Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say something like: “I know I really need to get up there and get started on an exercise program, but I just can’t because…” (enter excuses here). So here are the top 10 reasons NOT to go to the gym. I’m serious! These are all things I’ve heard. Drum roll please.

10. I need to get in shape before I come up there so I won’t look out of place.

9. I need to get in shape first, so it won’t be so tough when I start exercising.

8. I can’t come up there, because people will see me, and I’m shy.

7. Too many people will be looking at me.

6. Until I get past this ____ (various illnesses and ailments), I just can’t do it.

5. I just don’t ever get any results.

4. I just can’t find the motivation.

3. Every time I start an exercise program, I just end up stopping anyway.

2. I just work too many hours.

1. I just don’t have the time.

Remember, all of those are actual excuses I’ve heard. Now I’m not trying to belittle people who have very real situations that come up from time to time that just make it impossible. I’m talking about those times when the excuses don’t really hold water.

Recently, I was talking with an interesting couple who are both in their seventies. She’s long since retired but he’s still running a successful business. Because I see them both at the gym regularly, I was wondering what made them different from other couples their age, so I decided to ask them.

She told me that in her case, others in her family were pretty active, so she’s always tried to stay in shape. She said her husband realized the other guys his age were dying and he was the only one left!

When I talked to him, he said he was blessed with good health and wanted to keep what he had. He told me “you’ve just got to make yourself do it” and went on to say “as soon as you stop doing it, you’re done.” I think he’s right.

I’ve talked to many people who were inactive, got overweight, developed high blood pressure and diabetes and then had to start taking medicines for those conditions. This resulted in them gaining even more weight, and now they have serious knee and back problems that pretty much keep them from moving at all. In their case, they literally can’t do it.

It’s much better to get started now, before it’s too late and those excuses become real. If you’re already doing it, you better not quit. I have more to say about this, but I can’t, because… I’m out of time!

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013


I remember many years ago when I was a teenage camp counselor at a YMCA camp up in Reading, MI. After a long hot summer filled with young excited campers, our camp director arranged for us to take a week long canoe trip down the Manistee River in upper Michigan.

It was a great end to the summer. They drove us way upstream and we put in about six days traveling time from where we ended up. We had a good time camping and canoeing, and I learned a lot about both.

It wasn’t that big a stream, certainly not a big river, but there was definitely some current. Since we wanted to go downstream, it was no problem. Just relax and drift while the current pulled us along.

Sure, we had to do a course-correction now and then; a little dipping of the paddle here and there to keep in the middle of the stream. But basically, we paddled just enough to keep things on track.

Now when we had to get to the shore to make a portage around a log jam of downed trees and branches, we had to paddle a little bit more to get over there. Plus it took some work hoisting those canoes up overhead and carrying our gear through the woods on the obviously well-used portage trails. That was pretty hot and sweaty.

Even at the end of the day, though, while it took a bit of work setting up our campsite, it quickly became routine, and we could get it done pretty quickly with little trouble. All and all, it was a fairly easy proposition without much difficulty.

But as we got further and further downstream, the current picked up a little, so we traveled faster, with even less effort, except if we wanted to get over to the shore. Once, it got pretty exciting when we went through this small section of falls and rocks.

As we came around a bend, we realized that we were passing our landing site for the night. Tat was interesting. Even though we’d had advance warning that it would take a bit of work to get back over there, it still took us by surprise.

Now we had to paddle back upstream, against the current, which took a lot more work. At times, we seemed almost to be standing still. But little by little, we worked our way back over to the opposite shore, upstream. By the time we got there, we were toast. But the camping that night was awesome. We’d earned it.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying: “You’re either moving forward or moving backward, but you’re never really just standing still.” Life often pulls us along, but we don’t always like where we’re going. We end up reacting to things as they come along, making course corrections as we have to.

When things go wrong, and they will, it takes a lot more out of you. When you need to dramatically change your direction, you better get paddling.

It’s a lot harder losing weight than maintaining, and it’s much harder gaining strength than losing it. Both take lots of time and work, but you can get there. You’ve just got to be willing to buck the stream!

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Saturday, May 04, 2013


Did you know that fat cells never go away? Sure, you can lose the fat, by burning it for fuel during and after your workouts. The fat will come right out of the cells when needed, but the cells are still there, shriveled up and much smaller than before. I like to imagine it like they are now simply “shrink-wrapped”.

But if you stop working out and start letting your diet slip through the cracks, those fat cells are not only still there, ready and waiting to receive “new fat”, but the pathways to store the fat are right there and easy to access too.

Once you’ve been overweight, your body is very accommodating to new fat. Even your metabolism will quickly adjust back to the original lower levels, helping you get and stay fat again. This is so common it’s called “the Yo-Yo syndrome.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people mount a huge effort, losing 50 pounds or more, only to see them six months later with all that weight back on. Often, they’re even heavier.

I even see the process starting a little closer to home. It’s very easy to put 5 pounds back on in a hurry. Just get a little lazy, or miss a few workouts. Couple that with letting your diet slip a little bit (read cookies here), and presto, you’ve put on 5 pounds in just a couple weeks.

Here’s where the rubber meets the road. If you address it, you’ll be able to turn it right around. If you let it go, it will take over and take on a life of its own.

It’s kind of like the spiritual side of life. Get a little lazy in your faith, and pretty soon, you’re making small compromises. Let it go a little longer, and before you know it, you’re having a King David moment, looking over the roof at your own Bathsheba.

If you don’t know the story, King David was a great king and warrior in the Old Testament. He fought and won many battles, starting with the giant, Goliath, at a remarkably young age.

Something happened, though, that caused him to stay home “at the time when kings go forth to battle.” That was probably his first mistake, but things happen. The problem came when he went for a walk on the roof one evening and saw a beautiful woman bathing.

He should have walked away, but instead made a deliberate choice to ask about her. His advisors tried to steer him away, telling him she was married to one of his captains but by then it was too late. He was already too far down that road to turn back, and he told them to send her to him. He was the king, so they did, and then he did. It gets worse from there.

We have to be vigilant and guard our hearts and minds. I think we need to guard our stomachs too. If you’re like me, we just can’t keep cookies in the house. We probably need to pray more as well. And we probably need to keep going forth to battle (read working out here).

The secret is to keep a close eye on things. If you start to see you’re slipping a little, you need to start taking action now, not later. It’s much harder later. If you catch it early, you can make some small adjustments and get things back on track.

It’s never too late, though. After a lot of pain and suffering, even King David found redemption and was still considered a man after God’s own heart. Remember the old saying: “If you’re in a hole, the first thing you need to do is stop digging!”

Feel free to contact me through Facebook at if you have any questions or comments.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013


Last week we looked at seven steps to getting started. Over the next few weeks, I want to take a look at some things that can help you keep your mojo going.

The first thing I want to talk about is having a real goal in mind. Make it specific and measureable if possible. This means you have to have a target to focus on. If it’s pretty vague, you’ll probably get vague results. If it’s pretty direct, like you’re going to lose 15 pounds by the start of summer, then you have a better chance of achieving it.

It also helps if you absolutely, positively, just have to do it! It’s got to almost kill you if for some reason you don’t do it. When failure is not an option, you have no choice but to succeed.

Knowing what you’re aiming at helps you focus so you can hit what you’re aiming at. Imagine grabbing a bat and just going out, chopping wildly at the air, hoping a baseball will fly by so you can hit it!

Write down your goal. If you’ve written it down, it’s much more likely that you’ll get it done. This applies to simple, daily tasks, short-term goals, and even longer term goals that might take up to six months to a year, or more.

Once you have your main goal, see if you can break it down into several smaller, more manageable bite size goals. Make a list of objectives to hit along the way. If the main goal is to lose 15 lbs over the next three weeks, then that means each week you need to lose 5 lbs.

The next step is figuring out how you’re going to do it this week. Next week doesn’t matter if you don’t lose the 5 lbs this week. What’s it going to take to make that happen? What actions do you need to take each day to make this a realistic proposition?

If you need some help making new habits, it might be helpful to have a checklist that you look at every day. It could be as simple as something like this:

Morning walk (15-20 min) ____

Breakfast (400 cal) ____

Lunch (400 cal) ____

Snack (150 cal) ____

Evening workout (45 min) ____

Supper (400 cal) ____

Snack (150 cal) ____

4-5 bottles of water/day ____

Good self-talk today ____

Read something to help ____

Encourage someone else ____

At the start of each day, take a look at your objectives. Even experienced pilots still perform pre-flight checklists—they don’t want to miss anything that might be important.

At the end of the day, take another look at it. Did you get everything done? Did anything slip through the cracks? At some point, those things on your list will become much more automatic, but for awhile, it might help you to check things off.

Each week, measure your progress. If you did enough work, you’ll hit your goal. If you didn’t, you won’t. Be honest either way. If you made it, that’s awesome. Give yourself some love. If you didn’t, what do you need to do to turn it around? Make a decision to do better next week, and then do it!

Next week, we’ll look at some other strategies to help you get what you want. Until then, feel free to contact me through Facebook at if you have any questions or comments.