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Archive for the ‘Obesity’ Category

The gym rat is an interesting species and comes in many forms.

While most would consider the gym rat a person who is constantly working out, this is a fallacy. I have been in gyms where, when one opens a locker – generally a bottom locker and one that actually opens without the use of a pry bar –  a genuine, a-number-one gym rat will jump out and slink away, finding some hole in a wall that has either been kicked in or punched out. These particular gym rats are not sociable, have little to say, but they will feast on athletic gear that has been left behind for any period of time…including sweat socks and old jock straps. You might wish to consider moving away from this nominally-named gym rat at a rapid pace or send it on its merry way with a good swing of your gym bag. Do not concern yourself that this particular species will fight fair if it decides to challenge your authority; it does not work out on either cardio nor with free weights. Its only form of protection lies in its mouth…a rather nasty set of incisors which can cause a surfeit of damage.

There are many more species of gym rats, some to be avoided at all costs, and others to be admired from afar…or up close and personal if you have no fear of being torn limb from limb by some crazed martial arts specialist who’s just been dying to try out her newly-acquired-skills on some unsuspecting fool. It’s also necessary that you understand that species of gym rats vary from facility to facility and name to name. For example, at some establishments it is possible to see a species of gym rat known as “Musculature-excessivitis.” The male of the species can usually be found around the free weights rack, admiring both the free weights and the image of himself in the mirrors that abound in this area. If you should espy one at a time when he is using these free weights, you will note that the weight is sufficient to cause each vein in the body to appear that it will soon burst through the skin and send a torrent of blood skyward. In all fairness, it should be noted that all well-muscled members of the species are not steroid users, merely men so in love with their own musculature that they are constantly attempting to improve the way they believe men or women will find them more attractive. The female of this species is exceptionally deceptive for their manner of dress differs markedly. It ranges from the floppy sweatshirts and pants to spandex that appears to have been spray-painted on the body. The former are generally friendly and will offer suggestions if asked. The latter are usually too busy admiring their own bodies to be concerned dealing with yours.

The species or category of gym rat that I have found to be most common in the several gyms I have attended are the “Preservationists.” These are what I might refer to as “my folk.” They or we, whichever floats your boat, are the middle-aged to seniors who attempting to preserve some form of dignity with whatever they have left on their decrepit frames. Most of us have suffered through some life-altering experience that has set us on a long-term plan to not suffer such an experience again in the near, middle, or even distant future. The exercise pattern is not complex by any manner of means. It is a combination of cardiovascular exercise, accomplished by use of a treadmill, elliptical machine, stair stepper, rowing machine, or some other sweat creating torture device, with either free weights – those dumbbell type ‘thingies’ – or machines that, when first viewed, scare the living daylights out of the prospective user. In total, the preservationist may spend as many as two hours in the confines of the gym, a minimum of one hour of which will be spent chatting with others of their type regarding various aches, pains, and lack of sleep. Preservationists are harmless. Their desire is to live a bit longer than others who do not exercise or, as in the case of some, live just to see another sunrise.

Many gym rats are hybrids, the only thing classifying them for what they are being that they are consistent in their use of the gym. Six days a week, generally at the same time, you will find them exercising. For some, it’s a regimen for dropping pounds in order to fit into last year’s shirts and suits; for others, it’s wishing to fit into last year’s bathing suit or skirt. For almost all, it’s an attempt to look and feel better, both physically and mentally. From over 20 years of experience, I can say that on those days when I return from the gym, I feel energized, and I find that my mind is just a wee bit sharper than when I don’t exercise…wisecracks about my state of mind are always accepted!

Are there other pure, non-hybrid gym rats? Of course there are. To classify most of them, however, would be insulting. The “Look-at-me-look-at-me” and the spandex crowd are more pathetic than pure, and those who use the gym merely as a hangout for an hour or so are just comedic. I have been fortunate in my years as a preservationist. I have met men and women from all walks of life; from drug dealers to headmasters; from police officers to doctors; from prosecuting attorneys to those involve with homeland security; from teachers and nurses and everyday housewives just trying to stay in shape; all have been nice to me, and I’ve enjoyed my conversations with each and every one. The heterogeneity of a gym is remarkable, and I love every minute of my time spent there…rats and all!

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Holy Sha-moly, Batman; I knew we had an obesity problem in the country, but I never realized until today just how prevalent it is.

Juli and I went shopping at Walmart this afternoon. I needed a prescription, and she, well, let’s just say that she had some grocery shopping to do. I hesitate on that because ‘grocery shopping’ at Walmart generally means that the dog winds up with a new toy; the garden will be getting some new plants, and; some kind of powdered fiber, along with Fiber One bars will be gracing the kitchen counter for a while. I also note that there is bird seed listed on the receipt…hmm, a new kind of dinner treat?

Juli went her way and I hustled to the pharmacy, picking up the ‘scrip’ and hustling back to the car. As luck would have it, we’d found a place very close to the front entrance, and since I’d forgotten to bring my Kindle, my wait became an exercise in people-watching. And there was a lot to the people I was watching. One couple, who had parked nearby, climbed into their car and I saw the whole thing sag about six or eight inches. I mean, c’mon folks, Monroe makes heavy duty shocks. Save your car! You go over railroad tracks and your exhaust assembly’s gonna remain behind. These people were not fat; fat is too kind a word for them. They were grossly overweight; a pair of heart attacks just waiting to happen. There is no humor in this. I can only hope it is some rare type of thyroid condition, but I’m not counting on it.

I’m six-one and weigh about 245. I should probably lose about thirty pounds. At one point I weighed in at well over 260, but with the encouragement of several doctors, Juli, and a few friends, I’ve managed to lose some of the fat and look forward to losing more. It’s tough; once you pass 50 years of age, the weight goes on easily, but is harder than hell to remove. You make a determined effort by joining a gym and working out every day, but the minute you begin a weight regimen to go along with your cardio, you find yourself in more trouble. Since muscle weighs more than fat, the first few weeks will find you gaining weight rather than losing it. One can become easily discouraged.

But enough about me; what do you think of me…as the old joke goes. There I was, watching people going in and out of Walmart and thinking, “I’m going to have to sit outside of Whole Foods and see if this is endemic to Walmart or is it true at all stores that sell; that sell; that sell…what exactly? Sure, they sell candy, but so does every other food store. They also sell a whole range of other things, most of which are non-food-related. Based on that, the majority of people who enter a food store should be obese – I know that’s fallacious, but it makes for good copy. So what is it about Walmart that attracts people who are unquestionably obese?

Let me make one thing perfectly clear – whoops, isn’t that what Nixon said – I have no prejudice against people who are seemingly unconcerned about their weight. I’m quite certain that the women would prefer to be a size two model in Milan…or not…and the men would like to rid themselves of that six months pregnancy bump that they’re carrying around…or not. It’s just that…well…I feel for them. It can’t be any fun lugging that extra weight around. I know that I feel better now than when I was 260 and if I can drop the other 30, I’m going to feel even better. I have no desire to run a marathon or even a 10K; it’s just knowing that the more I lose, the less strain I put on my back and legs and both could use more relief.

Obesity is a problem in this country. It wasn’t when I was growing up. Hell, if anything, most of us were too thin. Maybe it’s not us; maybe our food has become so chemically altered to please our taste buds that we can’t resist making gluttons of ourselves. Whatever the case, obesity kills and those who are had better wake up to that fact.

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