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Encouraging Words

I found another great podcast, that has two men getting philosophical about their lives and workouts. Just to tease for a moment, the idea that men are able to get philosophical and introspective is refreshing and surpising. The podcast is called “fitcast“. One of the guys lost 100 lbs, and the other is his trainer. This isn’t one of those- “here is the research on one of these topics” kind of show, it is more musings and thoughts of working out and all of life. Chuck, the man who had lost the weight, made several points I want to touch on here. First, though, I’d like to pass along to those who are not into the gym culture. Gone are the days of the gym being filled with “meatheads” picking up heavy things and dropping them. At it’s heart, resistance training is still picking up heavy things and putting them back down, but the people doing so are much more self aware and articulate about it. Some of the things we do in the gym apply so easily and well to the rest of your life. Set goals, make them small, incremental, measurable and achievable. Keep a log. Do things that fit your goals, but also interest you. Don’t waste time. Stay focused. Refocus every so often. Rest. Review what you are doing every so often to see if it still fits your goals. These lessons learned in the gym can apply to gaining discipline in any area of your life.

Chuck was talking about living an active life in one episode. Not the idea of getting more exercise, but the idea of taking control of your life and being an active participant, rather than a passive one. He said that it started with the idea of logging food-“I can’t do that, it’s too hard, it’s not me, I eat what I eat…”, then he started, it got easier, then it became part of who he was. Then it was sleep, he had trouble with that. He started with the same excuses, and made the same journey. He then summed it up with his current battle with stress. The reason this has me so interested is that I don’t see any aspect of your life in isolation. Nothing you do happens in a vacuum, and everything you do affects everything you do. The lessons you learn in one area of your life apply to others.

I spoke about this in an earlier blog, but the whole concept of fitness can be a parable or metaphor for the less tangible parts of your life. You can grasp the discipline it takes to control your eating easier than the discipline to control your thoughts. You can see how taking charge of your body brings visible results, leading you to realize the same can be true of your emotions, finances and interpersonal connections. It is easy to see how even the first baby steps in the right direction lead to positive feelings and results when it comes to eating and exercise and this can give you the confidence to try the same techniques on the rest of your life.

I forget who said it but I remember a quote that said “If you could truly know a leaf, you could understand the universe”. I agree with that idea, since the more I learn about the things, the more interconnected everything is. There are 4 chemicals in your DNA, there are 4 harnesses on my loom. Ok, that last one was a joke. But, that thought popped into my head, since only 4 chemicals make up the unimaginable diversity of life, and the 4 harnesses can make an infinite number of patterns on the loom. Most things are pretty simple at their heart, and only seem complicated from the outside.  If any of you know  the story of the Gordian knot, a king tied this elaborate knot that appeared to have no ends and said if anyone could unravel it he’d get a great prize.  No one could do it. Alexander the Great comes along and slices it off with his sword.  I’m using this as an example of the excuses we put up against change. “If you had the problems I do” “It would be easy if I had your life/body/money/spouse” “I have children/grandchildren/a needy spouse.” Cut through all those and try something against that problem. Set one goal, make a specific, measurable plan to achieve it, write it down, then track your progress. I hate counting. I’m not good at it, my mind loves to wander. However, most everything I love now requires counting. So, I count, and surprise! I’m much better at it than I used to be. If I had said, I’m lousy at counting and there’s nothing I can do about it, then I wouldn’t be able to knit, warp a loom or teach an aerobics class. In fact, anyone who knows me knows the idea of me teaching an aerobics class is hilarious. I don’t have a good sense of rhythm, I’m not musically inclined and there’s that whole counting thing. But here I am. I’m not going to say I’m the greatest at it. I do believe I’m constantly improving. That’s the point. Along the way I lay to rest old bugaboos, prejudices and fears and have a great time while doing so.



I choose to ignore New Years resolutions, and all they entail. Has anyone ever made life changes based on New Years resolutions? However, the temptation to comment is overwhelming, as two of the podcasts that I love, the fitcast and Nutrition Diva, both had excellent articles on the subject.  Why should I repeat what they said? Because no one I know listens to podcasts, in spite of my endless droning on how wonderful they are. I just hope my love of podcasts isn’t like 1980’s era fashions, where we all thought we were so gorgeous and now we say “what were we thinking.”

big hair from the 1980's

"It seemed like a good idea at the time."

In any case, people I listen to and respect are all over the topic of New Years resolutions, and if I can’t make you listen to them, I’ll repeat what they said and get you that way. This is a broad distillation of their words, based on memory. (No comments from the peanut gallery!)

The first point is to start small, but start. If your goal is to lose weight, just by switching from half and half to milk in your coffee, you can lose 5 lbs in a year. Anything is better than nothing. Don’t set grandiose goals, like losing 25 lbs by Easter. We, as humans tend towards “all or nothing”, so if you aren’t on track by February, you’ll probably quit altogether. Make and stick to goals of changing your life, not in achieving results. The results come from sticking to the efforts.

Second, be specific. Don’t say “I want to exercise more.”  That doesn’t mean anything. Say “I’m going to go to the gym on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 5:30 -6:30.  Wishes don’t get anything done, plans do.

Be positive.  Quitting smoking is tough. Taking something away does not feel good. Replace it with a positive. Put something in the cigarette hole. (no, nothing like a pie hole.) Rather, treat yourself to supplies for your favorite hobby. Save the cigarette money for a vacation.

As alluded to before, focus on the process, not the results. Results may come and go. If you stick with the process, overall you’ll get where you are going. I tried quitting smoking dozens (hundreds) of times before I succeeded. I got better at quitting at every attempt.

I think one of your resolutions should be to try one new podcast this year. You don’t need an I pod, you can use any mp3 player or even listen on the websites. You can throw this in my face in 30 years, when this advice seems hopelessly dated.


Pod casts

How could I forget podcasts yesterday when delineating what topics will be in this blog? I LOVE podcasts. The reasons are many, but you have the combination of portability, privacy, and choice. Of course, this overlaps with my love of my ipod.  Music has never been a great love of mine, although I do enjoy it much more since getting the ipod. Podcasts provide so much entertainment and information. The variety that is available is astounding. Stories, news, information, entertainment, it’s all there. Every hobby I have, there is someone out there podcasting about it.  Karate? Practical Defense. Nutrition? The nutrition Diva. I have three for fitness, I don’t have a Christian one right now, since Albert Mohler quit, but I’ll find one I like. I will try and link all my favorites, but they are also on I tunes, where I found them.

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