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Left Coast / Right Coast: Push as long as you can, and as hard as you can

Mike Gold living the dream in the Pacific Northwest. Photo credit: Scott Brown.
Mike Gold living the dream in the Pacific Northwest. Photo credit: Scott Brown.

By Mike Gold, A retired entrepreneur living the dream in the Pacific Northwest

Unfortunately, we are not in very good shape as a country. Obesity is a national problem. I can’t tell you how many relatively young children I see while up and about, that are way too heavy.

Now extra weight is very much like those who want to give up smoking. There is the famous line: “It’s not hard giving up smoking, I’ve done it several dozen times.

Being overweight is much the same as smoking. It is a habit. And the longer you have a particular habit, the harder it is to change your behavior.

I once worked with a guy who had very high cholesterol. I have not been in touch with this guy for over 30 years. We would often go to lunch and he would order two Big Macs, a large order of fries, and then a diet coke! I always laughed (but not in his face) about the diet coke. Seemed a bit useless. And yes, he was a good 20 or 30 lbs. overweight.

While we regularly played racquet ball, and he was very good at it, I can’t help but wonder whether he was able to maintain this sport well beyond the approximately 35 years old that he was.

I’ve belonged to a gym back when we lived in Massachusetts, and then when we lived in Boca Raton Florida, then Mill Creek (LA Fitness in town center), and now in Edmonds.

Talk about habits. I’ve just developed the “habit” of going to the gym every day. One thing I’ve noticed is that at the beginning of every year the population of gym users goes up dramatically. Then by the end of January, it trails back off to what I consider “the regulars.” In other words, all the “newbies” simply failed to make daily exercise one of their habits.

When I ask people over the years (especially close friends or relatives) whether they exercise daily, I get what I call the “standard” answers. One is “I’m just too busy to do that.” Another one is “I used to exercise when I was younger – but simply have not kept it up.” Or, ”I have too many aches and pains to do that every day.” (It is intuitively obvious that doing regular exercise is perhaps the best way to get rid of one’s aches and pains). Or very often: “I should get into a regular exercise program.”(Very similar to: “I will or need to or plan to give up smoking.”)

Losing weight, or keeping it off once you’ve lost it, is simply a matter of will. When you might naturally reach for the bag of potato chips while watching TV, simply don’t.

I can tell you that particularly the morning after I play tennis the previous night, I wake up and think: “the very last thing I want to do now is go to the gym.” But I just force myself to get to the gym.

You know what? Working out for 30 minutes or so creates endorphins, which help to get rid of stiff muscles. Plus it creates a “high” which has you feeling well off. Same with the daily walk I take with my wife. Some days if there is drizzle, or wind, my wife does not want to go. I simply insist that it is the best thing we can do for our families. So she complains, but she does go on the walk.

I think I can sum this column up by saying that you never get too old to do an activity. While one may not play tennis at the same level as 30 years earlier, you can play tennis. While you may not drive a golf ball as far as when you were much younger you can comfortably play golf as long as you are alive.

What you have to do is keep “pushing the envelope.” When I read stuff like the following: "100 year old marathoner finishes Toronto race," it gives me renewed motivation to “push as long as I can and as hard as I can.” The alternative is to simply “give up.”

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