Sunday, November 15, 2009

Overview of My Thoughts on Health

“To wish to be well is a part of becoming well.”~Seneca

As I stated in the introduction, there is no easy fix. Although I would love to tell you that you can sit around eating ice cream and Big Macs and still lose weight, it is not going to happen. As a matter of fact, the idea of eating most of that stuff now grosses me out. I will explain why later.

It is hard work. I often sweat until I can feel the salt crust form on my face and I can pick salt pieces off of my cheeks, forehead, and eyebrows. Yes, gross. I am sore almost every day from over-exerting my muscles past their current limits. Just when I start to feel better (usually on the second day after exercise), it is time to do it again. When I am not sore, I am jittery. This is because my muscles are still in shock and have not had time to become sore yet. Although I never threw up, I hear it is common during and after exercise. I’ve had joint problems that I never thought I would have until I was collecting my social security check (which is ‘never’ for my generation). You get the idea.

So why do I do it? Because it is worth it. I feel so much better now physically (it does get easier, but it takes a long, long time). I can climb, no, run up the three flights of stairs at my work and not feel winded while 19 year-olds next to me look like they are going to pass out from loss of breath as I pass them. I can play with my kids and not have to take a break after five minutes.

I also feel better mentally. I am not tired or mentally exhausted as much as I used to (though I still often am). I get more things done in the day because I have better focus and concentration. I think quicker on my feet, and seem to have better reading comprehension. There is evidence that exercise increases blood flow to the brain, so it makes you smarter in ways that I have not described here.

Maybe most importantly, I feel better about myself. I have always had fairly low self-esteem, and not being fit helped contribute to my poor body-image. I wouldn’t say I am vain and self-centered now, but I feel I have a better attitude about myself and life in general. There is evidence that exercise increases endorphins levels giving a natural high which helps one maintain a positive outlook and sense of happiness.

It took me about a year of ambitious focus, discipline, and attentiveness to accomplish my goals, so the changes I went through did not happen overnight. It was demanding and exhausting work. But as I stated, I am ecstatic about the results and know that anyone can do it. I hope I did not scare anyone away with my honesty above. I think capitalist society always makes us think that, by spending a few dollars, there is an immediate fix that we will see tomorrow whether that is a pill, liposuction, or stomach tightening. The problem with all of those, even if they did work which I am not sure they do, is that it does not change your habits or your lifestyle. You will go back to doing what you did before you got liposuction or took the pill and end up in the same position later with all of the adverse health consequences of surgery or experimental pills such as Metabolife/Ephedra which causes artificially and dangerously elevated heart rhythms and blood pressure.

I think most people know these things and have heard them before, but sometimes it takes a friend or relative (not a TV commercial) to say, “Hey, look at me! I’m a real-world example and going down this path works.” It can work for you too, if you are willing to put in the effort. Good luck!

In the next post, I will explain the basics of weight loss.

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