18 January 2012

You Are A Girly Man

That's right. I said you.

YOU are, in the wise words of the iron-god himself, ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, a Girly Man/Woman! Especially if you are like so many writers/artists/free spirits out there.

Weight lifting? Please. Running? You're kidding, right? Simple calisthenics? Is that a LOLCAT thing?

If there's something I can't stand it is the (primarily) American virtue to make excuses as to why not to workout.
"I don't have time."
"I'm too tired."
"It's too hard."
"I don't want to get big muscles."

Buck up, buttercup!

Note: there ARE people with real life physical problems that preclude them from exercising. I AM NOT ATTACKING THOSE PEOPLE. I feel for you. It sucks, especially when you like to be active and things like asthma hold you back.

But even then, I go to the gym and there are guys with crutches, casts, and even one guy in a wheel chair, who still make it to the gym and get their lift on. And what about all those guys and gals who have lost limbs that still stay fit in spite of their missing body part? They overcome adversity, soreness, pain, and fatigue to pump iron the way our iron-crushing deity deemed right.
Even if it's walking on the treadmill for 45min each day, at least that is something.

Exercise is important to me. I want to be healthy. And when I workout and lift heavy or have a long, hard run I feel AMAZING. The adrenaline is pumping, and I feel like I'm on top of the world.

Exercising has always been big for me. I guess it started in middle school when I watched Dragon Ball Z.

That's right, Dragonball Z.

Goku, Vageta, Gohan, and all of the other characters were ripped. Every time they training they pushed themselves to the limit. I remember the episode where Vegeta trains in the Capsule with 300x Earth gravity. He felt pain. He was tired. But he kept pushing himself to be the best.

And it rubbed off on me. As a young teen each of my workout sessions were full of visions of Vageta egging me on. (Strange, I know, but it motivated me) I COULD lift five more pounds. I COULD do two more repetitions. I COULD run ten more minutes.

This continued when I got into Battletech. The Clans are comprised of genetically grown and enhanced warriors of different phenotypes, and all of them are meant to be stronger, faster, and smarter than the average human being. My favorite: the elementals. These 8ft+ infantry warriors were the strongest physically, and many of the Battletech novels that have elementals in them described their workouts and the stresses they went through. It was very motivating for me.

Nowadays this still drives me a bit. Warhammer 40K's Space Marines add to this ideal.

But these days I focus more on improving myself in order to be a better individual and stay healthy rather than trying to attain unrealistic goals (I will never be able to operate well on less an hour of sleep a night like the Adeptus Astartes). And I want to look good. I want to feel good about myself.

I admit I did slide off at one point and became fat. I felt awful about myself. I was depressed. I was weak.
And I never want to go back to that. (So. . .I might have a few issues)

A lot of my friends are into exercise, too, and we keep one another motivated. It's become a social thing for me, too.

So, now, allow me to address each excuse I listed above:

"I don't have time" - This is a lie. How much do you just sit and watch TV? How much time do you spend sitting at the computer surfing the internet pointlessly? I do it all the time! Here's a suggestion: during each commercial break MUTE the TV and know out 10-20 push ups and 10-20 sit ups. If you watch TV for two hours you could probably work up to 200 push ups and sit ups! See, is it really that hard?
Here's another suggestion: After dinner, instead of just sitting on the couch and watching TV, go for a walk with family/friends. It helps digestion and burns calories. Again, not so hard.

"I'm too tired." - Some of that tiredness is probably your body not getting enough exercise, and so you fatigue so much faster. Yes, at first exercising will hurt. You will be sore and tight. That's because you are working muscles that haven't been worked hard in ways they've rarely, if ever, been worked. It takes getting used to. But the benefit is worth it. And, after a while, you stop being so sore tired and you have MORE energy.

"It's too hard." - If you keep telling yourself that then yes, it will be. Take a more positive approach that will help you advance yourself. Keep telling yourself, "This is easy." Then believe it. Keep telling yourself, "I can do one more push up," or, "I can go five more minutes on the elliptical." Then do it. That mental part of exercise is all you. You are the only limit to what you can achieve.

"I don't want to get big muscles." - It's not all about getting big muscles for everyone (it is for me, but I'm not everyone). It's about staying healthy. It's about being able to live longer in order to write that fiftieth best-selling novel, or paint that image that captivates the world. Being fit is about taking care of yourself so you can do the things you love and take care of those you care about. You don't need to be an Adonis. You don't need to be like Arnold or The Rock. Just get in healthy shape.

So what can you do?

Here's a simple plan to help you start:
Do three sets of each 15x push ups and 15x sit ups (total 45 push ups, 45 sit ups)
Then, walk/jog/elliptical/bike/run 1 mile.
Do this three days a week (Mon/Wed/Fri OR Tue/Thurs/Sat)

It's simple, it won't kill you starting out of the gate, and in four weeks you'll start feeling a lot better.

Then *gasp!* make a goal to do more! 15 push ups and 15 sit ups too easy? Do three sets of 30 push ups and 30 sit ups. 1 mile a breeze? Do 2 or 3 miles.


Be careful, though. Don't kill yourself the first week and then turn yourself off to exercising completely. Take it slow and build up (over a few months) to bench pressing a car.

Studies have shown that exercise helps prevent serious health problems like heart problems, diabetes, and heart attacks.

The second element of this is eating right.

That's right, Paula Dean's "Ultra-Deep-Fried-Fat-Cakes-With-Sour-Cream-And-Pig-Guts" isn't good for you. Cake, candy, soda, and other sugar and fat filled goodies are very bad for you, especially in excess. When you eat these things and then do zero exercise you gain fat. Fat, in your body, is stored energy that you didn't use.

This can be problematic. You can get injured easier. You can develop health problems. For women it's harder to find lumps in your breasts. Life ends up being shorter (no, the stored up energy will NOT extend your life span).

One of the prime factors of obesity in the USA is our food pyramid. Whomever came up with that thing needs their head checked.

At the base is 6-11 servings of BREAD.

Let's stop there.

Breads, grains, rice, etc. have carbohydrates were are great sources of energy. But they have a TON of energy. The problem: our bodies do not use it all. Our ancestors never ate a lot of grains. Our bodies aren't geared to process it very fast. So those carbs end up in our bodies as stored fat. And then we have to spend HOURS on the treadmill to work them off.

Butts to that.

The rest of the pyramid talks of Fruits, Veggies, Milk Products, Meats, and Fats.

It's wrong.

That's right, that science (that theory) is wrong.

We need to do some rearranging.

So here is the Food Pyramid of Chris Meyer. It's free. No book to buy. No crazy starve-yourself-diet to kill yourself with.

1. Protein - Protein should be 1/3 to 1/2 of your daily intake. Lean protein, preferably. Chicken, Turkey, Fish, canned Tuna (without the mayo), lean Beef. Everything should be skinless. Everything should have the excess fat cut off.  Protein is what your body needs to maintain muscle and the amino acids in meats help your body do what it does. (Very scientific, I know)

2. Fruits and Veggies - THESE are where your carbs should come from. They give you the energy you need, but don't stick around and load on your body. And they are chalk full of vitamins and minerals. Broccoli and spinach (the bagged leafy stuff, not the nasty canned stuff) are my favorite veggies. Iron and calcium. AMAZING for the bod.

3. Milk Products - There's a school of thought out there that says we shouldn't drink milk. I don't 100% agree with that. Milk has protein and calcium and Vitamin D. But drinking 2% or Whole Milk isn't the answer. 1%, or, better yet, Skim, is where it's at. Tastes okay, and gives you everything you need. There's the milk replacements - soy milk, almond milk. Almond milk is alright. Beware of soy milk (or soy anything - more on that later).

4. Breads, Pastas, Rice - BEWARE! And eat sparingly. This is where a lot of our obesity comes from. Too many heavy carbs, and not enough activity to use it all. I suggest grains be eaten 2-3 times a week at most. Just my recommendation. A slice of bread here, a half cup of pasta there. Small. Moderate. NOT A LOT!

5. Fats, Salt - Eat rarely. Once a week maybe. And salt? A pinch at most, maybe in cooking. Our foods are so full of salt these days we get overdosed. Stop using so much. You'd be surprised how good food tastes without it.

A Note About Soy - EVIL! When eaten, soy breaks down in the body as estrogen. Sure, it takes a lot. But think if you ate soy once every day for a year? Men, you will have man boobs and start over thinking the dumbest things (What do you mean we should go to that restaurant? Are you calling me fat?). Women, your mood swings will be even worse than they already are. While soy in VERY small doses is alright, use it sparingly (I don't eat it at all).

The cheat meal - You can't murder yourself with healthiness forever. ONCE a week have ONE cheat meal.
That's right, ONE cheat meal.
Have A slice of cake.
Have A cheeseburger.
Have A big cookie with milk.
Have A meal at McDonald's (although that stuff's nasty as is...).
Have A bowl of Fetuccini Alfredo.

The point of the cheat meal is to reward yourself. You spend the entire week eating right. It's time to relax and have a bit of the good stuff. That way you will crave the bad stuff less.

It's all about self control and moderation.

Here are some great resources to help you on your get-healthy journey:

Arnold's Book "The New Encyclopia of Modern Bodybuilding": http://www.amazon.com/New-Encyclopedia-Modern-Bodybuilding-Updated/dp/0684857219/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1326936266&sr=1-2

Men's Health "Abs Diet Plan": http://www.amazon.com/Abs-Diet-Six-Week-Flatten-Stomach/dp/1579549985/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1326936350&sr=1-1

Crossfit:   http://www.crossfit.com/ 

Bodybuilding.com's Workouts: http://workout.bodybuilding.com/

Until next time. . .

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