Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How Should You Start Your Day?

at 9:12 PM

The late Jack Lalanne said that we started out our days in ways we would never approve of for our pets. That is, we would never put a cigarette mixed with coffee and a sweet roll into Barney the Beagle's dish. By extension, doing the same would be completely unthinkable in the case of Cecelia the cat. But, of course, this is what we do to ourselves.

Granted, not as many of us smoke nowadays; but supposedly twenty percent here in the United States still do. In its place, for some of us, is the Starbucks phenomenon. This is the immense cup of coffee generally sweetened by the equivalent of a heaping tablespoonful of sugar ( three times what Mary Poppins thought necessary to make the "medicine go down.") Often times this is accompanied by pastry, meaning simple carbohydrates and a lot more sugar. The only thing good about all this is that it makes us feel energized for about forty-five minutes.

Would we treat our pets this way, even if they liked it? Absolutely not. Instead, Barney, and Cecelia would always get the best pet formulas. Furthermore, we would watch their diets to keep them from getting fat. And, that is without any recent and erudite study from Harvard or Yale, suggesting that a closely monitored diet and calorie count "may" significantly impact the lifespan of four-legged family members. We know that it "will.".

When it comes to ourselves, we do not exert the same forethought. How can that be? Perhaps we think we are not hurting ourselves. Possibly, we believe that our minor indiscretions (like an everyday twenty-four ounce cup of coffee loaded with sugar) will never get us because of our great constitutions. At least this is how we used to talk twenty years or so ago. Nowadays, we talk in terms of genes, suggesting that because of our good ones we are able to handle treats, snacks and our morning uppers. That is even when we know they are trouble--"goodies" we would never give to our pets, to say nothing of our children.

Why else do we do what we know to be questionable at best? Possibly it is because everyone else does it. Therefore it is "normal.," and, of course, "normal" means of "no harm to anyone," not even us. The lines in front of Starbucks in the morning suggest that this is correct. They are long, with people waiting there for their morning fix. Presumably, our days just would not be right without our "cuppa." After all, there is at least fifteen minutes idling there, providing "free time" to collect our thoughts and get prepared to be "up and at them." Just rolling out of bed half asleep, sliding into the car to get to the office, could never be the same.

But not all of us do this ritual all alone. There is also the morning kick-off at the office scenario. There, we do a modified form of the same thing with others. Generally, this involves a morning recapitulation of last night's football game or, more intelligently, of the evening news. Whatever the topic, it is accompanied by caffeine, sugar and most probably simple carbohydrates. Will this ever change? Probably not in the near future. That is because the last person who "rudely" had no opinion while munching on an apple and sipping a glass of orange juice got fired for some "glaring" infraction of corporate policy.

Possibly these types of instances have become less frequent nationwide in the last decade. After all, there are people who are now allowed to occasionally work from home, and, as mentioned earlier, far fewer people are smoking. But the other bad habits still persist, as is evidenced by the line-up of cars at the coffee shops. Moreover, those of us who are into being like this really cannot conceive of a viable alternative to such an effective send off from slumber-land. Nevertheless, must there not be a better way?

Jack Lalanne started off his day with a handful of vitamins, vegetable juice and a two hour workout. In his words, it was "the most important thing of the day." Some of us may find those words problematic--"most important thing." That is because we know Jack was lecturing regularly, writing, giving advice and simply being our country's' "Grandfather of Fitness." How can all of that not be more important than a workout, vitamins, and light breakfast?

Jack believed that what he did to start the day determined it's outcome. Everything else was just what came later on of it's own accord. In other words, it came about like getting to a destination, after having gotten on the right freeway, setting the cruise control. Then his "Lexus" could figuratively drive itself.

What we do in the morning hours sets our metabolisms for the rest of the day. Starting off with proper nutrition and, exercise escalates the calorie burning processes for the hours which follow. Granted, black coffee has a similar effect, but it is not even ten percent as powerful as a mile swim, a three mile run or even a humble half hour walk around the neighborhood. These activities last in effectiveness for the whole day. That is why they are superior

Initially, even a half hour walk will be harder than sitting in the car waiting in line at Starbucks. But it is definitely better in the long run; and, it does get easier within six months (so much so that we actually start looking forward to it the night before.) This is especially so if a low fat, low carbohydrate diet and a handful of vitamins are part of it

Living like this is more in line with how we treat our pets. None of us would ever expect our four legged family members to survive on artificial stimulants, poor quality food and boredom. And, none of us would ever be content with them never going out regularly go out on the leash or chasing the frizz-bee. Therefore, how can any any of us not be doing things differently when it comes to ourselves? Because we only have two legs? That all has got to change.

Obese 48 years ago; state champion power lifter 1978; in better shape today at 62 than when on swim team in high school

Author of "Think and Grow Fit" the no hype guide to getting fit and staying that way forever (6.00 ebook or 15.95 softcover from publisher I_Universe, Amazon or Barnes and Noble)

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