Posts Tagged ‘exercise’

Clarification

I’m so glad to have proof that you’re all reading!  Monday’s piece brought a fair bit of disagreement – enough so that I want to be clear about my stance:

Drinking Coca-Cola is bad for you, as the NYT reminds us.  It’s full of stuff that just does not do a body good.  I don’t recommend it.  Eating ice-cream in excess (or at all, for me) is bad for you. It’ll send you to the endocrinologist or the cardiologist eventually.  

Working out is good for you.  You should do it.

What I do not believe you should do is put yourself in a position to fail.  I do not believe you should “go on a diet,” because I think that implies that at some point you will go off that diet.  I do not believe you should deny yourself something that will cause you to get off track.

If having a bottle of Coke every few days keeps you from the constant distraction of wanting a bottle of Coke … you should drink the damn thing.  If a small bowl of ice-cream a couple of times a week helps you stay on track otherwise, eat the ice cream.  This is not license to drink a six-pack of Coke or a pint of Ben and Jerry’s every day.  It’s advice to do what you need to do to keep your habits on the straight and narrow.  Mostly.

If you have to force yourself to go to the gym several times a week, if working out is always a chore that makes you resent the whole plan … you’re engaging in counter-productive behavior that is not going to be helpful to you in the long run.  If you really are forcing yourself to do it, always, you’re going to just stop at some point, and that’s not good.  

Exercise in ways that work for your body and your mind.  Frankly, if you’re a guy carrying 75 extra pounds everywhere you go, the regimen that works for the dude on the cover of Men’s Health is not likely to work for you.  That guy’s regimen is clearly perfect for him … but it’s probably going to push you over the edge in a couple of months.  And then you’ll head right back to you original habits.

Again, I do want you to exercise.  I do want you to eat well and consume real food.  I just want you to do it in such a way that you will be able to stay with.  I want you to change your life for the rest of your life, not for a few weeks.

Thanks for reading – don’t be shy about forwarding!

Exercise. Ugh.

As I’ve mentioned in more than one post on this blog, I don’t like exercise for the point of exercise.  Walking from point a to point b because it’s the best way to get there?  Sure!  Taking the stairs?  Heck yes – saves time!  Carrying the groceries an extra hundred yards or so?  I’m for it – means I probably found a shady parking spot!

But riding a bicycle for an hour without leaving the gym?  That feels pointless and dismal to me.  Climbing into a contraption designed to isolate one set of muscles moving in one particular direction and then working those muscles in that direction until it hurts to do the things life requires of me?   That’s just not logical or efficient.

That said, I know I need the exercise.  My lifestyle as a fundraiser/non-profit administrator/dad of three doesn’t exactly provide the level of physical exertion human males evolved to need for optimal long-term health.  In other words, as I lean into my mid-forties, I understand that I need to be more aware of creating healthy muscle-mass than I was twenty years ago.  And I know lean muscle mass burns calories faster than flab.  Not to mention the cardiovascular benefits of aerobic exercise.

Sooo … I know I need to build exercise into my day, and I know that exercise needs to be the kind that I can make part of my life, not just something I do for a few months and then ease out of.  Two-hour gym visits need not apply.  And yes, by the time I drive to a gym, change, warm up, resistance train, cardio train, cool down, shower, dress and go back to work/home, I’ve used two hours.

Here’s where I’ll start:  Push-ups, sit-ups and some stretches.  Ends up being about 15 minutes out of the day (start-to-finish, assuming I take time to, you know, breathe), and I can fit it into any part of the day – if I get up before everyone else, that’s great, but if one of the sprightly daughters decides 4:30 AM is the right time to start the day, I’ll find another part of the day to make it happen.  Starting tomorrow.

Then – and I haven’t figured this part out logistically yet – I’ll add in a half-hour walk (which is actually at least 45 minutes, start-to-finish) at least four days a week.  Yes, more would be better.  Would you like to see my schedule?  In about three more pounds I’ll start accelerating parts of that walk to a run and eventually it will become a full half-hour run at least four days a week.  I hate running, but when I was running regularly I always enjoyed having run.

I’d really like to add-in some sport or another (“sport” being loosely defined to possibly include golf, but not so loosely as to include driving my car) a time or two a week, but every sport I know of will take longer than I can reasonably commit with a newborn in the house.  We’ll see how the “sporting” segment develops.  By the time all three of my daughters are teenagers at once I’ll need a hobby like golf.  Which leaves me a good decade to prepare, but it’s never too early to start.

Will keep you updated, as always, constant reader.

Tomorrow:  Why does convenient, highly-processed “food” make me crave more convenient, highly-processed “food?”

Train Kept a Rollin’

Today’s Friday, and Friday’s weigh-in day:  268.  That’s 19 pounds in 13 weeks, or almost seven percent of my starting weight.

This morning I’m thinking about that lost weight as debris being thrown from a runaway train, littering the tracks behind me.  Don’t worry, it’s biodegradable.

And yes, I know the song referenced in the title above has nothing to do with losing weight or anything that could be construed as a healthy lifestyle.  I like train songs, and it’s a good analogy.  Give me some room to work, here.

Some post topics to which you can look forward in the coming days:  Easing into an exercise program, How fake/overprocessed food might be affecting us all and Why avoiding a stroke has become a Big Deal for me.

Thanks for reading!

Taking The Stairs

“Any manual labor I’ve done was purely by mistake” – J. Buffett

You may have noticed the subtitle of this blog is “… and taking the stairs.”  And you may have said to yourself, “Huh?”  Pardon me for being oblique.

By way of explanation, I should tell you I’ve always been physically lazy.  I don’t like to sweat a lot … and as a native Floridian that presents challenges.  Sometimes I can get away with appearing “restful” and “at peace with a slower pace of life,” but it’s really just a big streak of lazy.

I’ve forced myself to do exercise in the past – back in 2002/03 I was running 12 or 15 miles a week, and I was pretty proud of that.  I did a little high school athletics, and I’ve spent enough time in gyms to be familiar with proper techniques and which machine does what.  But – and I don’t think I’m alone in this – I never liked much of it.  Don’t get me wrong, I always liked having done it, once I was iced and showered, but the actual doing?  That was never fun.

Also, exercise hurts.  I “ran through” shin splints until I learned exactly where and for how long to use ice after a run.  I put up with lower back pain from nearly every exercise I’ve ever attempted.  I limped through hip-pain and ankle pain and foot pain and knee pain.  And there was a certain camaraderie I enjoyed sharing with other exercisers (I won’t call us athletes) while we complained about exercise-specific discomforts.

Eventually my sedentary nature always combined with pain (and a genuine concern about every minute of my day being scheduled and sometimes double-scheduled) and helped phase exercise off my calendar.

Yet here I am facing the inconvenient reality that I won’t live as long as I want if I don’t find a way to build exercise into my day – every day.  Being ever-pragmatic, I ask myself, “How can I maximize exercise opportunities in my day-to-day without committing to contrived ‘exercise’ … yet?”

Lucky for me, I work on the second floor, and I make many trips a day to the first floor and back.  I’ve spent a lot of time in the elevator in the past, but no more.  I’m informed by this handy calculator that I can burn around fifty calories a day, five days a week by just taking the stairs every trip.

What about walking?  Can I build in more covert exercise by parking farther away from my destinations?  Why, yes, yes, I can.  Let’s say I add an extra 10 minutes of fairly brisk walking to my workday (and I can) by choosing parking spaces farther from my destination.  That’s 450 calories a week.

I’m told that a pound of fat equals about 3,500 calories, which means taking only the stairs every work day and building in some extra walking should help me drop an additional pound every five weeks.

That’s too good a deal to pass up.

At some point in the near future I’m going to have to make time for “contrived” exercise.  For now – for today – I’ll count this new commitment to “taking the stairs” as a victory.

I want to add here that NOT taking the stairs – the American suburban obsession with convenience – is almost certainly one of the reasons we’re trending toward obesity as a nation.  In places where the existing infrastructure makes it too costly or just plain impossible to install an elevator, you have to take the stairs.  So you’re used to taking the stairs and it’s never an issue.  Parking our cars in our driveways and garages creates the same conundrum – most of us don’t even half to walk down the block to start the car, and we don’t have to take more than twenty or thirty (level, air-conditioned) steps to bring the groceries into the house.  Don’t get me wrong, I like convenience.  But it’s packing the pounds into our collective national midsection.

Things That Would Be Easier If I Were Independently Wealthy

Yes, I know money doesn’t solve everything, but if I were crazy-rich, the following things, at a minimum, would be easier:

– Eating a healthy, yet tasty and fulfilling diet. Because I’d have, you know, a staff of personal chefs.
– Exercising. Because I’d feel better about taking off three hours in the middle of the day.
– Transportation. Because I’d get a driver instead of spending my own time behind the wheel.

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