Push-ups, Sit-ups and Sprints

When Herschel Walker was asked at the University of Georgia about his weightlifting routine, he had a curious response. He said he had never lifted a weight in his life. For those of you who do not remember Walker, he was an extremely well muscled and fast running back for the Bulldog football team in the early 80’s.

When he was asked how he got so big and fast, he responded “Push-ups, sit-ups and sprints.” He went on to say when he was a scrawny young kid of about ten, he asked a gym coach how to get bigger, stronger and faster and the coach responded with the same answer as above.

What he did not tell the young Walker is how many. So, while watching TV, Walker would do push-ups or sit-ups during the commercials. He said it got to where he was doing about 1,000 of each routine every day. Then, he would go out and do sprints until he dropped.

Walker may have been the finest high school and college football ever to play a down. When I lived in Atlanta, I saw footage of Walker in high school. It is not an exaggeration to say the majority of times he touched the ball, he scored a touchdown, often playing only 1/2 the game as the score was so lopsided. The Hall of Fame quarterback, Fran Tarkenton, said in a guest sports news appearance, wherever Walker decides to go to college, the team will be an “immediate contender for the national title.” Georgia won the national title in Walker’s freshman year and he won the Heisman Trophy for the best collegiate football player.

Walker’s pro career was successful, but he did not stand out as much as he did in high school and college. I think he came up against equally talented athletes, so the margin was smaller. His positives were his strength and speed, but pro football longevity is predicated on elusiveness as well, which he did not need as much in the amateur levels.

Nonetheless, he was a significant player. He was also very humble and polite. Let me leave you with one telling story. After his career was over, a couple was stuck in their car as it was wrecked and rolled over with smoke coming out of the hood. This large African-American man was jogging by, so he immediately went over, realized the dilemma and ripped the door open helping the couple to safety. Then he ran on once he knew they were OK.

He never said a word to anyone what he had done, until a reporter asked him about his role in helping the couple. He shyly admitted he had helped them. He was called Superman by the couple and press.

Push-ups, sit-ups and sprints. We can always better ourselves. I am not saying do 1,000 of each, but a few each day would not hurt. The key metaphor is we have the power to make ourselves better, be it through physical or mental activity. It can be as easy as doing a few push-ups or sit-ups with each commercial.

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Walking, Water and Weighing

Since we are the most obese country in the world per the World Health Organization, I was seeking some alliteration to serve as a reminder of three things we each could do. Walking, Water and Weighing. Each of these things would not be difficult to do, but could make a difference.

Walking to better health has been discussed for years. As a former jogger with an up and down history of such, I have resorted to walking and hiking. It is far easier on the joints and can accomplish  many of the same benefits – weight loss, cardio-vascular work, better digestion and improved psyche by being outdoors. And, when you miss walking for a few days, it is much easier to pick back up than jogging.

Drinking more water is the one of the best diet techniques around. I am not advocating drinking water all the time, but try to drink at least a couple of glasses a day. In addition to zero calories, drinking water helps flush out your kidneys and lessens the risk of kidney stones. Plus, staying hydrated is beneficial to good health. Lastly, if you are on a budget, drinking water in restaurants and fast food places is a big saver.

Finally, know your numbers, a key one of which is weight. Weighing once a week is good to know your progress and will encourage you to get that extra walk in or avoid more fried food, bread or desserts the next week. Yet, weighing is a metaphor for knowing your blood pressure and cholesterol counts. These are two examples that can be treated with prescription drugs and better regimen.

I recognize these three things are not earth shattering revelations. But, they are three habits that can easily be implemented and will provide some benefit. Please check with your doctor, if you feel you must, and start slow with the walking.

 

 

 

 

A few preventive health tips

As a former HR consultant and manager of benefit programs for a large company, I have been involved with health prevention and wellness initiatives dating back to 1994. The impact of early detection and intervention is huge for employees, their families and the company who may offer such benefits. In short, we are all train wrecks waiting to happen, so the sooner we can take stock of ourselves, the sooner we can begin some intervention and keep the train on the tracks.

I have written before about this topic, but do yourselves and family a favor and take some action to understand your health. In the US, we are the most obese country in the world and have been for some time. As we age, this obesity will cause us many problems. We are also the most medicated country in the world, which can be good and bad. The bad is we would prefer to take a pill rather than make a lifestyle change. And, note a pill can lose its veracity over time if the problem does not get better managed.

So, here are a few tips, even if you feel healthy:

  • If you do not have healthcare coverage, get it. You are one accident away from needing a “Go Fund Me” page. You may qualify for a subsidy under the ACA.
  • With this, get a primary care physician, preferably one within a larger practice, where the doctors and nurses can see you on Saturday or even Sunday, if something arises.
  • Know your numbers. Blood pressure, BMI, weight, cholesterol, etc.
  • Know your history both familial and geographic. The environment you grew up in can impact you as much as your family genes.
  • If in your 50s, get a colonoscopy – there is no better prevention test out there, as the doctor can fix some things during the test and confirm any future problems.
  • If a woman and in your 40s, or sooner if you have a history, get a mammogram. We ran a mobile mammogram program in the 1990s and tested 11,000 female employees or spouses. The tests found 11 cancers. The testers also showed women how to better do a self-exam.
  • Take your medicines all the way through. People usually stop taking medicine when they feel better
  • Walk, walk, walk more. If you don’t like exercise, walk. After dinner, short errands.
  • If you smoke, find a way to stop. Nothing good comes from smoking. And, for you young folks. it does not look cool. It looks stupid.
  • If you self-medicate with illicit drugs or alcohol, see a counselor or your doctor about stopping. I have not had a drink in eight years, as I was an accident waiting to happen.
  • Do not supersize the fast food and reduce the number of fast food meals. Some of these restaurants, actually have healthier options, so check them out.

There are many more things you could do, but if you do a few of these, you will be better off. Note, I am not a doctor, so please do not construe any of this as medical advice.

 

A few ideas for better health management

At the end of March, I mentioned five items that people can more routinely do that would promote their wellness and possibly prevent health problems down the road.. A link to “Prevention and Wellness, we are train wrecks waiting to happen” can be found at the end of this post. * I stopped at five, as I felt these things could make a difference, but I will highlight a couple of more items after I summarize the five.

– Men and women should get a colorectal exam every five years beginning at age 50. This is the best prevention and immediate remedial action test around.

– Women should get a recurring mammogram around age 40, although protocols continue to change and some say start later. If you have a family history or feel something via a digital exam, do it sooner. Please be aware that reading a mammogram is art and science with false readings, so get a second opinion.

– Walk more. After dinner, to run errands, to exercise during lunch, etc. Even a little bit helps and you need not have a pedometer to impact your health favorably.

– Eat smaller portions. This is the best diet plan around and is sustainable. Plus, do not eat so fast, as your mouth can get ahead of your brain on this. Also, when you snack, don’t take the bag to the couch. Fill a small bowl of nuts, fruit, chips and you will be less inclined to overeat.

– Get a routine preventive health exam from your doctor. This is the best benefit under the Affordable Care Act, as preventive visits are sans deductible and more folks will have a doctor.

I left the first post with these five items. We are an obese country and, if we do not check this, future problems will occur. It is  not just heart health, if you are heavier, you are destined to musculoskeletal issues and risk of diabetes.

A few more items to consider might include:

– Take your medicines. Not following this simple protocol is not uncommon. This is especially true if you are taking maintenance medicine for cholesterol, hypertension, depression or some other psychic disorder, so take your medications.

Don’t smoke cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes. They are horrible for health and you do not look as cool as you think you do when you smoke. Plus, your significant other will need to smoke as it is like kissing an ashtray for them, if they do not.

Drink more moderately. I am an alcoholic who has been drink free for seven years. I want to drink every day, but don’t. Please know, when you tell your doctor how much you drink per week, he or she does not believe you. Start with telling the truth. This is one “golf game you don’t want to cheat at.” If you do decide to stop, please check out the second link below to a post I wrote on my sixth anniversary of being drink free. **

Don’t drink and drive and certainly don’t text and drive, which is actually worse. Please know that a car going 60 miles per hour will travel 88 feet in one second. If 45 mph, that is 66 feet per second. If you get distracted for one second, that can make all the difference.

Stretch more or take up Pilates, Yoga, etc. Back in the 1970’s, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, one of basketball’s legends who played until he was 40, used to stretch at half court before every ball game. He was the only player doing this. Seeing how long he played, now almost every player does this. All three of these exercises are easy and can be maintained, but check with your doctor, first.

– Look for de-stressors to alleviate the stress. Some of the above ideas are good for de-stressing. At work, every ninety minutes take some form of break. The body cannot sit that long and needs to be energized. Also, try to make all meetings no longer than ninety minutes. Most meetings break down when that long, so make them focused.

With the exception of smoking and drinking curtailment, none of these ideas is overly difficult and can be maintained. Sustainability is the key. Also, they are not too onerous, so if you fall of the wagon, you won’t fall as far and can get back on it. As you read this, please note I am not a medical professional. I have been a benefits professional, benefits manager and consultant for over 33 years. I would encourage you with any major change to chat with your doctor.

* https://musingsofanoldfart.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/prevention-and-wellness-we-are-train-wrecks-waiting-to-happen/

** https://musingsofanoldfart.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/six-years-alcohol-free-but-still-want-to-drink/

Prevention and Wellness – we are train wrecks waiting to happen

As a retired benefits professional, both as a consultant and manager of an employer benefits program, I have been involved with numerous healthcare prevention and wellness efforts. I have worked with wonderful colleagues who put in motion terrific ideas and measured their success. And, if not working well, they tweaked or scrapped them, as the key is to prevent illness and injury. The reason – we are train wrecks waiting to happen. If we don’t take care of ourselves now, issues will manifest themselves later.

March is national Colorectal Cancer Awareness month, so you may have seen more commercials on getting a colonoscopy. There is no better preventive exercise than getting a colonoscopy whether you are male or female. At the age of 55, I have had the “pleasure” twice and each time they have found pre-cancerous polyps, which they can and did remove during the procedure. If you are over the age of 50 and have not had one, please see your doctor. The worst thing is the cleansing liquid that you need to drink the afternoon and evening before. The procedure itself is twenty minutes in length.

Each October, we celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness month. Unlike colonoscopies, mammograms should start at an earlier age, especially if you have a family history. And, unlike colonoscopies, reading a mammogram is science and art. It takes a trained eye to read them and there are some false readings. I have two suggestions. First, start early with self-examination. If you don’t know how, ask someone who does. You know your body better than anyone, so you may sense something is amiss.

Second, if you do get a mammogram and get a positive result, don’t panic and do the follow-up with an oncologist.  Even if the oncologist says everything is OK, it is worth the trouble and expense. If you get a negative (or there may or may not be an issue) mammogram and feel it is not correct, get another one. In the mid-1990s, we ran a mobile mammogram (thanks Mary!), which conducted 11,000 screenings for our employees, irrespective of whether they signed up for the employer healthcare plan. We detected 9 cancers. That is nine lives who may have been saved, which makes the cost savings to the employees and employers meaningless when compared to a life saved.

While these are of critical importance, most people die from heart disease, including and especially women. So, every month should be heart disease awareness month. One of my old Global Health and Wellness colleagues said one of America’s greatest exports is obesity. We have shared with the world our affinity for fast food and each nation has made it their own adding other unhealthy items to the menu. In Mexico, you can get a burrito with your Big Mac at Mickey D’s. I should add the US is the most obese country in the world according to the World Health Organization with over a third of Americans with a BMI greater than 30, although Mexico is giving us a run for our money.

There are a number of programs and diets that attack people, especially women, from TV and magazines. Dr. Oz is great, but he has a new idea on every day, so you are blitzed by information and are hamstrung on what to do. You cannot do everything Dr. Oz suggests. So, here are a couple of simple ideas that we each can do (please do more if you are and can), that will help you with your heart health.

Walk to better health. That’s it. Walk after dinner or to run errands. Walk the dog or with a friend. Even if for only five minutes, just walk and you will see a difference.

See a doctor for a preventive or wellness check-up.This will be one of biggest benefits of Obamacare. People will now go to the doctor for preventive visits. High blood pressure and high cholesterol can be managed, but you have to know.

– Eat smaller portions. This is the most sustainable diet you can do. Start by leaving “bites for the cook” when you eat. Just don’t overload your plate or when you eat a snack, put the product in a small bowl and don’t eat from the bag or container. We keep lightly salted mixed nuts and small fruits (blueberries, grapes, e.g.) around and use them as snacks rather than chips.

There are many more ideas I could throw out, but let’s stick with those three. Since I retired, I graze during the day eating five or six small meals – the three main meals and usually two or three snacks. I try not to overeat at any of them. I would encourage you also to eat more calories earlier in the day and try not to eat too late, so your body can burn the calories.

I would ask my readers to share their ideas as well, but my main purpose is to suggest small steps that you can do and sustain. Diets will eventually fail unless you make changes that you can live with each day. Walking is easier to start and continue and, if you miss a few days, you can easily pick it up again. Best wishes on keeping your train on the track and avoiding the train wreck later in life.