I hate you, Tony Horton . . . but I love you!
If you don’t know who Tony Horton is, that’s okay. He’s cool. You’ll find out more about him later on. He’s been kicking my ass for the last week and will continue to do so for the next 83 days and beyond. If you’re anything like me and are a night owl (and damn cool, to boot!), chances are you’ve seen his informercials for the insanely brutal P90X workout regimen. Before you scoff, “Pfft…a late-night informercial peddler? Can’t be much better than those ‘Set it and…FORGET IT!’ deals,” I’ll tell you this right now – this workout will kick your booty. Hard.
What is it with people and their health and fitness? We are literally the fattest nation on earth. And this definitely isn’t something to be proud of. Back at the turn of the century, no not this century, the one before – 1900, the leading causes of death were from infectious diseases such as influenza, measles, smallpox, diphtheria, to name a few. Now, with the advent of modern medicine and improved vaccination programs, these diseases have either been virtually eradicated or survivable. Today, the leading causes of non-accidental deaths lead off with heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and yes, obesity, just to name a few. What do these causes today have in common? They’re affected by lifestyle choices. True, there are cases where genetics play a role, or some other thing outside of our control has caused these diseases, but the majority of them are a result of the way we live our lives.
Given all the information we have today, all the research, knowledge, experts, etc., why do we continue to get fatter and sicker? Recall my first post – people won’t make the changes they need to make unless the pain of not changing becomes greater than the pain of making the change. We are creatures of habit, we dislike change. Much like the city of Seattle disliking Clay Bennett. Bring back the Sonics! Ok, I digress, but we humans do dislike change. There are gyms everywhere, weight loss products, classes, support groups, nutritionists, dieticians, sports doctors, trainers, personal trainers, aerobic trainers, low fat foods, low sugar foods, low glycemic foods, high protein foods, exercise gizmos, NordiTracs, Total Gyms; I could go on and on, but hopefully you get the point. Despite spending billions of dollars on health and fitness, we still continue to get fatter and sicker. Isn’t it enough to pull your hair out?
It all boils down to just getting off your butt and moving. Right? If only it were that easy.
I’m no psychologist here, and even my PSYCH 101 class didn’t provide enough information on this area, I’ll do my best to explain. Yes, I’ve mentioned pain before. What if there’s no pain anyway? What if you feel as if you’re in decent shape, you are one of the few that work out at least 3 times a week for more than 30 minutes (if this is you, give yourself a pat on the back)? What will motivate you to keep going to the gym, or even just going for a run in your neighborhood, going for a bike ride, going hiking, anything? I couldn’t tell you, but I’ll tell you what motivates me.
As a kid, growing up, I loved playing sports. I played baseball, soccer (even though I never understood the rules of soccer, other than not using your hands), football, track, mountain biking, swimming, and my passion, snow skiing. I loved the competitiveness, and still do today. One of the best jobs I’ve ever had was being a personal trainer in Chicago. The best part of it was the women. Oh yes, and helping educate and motivate people in taking care of their bodies and their health was an important aspect of the job. I have seen far too many people neglect their health and their bodies, and seeing the pain they go through. Not only for them, but the pain their families go through watching a loved one suffer. And the kicker is – it could have been prevented, or at least minimized through a healthy diet and regular exercise.
We’ve all heard the same old “Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly” diatribe over and over that it has become boring and moot. For one thing, every ‘expert’ has a different take on what a healthy diet is, and what exercises should be done; it confuses everyone and their mother. I’ll be the first to tell you – even though I used to be a personal trainer and I love staying active, I’m not fanatical about it at all. In fact, I love those lazy evenings, plopping my butt on the couch to watch a movie. I also have a huge weakness: chocolate. I love all things chocolate. I am far from perfect, I do not have the 4% bodyfat, ripped body that can run a sub-4:00 mile and bench press 315 pounds. In fact, my bodyfat is most likely in the 25-28% range at the moment. Damn holidays. Hence the reason I’m doing Tony Horton’s P90X workout program. And I’m also doing it with a beautiful woman. That makes it pretty enticing, doesn’t it? I’m 5’8”, and currently weigh 193 (just weighed myself now, literally). The heaviest I’ve weighed was 204 and that was a ‘holy s**t!’ moment for me. This was last year, in 2010. I tend to go in cycles, I’ll go through a period of inactivity and I feel like a big, weak blob of lard, so I start working out again until I start feeling awesome. Then I slack off. . .and repeat. This is one of those times where I’m feeling like a fatty and start working out again, and man, let me tell you this: I feel great, even though it has been only a week.
Why am I telling you this? It has been my observation, and in conversations with friends and family, that whenever people start working out and eating right, they do great for a certain period of time until it happens. They break down and eat that chocolate chip cookie. They skip a workout because they’re too tired. Then they feel like they’ve failed, and there’s no point in continuing their healthy eating/workout routine anymore because of the one minor slip up. I slip up all the time, folks. I try to limit myself to one or two dozen chocolate chip cookies a day, but if I wind up eating 3 or 4 dozen, no problem – I just tell myself “Tomorrow’s another day, today I slipped and can start over tomorrow,” and get back on track without the guilt. I haven’t failed because I’m still working out and still trying my best to eat right. If you seriously think I eat that many cookies a day, well, take the ‘dozen’ off and that’s how many I eat. J The majority of the foods I do eat tend to be healthy – low fat, high protein, low glycemic and as minimally processed as possible. I haven’t eaten McDonald’s for years, or Burger King. My wallet has thanked me, and I hope my arteries have, too.
There’s no sense in being fanatical about eating right 100% of the time and sticking to a workout routine 100% of the time – no one is perfect. I’m far from perfect. It is making the effort to watch what you eat and making the effort not to go more than two days without exercising – most of the time, that counts. If you have an off day, suck it up, tomorrow is another day and get back on the wagon. Just don’t make a habit of making every day an off day. That is where you get in trouble and your doctor becomes richer because of your choices.
Next time, my posts will be a little shorter, unless it is a deep topic. The first two are pretty introductory and should give you a brief background of where I stand. Next post will touch on motivation. What motivates you to do something?
Til then, I’m Regular Joe Cool
Regular Joe Cool can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Shoot him an email - he'll think you're cool.