After I published last week’s post–“Fit as a Fiddle: the Inefficient Way”–I brushed up against a fear that stopped me dead in my steps! What if my readers thought that I actually believed in my principle of fitness inefficiency? Or, worse. What if they thought that I actually applied all of those inefficiencies to my fitness routine, day after day?
I won’t lie: I have used those inefficiencies from time to time to reach or exceed my steps-per-day goal. How else could I have come up with such outlandish strategies for getting in more and more steps. Obviously, too, my inefficient method actually does increase daily steps. As I mentioned last week, since the start of this year I have walked 782,356 steps. Yes. That’s right. 782,356 steps. Based on my gender and my stride length, that’s equivalent to 370.4 miles.
And, obviously, too, other folks do similarly outlandish things. Thank you, Chris, for owning up to the fact that you have even stopped “the car on the side of the road [to] jump up and down and walk around for ten minutes to make up for the lost steps.” I will remember that strategy!
Little wonder, then, that I felt compelled to post a “Take Two” so that I could seize the opportunity to make perfectly clear what everyone hopefully knows already. Fitness takes work. Hard work. Consistent work. Intentional work.
Trust me. I know firsthand. I’m a straight shooter when it comes to my overall fitness game, and I play it with intentionality.
Ironically, down through the years I thought that I was enjoying overall success. But a decade or so ago, my dentist discovered—during a normal checkup—some surprising and not-so-normal numbers. My blood pressure was elevated. One week later, my doctor confirmed that I had joined the ranks of one in three Americans who have high blood pressure and do not even know it.
She minced no words: I had to play my numbers better, smarter, and with greater intentionality. I suddenly realized: this is no lottery, where the odds are far too high against my winning. This is my life, where the odds are good that I can control some numbers and turn this game around.
Some numbers, I can’t control. Like my age: 74. Like my height: 5’ 8”.
But I can control other numbers. Generally, I want them low.
Like my weight. My current 181 isn’t bad, but the low 170s is my best wager. I’d like to get my body fat below 23 percent. I want to hit a range of 18 to 22. I’m getting there, slowly but surely, by eating fewer calories. By cutting 500 calories daily, I can lose one pound weekly. What a payoff!
Generally, I like my cholesterol numbers low. I want my total well below 200 mg/DL and my LDL—the bad stuff—below 100. That’s optimal. I want my triglycerides—the fat—lower than 150. But I want one number high: my HDL. Hot tip: aim for higher than 60.
I want some other numbers high, too. Like fiber. Most Americans consume 14-15 grams daily. I’m getting 30 grams plus, by eating at the bottom of the food pyramid: 6-11 daily servings of bread, rice, and grains; 3-5 of vegetables; and 2-4 of fruit. Dividends? Less body fat, reduced colon cancer risk, and lower blood sugar. Keeping my blood sugar below 120 mg/DL but no lower than 70 is keeping me from developing diabetes.
Since that initial diagnosis, I’ve been playing my exercise numbers with greater intentionality, too. 60 minutes—every day. Every other day, I go for 90. No bluffing.
With my new approach to exercise and diet—and with one pill a day—my blood pressure numbers have plummeted. I stay in a normal range of 120/80. Most days, lower. My resting heart rate is low, too. 60-100 is normal. Mine runs 60. Jackpot!
My doctor remains astounded: my blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar numbers continue to be spot-on, back-to-back wins. In fact, my numbers are so incredible that she’s always asking me for insider information! Go figure!
I’m going to keep on playing my numbers not only by the book but also with intentionality. I believe in life, and I want mine to be long, healthy, and productive. I want to hit those higher double digits: 80s and 90s. Who knows—triple digits might be grand.
It may be a long shot, but the way I look at it: if I don’t live longer, I’ll live better. Intentionally.