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Friday, August 20, 2010

The Red Bandana: Finding Fitness Through Joyful Running As Told By An Out Of Shape 40-something Guy

Originally posted here.

That's my couch.

We have spent a lot of time together. Too much time. Mostly, we have been watching how-to-cook BBQ shows on PBS while eating hickory smoked ribs, burgers, and chicken, with corn on the cob dripping with butter and a good ale to wash it down.

It is time to break this sordid love affair.

This morning, I weighed in at the gym at 141.6 pounds. Overweight? Depends how you define all of that, but in high school, through age 27, I weighed under 110 at 5'5.75". 107 pounds to be exact. A few pounds won't hurt me, but we are talking about 34.6 pounds here, none of which is muscle. OK, I could have taken off my running togs to get a more accurate (and lower) reading, but I didn't have a great body when I was fit. Add a few dozen pounds and 16 years, and my physique didn't get better. I'll keep my on clothes as I tip the scale at the gym.

You are probably fat. There, I have said it. Forbes Magazine writes, "Overall, 33.8% of Americans are obese and 68% are overweight," referring to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Odds are pretty good that two out of every three of you could stand to join me at the gym.

I understand.

Too Much Greatness

It is no help that we live in Chicagoland. We have the greatest pizza, the greatest hot dogs, the greatest BBQ, and the greatest brats. Slather it all with the greatest cheese imported from that country just north of us, Wisconsin, and things are delicious. Toss on a bag of the greatest potato chips, followed by a few gulps of Pepsi, and viola! We are tubby, chubby and round. We love food that is bad for us. Is it no wonder McDonald's was founded here.

All I need to say is "Giordano's, Gino's East, or Lou Malnati's?" and a fight breaks out. I might as well have asked, "Cubs or White Sox?" or, "Ginger or Mary Anne?"

Either way, fatty food is a Chicago specialty.

Liar's Day
Today is August 13. 225 days after January 1, otherwise known as "Liar's Day." That's the day when we all make our promises to join the 32% who are not overweight. I am a liar, and have the gut to prove it.

I am in a pickle here. That's my name on the top. I have laid into our national fatness pretty thick. I'm a guy who used to run a fair amount when I was younger, and have had a few blips at getting back into fitness. However, for the last year, I've been lying fallow on my lovely couch. In thinking about writing this, and the columns which will follow, I realized that though I do know a few things about running and fitness, readers will expect me to back it up. Today, I ran/walked 4.75 miles, with two other short runs in the last week. Consistency is the key; three runs doth not fitness make.

Over the next few months, I will describe this road I am on to fitness, whether it is good, bad or ugly. As I am a runner, I will tell race tales, suggest places in Chicagoland to run, provide book and movies reviews, offer tips for health and fun, and tell you what's on my running playlist. Also, I will bring in experts in exercise, diet, and running who each will provide their insights. Hopefully, the trials of a 40-something guy with a gut will help you stay on track.

If you'll excuse me, I need to go break up with my couch.




For more about my running adventures, see A Runner's Dilemma (workout details, videos and more)

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The Red Bandana: Finding Fitness Through Joyful Running

Read The Red Bandana: A Good Run is (Not) Hard to Find

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