Allow Me To “Weigh” In On Your Fitness…

Time is a fleeting thing. It’s the one commodity that humanity can’t create or make more of, so when we run short of time it tends to be firmly and distinctly out of our control. But despite that fact, the amount of time we have in a day is fixed. So one would be inclined to think that we would plan and organize our day based on that fact. At least in regards to most people’s fitness routine, this is rarely the case.

“I don’t have the time…” This has to be, hands down, my favourite excuse. And my most hated one. And it is an excuse, because no matter how hectic your day may be, no matter how busy your schedule, there is ALWAYS a small period of time somewhere in your day that will allow you to work on your fitness. Wake up five minutes earlier in the morning and hammer out ten push-ups, ten sit-ups and twenty five jumping jacks. That’s it! Start with that. Granted, that won’t get you ripped like some of the athletes you may see on television, but it will jump start your day, encourage and increase blood flow, get your metabolism started and help you through the rigours of your day.

I was visited by an old friend recently, one who works in the same field as I do. It was an unexpected visit and I hadn’t seen him in months going on a year’s time. We stepped down to my basement where I have an open area I use as an at-home dojo/workout area. I sat down on a futon that sort of slants downward towards the backrest. It’s only moderately comfortable and sometimes requires effort to get off of.

I will freely admit that a person’s weight can be attributed to a number of different factors and is rarely ever the first thing I notice on someone. But considering that my friend looked markedly different than he had months prior made it a difficult fact to overlook. He and I took one look at the futon and both realized simultaneously that if he sat in that thing he wouldn’t be able to get up from it unassisted. He opted instead to have a seat on the solid weight bench I had placed next to the couch. The back was raised at better than 45 degrees and made an adequate alternative. As he sat, his gut bulged out from between his items of clothing. His breathing seemed slightly laboured and his pants appeared to be strangling parts of a man that should never be strangled (if you get my meaning).

It was heartbreaking. This man had done karate with me in his teens, back in New Brunswick. He had played hockey, golf and spent summers camping and kayaking. He took stock of his positioning and realized he could breath easier if he sat back and relieved the pressure on his abdomen.

I have this personal policy about never asking someone about their weight and/or fitness unless they ask, but considering I’ve known this guy for most of his life, I felt I needed to offer some advice. I asked him what he had been doing with himself in recent months. He replied by telling me about his work schedule, time spent camping with his family and what game his favourite hockey team was in.

I let him go on for a few minutes and when he was done, I said, “I think you know that’s not what I mean… What have you been doing to get yourself into shape?” The fact I said “get into shape” and not “to keep in shape” was not lost on him, and he cast his eyes downward to the floor. I told him that my intention wasn’t to make him feel bad or shame him, but considering his line of work, being in good, fit physical condition was rather important. He essentially explained that he worked long shifts and that when he got home, he just wanted to crash on the couch and do nothing; a feeling that as a Type 1 Diabetic, I know all too well. He also explained that while home, he contributed his time to his significant other and he didn’t feel he had time to workout. Boy, what a self-destructive way to think…

Folks, there will always be something getting in the way of proper fitness. Especially if you let it! Whether it’s your work, your family or just sheer fatigue, something will ALWAYS be there to prevent you from achieving the fitness level you need. Not necessarily the fitness level you want, but the one you NEED! You gotta move, folks! You can eat twenty pounds of kale a week, and I promise you that your health will still falter if you don’t get yourself off the couch and get moving!

Remember the formula I’ve blogged about in previous posts: everything living has some form of movement. Movement creates energy. Energy sustains life. You can’t have one without the others. There are days that my Diabetes has me so exhausted I have difficulty getting myself off the bed. When blood sugars run rampant and adjustments have to be made, all I want to do is curl into a tight little ball and go to sleep. But giving myself that extra little push of determination, I’m able to make my way to the scheduled karate class, or lift some weights, or bring my son around the neighbourhood on the bicycle.

The trick is to understand that fatigue and pain are temporary. But a faltered health that jeopardizes your health and overall life may be quite a bit more difficult to come back from. Most people think that once they get in shape, their work is done. Nothing could be further from the truth. Ultimately, it’s not enough to reach a certain level of fitness; you also have to maintain it. And in order to do that, you need to get off the couch and get at something. You can still watch your hockey game, but maybe do it on a stationary bike or with some free weights. Get your kids and your spouse involved! Speaking from experience, my wife has hammered through a number of workouts with me. She’s a trooper! And of course, my son mimics every little thing he sees me do, so that part is usually easy.

Make a start. That’s it, just start! There are tons of “body weight only” workouts on the web that you can download, so buying equipment and weights isn’t even necessary. As my brother in law has often said, “why put off until tomorrow the workout you could do today.”

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I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

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