It wouldn’t matter much if the human body came with an instruction book on how to care for it.
Most of us wouldn’t read it anyway. It’s human nature.
It’s something to keep in mind given most of us at one time or another have vowed to either exercise or diet as part of a New Year’s resolution.
Let’s face it. Few of us treat our body as if it were a temple. It’s a mistake that we don’t as you simply can’t upgrade to a newer model like you can an iPhone. That’s said, it can be pretty forgiving — to a point. And you can get a lot of good mileage out of it despite wear and tear if you do basic things much like changing the oil in classic Volkswagen bugs that kept piling on 100,000 miles over and over again when most other makes and models were having engine and transmission problems after breaking the six-figure mark.
And since we’re human, we have another fallible trait. We tend to want to look like someone else or be something we’re not.
Combine that with the “I resolve” frenzy this time of year and it’s little wonder the crowds at the health club start thinning by February and that piece of exercise equipment you paid $149.95 to change your life is now a place you hang your shirt when you change your clothes.
I get it. Believe me. When I was 320 pounds I fantasized I’d one day be an ectomorph. It is one of three basic body types. Given that DNA predetermined I was a mesomorph — characterized by a preponderance of body fat — I wanted the other extreme, the lack of much fat or muscle tissue. Even after reading over and over again that if I worked hard I could transform into a mesomorph of sorts with a somewhat well-developed musculature but by striving to morph into an ectomorph I was seeking the impossible and would become thoroughly frustrated.
Don’t you hate it when someone knows the answer long before you can figure it out?
That said somewhere along the way for me it stopped being about the sleek look of the vehicle and more about how solid the engine is, how clean and clear the fuel lines and filter are, and whether the transmission is functioning and shifting smoothly. To be honest, I still care what the vehicle looks like but I finally accepted the fact I could take steroids and never get a hint of a six-pack nor could I ever be the skinny guy.
Now some of the sweetest words I hear are after a phlebotomist takes my heart rate before I do a platelet donation, announces my resting heart rate as being 52, and asks “do you exercise a lot?” That number — and I am bragging because quite frankly I earned the right to — puts me in the “athlete” category in an age group for any male 18 and older when it comes to resting heart rates which is a notch above excellent.
Toss in the other diagnostic numbers that count and it is safe to say I’m not in need of an overhaul.
Why this is important for you to know is simple. You can, should, and must improve your health. Your body is the only one you are ever going to have.
If you don’t think you can for whatever reason you can come up with — I know them all, by the way, from firsthand experience — you are just lying to yourself.
After 32 years of exercising on virtually a daily basis I am still a klutz. I also would be thrilled to have the start of a one-pack and I still can’t do decent pushups. But it doesn’t matter. I rarely get sick. Stress is a rare visitor. I don’t tire easily. I can’t remember what year I had my last headache. And I’ve been able to hike to mountain tops I’d never dreamed possible which is pretty amazing given I used to almost pass out after climbing one flight of stairs.
Granted, I’m a tad excessive. I know exactly how many days in the last 32 years I’ve gone without exercising — 14. That is the grand total of days I spent recovering from two hernia surgeries and two trips to the emergency room strapped to a backboard. I was told to listen to my body and given “x” amount of time I should refrain from doing things as they prescribed painkiller. Given that was conflicting advice I stopped taking painkillers each time after one or two days and instead listened to my body. The level of pain told me when I was pushing it. I was told one time it would take six months before I could get back to doing much besides walking after one incident with my knee. Six days later without the pain being cloaked by drugs I was back in Jazzercise class gingerly moving but moving.
Such advice would probably give most healthcare professionals fits but they can rest assured I always do things while listening to my body whether it is my hammertoes, bunions, cracked shoulder, or whatever bad came along with the good in my DNA.
A month or so ago I changed up my routine a bit and tossed in Zumba and U-Jam classes. I’d be lying if I said I could do anything that resembled a dance move. I frustrate myself often but I’ve gotten passed being embarrassed or awkward a long time ago. That’s because I know what I’m doing is good for me and it’s helping keep the only body I have in good running condition.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.