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  • Writer's pictureby Eve Lees

Avoid exercise/diet overkill

Previously published in 1993 (as Eve’s newspaper health column) in The Langley Times, The Surrey Leader, The Abbotsford News, Today’s Times, and Mackenzie Report Inc. Also published in the Oct-Nov-Dec 1999 issue of Personal Health Newsletter

Small steps best for

making lifestyle changes . . .

Simon, James, Dick, and Marcie all made big, overnight changes to their lifestyles.

Simon Wilson (not his real name) eagerly threw himself into a seven-day-per-week exercise program. Daily, he jogged 30 minutes, weight trained for 45 minutes, and if his timing was right with the fitness schedule at the gym, he'd finish off with an invigorating hour-long aerobics class. However, on the weekends Simon took it easy: He skipped the half-hour jog.

James Woodward, a 46-year-old accountant (also not his real name) went on a

500 calorie grapefruit and yogurt diet. He also started martial arts classes three times weekly.

Dick Jones, 35 (his real name but not his real age), quit coffee and cigarettes cold turkey. He went on a four-day mountain hike with four of his good friends.

Dick's wife, Marcie Jones, is only 35 and wants to maintain her youthful 36-24-35 figure (her real name and age, but not her real measurements). Marcie increased her weekly use of her health club's stair climbing machine. She now uses the machine six days per week for 45 minutes, instead of her usual 20 minutes three times

per week.

What are these four people guilty of — besides being too ashamed to admit their real identities? They've killing themselves.

After two weeks of his grueling training, Simon wasn't so eager any more. Now he's taking more than just his weekends easy. In fact, chronic shin splints prevent him from running or doing any aerobic training. And the novelty of training with weights wore off very quickly. Simon is a classic victim of too much, too soon.

James Woodward had good intentions. However, his lack of energy couldn't get him through a full hour of a physically-taxing martial arts class. His Grapefruit Diet wasn't supplying him with enough fuel. And he can't stomach the sight of grapefruit any longer. Incidentally, the five pounds James lost on one week of his odd diet came back with company: He gained an extra five.

Suffering from severe coffee and nicotine withdrawal, Dick Jones managed to vibrate his way up a mountain. But he can no longer consider his four companions as good friends. They had enough of his mood swings. And Dick certainly wasn't in any shape to attempt a four-day hike. He seemed surprised he was so out of shape after being active in hockey and soccer (when was it . . . ten, fifteen years ago?). Anyway, they managed to carry him back down the mountain.

As for Dick's wife Marcie — she wouldn't listen to the fitness instructor at her club. She was warned that doing the same activity, every day for long periods of time could result in overuse injury. Now Marcie has to stay home to nurse her injured knee and sore lower back. Lucky her. She gets to listen

to Dick relate his version of his disappointing mountain hike.

Don't be a Simon, James, Dick . . . or a Marcie.

Take major goals one step at a time. Seek advice about exercise and diet, then gradually change your lifestyle. And you'll be proud to reveal your true identity.


Eve Lees, a former newspaper editor, is a Nutrition Coach, a Health Speaker, and has been a Health Writer for several publications for over 35 years.

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