Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Secret to Overall Well-Being and General Health

Since my retirement, I’ve spent a good deal of time being "active" by either visiting Facebook, or writing in my blog. Blog — that sounds like a combination of bloated sluggard, or a bump-on-a-log blob; and it pretty well sums up my general fitness level these days.

I’ve never been a very athletic person. Sure I played sports in school. As I noted in an earlier post, I was a pretty fast runner, so I was on a few track and field teams. I played a little soccer as well. I looked good when I would kick the ball ahead and outrun my opponent to it. Once I got near the scoring area however, I couldn’t score if I aimed dead center of the goal with no goalie to deal with. My “passes” looked more like I was trying to give someone on the sidelines a souvenir soccer ball.

One of my shining soccer moments was during a game where I was asked to be the goaltender. Apparently our team was in desperate need of a slob or blob or blog to stand between the goal posts and get in the way of any shots that were sent directly at him. It worked too! I made a great “save” when one of the opposing players — the guy with the biggest legs on the team — boomed a high-velocity cannon-shot that made a beeline for my throat.

The ball ricocheted off my Adam’s apple. Tears immediately welled up in my eyes. I saw stars. I couldn’t breath. My legs went wobbly. But I had prevented a goal. My teammates went wild. “Way to go”, “What a play”, “Way to take one for the team”, “Nice throat save”, etc.

I responded to their accolades with, “Ack… gnh… ahhh… mmmph… gaaaa… awk… gak…” It wasn’t very eloquent, but I was trying to say that I was pleased to be instrumental in earning a victory for our team.

I haven’t been a member of any sports team for years. To stay in shape for the better part of my adult life, I’ve just shoveled snow and done a random variety of exercises.

I was a pretty skinny kid. I used to see those ads in the comic books for the Charles Atlas Dynamic Tension system for gaining he-man bulk. I was always afraid that I was going to be the guy who got sand kicked in his face. I actually sent away for one of those systems as advertised in the comics. It wasn’t the Charles Atlas one though. I can’t remember the name of it, but it was similar to Dynamic Tension. It was Tense Dynamo or Tensile Dynamite, or Dinaric Tonsils, or something like that.

To my mild disappointment, the “system” I paid good money for was just a series of calisthenics; pushups, sit-ups, knee-bends, etc. But I persevered with the exercises for several weeks, for I had this image of the behemoth I should become. I envisioned myself as a modern day Maciste (ma-CHEE-stay). My dad, whenever he was outside with his shirt off, would puff out his chest, flex his muscles, and call himself Camiste (cha-MEE-stay). My brothers and I always cracked up at this.

Eventually I gained .00025 micrograms of extra rippling muscle through the Demonic Tinsel (or whatever it was called) system.

To this day I still use calisthenics and isometrics in my erratic exercise regimen. Here is a rundown of the methods I use to keep myself in tip-top shape:

Calisthenics and Isometrics
These are the lazy man’s forms of exercise. They both do an OK job of keeping your muscles toned and they perform the extra task of fooling yourself into believing you did a real workout.

The Bullworker
Another system I bought through the comics. This was a pretty sound investment however, since I still have this device. I bought it in the 70’s and it’s still as good as new — which may give you an idea as to how much it’s been put to use. Still, it is excellent for muscle tone and the belief that you've done a "workout" like I previously mentioned.

Tai Chi
I do the Yang style of Tai Chi. Here is another low impact, easy, relaxing, and unchallenging way to fool yourself that you are the very image of bodily vigor. Besides, it’s so much fun to do moves with names like “carry tiger to mountain”, “grasp bird’s tail”, and “fair lady works shuttles” (I’m not making that up).

Momentum 620 Elliptical Exerciser

Now here’s a high-tech new-age gadget that’s sure to improve overall aerobic capacity, strength, cardiovascular health, mental acuity, and skeletal conditioning. Since its purchase it’s been used religiously — which means I use it about as often as I go to church. Even so, it does provide a great workout when used, although it’s about as much fun as pulling weeds.

Pulling Weeds — Gardening
Some people swear by this as a means of staying healthy. I swear at it as a necessary evil of domestic life. I mean, I have to do it, and I suppose I get some physical benefits from it. But all in all, I’d rather watch TV and drink beer.

Watching TV and Drinking Beer
Before you judge me too harshly, be aware that taking it easy is about the best thing you can do for your overall well-being. The hours I’ve spent watching TV and drinking beer outnumber my exercise hours by a factor of about 15 to 1; yet I’m in relatively good physical condition. To what else can I attribute this?

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