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What Happens if you Don't Exercise?

A Word to the Choir

Seeking to lose weight and get fit? Join the ever-growing crowd in both number and girth. Advice and suggestions fall from the sky like drizzle and we are by day's end soaking wet, irritated and confused.

New Year's resolutions come and go like a dotcom business. They're inspired, well intended and often essential, yet they lack substance and they lack endurance. Listed amongst the top ten of these New Year resolutions is Get In Shape. Everyone resolves to lose those extra pounds, tone the softening muscles and run a mile a day. By this day in January the eager participants either haven't begun or they've given up and life takes on a pale sameness. Digging back in your memory for a moment, where do you stand today?

Getting in shape is a prizewinner. If that bold pledge graces your list, your thinking is sound. In my humble opinion from all that I've been able to observe from my various perches over a bunch of years, getting in shape and staying in shape attracts more worthy habits and improves one's position in life more than any ten creatively devised resolutions. Get in shape this year and perhaps you won't be pressed to make a list of resolutions for 2002. By the virtues of this bold year they'll already have been accomplished.

The best way to approach the matter is positively. Agreed? Don't think of the time, work and discomfort you need to endure to become fit. Grumbling and excuses can sink a ship before it sets out on a voyage: which gym, how much, it's across town, I don't have time, I need to lose weight first, I'll go if you go, the kids, the spouse, the dog, Oh, my aching back.

Attitude rules. Think of the everyday ability being lighter, stronger and more toned provides, the relief boundless energy affords and the creative thinking that blossoms from a mind and body not tethered to the stake of diminishing health. It's all there before you. Envision your infancy and the early steps you once took with gleeful trepidation. You goo'd and kicked and rolled over. You struggled as you crawled with great determination to a sturdy object and pulled yourself to a wobbling posture. You let go and were off and never looked back. Well, bright eyes, it isn't any different now. You're just a little older and, we hope, a lot wiser.

We are all different with differing needs. The first step one must take to fully embrace fitness is to recognize its importance. It's a free country and we do as we please as the laws allow. However, within us is a world over which we govern and I believe we are responsible for its well being. We are obligated to care for ourselves with logic and love. We are in control and can lavish ourselves with exercise and wholesome food and a lovable lifestyle. What a privilege, friends! We are smart, live in abundance and are able to spoil ourselves with good health and internal enthusiasm. Why would we choose or permit anything but the best?

The more cynical bystanders say there are some amongst us who are uninformed, lazy and gluttonous. Ouch. They say we eat too much junk food and watch too much TV. Where do they hear these... er... lies? Time to make a statement here, folks, and apply ourselves with renewed energy to our commendable vows for 2001. We can do it. Let's get in shape.

We start immediately, with resolve, and we start slowly like an innocent and wide-eyed child. When no one else is looking remove all junk foods from the cupboards, counter tops and refrigerator. Out of sight, out of mind works. Already you're losing excess fat while vigorously involved in this monumental clean-up project. Complete the remaining days of January with a daily walk and run combination — walk a block, run a block, walk a block and so on for ten or fifteen minutes until the walking is replaced by the running alone. What rain? Ease into this brilliant plan with confidence, conviction and unself-conscious eagerness. Remember, the rewards far outshine the costs. Keep your eye clearly on the purpose and goals, never allowing doubt a wicked foothold. Choose a regular time each day to practice your running and follow it immediately with ten minutes of meditative crunches and leg raises.

This simple strategy will introduce you to the amusement of initial muscle soreness and familiarize you with the order of the exercise life. You are in training for the more exciting things to come. You will bow to January on the last day as if it were an old and loyal friend. "Thank you for your patience and good will," you will say as you turn to February with your head high, shoulders back and gut in. We've just begun, mates.

Consider this: Two weeks from today, as we continue in our training, you will be a modestly yet confidently invested fitness devotee. Colors will be brighter, the air sweeter and cumbersome objects more manageable. Stairs will replace elevators. Protein will replace sugar and your self-image will show signs of revival. We will grasp and expand our training; we will go on to discover that discipline is more than just an ordinary ten-letter word. We will press on toward spring and the renewal of life. Consider this: what if you don't?

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