Exercise is a Good Thing – Taken in Moderation

Good morning! I hope you’re all having a fantastic day so far.

For the past several days, I’ve awakened to some pretty welcome news, courtesy of the bathroom scale. It seems I’m finally in the groove and what I’m doing is beginning to pay off. And yes, the batteries in the scale are fresh, thank you. All told, I’ve lost a total of 17 pounds since I started this downhill journey, and I couldn’t be happier.

I’m using a Body Key app on my phone that tracks my weight and chimes in with virtual pats on the back and helpful tips along the way. It’s designed to take you through three phases of the weight loss journey, with the ultimate goal of weaning you off the meal replacement products and sending you on your way lighter, healthier, and better equipped to continue toward your ultimate goal.

Yesterday morning, along with a message of praise for being a good boy, the app suggested now may be the time to start mixing in some exercise. Damn. It just had to go there! All this time we’ve been getting along so well, and now it wants me to intentionally put my body through stretching and pulling exercises that have the sole effect of making me smell bad. Just lovely.

I joke about that a lot, but I actually enjoy exercise. Well, I enjoy it while I’m doing it. Getting me to the gym is another matter entirely. There are just too many other things to do. Like watching TV, surfing the internet, or standing in the front door staring at absolutely nothing. I’d like to say I have a better excuse, but that’s about as good as it gets.

Part of my issue with exercise has been my lower back. The last several times I’ve started into a workout routine, it lasted about a week before I started walking around hunched over like an old man. Okay, an older man. Much older. Ten years at least. And as soon as that kicks in, my days of exercising are over for the time being. And it seems “time being” lasts a lot longer than it used to.

It’s the classic Catch-22. My back hurts because of all this extra weight I’ve been carrying around. If I want to lose an appreciable amount of weight, exercise is part of the formula. So, I nurse my back into reasonable shape and start exercising. And then I’m lucky to walk. Can I get an amen?

Well, with the loss so far, my back is beginning to feel better. Not great, but I can honestly say it’s more discomfort than pain, and as long as I can keep it at that level, exercise should be no problem. My problem is learning how to ease into something. As soon as I get back to the gym, I want to do it all. I get frustrated that my strength isn’t what it used to be, and I want that back. NOW.

It’s important to eat exercise. And it’s equally important to listen to your body along the way. A trick I’ve learned over the years is to go in one day, do a quick routine that includes one set of everything, but a little lighter on the weights, and then rest for a couple of days before I go back. That usually helps me avoid the typical first-workout muscle pain. You know, the kind that hits you two days later when you can’t do a thing about it.

From there, I can usually get back into a routine. And I guess I need to pay more attention to exercises I can do while seated, with full back support, instead of standing there swinging weights like Tarzan. Again, we have to listen to our body. What works for one person could destroy another. At this point, I’m even scared of the treadmill. So, I’ll do what I can do and hope for the best.

Weight loss is a problem, and if you’re suffering with it yourself, you’re not alone. Obesity is a national epidemic that’s spread to much of the world. Yet we are among the most mal-nourished people on the planet, thanks to processed food and junk. I’m learning that you can’t achieve sustained weight loss simply through diet or exercise – you have to give it the 1-2 punch.

And moderation is the key to success. Each day try to do just a little better than yesterday. Or maybe each week. Remember those Monday morning resolutions? Don’t try to do it all at once, because your body will revolt and then you’ll be worse off than you were. It’s not a race – it’s a marathon, long and slow. And the goal is simply to cross the finish line, no matter how long it takes. You can do this!

That’s all for now. Be healthy and have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

The 21-Day Turnaround

Good morning! I hope you all had a fantastic weekend.

Well, it never fails. I bragged Friday morning about losing a few pounds and something happened over the weekend to spike my appetite. I know what part of the problem was, but the end result was I shoveled more food in my mouth than I needed and I’m back up a couple of pounds. Still a net loss since a week ago, but not as much as I’d hoped.

That’s the reality of weight loss, especially as we get older. I’ve learned that my body likes consistency. Whatever I weigh now, it’ll try to maintain that weight despite any amount of dieting and exercise. The body, and especially the mind, are intricate systems that are designed for self-preservation. And they resist any change that threatens that consistency.

On the other hand, I’ve learned that when I begin to consistently lose (or gain) weight, my body tries to maintain that momentum. I guess the trick is to get moving in the right direction and maintain that movement long enough that the body can adapt and accept the new direction. A week just isn’t enough. Thankfully, a week of weight gain isn’t enough either. If it was, I’d be in serious trouble.

It’s that way with a lot of things in life. We decide we need a change and start going through the motions to make it happen. If we’re really sold on the idea, that first week is easy. We do the things we need to do, or stop doing the things we shouldn’t do and, by all outward appearances, we’re on the way to success. Then comes the weekend. Or the second week, or the third.

It takes 21 days to form a new habit. For the first three weeks, whatever changes we’re trying to make are completely out of our comfort zone, whether it feels that way or not. We’re taking something we’ve done for probably a long time and trying to force ourselves to do something different. And our mind and body will resist that change until it becomes a habit.

Habits are things we do without thinking about them. They’re second nature. We do them just because that’s what we do. And the longer we maintain a habit, the more automatic it becomes. Which is why it’s just as hard to break an old habit as it is to start a new one. In fact, new habits usually mean we have to give up old habits. I guess it’s just nature’s way of maintaining balance.

I smoked for 23 years. Quitting wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be, once I really decided to do it. But for the first three weeks, I had to continually remind myself not to smoke. At the end of meals, I had to think about it. Waking up in the morning, I had to think about it. At work when we went on break, I had to think about it. Until one day, not smoking became a habit.

The same is true when we’re just trying to form a good habit. Maybe you want to start getting up earlier each day. Or maybe you want to start spending an hour each day reading something inspirational. It could be something you want to do to earn extra income or spending more time with family. Whatever it is, it’ll take about three weeks before that new action becomes a habit.

And once that happens, you’ll find that you no longer have to figure out what to rearrange in your schedule to accommodate your new habit. You’ll move things around without thinking about them. And when something else comes along and tries to take up that time, you’ll say no. “That’s my time for doing (whatever).” It just becomes part of your day.

That’s not to say things won’t happen to throw you off track. They will. And there will be days you just can’t make it happen. You handle the situation and move on. But once that’s over, you get back to normal. So, the trick is getting to a point where “normal” includes the things you need to do. If not, you’ll have to start those habits all over.

If there’s something you want to change, then do it. Let today be the first day. Mark it on the calendar. Then mark another date three weeks out – that’s the day your new life becomes a habit. All you have to do until then is just keep on doing whatever it is you’ve decided to do (or not do). And if you slip up a little along the way (you will), just get back on track. Success is still there, waiting for you to arrive.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Do Your Body Right

Anyone who knows me knows I’m not the image of fitness. I see a lot of other people my age and younger who aren’t nearly as healthy as I am, but when it comes to body weight and the ability to move it around freely, I’ve got some work to do. I guess that can be said for a lot of us.

And something I’ve noticed over the years – every time I talk to my doctor about any of a variety of issues, the response always included “diet and exercise.” Blood sugar is getting a little high? Diet and exercise. Need to take off a few pounds? Diet and exercise. Blood pressure needs to come down? Diet and exercise. I’m starting to think there’s a conspiracy.

And if you read the label on any of the multitude of weight loss products, where they brag about how the pounds and inches will just melt away, there’s always an asterisk next to that comment. Scroll down to the bottom of the label, that line you can’t read without a magnifying glass. It says, “When combined with proper diet and exercise.” Well, duh!

I like working out in a gym, weightlifting and flexibility training. I even like yoga. My problem was always a matter of convenience. My gym has several locations in the area, but they’re all several miles from the house. And, you know, my horse doesn’t like traveling long distances, especially in the cold. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

But a few weeks ago, the YMCA opened a new location a half-mile from the house. Worse yet, it’s right on the way to work. And it’s open ALL DAY. I’m starting to think I’ve run out of viable excuses. So, a couple of days ago, I took the plunge and got us signed up. My wife and I both. As luck would have it, it’s right on the way to every store she visits. Now we both have to go.

I had my first workout the day we signed up. Whatever your goal, or your taste in exercise, they’ve got you covered. Well, everything you can do in public, anyway. And as I looked around at all the equipment and facilities, it occurred to me that there’s no way I’ll ever get it all done. So, you have to pick and choose. You have to find something that will help accomplish your goal.

And, I think that’s one of the most important parts of any exercise program. You have to start with a goal. What are you trying to accomplish? If it’s just weight loss, they’ve got a routine for that. If you want to strengthen and tone as you go, there are exercises for that. And if you just want to be able to grunt and throw around really heavy weights, well … there’s a gym down the street.

For most of us, knowing how to accomplish those goals is a challenge. If you just go into a gym and watch what everybody else is doing, you’re not working on your goals – you’re working on theirs. Exercise programs need to be tailored to your specific condition and your specific needs. Walking is good for everybody. But a treadmill is just a little too much impact for my lower back. At least now.

You could work with a trainer, even just long enough to figure out how to use certain machines correctly. But, be careful because trainers are like those leftovers in the back of your refrigerator … some are a lot better than others. There are lots of books you could read, or you can just surf the internet and get the information for free.

And, believe me, the internet is loaded with info. I was looking for specific exercises to help reduce the size of my … you know, mammaries. I think that’s the technical term. And you know how Google reads what you’ve typed so far and suggests some options? Well, when I typed in “Getting ride of mo …” the first thing that popped up was “Getting rid of moobs?” Seriously? Do they have a camera or something? Like nobody out there is trying to get rid of mosquitoes? Thanks!

The point is, do a little research. Talk to people, read, surf the internet, whatever it takes. Because the same machine one person uses to slim down will help another to bulk up. And it’s critical to do the exercises correctly. Form comes first, then you can work on being macho.

We all need to exercise. And, with very few exceptions, we all need to exercise a lot more than we do now. Start with a goal – know what you’re trying to accomplish, and why. Then take a little time to find out the best (and safest) ways to accomplish that goal. Start easy and build up. It’s not a race. And don’t try to keep up with the person next to you. Just keep up with yourself.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Your ‘Wagon’ is Right Where You Parked It

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is starting off just right.

When I saw my surgeon a couple of weeks ago, he told me I can start exercising again. By that, I think he meant something other than lifting food to my mouth. I’ve always done pretty well with that. He told me to ease back into it, which is no problem at all. I’ve learned over the years that exercise isn’t something you just jump right into. Unless you like pain.

I went a couple of times, and already my lower back is making me pay for it. I didn’t do anything intense, but apparently what I did do was a little too much. You see, extra weight and back problems never play nicely together. You have to lose the weight to make your back feel better, but exercise kills your back. It’s the proverbial Catch-22.

So, I’ve resigned myself to the fact that, at least initially, I have to do exercises where my back is fully supported. And I’m pretty sure my recliner isn’t part of the solution. That means I have to find a way to sit comfortably while I make myself sweat. Maybe a chaise lounge chair on a sunny beach? It could work!

As luck would have it, they just built a brand-new YMCA a half-mile from home, so I went in the other night for a tour. It’s pretty impressive. Two gymnasiums, two pools (one for warm-water therapy), an overhead walking track, and a huge workout room with every type of exercise apparatus known to man. Some of them are even motorized. Now, that’s my kind of exercise!

But what struck me the most was how many people were there. The place was packed. There wasn’t a treadmill to be found, and I know those basketball teams had a lot more than five players on the court. My tour guide told me it’s like that in the early evening. She also said it’s a new facility, so everyone wants to be there. For now.

Finally, I asked her if she thinks a lot of that is what we call the “resolution crowd.” You know, people who make a New Year’s resolution to lose weight, and then hit the gym every day through January and the first week or two of February. After that, you never see most of them again. Kinda like the crowd in church on Easter Sunday. She replied, “Oh, yeah!”

Granted, nobody wants to go to the gym when it’s so packed you can’t move. But, on the other hand, I’d really like to think the majority of those people will stick with it. I used to go into the gym the first week of January, see all the new faces, and say a prayer that they’d keep coming. Maybe all that praying is why they stopped. Guess I should have kept it to myself.

And the important thing is, they made the effort. I have to believe people who start working toward a goal and fall off the wagon are at least able to remember why they started it in the first place, then dust themselves off and climb back on. I say that because I’m one of them. I’m great at starting projects. It’s just the follow-through that gives me trouble.

Still, with very few exceptions, we can always start again. We can get back to the gym or get back to that healthy diet. We can finish painting the basement or clean out the garage. We can write that book, build that business, or climb that mountain. Whatever it was we started and stopped (or never quite started in the first place), we can go back and finish it.

As long as we’re breathing, we’re never completely out of the game. Granted, there are things I can’t do at this age and physical condition that I wish I could do. But I can improve my physical condition to make some of them a little more possible. I may never run a marathon, but maybe someday I can walk one. Sometimes we have to tweak our goals, but we should never just let them die.

Exercise is like a lot of other things in life. When you haven’t been doing it for a long time, you need to ease back into it and find your sweet spot. Too much too fast can cause some serious problems. And, like exercise, you can ease your way back into anything else you’ve started and let slide. The goal is still there, and the path to success hasn’t really changed. You just need to get back on track.

You never truly fail until you stop trying. And, as I’ve always said, better late than never. If there’s something you want, no matter how many times you’ve tried before, keep on trying. You’ll get there.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

But the Label Said ‘Low Fat’!

What have you got planned for the weekend? I hope you’ll get out and do something really fun, or at least find some time to cuddle by the fire. Looks like that cuddling thing may be our best bet because, if the weatherman is right, we’re in for a brutal weekend. Snow, ice, and sub-zero temperatures. Lovely.

For most of us, it also means a trip to the grocery store to re-stock all those healthy alternatives we’ve been consuming all year. Yeah, there may have been just a note of sarcasm in that. I think most of us go in with good intentions. Yet, when we get home, we can never seem to find all those good things we’d intended to pick up. The store must have been hiding them in the back.

I read an article yesterday that said eating healthier is the number one New Year’s resolution each year. And I read a couple of others that suggested exercising more and losing weight were at the top of the list. I guess it just depends who you ask. But it’s pretty evident that health and fitness weigh heavily (no pun intended) on our minds.

If that’s the case, why is obesity such a problem in this country? According to the Centers for Disease Control, an average of 39.8% of adults in the United States are obese. Not chubby, not overweight, but obese. And, the problem becomes more prevalent as we get older. So, not only are we big already, we’re getting bigger.

Ask your doctor about losing weight, and the first thing they’ll talk about is diet and exercise. If you’re looking for the silver bullet that’ll make the pounds magically disappear, that’s as good as it gets. Granted, some people opt for surgery, and in some cases that may be the appropriate treatment. But, regardless of how we lose weight, unless we change our habits, it’ll come right back.

And that all begins at the dinner table. Nutritionists suggest we spend most of our time in the grocery store on the outer perimeter of the store. That’s where you’ll find fresh produce, lean meats (and some not so lean meats), seafood, and dairy products. It’s also where you’ll find the bakery, so be careful. You might want to skip that section altogether.

But, aside from a few healthy products like beans and whole grains, the middle of the store is where you find all the junk that got us in this shape to begin with. Unless you get all your meals from a fast-food restaurant, in which case we need to have an entirely different conversation.

There are exceptions to every rule, and stores have learned to mix in some of the good stuff with all that other junk, because one of marketing’s best-known secrets is that if you can get a customer in front of a product, you have a better chance of selling it. If the sign over the aisle said “Junk food” we’d walk right on past. So, they mix in a couple of good things to get you on that aisle.

Be careful of deceptive packaging as well. Low-fat usually means extra sugar. Sugar-free means they’ve added a bunch of other stuff you don’t want. And don’t even get me started on terms such as “light”, “healthy”, or “reduced calorie.” Read the labels, and then compare them to the full-bodied stuff. You’ll probably find one is just about as bad as the other.

And here’s another suggestion – when you read the labels, look for words you can’t pronounce or that don’t look like anything that comes from a farm. If those words dominate the list of ingredients, you may want to pass. Also, ingredients are listed in order of magnitude – the first thing you see is the primary ingredient, usually flour or sugar. Something to keep in mind.

It’s no secret that obesity is a leading cause of health problems. If we want to improve our health, we need to maintain a healthy weight. But it doesn’t end there. To achieve optimal health, we have to give our body more of the nutrients it needs and a lot less of the rest. That all begins with the food we eat. Supplements help fill in the gaps, but a handful of vitamins and a Big Mac won’t cut it.

So, if you’ve resolved to lose some weight or improve your health, pay attention to what you’re bringing home from the store this weekend. Eating healthier isn’t hard and, contrary to what some will say, it’s no more expensive. It’s just a matter of making healthy choices. You already know what you need to do – just do it.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

Checked Your Belt Lately?

I had to buy a new belt yesterday. Normally, that wouldn’t be worthy of mention, but in this case, it wasn’t to make a fashion statement or even because the old one was just worn out. It broke. As I was putting it on, tugging against one side to embed the waistband of my pants deep into my belly, the largest metal piece of the buckle broke. Guess it had enough.

It was only a matter of time. When you take something that’s only meant to hold your pants up and put enough force on it to lift a railroad car, sooner or later it’ll snap. And that’s about what it takes to keep these pants up. I think maybe the gods are trying to tell me something.

You see, I carry all of my weight in my belly. According to health experts, that’s not a good thing. And because of that, I have two choices – I can wear my pants lower than a teenage boy on date night or wear my belt so tight it cuts off my spleen. Because, once my pants slip down past the middle of my belly, the laws of gravity take over. It’s really embarrassing in church.

So, I combined my trip to Belts R Us and stopped by the gym on the way home. Between lower back issues and that pesky brain surgery, it’s been a few months. And it shows. But I was a good boy and waited till the doc gave me the okay. He said to start easy, which isn’t a problem for me. Truly, I think he’s afraid of all that pressure from my midsection pushing against my brain.

Weight loss is never an easy thing, especially when you get to this age and you’ve been carrying it around for thirty years. I read an article a few years ago that said, once your body builds fat cells, they never go away. You can empty them out, but like politicians and the IRS, they’re always holding their hand out for more.

It doesn’t help that we’ve seen these reality shows where people lose up to 100 pounds in a few months. And it sets a very unrealistic expectation that, if you do things right, rapid weight loss is the natural result. Also, for the duration of the contest, these people spend their lives under the constant supervision of doctors and nutritionists, exercising several hours a day.

Even then, according to a study reported in the New York times, within a couple of years the overwhelming majority of contestants gained back most, if not all, the weight they had lost. In fact, some weighed even more. Care to guess why the show is off the air? Maybe it’s because they didn’t want to face a ten-year reunion show.

I feel for anybody who’s trying to lose weight. It’s hard, and we live in a world that is increasingly detrimental to those of us with the fat gene. First of all, finding a healthy meal, even at home, is getting harder by the day. Go out, and all bets are off. More often than not, one plate of restaurant food contains a whole day’s worth of fat and calories, with little or no nutritional value.

And, to reward us for our weakness, we have clothing stores and the airline industry. Even if you can find a pair of pants big enough, there’s no way you can squeeze them into the coach seat on an airliner. And they won’t upgrade you to first class just because you’re fat. The best they’ll do is hand you a seat belt extension in full view of all the other passengers to humiliate you even more.

Okay, we’ve had some fun here, but the reality is, obesity is a huge (no pun intended) problem in this country. Beyond broken belts and embarrassing moments, it’s slowly becoming a leading cause of premature death. And we can’t count on corporate America to make it any better. After all, the fatter we are, the more belts they can sell.

We’ve talked before about diets and weight loss, and there are no easy answers. But I believe if you talk to your doctor, get some exercise, and follow a sensible diet that consists of healthy alternatives, it’s not that hard. It’s all about taking in fewer calories, getting optimal value from those calories, and increasing our metabolism through both nutrition and activity.

Many of us will struggle with weight the rest of our lives. But, like any struggle, it’s possible to maintain the upper hand. We just have to be sensible, set realistic goals, and find something we can live with for the long haul. Slow and steady wins the race. Seems I’ve heard that somewhere before.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!