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Sadly, many Americans today are in declining health and out of shape physically. Our evolution from an agricultural society, to an industrial society, to a technological society has left our bodies behind.
Most baby-boomers, now approaching retirement, appear to be equally concerned about their future-financial-health, and their future-physical-health. Yet, statistics show they invest much more in their future-financial-health. Most people take much better care of their financial portfolio, and the material things they own, than they do their most valuable asset—their body!
Have you ever wished your body came with instructions? In 1989, when I began lecturing around the country on health and fitness, I could not believe how uninformed most people were about the fundamentals of exercise and fitness, especially as it relates to its effects on the body.
After giving it a lot of thought I realized that the vast majority of people have (A) very little scientific knowledge about the actual effects of exercise on the body, and (B) very little practical knowledge of the benefits of maintaining strength. I discovered this was especially true for anyone who has never participated in a competitive sport that required them to consistently push their body to extremes physically, in order to achieve peak performance.
I realized that I was taking a lot for granted. I grew up on a ranch. I learned how to work hard at a very young age. I had two older brothers, an older sister, and a younger sister who were extremely athletic. They constantly pushed me to compete against them physically in any, and every activity imaginable. I just assumed that everyone went through a similar situation growing up.
I came to realize, however, that only a very small percentage of people fit into that category. And, to make matters worse, P.E. (physical education) classes-that used to be mandated as part of one’s basic education-have, for the most part, been dummied down, and in some cases completely eliminated. This has left a huge portion of our population now taking better care of their cars and pets than they do their own body.
If you’re like me, you have probably tried to program the old VCRs to record a TV program without reading the instructions. If so, you found out that it’s virtually impossible. In a way that’s what’s happening with most people today as it relates to their health and fitness. Since they’ve never read their body’s instruction manual, their attempts to get and stay physically fit have been met with frustration, causing them to eventually give up.
As an ex NFL athlete I have been at both extremes with my health and fitness. I’ve been in phenomenal shape physically, and I’ve been overweight and out of shape physically. This book is about what I’ve learned both at, and between, those two extremes.
For the last twenty plus years I have enjoyed good health, and am in great shape physically. It should interest you to know that I only workout for ten minutes a day. Do I have your attention now?
I strongly believe that if your workout takes longer than 10 minutes a day, you may be wasting your time! The key word in that statement is workout. In my opinion there is a big difference between getting some exercise, and getting a “workout”.
A workout is that scheduled period of time during a given day, week, or month, that you set aside specifically to do what is necessary to get and stay physically fit. And, in my opinion, a workout should involve intense anaerobic exercise to build strength. Generally speaking, a workout is not fun.
Exercise, on the other hand, can be any type of activity that gets your body moving. In this sense, and only this sense, exercise can actually be enjoyable.
Here’s an example: I love to take my dogs Maggie and Darlene for a long walk at the National Park that borders our subdivision. We are usually gone 30-45 minutes. I throw sticks for them to retrieve, and we have a grand old time. There is no question that during that time I’m getting some exercise, but it’s not a workout. If that’s all I did, to give my body what’s really required to be physically fit, I would fall far short.
Another example would be doubles tennis. I love to play tennis; it is an enjoyable form of exercise. But it takes much more than playing doubles tennis every once in a while, to maintain my strength and fitness. It takes a workout!
From this point on I will use workout and exercise interchangeably. Just understand that unless specified, when I talk about exercise, I’m really referring to a workout.
I grew up working out. We lived on a working ranch. We raised our own beef, and for many years grew our own fruits and vegetables. I got up early every day to milk the cows before going to school. There where chores to do every day. On the weekends there were more chores and typically a project or two that required hard work.
Because I grew in height so early (I’m 6′ 7″), I was not as mature physically as my peers. Consequently, I learned to compensate by spending hours in the weight room. I venture to say I worked out more than most. In fact, I was lifting weights before it was popular, or even mandated for an athlete as it is today. Eventually it paid off for me in a big way.
Years later, when I stepped out of professional football, I felt like I had worked out enough for several lifetimes. Married and with children—in a sedentary job—my fitness began to decline. Then, after a serious back injury, it really went south. I found myself in a place I had never been before—out of shape physically, and with little time or motivation to turn things around.
This book is the story of what I have learned through that experience, and what I did to get back on track physically. On my journey I discovered something about me and others as it relates to the conventional approach to exercise and fitness.
You may ask what qualifies me to be called America’s Fitness Coach? Here’s the way I see it. I consider myself the everyday-normal-person-fitness-guy. In other words, when I pull my shirt up you will not see washboard abs! I do not look like the fitness fanatics that you most often see associated with getting fit. I am, however, in great shape for someone in his mid-50s, with a bad back and bad knees.
I like to draw a distinction between myself and Tony Horton. Tony is the famous fitness guy attached to a popular series of exercise infomercials called P90X. Tony is everything you would expect from a fitness trainer on TV-extra lean with chiseled muscles and a 6-pac.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am not as fit as Tony. To look like Tony, I would have to exercise differently, and much longer. And, even more importantly, I would have to be extremely careful about what and how much I eat. Tony Horton’s fitness programs are great, but they involve a much greater time commitment (60-90 minutes a day), and a lot more exercises than I do.
I was looking to create a method and formula of exercise that would get me off the every-once-in-a-while-when-I-could-get-around-to-it approach. That was clearly not working! The other thing that wasn’t working was the weekend-warrior approach.
One day I had an epiphany. What if the approach most people were taking was not the best? Could there be a radically different and ultimately much better way for people to get and stay physically fit in the 20-21st century? What follows is the secret to my success, and since 1993 the success of thousands.
Since 1989 I have been motivating and educating people to get fit for life. I enjoy teaching people the truth concerning how their body works—either for or against them—depending on how they exercise.
I believe it’s best to first exercise your mind before you exercise your body. Comedian Emo Phillips once said, “I used to think that the brain was the most wonderful organ in my body. Then I realized who was telling me this.” Very funny! But seriously, it is your brain that tells you what to do. So if you expect your brain to instruct you accurately, it must receive accurate information.
Whether you realize it or not your brain is filled with hundreds of thousands of sound-bites of information on health, fitness, exercise, nutrition, etc. These bits of information have entered over many years of reading and watching so called “experts” give their advice on the latest greatest technique or discovery.
Is it possible everything you’ve learned about exercise is wrong? Probably not everything, but a lot of what you’ve learned may be incorrect. Why does it matter? Because many people are wasting time doing things their brain is telling them to do to get fit, and it’s not working.
Over the years I developed a formula that I believe is essential for anyone wanting to develop a new habit. Especially a habit they intend to continue for the rest of their life. The formula is as follows: Education + Motivation x Application = Results. Get any of those out of order and you’re likely to fail.
As it relates to exercise, typically people become motivated to make a change because of an upcoming reunion, etc., and then quickly jump onto the current fad solution. Then, after several failures, they give up.
It is my hope that the information in this book will challenge your thinking and change your life regarding how, and how often, you exercise. The old saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” That’s true, but you can salt his oats!
I begin my oat-salting with a true story of a near death experience that happened to me many years ago. The key points of this story will hopefully serve as hooks—hooks on which you can hang the truths that you will learn about exercise and fitness. Using this method, I’m betting you will not soon forget them.