No Time to Lament My Fleeting Youth

“do not spend your strength on women, your vigor on those who ruin kings.” – Proverbs 31:3 (NIV)

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. – 1 Timothy 4:8 (NIV)

When I was very young, I watched Jack Lalanne on the small black & white television my mother had in the living room. The ritual every morning was to do calisthenics as he demonstrated handstands, one-armed pushups, etc. and made jokes about fad dieting – with a skeleton as a prop. I recall at some point later, perhaps I was 12, he was in the news for having celebrated his birthday by towing a heavy boat across the San Francisco Bay. Perhaps he was 50 or 60 at the time.

As I grew into manhood, there were high school gyms with boys weight training for football, and some Southern California fitness clubs had made their way to Arizona. At that time, my physical training was two-pronged – I worked my butt off hauling hay and doing heavy lifting at a ranch, so I could get some time horseback riding. Also daily, riding my 10-speed steel bike up hill for six miles to the high school and back in the afternoon. (I previously told my mom that I would NOT be changing schools again for any reason but that’s another story for another time.)

During my first stint in the Navy, at the ripe age of 20 or so, I took up running in addition to the gym, while I was in Pensacola. So perhaps 3 times a week, in the evening – I ‘d go running with my quad-mate around the base – which was the site of an old airfield. We marked the route from dorm to the end of the runway and around to the back as 4 miles. Sometimes we would run around it twice before turning in. It was a great way to offset a few beers on a Friday evening!

I spent my twenties in college, scuba diving, hiking, in tae kwon do, and in the least expensive, but most motivated physical activity – a construction laborer and helper has to work twice as hard as anyone else to keep his job and potentially move up!

Sometime in my early 30s, several years into my second stint in the Navy, I realized that there was not really a point to running, particularly as I never had nor would attain the frame of a marathoner. My cycling, thanks to a few traffic collisions and dozens of flat tires miles from home also started to collect dust in the garage.

Then, ten years ago, the Navy recognized that the warrior-image and new realities of the Global War on Terrorism demanded a total paradigm shift. Out with the fat Chiefs and Officers, out with smoke breaks and greasy, sloppy chow! Over time, while the nation has become more rotund and chronically ill in general, the military has become more like Jack LaLanne.

In the past year, my employer has also adopted a new strategy — bestowing a gym membership on employees, and encouraging a regular regimine. It will cut down health care costs. But this employer is not a place for the idle, sugar-holics, no sir. Brains and a healthy passion for all things physical exist there. Runners, cyclists – national competion-class, weightlifters, surfers, golfers, yoga — all are practiced at this place.

So here I am, a couple years ago, feeling that my age has betrayed me into a fat comfort-zone, while all the time the military is counting down till they eject me (or force my retirement) over fitness rules. The impending birthday, heralded this past January with a notice from the IRS that I could now accelerate my retirement fund contributions AND a welcoming series of membership offers from AARP, shook me permanently from my complacency.

It seems somewhat bizarre that I am obtaining that triangle shape, growing bicep and triceps, and the approving nod from peers who at this moment are raising dumbbells which individually weigh as much as my wife’s nephew, overhead. As for me, I am much more confident that I will enter my mid-life, in much better shape than ever before. Of course, the perk and perhaps the best reason of all, is to catch the approving eye of my wife as I get more fit. And if any female were to catch my eye, I know that I sleep more soundly than my dear beloved.

The only thing now, is how do I avoid that physical trainer who wants – for lots of green, of course – to give me instruction on how to take my training to the next level. Belly fat, be GONE!!!!

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