Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity. John F. Kennedy
One of my earliest memories of my father was him working out on the pull-up bar he had secured in the doorframe between the hallway and the kitchen of our home. In the bathroom he had dumbbells that he would use before he got ready for work. Years later I saw pictures of him on skiis and also when he was a great swimmer, looking very fit in a picture taken at the beach. He was a handsome and strapping young man.
My mother was also an avid skier. When my father had surgery for a brain tumor requiring years of physical therapy, my mother continued a routine of taking my younger sister and me hiking, running, bicycling and swimming. This was in the mid-1960s, when the President’s Council on Physical Fitness was a sought-after award at school, kids were always in perpetual motion outdoors and obesity was rare in my community. In the years prior to her accident on the slopes (she shattered her ankle ending her skiing days) we took trips to Lake Tahoe in winter to ski. She also had a daily regimen of exercising in front of the television broadcast of Jack Lalanne. She swam laps in a pool for hours twice a week for perhaps thirty years – right into her 70s.
As a teen in Tucson Arizona, I worked on a ranch in the early morning and late afternoon before school, riding my bicycle several miles to and from school. I rode horses several days a week, which is great exercise for your legs, back and core. And in the Navy, I continued to work out, even though I did not have a runner’s body, running several miles every day with the leadership of my department. I was never a body builder, but regularly worked out in the base gym. And cycling around the cities I was stationed.
In my late Thirties, I started to lose interest in fitness. Whether laziness, age or a depression mindset thing, I started to gain weight and stopped going to the gym. It was actually my selection for Chief Petty Officer that turned me around. Up at 0430, meeting a group of men and women ten to twenty years my junior at 0500, we ran along the beach and golf course at the base. Calisthenics, tug-of-war contests, and even a half-marathon were activities I determined to give my best – “lead from the front” attitude. It was in response to a challenge that a Chief, five years my senior issued me.
After my military retirement, I rode my bicycle for miles to and from work for a few years. One month after I started to up my efforts – getting the clipless pedals on that bicycle, I had an accident and broke my wrist in several places. I was afraid to ride a bicycle in San Diego after I recovered. Then work became my excuse to not exercise and binge eating instead to cope with stress. Obvious to all, I started to get terribly out of shape to the point, on a vacation cruise in November of last year, I was teased by a Jamaican tour employee who nicknamed me “Santa Claus”. Upon my return, I hated my cruise pictures – alongside our very fit friends. I made a decision. No more Santa Claus. With an illness at the end of the year to motivate me, I decided to follow my spouse’s commitment, by eating nutritiously and moderately. And get into physical fitness again. There have been few things in my life that have not been accomplished when setting my mind to push through. I believe that anyone with sufficient motive and “never quit” attitude can achieve anything, I intend to wear my uniform, fit and with pride, for Veteran’s Day this year.
I just turned 59 last week, and I am well on my way to my next milestone: I was under two hundred pounds when I received my Chief’s anchors in 2004, and I will be there again. It takes forty minutes a day four days a week. I walk the dogs daily, and hike with my friends (and the dogs) Saturday mornings. And I no longer eat the processed crap I ate unthinkingly, as I look at it now as sidetracking my goal.
No longer being a fat old man has been noticed by my co-workers, and supervisors but particularly by friends I had not seen in a year. “Half the man I used to be” is my new moniker. My wife is excited that we are getting healthier together. And my zeal for the outdoors, my relationships with my wife – we work out together , with my physically active friends, and even zeal in blogging has been renewed. And I intend to be healthy and active for my grandchild, Zander, just born, and any more in the future.
I want to encourage you to stay active. Nothing will pull you out of anxiety, depression, a “funk”, or a stressful day at work like exercise and good nutrition. You can find out if this is something you want to do as well here.
And nutritional help here
True enjoyment comes from activity of the mind and exercise of the body; the two are ever united. Wilhelm von Humboldt (brainyquote.com)