Why do we stop, is it too late?

I remember that in my youth I had a myriad of activities every day. I would get up early and run 2 miles with my father in the morning before breakfast.  I would walk to school and in school we had gymnastics, exercise, field and court games.  At recess we would usually play soccer, dodge ball, 4 square, tether ball or football.  I would walk home from school, pretend to do my homework and go outside to play.  Climb trees, fly kits, play more football, go ice-skating, sledding, hide and seek, riding my bike, basically all kind of physical activity.  I ate like a horse and ate just about anything.  Concern over junk food was never an issue, and I never put on weight.  Then along the way, something happened, something changed.

In the beginning of my “carrier” I did a lot of physical activity.  I was designing and building solar systems.  Climbing on roofs, hoisting up solar panels, replacing roofs, ect…  But in addition to all that, I kept a very youthful attitude on life, thanks in part to my long time friendship and business partner (Bob).  We just had not grown up yet.  We would, on the weekends and after work (sometimes when we were supposed to be working) go out and do all kinds of crazy stuff, serious physical activity sports and things we would make up.  As adults (LOL) we would take our childhood fantasies and try to turn them into reality.  For the most part, during all this time, I continued to eat as I pleased, in fact I probably ate more then I ever did in my life, without gaining a lb of fat.  I had the closest thing to a 6 pack that I ever had in my life and wore size 28 jeans.

Somehow, somewhere, down along the line, either by ourselves or through pier pressure, we were pushed into “growing up”.  I stopped the physical work (went in to sales, driving around in a car all day), and ended the play.  It only took a matter of 3 months and I went from 175lbs (the weight I had since high school) to 240 lbs.  I am 6’1″ so I may not have appeared that heavy but that is a drastic increase to my norm.

By the time I reached 35 I was not only out of shape, over weight and too tired all the time to even think about physical activity, but I also was enjoying high blood pressure, diabetes, gout and a back that would constantly go out.  It was at this point that I decided to try and make a change.  Fortunately I was financially in a good position and had an extra building on my property where I was able to build my own gym.  Given my determination at that time, and getting one of my graphic artists to come workout with me in the morning, I was able to get back down to 185 over a single summer and had a lot more energy.  I found my self seeking out new activities and sports and got back into swimming which I really loved as a kid.  Most importantly I looked and felt great.

That renaissance, unfortunately, was short lived.  I went through a divorce, my business was failing and then started a new very long distance relationship.  I was traveling all the time and as I had given up everything to the ex, even my gym.  I quickly blossomed back up to 240lbs and with it came back all the other problems.

At 45 I once again decided to try and take care of myself.  I was living in China at the time and had a gym at my complex.  Money issues were better, family life was good so I started to work out again and got myself down around 198lbs.  Within 2 years business was down again, I moved to Hong Kong, things were in turmoil, an unexpected child, weight back up and all the health problems back again.

Do you see a pattern developing?  I do, and I think it is called, “growing up”.  We see others that we deem successful in life along with all the other things they have, don’t have, are expected to have and or expected not to have.  Have is status, money, houses, cars, ect…  Don’t have is a family life, time for play or exercise.  I know what your thinking, the rich guy spends his time on the beach, ski slopes and polo field.  I am here to tell you, that is not your average “successful” person.  Those people grew up in money or hit the business “Lotto” if you will.  For the majority of us out there, to be successful, even just to get by, means long hours, strenuous work and forsaking a lot of things.

I don’t think I am alone in saying that the reason we want success, the reason we decided to slave so hard in our lives, is to be able to enjoy life.  What kind of life do we have to enjoy if we are over weight, have no energy and with all kinds of problems that press us even farther into our declining cycle of aging.

I think it is fair and honest to state that exercise, (physical activity) is a major key to staying youthful. Everything is compounded to the positive when we are physically fit just as much as it is compounded to the negative when we are not.  So thus begs the questions, “Why do we Stop”?  Somehow, somewhere down along the line do we start to associate play with being childish?  Do we think that exercise is too time consuming or is it because we turn exercise, again, into an adult (boring) activity?  Why can’t we just keep doing the things we like to do, having fun, playing, enjoying our physical activity like we did when we were kids?  It is obvious that doing so would keep us healthy and younger.  I dare to say that choosing to “grow up” is in fact a choice to begin death.

So, now here I am at 51.  I joined a gym 2 years ago and have been working out semi regularly.  I go back and forth, up and down, in my weight and health like a yoyo.  Currently I am around 215lbs, I am starting to have a bit of problem with my blood sugar, my gout is making some signals to me of returning.  Fortunately my blood pressure is lower then it has been since high school but over all I just can’t seem to get it together.  I keep finding excuses for not going to the gym but the real reason, I think, is boredom, lack of true motivation.  I will wake up one morning and say, “This is it, this is the first day of the rest of my life.  I am going to get back down below 200, I am going to get that six pack I never had, I am going to get rid of all my health problems,  I am going to start to enjoy life again”.  But, is it too late.  Has the fat lady, or in my case, the fat man sung?

Its never too late.  I have lost a lot of years but I believe that I can extent my life starting now and improve the quality of it if I can find a way to improve my enjoyment of doing so.  I have to find a way to put fun back into the equation.  Can I just cast off all my notions and life education about what being an adult is?  Not likely.  Well if I can’t just, “be a kid” again, what can I do, what can make physical activity rewarding?  For me I am going to set my goals (not too high), record all that I do to get there and my progress.  My reward should be seeing my goals come to light.  But just in case that is not enough, I will also plan some kind of reward, for myself, each time I can reach a goal.  For example, in my case, if I can get to my goal I will treat myself with a trip to Macau.  Thinking about it, I can have fun to come up with rewards.  Maybe that is a big key, find the fun in the ways we go about our physical activity.  Find things that we can have the time for, things we will enjoy.  Exercise can come in many forms, we don’t just need to pump weights or run on a treadmill.  How about dancing, mountain biking, or sports.  That is something you won’t see every day.  What a sight that would be, a bunch of 50 somethings like me out on a basketball court, football field or playing dodge ball.  But until that stigma can be reversed, at least we can set our goals, make plans for a reward, track our results and most importantly, give ourselves that reward when we reach those goals.

If you have been away from exercise for a long time you will need to start slowly and build up.  But, do not do what I see so many others doing, and have done myself in the past.  Don’t come to the gym, say, “OK, its been a long time, I need to take it easy”.  Then you find yourself sitting on a stationary bicycle or walking on a treadmill in front of a TV screen for an hour and repeating the same day after day.  Not only will you get bored but you will not continue your improvement.  You need to push it, you need to keep upping the anti on your physical activity.  You have taken a long time to get to where you are now and it is going to take a long time to turn things back.  Don’t get impatient and don’t get stuck in a rut of exercise.  Change it up, switch it around and keep pressing for improvement.

Just in case you need a bit more motivation, how about this list of things that exercise can do for you, no matter your age:

Benefits of Exercise in Older Adults

Improves physiologic parameters
(V°O2 max, cardiac output, decreased submaximal rate-pressure product)
Improves blood pressure
Decreases risk of coronary artery disease
Improves congestive heart failure symptoms and decreases hospitalization rate
Improves lipid profile
Diabetes mellitus, type 2
Decreases incidence
Improves glycemic control
Decreases hemoglobin A1C levels
Improves insulin sensitivity
Decreases bone density loss in postmenopausal women
Decreases hip and vertebral fractures
Decreases risk of falling
Improves function
Decreases pain
Neuropsychologic health
Improves quality of sleep
Improves cognitive function
Decreases rates of depression, improves Beck depression scores.
Improves short-term memory
Potential decrease in risk of colon, breast, prostate, rectum
Improves quality of life and decreases fatigue.
Decreases all-cause mortality
Decreases all-cause morbidity
Decreases risk of obesity
Improves symptoms in peripheral vascular occlusive disease

Now stop making excuses (saying this to myself as much as to anyone else) and get out there.
If you would like help in the form of encouragement, suggestions and letting others applaud your results (a great motivator), why not set some goals, plan out your exercise and report it on the forum.  I have started my report there.  As a matter of fact, I am two weeks into my plan and that is part of why I am writing this, to re-motivate myself.  I found that I have again been making excuses for not going to the gym and therefor have not had an real improvement.  But then I read this article which re-motivated me and prompted me to write this article.  By the way, the list of benefits above is from that site.



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