right down to how much I remember, in spite of that lapse about afternoon shows when I was six, about television between then up to and including high school and college. Even with that slacker attitude, on that particular night before supper I was interested in my geometry homework to a degree that would have outweighed all the TV families past and present. But after I ate a big meal I could care less.

When I realized this I immediately changed my ways and started eating reasonably at every meal – NOT!!! I thought to myself, and I literally remember this, at least enough to paraphrase “Huh, I bet if I ate lighter meals I would be less lethargic. Too bad there’s no way to do that.”

Over the years, that same observation came to me many times, and sometimes I actually tried to do something about it, like resolving to never eat until I was full, or to have one or two mouthfuls at a time at frequent intervals during the day; the idea being to only run on a half tank so the lethargy is never triggered.

Sometimes I’d be successful for several days in a row, and when I was I found that I also felt better overall. I would also eat relatively clean during those periods and it usually seemed to take about three days to start feeling noticeably better than the normal day-to-day.

But eventually something would break the chain. Typically I would be trying to test the limits of what I could eat in the evening before bed, and get it wrong. Depending on how badly I got it wrong I would sleep poorly that night and / or feel lousy the next morning. Then you get demoralized and so forth. The reasons are endless and all lead to you not wanting to worry about eating the things that you like. Then I would try to get back on track and there would be endless days when for some reason or another I would eat more than I should every night and resolve to do better every morning, after I somehow make it through the day, which is still a mystery to me in spite of all the times I’ve done it.

I sometimes picture my life on two parallel tracks. One is the guy who eats clean all the time and feels good all the time. The other is me. Sometimes I could get closer to the other track and sometimes I could actually get there and stay for a while. It’s like a great dream that you could actually make come true every day for the rest of your life if you just would.

And after all these years I seem to be closing in on being able to do that. Partly it’s the cumulative effect of all the mornings I felt good and the mornings I felt lousy finally pushing me to make the choices to control that the night before. The clearest comparisons being between how I would feel commuting to and arriving at work each morning, both physically and mentally; I was a different person – forcing every thought and motion into being on bad days, interested and engaged on the good; and how that carried through the rest of the day. On the bad days even after recovering from the incredible lethargy of arrival I would feel desperately tired sometime in the afternoons; on the good days there would be a gradual let down from the energy of the morning and a mild afternoon energy slump, but not bad at all.

That’s the kind of thing I was thinking of when I passed on pizza when my wife and granddaughter had it the other night. That’s something that never happens. The best I can do is to limit myself to two pieces which doesn’t help at all because I actually eat four or five.  In spite of that I usually feel fine when I finish and when I go to bed, which is probably part of the problem. But it’s for sure I will not feel fine during at least part of the night and for sure I won’t feel great the next morning. And that’s if I’m lucky – chances are I will sleep fitfully or not at all for the last three hours of the night and feel awful when I get up. Even though it was a Friday night, it was the clarity of thinking of so many work day differences that made me pass. Even though I can hoop and jump it away on Saturday morning, it’s much better to start off feeling good, and I had just had five unbroken days of feeling how good that could be.

More and more, instead of between great and terrible it’s become a choice between feeling great and less than great. If you can feel great and you know how to make that happen, why would you accept feeling less? The answer, up to now, is it’s not an intentional choice. It’s a misjudgment on how much I can get away with eating the evening before.

For me the only way to do that successfully is to avoid seductive foods like chips, candy, pastry, cookies. I can’t resist trying to eat as much as I can get away with, and I’m usually wrong about how much that is. Even if I’m not, I’m almost certainly going to feel less good the next morning than otherwise. And even when I’m “eating clean” the evenings are the time I’m most likely to slip, so if I can avoid that option entirely instead of teasing myself I’m better off.

When I say I “eat clean” that’s a relative term. I avoid the foods that make me feel bad but I can and do eat pizza if it’s early and there’s a limited supply, and I still eat hamburgers, also not late at night. And I drink cokes – I’d drink more than I do if it weren’t for the calories. It’s not so much the sugar in candy and what-not that seems to bother me, it’s trying to digest the ingredients.

And I do still eat after supper. Usually some unsalted peanuts, raisins, and a coke or light beer. Even then I can overdo it, but peanuts and raisins doesn’t have the seductive power of say a fun-size “Snickers Peanut Butter Squared” – does that even qualify as a name? I’ve had maybe two of those, and they’re more or less like cocaine for your taste buds. That was a few weeks ago. My wife got more, and I was looking at one last night – just looking of course. One hundred thirty calories in a squared weighing less than an ounce. I could almost drink a coke for that.

How is feeling better when you eat better related to “The Joys of HoopRock and JumpRock”? Not only do I feel better when I jump/hoop in the morning depending on what I eat the night before, but being able to burn off the fat without hard-core dieting is encouragement to cut the calories where I can, thus the relative ease with which I avoided the squared bar. Overall I find that the more I lower my body fat the more incentive I have to cut my calorie intake even though I don’t actually diet. So I go for the high value targets, like 130 calorie squared bars, and how likely is it I would eat just one, or even two? I’m probably wrong about eating just the two before, unless we ran out.

What does this all mean? That depends on how you process the fact that it seems I’m finally getting some consistent success in controlling how I feel through what I eat from repeated exposure to cause and effect; I’m hoping you and others, no matter how few or many that may be can benefit from my experience in some way so they don’t to beat their heads against the wall so repeatedly for so long.

You have to laugh at my “insights” in 1963, but it’s actually tragic when you take the entire developed world into account that so much potential is thwarted by satisfying an urge essential to survival with what our body, depending on deliciousness and texture as the criteria, craves - ”Snickers Peanut Butter Squared” fun size bars and the like; conveniently also serving as a more than adequate source for the supply of body fat to be stored against the coming winter or next famine, which for all our body knows, could be any time. Essential before agriculture was invented, crippling now, both physically and mentally.

Of course it’s even more tragic when you take the entire world into account that at the same time in history so many people don’t have enough to eat; potential cheated by malnutrition and death. But that’s a different subject on which it would be pretentious to suggest any sort of solution, even if I had a clue, which I don’t.

Back to the topic I do have first hand knowledge of, the earlier you can take control, not to lose weight or to be healthy, but just because of how you feel, the more days you have ahead of you to enjoy feeling great in the morning and better all day long. And at any given moment aren’t you almost by definition happier when you feel good than when you feel bad? So while eating clean is no guarantee you’ll be happy, it pretty much guarantees you’ll be happier. Too bad life is more complicated than that. I can remember when I absolutely had to have my 10 AM Danish from the catering truck, with coffee and followed by the fourth or fifth cigarette of the day, or I definitely was not happy. Good times!!!

Last but not least. Take your Metamucil if you need it. I used to get more and more frequent episodes in the night where there would seem to be a knot / blockage in what felt like my stomach but was actually lower down. Unpleasantness for at least 18 hours would follow. That stopped after I started taking Metamucil – you can try store brands, but they don’t seem to dissolve as well - after every meal. It seems like a hassle, but it’s so much easier than the alternative, and it works so well I could tell all kinds of crude jokes about people not believing and taking pictures, but I’ve grown. After a while having to take it before every meal, or as often as you need is only slightly annoying, not rising to the level of an actual hassle. Now brushing your teeth, that’s a hassle, and don’t even get me started on flossing.

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The Joys of HoopRock & JumpRock – Physical Epiphanies

You might be interested in this article if:

You don’t exercise consistently or at all, you don’t have fun when you exercise, you’re not getting the results you’d like, or you think I’m in better shape than you expect to be at 67. If you agree with any of those statements I encourage you to read on because it doesn’t have to be that way.

So what do I mean by “Physical Epiphany”? According to Wikipedia, an epiphany is  “an experience of sudden and striking realization”.

A “Physical Epiphany” is the experience of realizing your ability to perform some physical skill has jumped by a quantum level between one day and the next. Difficult becomes effortless. Clumsy and halting become graceful and flowing. Euphoria ensues.

I first recall this experience twelve years ago after first learning to jump rope. You might think it was being able to suddenly jump well after weeks of jumping terribly. But that didn’t happen; it was a gradual process of constantly stepping on and hitting myself in the foot with the rope, frequently stepping on and hitting myself in the foot with the rope, less frequently, often, fairly often, occasionally, fairly occasionally, rarely, very rarely. I’m trying to emphasize what a long, tedious process it was, and so totally worth it I get panicky thinking how close I came to never starting.

And it wasn’t discovering how much fun it was to jump to music. That was, and still is, euphoric, but there was no sudden realization.

My first physical epiphany was a few weeks after I could jump consistently on both feet. One day I found I could do something I had been practicing for short intervals off and on, which was to run in place (jump on alternate feet), consistently and without any apparent physical effort (endorphins at work), for pretty much as long as I wanted to – which turned out to be longer than my calves were conditioned for. Euphoria is like that.

Sometimes it’s not a new skill, you just suddenly feel stronger and more agile. Often it’s not that huge and you stop noticing fairly quickly, but it was still pretty cool when quite a few years ago I suddenly realized I could feel my obliques turning my upper body with and against the turn I was making.

Just a few years ago one day stands out when my legs felt incredibly strong and every time I landed they felt rooted, as if my toes could grip the mat through my shoes. Once again, euphoric. I’ve had feelings like that quite often over the years, After a few days you get used to whatever it is you’re feeling and don’t notice anymore.

It’s a cycle. As you become stronger your body learns a more efficient or flashy way to do some move. However this involves some muscle combination that’s stronger but doesn’t yet have much stamina – typically it incurs a larger oxygen debt than you’ve become used to, so initially it makes jumping or hooping harder – more of a burn on those muscles and your workouts may become shorter for a while as your stamina is more challenged. Then your stamina, strength and agility build and one day you suddenly seem super strong and super agile.

A few weeks after I started hooping I went through the same thing. My hooping efforts started with the strength, agility, and stamina I’ve built up over twelve years of jumping, so there actually was an overnight transition from difficult, clumsy, and awkward to effortless, graceful, and flowing as my body realized “Oh, I get what we’re trying to do”, and just started doing it without burdening me with the details. I wish I could describe how amazing it felt. A lot of hooping is just controlled falling, you go up on one foot and balance or jump, then fall off onto the other foot, do some other variation on that foot and continue, pushing gravity as far as you’re able at whatever your current skill level. To be able to do that with no feeling of effort is – you guessed it – euphoric.

Then maybe ten days ago I noticed my body had developed a new way of hooping. Rigid thighs, hips, and glutes. I could feel why this was better in turning, jumping on one foot, and just about every other move. Your thigh, hip, and glute on each side become a very powerful rigid structure as required; the tendons that run up the outside and back of your knees transmit the load from your calves to the outside muscles on the back of your thighs, which are rigid, so the load is very efficiently transmitted to your hips where you have a strong platform for your upper body to push against as you have to move it around to keep your balance. That platform actually extends all the way up above your hip to just below your ribcage, so your upper body is not just sitting on the platform, it’s sort of “socketed” onto it. These are just my observations on how it feels, I’m no anatomist. But you can watch the videos and see for yourself.

That’s all very well, but on the particular day I’m talking about this new way of hooping was taking its toll. My thighs were burning and my hips were getting way tired. After all the years of jumping I can tolerate this pretty well, and I was actually enjoying it on one level as I knew that I could look forward to sessions of pure euphoria where I would feel like Superman.

And sure enough, about a week ago and since I have been able to turn at angles, hoop on one foot, and just in general do things I could never do before with very little feeling of effort. It’s wonderful how the feeling of physical effort fades into the background so sometimes you’re not aware of it at all, even if you try, when you’re jumping or hooping. My conscious mind is either tripping on the euphoria or participating in telling my body the next move to try, or both. But the sensation of physical effort is usually far, far away – particularly toward the end, when you feel like you can go on forever – I think when you’re near the end of your stamina the endorphins are working hardest to mask the effort.

Sometimes you’re doing new things for a while before you notice. Like I was totally unaware of moving back and forth to the beat until I noticed I could feel my obliques. That’s the great thing about jumping and hooping to music. You don’t have to be good or even try that hard. As a matter of fact it’s better if you don’t try to do long and tiring sessions. Jumping in particular is mostly about timing, and hooping, at least in the beginning, is about developing the muscle memory in your hips and lower back to keep the hoop rotating. In both cases it’s best to just provide your mind with some samples for your subconscious to work on until the next session. The subconscious is the key to physical epiphany. Between one day and the next it has burned in the muscle memory so jumping or hooping or whatever suddenly become automatic and seemingly effortless.

You just have to start and keep at it – just a few minutes every day – and your body will do the rest. I can tell you from personal experience it doesn’t matter how awkward you are to begin with, if you can walk ok and have no other physical problems that prevent it, you can jump and hoop

Then when you get to the point where you can actually do them it starts to be fun. All you have to do is start trying to move to the music. JumpRock and HoopRock are really just free-form dancing with constraints; so it’s a good way to dance without having to feel self-conscious about it. Who could expect you to be good at it? You’re just starting out. And I think nearly everyone would be a dancer if they weren’t self-conscious. Why else would people nod their heads or tap their feet to music. Jumping and hooping are just logical progressions.

Once it starts to be fun things start to happen more quickly. You get more efficient so there’s less effort. You start getting stronger and building stamina faster than you can believe. Even after I could jump pretty well I couldn’t make it through a four minute song without having to stop to catch my breath. Then at a constantly increasing rate I found I could catch my breath more and more quickly and had to pause less and less often. Then it became no problem to get through longer and longer songs, and so on. It never stops getting better.

It makes me sad when I think of the literally millions of people who will never know the joy, fun, and euphoria that I experience. And even worse they won’t experience the health and fitness I have going into old age. I would be in exactly the same situation if I hadn’t discovered JumpRock and HoopRock, which was just luck.  I had no idea I’d be able to jump or hoop like this at 67 or any other age -it still seems redonk.

It’s not like I was trying to seek out a fun exercise. I had no idea there was such a thing.  I can’t think of a single other exercise that’s fun without being expensive or requiring an opponent. Maybe rock wall climbing would be fun, but I still wouldn’t give up hooping and jumping. And you can’t dance to it.

And it’s so easy. But there are pitfalls. Realize you don’t have to work out hard and do more each day than the day before – that’s the road to burn out. I know people who have seen my results and gotten all enthusiastic about working out every day. But they fall prey to their own enthusiasm and burn out after a few days when they don’t feel like trying to match or out-do what they did the day before. Then it becomes easy to skip a workout just because they don’t feel like it, and so on until they just stop.

As a matter of fact, I don’t want you to be enthusiastic. I want you to think of it as a job of work that you have to do every day, an easy job of work, but still a job of work and one that has to be done every day. The enthusiasm will come when it starts to be fun, but you have to put in the time first. That’s why I want you to make it as easy on yourself as possible. If you can just stick to the commitment of doing it every day you can’t help but succeed. As Woody Allen said “Eighty percent of success is in just showing up”. If you provide that eighty percent and put in a little effort your body will take care of everything else.

The most important principle I know of is that it’s more important to work out every day, no matter how little, than it is to work out hard on any given day. Particularly in the beginning, when it’s most discouraging, you need to let your body give you the day after day physical feedback of feeling better and the mental feedback of having fulfilled your commitment of getting your daily exercise. The more it becomes a ritual the better and the more days you keep the chain going the stronger it will be.

With JumpRock and HoopRock it should be easy because you can look forward to having fun and it’s pointless to do long workouts in the beginning anyway. I started out on a stationary bike, which was no fun, then or later; and there was nothing to actually prevent me from doing a full thirty minutes, which I would usually do, meaning the next day it was tough to start because I didn’t want to do another thirty minutes – even though I knew I didn’t have to I would try to use it as an excuse. Humans are so stupid.

Thankfully I was always able to tell myself that on this day I would only ride a few minutes just to fulfill the commitment (the only thing that saved me was the commitment and making it so simple and easy – silly, but it worked)  - it was stupidly agonizing, but I was always able to do it. Then after I started it wasn’t so bad so I would ride the full thirty minutes. So bizarre, to know full well that once you get started you’ll be OK, but just not able to actually start because you just feel so tired from the stressed-out chemicals in your blood stream (so to speak) - the very thing that riding the bike will fix is the thing that prevents you not from making the ride itself, just starting it – now there’s a Catch-22. This soap opera went on day after day about six weeks; after that I still didn’t feel like starting, I never would, although eventually it got so I wasn’t really even aware of it, but even when I was, the knowledge of how much better I would feel had actually sunk in, and there wasn’t a lot of drama about it.

Then twenty-four years later I discovered jumping. It probably took a month to six weeks before jumping to music became fun, and it’s been more fun ever since.

Also, about two years ago I started doing weights for my chest and shoulders. Not as much fun, but it improves my hooping and jumping. I didn’t do weights for about the first ten years of jumping. When I did start, I found out that jumping had built my core strength so that I got much better results than in my forties and fifties. I realize now doing chest and shoulders is fairly useless if you don’t have core strength. When your muscles start getting tired your abs have to provide a strong foundation for them to push against. Picture an angler fighting a fish after her shoulders and arms start to get tired and she has to start relying on tightened abs for support and maneuvering her upper body. The years of jumping provided that foundation so there was an easily discernible difference, even after a ten year gap, in how I was able to keep going after my chest and shoulders started getting tired. So discernible that I noticed the difference a few days before I figured out what was causing it.

I didn’t expect to be gaining muscle, strength, and stamina at 67. But there’s no doubt I am. Of course if I had been anywhere near peak condition when I started at 55 I’d have reached it years ago; it’s all relative. Regardless, to be improving instead of declining in fitness at 67 in itself seems incredible; add in that it’s because of doing something that’s so much fun I’d do it even more if I could and it becomes magical. If you like music you can have exactly the same thing. And the sooner you start, no matter what your current condition, the sooner you can reach your peak fitness level and the longer you can enjoy staying there.

It’s time for me to go jump and hoop. Feels like Christmas.


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How Controlling Your Diet can Enhance Fitness and Make You Feel Better

I haven’t written much about diet because I’m not so good at controlling mine. So I’m particularly happy to post Bridget’s article because her theme ties in so closely with mine. Quality of life is largely about feeling good. Developing an appetite for feeling good goes a long way to establishing a healthy lifestyle.

For instance the only reason I avoid eating heavy late in the evening or having snacks after supper is because I sleep better and feel actually good the next morning. I super enjoy my first cup of coffee at work and can drink it way up into the day. No serious energy slumps during the day. If I eat heavy the night before – the opposite of all those things.

So pick up on her points on how diet makes you feel, observe it in yourself, and take advantage of it. ~Richard

Good health and fitness do not happen overnight. It is a journey. You have to find exercise that you enjoy – activities that you would like to do even if they weren’t “exercise” and that you will look forward to doing often. Over time, you’ll build up your fitness levels naturally and without much effort. Then you use the energy and good feelings you have about exercise to do activities that you might not enjoy as much, such as weight lifting.

Eating well requires a similar approach. You can’t just decide to call off every “bad” thing you’ve ever eaten and only eat “good” things. Taking such an uncompromising approach will set you up for failure. Instead, you need to take a more realistic approach that recognizes that there are no good or bad foods, no strict rules that must be followed, and that eating well actually makes you feel better.

Learning to control your diet doesn’t need to be about deprivation. Here are a few ways that controlling your diet can help to enhance your fitness and make you feel better:

Improves Your Digestion

The typical American diet is loaded with processed foods, fried foods, excess sugar, excess salt and all manner of preservatives and chemicals. This way of eating isn’t natural for your body, and your body isn’t able to process the foods as quickly or as easily as it should. As a result, your digestion suffers. You can experience gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal issues.

By controlling your diet – and eating more fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains – you can improve your digestion and significantly improve the way you feel. You’ll also make exercise easier, which can help you to work out more efficiently and to make greater fitness gains.

Stabilizes Blood-Sugar Levels

Your blood sugar levels can have a significant impact on the way you feel and on your overall health. The standard American diet sends your blood sugar levels sky high after each meal, which will crash shortly after. This results in a cavalcade of problems: low energy levels, shifting moods, weight gain or the inability to lose weight, poor sleep, and more.

You can stabilize your blood sugar levels by reigning in your diet. Even one nutritious meal can be enough to help you start feeling better. You’ll also have more energy to exercise, and will be able to get more out of every session, helping you to improve your fitness.

Increases Energy

Think about how you feel after you’ve eaten a large, unhealthy meal: You’re probably really tired. Maybe even nauseous. Maybe even uncomfortable. Now think about how you feel after you’ve eaten a meal that is rich in lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and fresh fruits or vegetables. How do you feel? You probably have a lot more energy and a lot more motivation to exercise and to engage in other healthy habits.

Watching what you eat can make sure that you always have the energy you need to exercise and to just feel better in general.

Your diet is about so much more than your weight. Everything you eat can affect the way you feel and your overall health and wellness. Controlling your diet can help you create optimal health and can enhance your fitness levels, as well.

What benefits do you notice when you control your diet and are eating well? Share your thoughts in the comments!

About the Author:

Bridget Sandorford is a freelance food and culinary writer, where recently she’s been researching Las Vegas culinary arts. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook.

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Reducing Stress While Traveling

This is a guest post from Mike Manning. Mike is a fitness and living healthy enthusiast. You can find his future posts at Manning’s Musings.

Traveling can place a lot of unnecessary stress on one’s mind and body. Whether the trip is designed for business or pleasure, the many headaches that come with traveling can cause both physical sickness and mental sickness. Going through the long lines at the airport, dealing with airport security screenings, and buying expensive food at the airport are just a few of the many things that cause stress on a trip. Needless to say, many people worry about leaving their homes for an extended period of time or thinking about the responsibilities that they will have to endure when they return. However, if people are able to incorporate some type of exercise into their daily activities each day that they are away, they will be less likely to experience an abundant amount of stress.

There are many things that people can do to ensure that they are able to exercise during their trip, but one of the first things that they must do is research their lodging reservations. While most hotels will have some type of exercise facility, there are many others that do not. On a recent trip to Maui I was able to book a hotel with a great 24-hour fitness center by researching a travel reviews site. This site gave me a list of the top hotels in Maui and from here I was able to scroll through and see which ones had great gyms. Furthermore, even with exercise facilities, some do not supply the necessary equipment to give the person the type of workout he or she desires or needs. By researching the hotel before leaving for the trip, the person will have a clear idea about the pros and cons of the hotel’s exercise facility.

When it comes to traveling, most of a person’s stress will occur at the airport. Therefore, people should be sure to take advantage of any exercise facilities that may be available. Some airports offer yoga and zen rooms, and other airports offer walking trails. Two airports that will allow a person to engage in these types of exercise facilities are the San Francisco International Airport and the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Finally, when it comes to staying physically and mentally fit on a trip, it is important to also adhere to a nutritious diet. A diet that consists of berries, fruits, vegetables, and lean meat will help to prevent added stress. Therefore, people should be sure to avoid fatty and greasy foods.

Going on a trip should be fun; therefore, people should be sure to take steps to prevent it from becoming a nightmare. By exercising at the airport, exercising at the hotel, and eating healthy foods, people will have a much more pleasant trip.

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I Got An Exercise Jones / Epiphany Of The id

Basketball Jones, I got a Basketball Jones
Got a Basketball Jones, oh baby, oo-oo-ooo

Oh yeah, sing it out like you’re proud
All right, everybody watchin’ coast-to-coast
Sing along with us, Bill Russell, sing along with us
Chick Hearn, sing along with us
Chris Schenkel, don’t sing nothin’

Basketball Jones, I got a Basketball Jones
I got a Basketball Jones, Basketball Jones
Basketball Jones, I got a Basketball Jones
I got a Basketball Jones, Basketball Jones

- Basketball Jones / Tyrone Shoelaces (Cheech and Chong)

A newborn is pure id. Nothing matters but what “I” want. There is not even the concept of “I”, just “want”. And that makes sense, because up to that time all needs have been satisfied with no effort, not even breathing. But almost immediately the need arises to deal with the outside world. It’s tough, because id does not recognize consequences. So ego starts to develop in order to negotiate between id and the rest of the world.

Probably the toughest day I had coping with id was the day I had to report for induction into the army, Oct. 6, 1969. Now let me say right here that by comparison my army career was an easy gig. Not as easy as guys who became clerk typists at Fort MacArthur for two years, but really easy compared to the guys who went to Vietnam, and unbelievably easy compared to the guys who were in combat. But I didn’t know then I wouldn’t end up in Vietnam; so for me, Oct. 6, 1969 was the “day the horror began”.

If it had been up to id, on Oct. 6, 1969 I would have done nothing, certainly not take the bus from the valley to downtown LA to report in. But ego knew that would not play and so I did what I had to do, on Oct. 6, 1969, and every day after until Sept. 20, 1971, the greatest day in the history of the universe – the day I was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army. I weighed 247 pounds and couldn’t walk 100 yards without my back hurting, but still the greatest day in the history of the universe (fitting, because the 70′s was the greatest decade in the history of the universe). From that day forward I could go anywhere I wanted and do anything I wanted.

But even if you don’t get drafted, if you’re over a few weeks old id makes it tough over and over again every single day. And as adults, or even children over the age of 4 or so, we have real responsibilities. That doesn’t make it easier to cope, but the consequences of not coping are just too severe, and we do what we have to do, such as getting up and going to work every day. We hear id and agonize over it, but we listen to ego and do what ego dictates, which is to do what you have to do to survive in the real world.

It may get easier, or not, but it almost never becomes fun. So it’s pretty easy to avoid the “optional” self-imposed responsibilities, such as exercising and eating properly to stay fit and healthy, and not descend into the hellish nightmare of old age more quickly than one has to. If you really, really thought about it, it’s not all that optional, because the more fit and healthy you are, the better you can take care of the people you love. But denial, as they say, is not just a river in Egypt, so most of us just don’t go there, and I don’t mean Egypt.

But, for most of us, it’s tough, really tough, to exercise every day. And as I’ve written elsewhere, that’s natural. Why on earth would you do physical effort that you don’t have to do? You may “want” to do it on an abstract level, but there’s a disconnect between what we “want” to do and what we can actually bring ourselves to do. It’s hard to remember your goal of draining the swamp when you’re up to your ass in alligators. So it’s natural to bail on the exercise when you’re just too exhausted from coping with the “real” responsibilities of life.

The irony here is that exercising every day makes it easier to kick ass on those alligators. My estimate is that for every half hour you exercise you get three hours of quality time that would otherwise have passed in more or less a stupor. And even if you’re not dealing with the alligators, and just watching TV, you’re gonna enjoy watching TV a lot more. And who knows, maybe you’ll be so energized that you decide to do something besides watch TV, such as playing with your kids.

So, what’s to do?

Actually, it’s pretty easy, if you’ll just do it. And there’s the rub. Paradoxically, it’s not that easy, because you actually have to do it.

So what is it that’s easy and not easy at the same time?


That’s it. It may sound too good to be true, and it kinda is. It worked for me, but in the beginning there were days, even though all I had to do was just start, that I really had a tough time doing it. Sometimes I would think “Well, I still feel pretty good from yesterday, so I don’t need to exercise today”, which was ridiculous and a total cop-out. Some of it was a control thing and some of it was a laziness thing but it was definitely a thing that made it tough. And then there was this “I know what’s going on here. Once I get on the bike and start, I’ll get into it and end up riding the whole 30 minutes, and today I really don’t feel like doing that”. Weird, huh.

But, when I started I made the commitment that I would exercise every single day, or at least start. So on those days I would remind myself of that and tell myself if I couldn’t even just start a workout then how pathetic was that? There would be no hope for me – I was literally hopeless. I would tell myself that even though I rode thirty minutes the day before, that didn’t mean I had to ride for thirty minutes today, so today I would definitely quit after a minute or two; but if I at least started I wouldn’t feel like such a pitiful excuse for a human being. And that would happen day after day after day.

Why would that happen day after day after day? Because of id, which cannot be reasoned with. It just has to be overridden by ego. That’s why you have to make the commitment and why you have to make it so easy, at least physically. If you do that, and really commit to your commitment rather that just have good intentions, then as an adult, you can use ego to make it happen, even if you have to shame yourself into it.

After about a month, something amazing happened, or started to. I actually did not resist starting the ride. I wasn’t happy about it, I didn’t look forward to it, but I did look forward to how I would feel afterwards, especially in comparison to how I felt when I got home from work. At 31, I was entering middle age, and any of the remaining youthful natural energy was dissipated by the end of the workday, and all I wanted to do was flop down and watch TV or read a book. Unless you were wealthy, other than eating those were pretty much your only options – and I could and did eat while watching TV or reading.

But now I wanted more, and even better id wanted more. id wanted that exuberant, buoyant  even euphoric feeling it had come to expect. I call it ‘epiphany of the id’, as you may have guessed from the title. From there everything else was inevitable. Over the ensuing years I sometimes had commutes that were over an hour long. When I got home there was no thought of doing anything other than jumping on that bike. My evening did not start until after my shower following the bike ride. And to this day I have an “exercise Jones”. Actually it just keeps getting stronger. I have days when I decide I’m just going to take it easy but id just won’t have it. If id knows I could feel better than I do by exercising, id makes me exercise.

So what’s the best way to get started? For me it was a stationary bike. I bought one to have at home so I could ride after work every day before studying for computer school. But until I came up with the minimal commitment to at least start riding every day it was about 80/20 whether I would actually do it or not, with 20 being the likelihood that I would. It was not pleasant. I would come home after work and immediately come up with excuses to put it off, like the need to watch “Emergency” re-runs, with current day soap opera star Richard Mantooth and current day usually bad-guy Kevin Tighe, who was a total sweetie in “Emergency”. We didn’t even have VCR’s (maybe rich people did – I didn’t even have cable), let alone DVR’s, so I did have a point. But still, that sickly feeling of procrastination as I came up with one excuse after another to delay was very off-putting. That’s why I came up with the scheme of just starting. I figured I could start and then quit in plenty of time to catch “Emergency”. I figured it would be about six weeks before I stayed on long enough or rode hard enough to get any real exercise. Which was perfect; a whole six weeks  to do almost nothing while feeling like I was doing something. Six weeks was forever. Fit right into my personality.

But a funny thing happened. Once I got on the bike and started turning the pedals it was easy to go just a little while longer if I could quit at any time. Maybe just till the end of the next song, and then the next one, and then I would start feeling better and most days make it for the whole 30 minutes. And after I took a shower I’d feel absolutely great compared to how I felt when I got home. And I’d think it was going to be easy-peasy the next day to start. But it wasn’t, at least for about a month. It took that long for the difference to really sink in so that instead of id resisting, id was insisting that I ride.

So a stationary bike is good, because you can sit down and just turn the pedals, but riding itself was never really that enjoyable, at least during the first part of the ride. Even after id got on board it would sometimes recant because it just wasn’t having that much fun. Those were the days when I’d have to ask myself how I would feel if I stopped after just a few minutes. The answer was that I’d feel just as crappy as when I started, so what was the point of stopping – it would really be no improvement over how I felt while I was riding. Like reporting for induction into the Army, what was the alternative? Not pleasant, so might as well just do it.

A better way to get started, if you physically can jump safely, is jump rope. If you are as uncoordinated as I was when I started learning at age 55 then you won’t be able to do a long workout even if you want to. Probably five minutes was my limit when I started, and that basically consisted of hitting myself in the foot or stepping on the rope over and over and over again. But it’s only five minutes. As an adult, you should be able to make yourself do that, but whether you will or not is another question – and the essential one. If you do it every day, it will work; if you don’t, it won’t.

And once you can actually jump, it starts to be fun, at least if you enjoy music. Because if you enjoy music then there’s absolutely no physical activity aside from the obvious ones that is more fun than jumping to the beat. Unless you’re a skier or snowboarder or something along those lines, and if you are, you probably don’t need my advice.

Even Tyrone Shoelaces, who for all these years, even though I was a fan of Cheech and Chong I thought was Bill Cosby (actually I don’t remember when I started thinking that, just like I don’t remember when I started thinking “Where’s that confounded bridge?” was from a James Brown song), probably didn’t have an instant basketball Jones. He had to develop the skill to play well first. And take it from me, learning to jump rope is a lot easier than learning to play basketball well, or at all in my case.

So it really is that easy and it really is that hard. But as an adult you can probably overcome the hard part, if you only will. And the pay-off is tremendous. As you get older you’ll find you’re saving your own life; maybe just the quality of day-to-day living, or maybe literally. When you get right down to it, we all live in the moment, because that’s all there is. If you use your current moment well, you can make the upcoming moments a lot more pleasant, or there’s the alternative of just spiraling downward, functionality and pleasure in living slipping away faster and faster as you age. It’s all up to you.

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M-m-m-m-y Generation – M-m-m-m-ajor Disappointment

People try to put us d-down (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Just because we g-g-get around (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
Things they do look awful c-c-cold (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I hope I die before I get old (Talkin’ ’bout my generation)
- The Who, My Generation

At 65, I’m close to being a leading edge baby boomer. I hate to say that I’m ashamed of most of my fellow boomers. A recent study found that we’re in worse shape than our parents were at the same age. There’s a surprise. Pathetic losers throwing what’s left of their lives away. I wouldn’t care, but they’re destroying the health care system. What irony, we have the best medical care in history and it’s overwhelmed by the laziest generation in history.

It’s not just being the laziest and fattest generation that infuriates me. We were the generation that was going to change the world. And we definitely weren’t going to grow up to be our parents.

How’d that work out? Our parents saved the world from Adolph Hitler, so maybe they’ll turn out to be the greatest generation after all. God knows it’s not us. Look at the fat, greedy jackasses in congress for a snapshot. Age of Aquarius my ass.

I can’t speak to the open corruption and hypocrisy in how our country is run because I have no answers to moral turpitude, which listens to no one, but I do know a little about being fit in old age, and it just isn’t that difficult.

Exercise every day. Too hard? Start to exercise every day and quit as soon as you want, but do it every day. Eventually you’ll start to notice that you feel better after even a short session and it all builds from there.

The easiest way to start is a stationary bike. You’re sitting down and all you have to do is turn the pedals. That’s pretty much all I did from age 31 to 55 (weights off and on, mostly off), but I did it every day. Sometimes more than once a day if I needed an extra lift.

I can’t tell you how many times that has saved the day when I ate a heavy lunch and came home after work dreading some engagement in the evening because I was so full and so miserable. I remember one time very specifically when I lived in West Los Angeles. There was a Mexican restaurant in the business park where I worked and I had a burrito supreme or something similar and a couple of glasses of wine (it was the 80′s). Never mind that I was going to drive to Canyon Country for a big chili dinnner. Somehow I made it through the afternoon, but after work I was bloated, drowsy, irritable, and generally miserable. Certainly not looking forward to the evening.

But I climbed on the bike and did my thirty minutes, and amazingly, after I took a shower, I felt great, and had a great evening.

Another specific instance is from about ten years later when I was working at home and stayed up till about 3 am programming. When I finally went to bed I was wired from too much coffee and programming. Of course I didn’t sleep well, and when I got up I felt like crap, and still wired. What a miserable day it was going to be.

So I literally dragged myself onto the bike and started slowly turning the pedals. Horrible? Yes. But like I always do in that situation, I asked myself how I would feel if I stopped. The answer – miserable and hopeless. Hopeless because I was facing a day of feeling this way. The best I could do was just lay around. I didn’t feel like reading, or watching television, or programming, or much of anything.

So I kept pedaling, and pretty soon I started feeling a little better. I kept it up for the full half hour, and once again, after a shower I felt great. The best part was that now I felt relaxed, so I was able to go back to bed and sleep for a couple of hours, and the day was saved.

Over the years there had to be hundreds of times when, after riding and settling in for the evening, either at the computer or watching television, I would notice how much better I felt than when I got home and be amazed. How could I have felt so bad and now I feel so good? Most of the time I would just take it for granted and not notice. But when I did – the difference still amazes me, although it shouldn’t. It’s just biology. If the right chemicals are not there, you feel rotten. If they are, you feel good. The only way to get them there is to fire up the processes that flush out the old bad ones and create the good new ones.

At 55 I discovered jump rope. It probably took at least a month before it started to be fun because I was so terrible. But that was ok, because each workout only lasted about 5 minutes in the beginning. 5 minutes of missing over and over again wears you out just from frustration. So when it came time to exercise it was “30 minutes on the bike or 5 minutes of trying to jump rope?” Now I have to be truthful and admit I usually had already ridden the bike that morning. But this time I was exercising at least a couple of times a day to get that exuberant feeling I had come to crave. I used to have trouble describing it, I now realize it’s euphoria.

Anyway, I stuck with it and eventually I was able to actually jump for more than a couple of minutes and jumping to music started to be fun, which the bike never was. Tolerable, yes, fun no, although the imaginary bike races where I was always ‘the kid’ were sometimes a nice diversion.

Once jump rope started to be fun, it all became easy peasy. I’m 65 now and in the best shape of my life. I started doing weights every couple of days or so about 18 months ago and that’s really enhanced the results both physically and in how I feel. And for Christmas I got an Iron Gym, which is a pull-up bar with a number of hand positions. When I’m feeling drug out and it’s too soon to jump again or do weights, I do a few pull-ups and take a shower. Another big improvement.

I see infomercials for extreme workout programs where all you have to do is workout 40 minutes a day to get amazing results. Just bring will power. Hey, if I had that much will power, I wouldn’t need their program. I have great admiration for people who can do them, but it’s not me. I have no will power. I proved that to myself from age 14 to 31 when I started and quickly gave up on one workout program after another.

The only one I couldn’t give up on was army basic training. I was in mediocre shape when I went in, in pretty good shape when I finished basic, and in terrible shape at 247 pounds when I got out two years less eight weeks later. So that’s how that went.

And on the morning news they have the one-minute workout. Do this one, and do this one, and do this one, and do this one… Great if people actually do them, and if they do them every day they’ll probably be successful. Or the jillions of healthy recipes. Again, great if you take advantage of them, but it’s just too much for me. I need for things to be simple, and I need to feel good immediately afterwards. Otherwise, I’m not going to keep it up for very long.

And walking. Don’t get me started. Great if you have a couple of hours every day and walk at a brisk pace, but strolling around the block isn’t going to do it, either for your health or in improving how you feel. Maybe you’ll have that illusion for a couple of days, but unless you step it up that will fade, in my opinion.

Woody Allen said something like “Eighty percent of success is just showing up”. My generation can’t even do that. Easier to sit on our fat asses and be miserable than to make an effort to even feel good, let alone be fit and healthy.

But in the end it’s not about the generation you’re in or even about being a good influence on others. For something to really happen you have to make an effort to feel better than you do right now and accept that exercise can make that happen. If you do that, and follow the steps I’ve gone on about ad nauseum in other other articles on starting an exercise habit, you can save the quality of your own life and actually enjoy doing it, or at least not hate it;  because on the personal, day to day level, it’s not about how much weight did I lose or how much muscle did I gain, it’s about how I feel better both physically and mentally after exercise. And how that makes the quality of life better each and every day.

And if you can jump safely, and start with jumping to music, and stick with it past the tedious part of learning to jump, it will start being fun right away.


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I Pity The Fools Who Base Their Eating Habits / Life On This Study

“Fool” might be a little strong – but I do so love to say “I pity the fool”;  I just couldn’t resist. Thank you Mr. T, for so much pleasure in my life, because I come up with excuses to say it a lot.

The text below is extracted from the article Healthy Fat? Higher BMI Linked to Lower Risk of Death which I recommend for a more realistic perspective than you will get by watching the news.

Researchers led by Dr. Katherine M. Flegel of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed the link between Body Mass Index (BMI) and mortality in almost 100 studies from the PubMed and EMBASE databases. Combined, the studies included more than three million adults, and all studies adjusted for age, sex, and smoking habits.

People with a BMI between 18.5 and 25 were considered normal weight; those with BMIs over 25 were labeled overweight; a BMI between 30 and 35 meant grade 1 obesity; and anything higher than that meant grade 2 or 3 obesity. The results found that a little pudge had a protective effect: The overweight folks had a six percent lower risk of death, while those in the grade 1 obesity category had a five percent lower risk of death. But in this case, moderation really proved to be key: Anyone with higher than moderate obesity (i.e. the grades 2 and 3 obesity categories) had a 29 percent increased risk of death.

The study authors can’t say for sure that a higher BMI directly causes a longer lifespan, but they suggest there may actually be cardiovascular benefits and other positive health effects to a little extra body fat and higher metabolic reserves (energy the body has available to utilize).

Gloriosky!!! You can actually be fat and have a six percent better chance of not dying in the next five minutes than the slender person next to you … well, look around, there must be one around somewhere. And even better, for only a one percent loss from that six percent you can be sloppy fat, just not too sloppy. Wonderful news. I know how great I feel in the morning when I pig out the night before.  But it’s a fine line. If you are grade 1 obese you have a 5 percent decrease in your chance of dying. Go one pound over into grade 2 and your risk of death goes up to 29 percent, an increase of 34 percent from the 5 percent advantage you had one pound ago. What a crock!! Of course you may point out I’m lying with numbers … and your point is? I’m just being more obvious about it. Figures don’t lie, but liars do figure.

It seems so irresponsible that  the “researchers” who released this “study” did not take into account that people may not understand, and did not try to educate them as to what BMI really means. But hey, can’t get too “facty”; if a study doesn’t make it onto “The USA Today”, did it really happen? “Truthiness” that leads to telling people it’s not only ok to be fat, it’s downright healthy,  is much more likely to make the cover.  How about a subtitle of “If you don’t eat your triple-burger you’re practically killing yourself”. If you’re gonna mislead people, might as well go for it.

BMI doesn’t measure fat, it measures just what it says, Body Mass Index, so muscle counts just as much as fat. And muscle is heavier than fat in that one pound of fat occupies 2.5 times the voume of one pound of muscle. So the dense muscle in the bicep of a heavily-muscled person, like Mr. T, may weigh more than the blubbery fat in both upper arms of a fat person – but it gets counted exactly the same. What this means is that very fit, lean people with a lot of muscle are counted as overweight or even obese by BMI. So the “study” includes very healthy fit people in with the chubby people. I don’t know if Jack LaLanne would have measured as overweight by BMI, but extremely fit people who live to be extremely old would certainly have a disproportionate effect in skewing the results.

So the problems I have with this study:
1. Muscle is counted as fat
2. Fit people are more likely to participate in risky sports or professions, and in those professions, the fittest of the fit would most likely serve in the most dangerous roles, so death by accident seems much more likely for fit people during adolescence or their working life. This study measures the likelihood for all types of death during any given period. Who’s more likely to die in the next week, a 30 year old firefighter or a 30 year old librarian? Weighs just the same.
3. Overweight people see doctors more often for problems associated with being fat, so other conditions get treated.
4. Wealthy people, who have a lot of money to spend on medical care, also have a lot of money to spend on food. I bet Rush Limbaugh and Mike Huckabee have the best medical care in the world. They are fat again, right?
5. Fit people who have a congenitive health problem that is triggered by exercise are more likely to actually trigger it. I can’t quote my source off hand, but there is a slight increase in risk of death during exercise at any time. However it’s vastly outweighed by the decrease in risk of death overall.
6. Fat people have more padding in car wrecks or any other kind of accident and they float better. Kidding!! (sort of)

Personally I ignore BMI. Everything I need to know is right there in the mirror.  And on that note, I still have a way to go, but I’m much leaner than I’ve been in years, maybe ever. And it feels great. Just having my shirt tail stay in all the time is worth that hypothetical 6 percent.

Even if it were true, I spent enough of my life looking like the Pillsbury dough boy. I’m not going back to that on the off chance that statistically I’m more likely to die in the next 5 minutes than Pudgy Pudgerson.

I already said in another post that I hope I die before I get old. If you’re willing to carry around extra weight because there’s a slight statistical chance you might live a little longer – you’re old, no matter what your age.  Or at least that’s how I feel about it.

The extra weight I carry around is because I’m a weak person.


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