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Health and Fitness

Health and Fatness Evolution through Mild Revolution

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People ask if I ever skip my workouts or stray from my diet. They want to know why and how I keep up my rigid training regimen; I mean there’s more to life, after all. Yeah, I know that, I say. Usually the enquiring mind is housed in a body that is sinking with gravity and spreading in the bottom to meet more efficiently his or her swivel chair’s cushioned surface. I enjoy lifting weights and non-nutritious foods don’t interest me. My answer, the truth, puzzles them.

They’ve tried it before, they tell me, and never felt better. They quit eventually -- job, kids, time -- and here they are again, sitting and wondering and asking with a round smiley-face dotted with searching eyes.

I’m at that place in my training where I don’t feel anxious, behind schedule with a need to catch up, guilty for not having maintained my exercise and eating habits, or down on myself because I’ll never get it right. My training goals have been met for now, today. It’s summer, and my heart’s desire is to count each day; hold it, stroke it and share it with a friend before I let it go. The gym and my workouts are integrated with the latter passions and therefore well attended. I don’t plan to push my lifting or strive to reach new heights; that will happen naturally in the course of embracing the days.

You ought to get back to the gym, I suggest to my dear friends; you know the ropes. They always agree, but quickly point out the time it takes each day and the months it takes each year to get in condition -- an unbearable burden upon sloping shoulders. They actually begin to suffer before my gaze. Their eyes dart from wall to ceiling, they fidget with their keys, wallet, purse or buttons. The important thing to remember, I remind them, is the good feeling you have all over when you are amid uplifting people, exercise and sound eating habits. Why, you’re a foot off the ground, strong, energized and full of spirit, vibrant and motivated. Well worth the time invested, don’t you think? And that’s just the beginning; your whole life is enriched and enriching.

Ah, I don’t know, they squirm; the kids and school and work and traffic and the people, the dog, the cat and the bats in the belfry... terrorists and nuclear waste and elections. By now they’re a mess, sweating, shirt’s unbuttoned, hair’s looking like Don King. I don’t know, they offer more; my mom’s dad’s cousin on his sister’s side had a heart murmur when he was nine... his wife drinks... I might have a genetic predisposition. One thing is certain, I note without comment, you do have a predisposition: to procrastination, fear, doubt, timidness, evasion, ignorance and indolence.

I have a rebuttal for each of their reasons -- pitiful, shameless excuses -- for deferring, postponing or otherwise ignoring their health and fitness attainment through exercise and right eating. However, to make my point I would lose a friend and gain a rival and my chance for future encouraging conversations would be highly compromised -- that is, stomped, shredded, mangled and torched, sunk, blasted, battered and devastated.

Responding to any persuasion to pick up the fitness ball and run, unfortunately, is neither certain nor immediate and is achieved only over time (which is lost time) and when the out-of-shape condition is substantial (like out of control). How painful it is to watch someone deteriorate before your eyes. Have you seen it? Of course you have. Your friend or your client or your co-worker needs to act; it’s become noticeable, and the time is here and now. But it’s not exactly... um, desperately pressing (life or death) at the moment, it can wait. Neither a coma or rigor mortise has yet to set in. The ostrich sinks its head deeper in the sand while time, eating and inactivity continue. Big bird at work!

The outcome is easy to imagine, utterly predictable and as obvious as pigeon dodo on one’s windshield. A year goes by, more fat is gained, more muscle is lost, strength, energy and endurance evaporate and the spirits, the attitude and personality grow green and slippery at the edges. Bad habits are established and accepted. Rather than develop, the person diminishes over the year. Yes, achievement is evident in certain expressions of their life, but those that assure health and longevity and real joy have been abysmally neglected.

Been here before, haven’t we? Obesity has made headlines again. Swell. The word “fat” is loose on the lips. I wonder (I think we’re all wondering), will real changes come about with the mounting focus on the human being's grave state of physical fitness -- that is, lack of physical fitness -- obesity and its related killer diseases? The toll these weaknesses and flaws are taking on our whole being is devastating. The resulting dysfunction, lack of control, guilt, embarrassment, discomfort, physical limitations, potential employment restrictions, sky rocketing hospital costs and exorbitant insurance premiums are enough to paralyze us in a hundred ways. It’s a big industry and must not be cultivated as a business for profit, but as a legitimate personal and national concern (world tragedy), a catastrophe. We don’t need to further exploit the associated wretched diseases, where “big bucks” are the motive, and the marketers are the only winners. We must start caring before we are consumed by our own appetites and greed, gluttony and stupidity.

I’m hopeful. We can fix this mess, it’s controllable. I’m looking for a sort of social evolution, through a mild fitness revolution. We need honest, humble and devoted responsibility to our nations of peoples via the elected governments, of, by and for the people. We need uncompromised and comprehensive physical education and food education in schools, and the elimination of junk food, sugar foods and soda pop in their cafeterias. We need personal responsibility in caring for our selves and those we directly guide and effect.

People who exercise and eat right demonstrate personal care and discipline, and are generally healthier in mind and spirit as well as body. These are rare and wonderful qualities upon which to build greatness. A wholesome balance in one’s life should be sought, naturally and logically, and the message -- a welcome, long-overdue reminder -- is getting out there. Television, the boob tube, has a chance to redeem itself and stand up for our betterment and development (that’s a novel idea), not just our entertainment, indoctrination and purchase manipulation. It works, the word spreads like the miles of broadband. In time and with repetition and the notion that fitness is cool, we just might see fat fade, and health and strength come into clear focus and sharp contrast. We can dream.

Asking mankind to exercise and eat right is a not unlike asking him to be moral and practice respect, to stop hitting, hurting, stealing and cheating. We offer freedom and freedom offers choice; choice often spoils. Exploitation is a choice. Instead of plans for health and goodness, we might see fat-loss marathons sponsored by Coors on ESPN, Mr. and Ms. Joe and Jane Average Body competition on cable (Victoria’s Secret), Fitness Island Reality TV on primetime (McDonald’s) and Watch Bill Shrink on MTV (Coca Cola). It’s a crooked path we follow, too often suited to our wandering ways.

It’s up to us -- the sturdy and self-sacrificing -- to spread the right word and the good news. Next time you talk to your office manager who has three beers at lunch with his pizza and breathes heavily after a trip to the water cooler six feet from his desk, or an acquaintance in the church choir who is fat and uninformed and can no longer hit the high notes of Amazing Grace, or a stranger on the subway who is smoking and coughing and wheezing and gasping, tell him or her the simple steps to becoming fit, vigorous and shapely: throw out the sugar, no more junk food, soda pop and chips are out, stop snacking, down with stuffing your face, more protein and fewer non-nutritious carbohydrates, Bomber Blend instead of Wheaties for breakfast, less TV and more activity, exercise instead of tranquilize, walk and run and stop stumbling, eat fish -- don’t drink like a fish, say no to drugs and yes to dumbbell incline curls and presses, quit the cigs and join a real gym. They’ll love you for your concern and consideration; they’ll admire your in-depth knowledge and they’ll be grateful for your tender, life-changing advice.

Truth is, it’s true, but you won’t and they wouldn’t. The truth is a puzzle, indeed.

Engage in flight with all of your might. Sing on the wing and roar when you soar, always.

With God's speed... DD

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