On June 13, 2013 the debate going on in my head was whether or not it would be appropriate to make my first trip to the gym in about 12 years. The question stemmed from the fact that on June 13, 2007 my father passed away and I wondered if I should do something more somber to recognize the date or do nothing at all and just go home for the night. I came to the conclusion, one that everyone I spoke with agreed with, that to embark on a journey to improve my physical health would be something that would not only be appropriate but in some ways even honor the day. Subsequently one year ago tomorrow I began my work out routine and simultaneously changed around my diet and in turn my entire life.
As I sit on here on day 365 I am 40 lbs lighter than the 206 pounds I weighed in at back then. One day recently in the gym, one of my “brothers in iron” as I am told we are called, a term for people who see each other regularly in the gym and become friendly, gave me a 40 lb. weight and just told me to hold it. “That is what you no longer carry around in your body” he said to and gave me a thumbs-up. I was stunned by the force of the weight and wondered how my body ever handled such an extreme burden. I then did what anyone who had learned what I had over the course of a year would do. I put down the weight, thanked him, and went back to working out.
There is a reason it is called “working” out. It requires an extra effort not everyone is able to do or wishes to do. I make that statement with zero judgment attached, fully aware of the fact that I did not make that effort till I was 51 and alarmed by the amount of 51 year olds suffering from or dying from heart ailments. I am also cognizant of the fact that life sometimes doesn’t allow people the luxury of the time I have had available to institute my routine. But to those who can make it happen there are a few hints I wish to give you and words of encouragement I wish to provide.
Ideally the health routine is a three-pronged process. The three things are diet, exercise, and rest. There are many people who do not feel they have or truly do not have the time for exercise or rest. To those I offer you some good news. If you have to choose only one of the three, the most important one is without question, diet. It is nothing new to say that a good diet is not about eating less but eating better. I am, thank God, never hungry. I eat regularly. I just eat primarily healthy. I won’t bore you with my actual daily menu, but I will say that for those who really wish to eat healthy, there are multiple sources online to provide you with enough information to allow you to structure a way of eating that will allow you to be healthier while not starving yourself and still enjoying your meals. And for those who want the occasional binge with family or friends I will share with you the rule I live by. It is not what you do 5% of the time that matters, it’s what you do 95% of the time that matters.
Yes it is nice when the cute barista working at Starbucks comments on how much weight I lost, and a woman I work with tells me I’ve become better looking, but I can honestly tell you that I am doing this primarily for two reasons. The first is to increase my chances of living a longer healthier life, and the second is to feel better on a daily basis. Although there are no guarantees and regardless of what someone does the body does break down as you age, I am doing all I can do to increase my chances of living longer. And although I don’t always feel great, I usually feel better than I ever did before I started this routine. When I eat my grilled fish and quinoa for dinner and work out in the gym I do indeed feel a lot better than I did when I ate Fettuccini Alfredo and went home and had a bag of potato chips and a soda in front of the TV.
It’s about quality of life. And although there are so many things in life we can’t control, taking care of our bodies is something we can control. I sit here not thinking I am better than someone who doesn’t, but rather to let them know that the effort, no matter how hard it is in the beginning, is worth it. It is one of the best things you can ever do for yourself. And if it is something you truly wish to do, no one can stop you from doing it other than yourself. You look better, you feel better, and have a better shot at doing both for more years. We like what we like and always justify it by saying it makes us feel good, and it often does. I am here to tell you that when you treat your body better it feels even better. Why not go for it?