Posted in Aging, Fitness/Health, Walking

Walk From Fat to Fitness

We hear a lot about how fat American’s have become.  We are an obese nation, sitting on our butts and gorging on fast food and deep fry.  Big Macs and Pizza and beer and seventy inch big screen TV’s have rendered us inactive blobs of flesh sitting and waiting for heart attacks and strokes.

For a while we played with the fitness craze, buying lifetime memberships at trendy gyms re-branded as health clubs, but no matter how many fancy weight machines or incarnations of the exercise bike that they placed beside hot tubs and saunas, they could hold our interest for only so long.  The workouts still required work and the health foods that they promoted still tasted like cardboard and sawdust.  As soon as the “lifetime memberships” fled with the fitness club’s name changes we flew back to our couches and our reruns, seldom to return.

As a result, we set aside those fanciful dreams of six-pack abs and Hulk Hogan biceps, the hour-glass figures and rock hard butts and tuned in to a growing slate of (un)reality shows that let us know that we were not more flawed than our neighbors and in fact may hold the higher moral ground.  For the next twenty years we remained glued to our cable enabled TVs and thus to our ever more plush couches.  Potatoes we became.

Now we find ourselves, decades later, silvered and rounded.  Not well, just rounded.  Well rounded would be us had we stayed in the gym.  Here we sit still, heart attacks and strokes in waiting disguised as baby boomers, finding now that we must continue to drag our decrepit bodies to diminishing jobs for diminishing pay for longer than expected in an attempt to replace our diminished retirement funds and savings we had counted on for our final years of corpulent comfort.

I don’t mean to be a complete purveyor of doom and gloom for our generation, however.  I bring with this bleak picture a caveat; a message of renewal, of reversal and regeneration.

We can walk our way out of this predicament.

Seriously.

Health concerns at the age of 49 facilitated a heightened interest in creating a healthier lifestyle for me and my loved ones, including dietary changes and research into the value of exercise.  I had fallen into a routine devoid of any organized workouts and so the changes needed were dependent upon finding a way to make my path to better health one that would allow me to ease my way back to fitness.  Jumping into a rigorous regimen of exercises, I knew from past attempts, would doom my efforts to failure.  I needed a way to saunter back into health, relatively painless, with a strong upside, but not daunting enough to deter a chronic couch potato like myself.

Walking was the ideal start.

Most of us can walk.  In fact, after years of experience we can all claim a certain amount of expertise in this common but amazingly beneficial activity.  This makes it an excellent place to begin a path to fitness and health.  Barring major disability, walking for health will merely mean increasing an activity that everyone participates in on a daily basis.  The benefits are not only surprising to most, but are in fact astounding.

Following is a list of the most universal gains that an increase in your steps per week will provide.  In coming posts I will explore the various studies and personal experience that lend credence to these claims.

I make no exaggeration when I say that walking is the ultimate “get rich quick scheme” for improved health that you will find that is not a scam.

Immediate benefits include:

  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Reduced Cholesterol
  • Reduced stress levels
  • Reduced risk of stroke
  • reduced risk of cancer and return of certain cancers
  • Prevention and control of type 2 diabetes
  • Strengthening of the heart
  • Memory improvement/better cognitive function
  • Lower risk of dementia
  • Alleviates depression (as much as 47%)
  • Weight loss/maintenance
  • Improved fitness/build muscle strength
  • Better endurance
  • Increases circulation, boosting oxygen delivery throughout the body which slows the aging process
  • Disability prevention in the elderly
  • Increase of motivation and  self-satisfaction
  • Helps you sleep better which studies show help you to live longer
  • Increases ability to relax
  • Reduces reliance on medications
  • Improved sexual satisfaction
  • Increased vitamin D production when walking in sunshine, which lowers cancer rates, risk of death, and risk of osteoporosis in people over 50.

The list of benefits goes on and on, and all of this from an activity that we have been doing for nearly all our lives.  You gain all of these benefits by simply increasing your speed and the number of steps that you take.  I can personally attest to the effectiveness of including a brisk walk in your routine.  Many of the benefits on this list have been measurably effective in my quest to delay and even reverse some of the ravages of father time.

walking for fitness
Walk your way to fitness and health.

For your own sake, for your satisfaction of life, for the sake of those who love you, give it a try.  Find a nice route and start walking.  Push your pace and increase your steps.  Let’s show those that are calling our generation the black hole of healthcare that we can walk with pride into a bright and healthy future.

Here are some good resources for more information on how and where to go walking.

http://www.50plus-fitness-walking.com/walking-style.html

http://www.medicinenet.com/walking/page3.htm

http://alltrails.com/

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Posted in Inspirational

Where Do You Place Your Faith?

faith

Faith is a powerful and motivating part of our daily lives.  But where do we place our faith?  The answer to this question is vitally important to our happiness, our effectiveness, and our ability to learn and to grow.

Too often we place too much faith in our own wisdom.  While it is important to have faith in oneself; we would be paralyzed without it; that faith must be tempered with humility and respect for the source of that wisdom.  Even the wisdom gained from experience is tempered with the experience that has gone before, the experience of others who have contributed to our knowledge and learning as we grow and mature and become independent.  Our decisions are based not only upon our own experiences but also the wisdom gained through the ages, passed on to protect us, allowing us to navigate through a dangerous world.

Without our ability to reason and to impart knowledge learned through generations mankind would  be just another beast on this planet, surviving or not through instinct and individual strength.  Survival of the fittest would rule us.  The weak and the sick and the injured would simply fail to survive.

Without faith outside of our own knowledge, our own wisdom, there would be no advances, no medicine, no industry, or no agriculture.  If we placed faith only in our own experience mankind would simply not exist today.  There are too many pitfalls and predators that could eradicate us with our lack of defenses and the length of time required to attain maturity.  Natural selection, without our ability to reason and to pass that knowledge to each other and through generations, would not be our friend.

The connectivity that this faith requires is inherent in our nature.  It is a gift from our Creator reflecting the connection that guides our relationship to Him.  We are connected to each other because we are connected to Him.  He did not just put us here as a small piece of His creation.  We are the focus of His creation.  As such, our faith in Him is a vital part of our being and is a model of that faith that we have in each other that sustains us.

“Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into the light”

“Faith allows things to happen.  It is the power that comes from a fearless heart.  And when a fearless heart believes, miracles happen.”

Mother Teresa

A faith in something that we cannot see is important.  We believe because we can see the evidence of Him, but without faith the evidence would be meaningless to us.  Thus is the model of trusting in the wisdom of others and their experience, without yet having that experience ourselves.  With faith we can then seek out the evidence ourselves without the painful discovery that often is a part of experience.  We do not have to touch the burner on the stove to believe that it will burn us; we have faith in the wisdom of our parents.  We don’t have to fail in business; we have faith in our mentors.  We don’t have to break our leg; we have faith in the one who warned us against perilous leaps.

Often we do fail, we do break our leg, or we burn ourselves.  It is in our nature to doubt, and this is an important attribute as well.  The same nature that allows us to learn from others wisdom also allows us to seek our own wisdom.  Without taking chances, there would be no advances.  Faith and doubt are brother and sister and this relationship is the very thing from which wisdom springs.

“Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.”

Khalil Gibran.

Risk and caution are the other faces of faith and doubt.  Risk without hope of reward is a fools pursuit, but calculated risk, danger weighed against the possible reward, is the way of all advancement.  Wisdom applied to endeavor does not guarantee success, but tilts the scale in favor of it.

Faith in itself is a calculated risk, you have not experienced or seen something, but you trust the source and then can look for the evidence through your own gathered wisdom and the things that you can see for yourself.  Faith then grows of its own accord, gathering momentum through the things that you already put your trust in, or sometimes through the refuting of those things that have held back your true wisdom.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

Faith is built on trust and trust is born of honesty and honesty will breed faith.

Faith enriches us, brings hope to our lives, and helps us to grow and move forward.  Faith brings us together, to the enrichment of all.  It is a fool who relies only upon his own counsel.  The wise man seeks knowledge, he does not invent it.

“Faith is reason grown courageous”

Sherwood Eddy

Increase your faith in God and you will increase your faith in others.  Increase your faith in others and you will increase your faith in yourself.  Increase your faith in yourself and do great things.

“Faithless is he who says farewell when the road darkens”

J.R.R. Tolkien

Faith in each other drives our relationships and allows the coopperation that fuels the rise of our families, our industries, and our civilization.  Without our faith it would all simply crumble into fear and distrust and conflict.

Where do you place your faith?

Posted in Poetry

I Dream I’m Home

My favorite part of every day
Would be the time I sleep at night
For in the night I sometimes dream.
Though when I dream I oft do roam
At other times I dream I’m home.

Ron Buedefeldt  2013