Go on, steal 21 gym towels

They say that if you do something for 21 days, it will become a habit. And once it’s a habit, then your body will come to expect it. I’ve always liked this line of thought. I like the idea that if you can grin and bear a new hardship for three weeks, you can seriously impact your life.

I repeated this mantra over and over: You can make your life better in 21 days. And I set out to be healthier through vigorous exercise.

And I stole all of the towels from the gym.

No, it was not intentional. In fact, some may say I am worthy of applause, that the shear number of towels in my possession is proof of a person committed to a healthy lifestyle. But, others may also say I stole a whole bunch of towels.

It started out simply. One day while at the gym, I put a small hand towel around my neck and walked out with it. Maybe I was distracted by the guy who wears way too much denim to work out. Or the guy who always wears argyle socks. Maybe it was the couple who spend their entire workout arguing. Whatever the distraction, I got home and realized my mistake. And I vowed to return it the next day.

Have you ever seen those TV shows about hoarding? There is a common theme where these people start to collect something and don’t realize there is a problem until it is too late to do something about it. By that time, only a reality TV show can save them.

After a workout, I got in my car and realized I still had a towel on my shoulder, again. “Whelp, I’ll just return it tomorrow,” I said to no one. As I gingerly tossed it in the backseat, I caught sight of the edge of a small mountain. Panic set in. I quickly covered my shame and looked around expecting the local SWAT team to surround my car. I needed a reality TV show to clean this up, quick.

I counted. When I got to 21, my panic actually subsided as I realized how hard I was working. I no longer get winded climbing stairs. I don’t get tired chasing my kids around. Everything no longer hurts all of the time. In fact, nothing hurts. Sometimes you don’t realize how powerful it is to just feel good. We all should seek it. It brought me joy and made me eager to live.

“Wow, I feel pretty good,” I said. “I mean, except for all of these towels.”

In lieu of moving out of state or switching gyms, I decided to subtly return them without anyone knowing. That way, I figured, it would force me to keep going back to the gym. So each day, I took one in with me until I was no longer worthy of a reality TV show.

—Dave Manley

More than a mindset

Every year it happens. I am going to be healthier this year than I was last year. I will make time to do it. I will make an effort—add more color to my plates.

Then life happens. And work. And kids. And play.

Working out and getting fit and trim reminds me of the old adage: Everyone wants to go to heaven, but few want to die to get there. This year, the intentions were earnest, if not aided.

By the end of January, I was down about 20 pounds. I peaked too soon, though. A surgical procedure on my neck helped me to lose some of the weight. The goal was to drop 30 pounds before vacation at the start of May.

Needless to say, I would have been better off if the vacation was in March. Before May came around, all the weight I lost was found again, and that can’t be healthy since it was about a 45-pound swing. What goes down, must come up again?

So I came up with a new plan, a new goal and a new road map to get there.

Now it’s summer. And graduation party season.

Then Netflix released new seasons of “Bloodline” and “House of Cards.” You know what that means? That is going to cut into my workout time. And who binge watches Netflix without snacks?

Never one to set myself up for failure—ahem—another goal has been established.

Post Labor Day diet and workout routine. Stop laughing. No kidding.

I’m doing the research now. Last year, we bought a treadmill, which, since I put it together, I haven’t introduced the bottom of my shoes to it. Maybe it would be easier, and more affordable, if I purchased an elliptical machine to put next to the treadmill. The danger in that is the elliptical becomes a place to dry clothes. Or the other option is to purchase a membership to the YMCA.

Getting healthy and dropping weight is more than a mindset. It’s a lifestyle change.

And one I’m sure to make … soon … I think.

—Todd Porter

Don’t believe the hype; fitness takes time

Everyone wants to be in shape. Not everyone wants to get in shape.

It takes effort—a commitment that for most people means a change in daily routine and lifestyle choices.

It also takes time.

And time, for many people in our fast-paced world of
obligations and frequent demands, proves to be more valuable than anything else, even money.

Lose money? You can make more. Lose time? You’re never getting it back.

You’re probably thinking right now, “I’m never getting back the time I’m wasting reading this column.”

Who hasn’t wasted money on some get-great-abs-quick product that was little more than a tricycle wheel with a stick axle. Kneel down, stretch out and roll that gizmo back and forth while your back seizes and you end up hobbled for a week.

We all, at least once in our lives, fall victim to that marketing trap that convinces us we can achieve a magazine-
cover body in “just 20 minutes a day!”

Don’t listen when some celebrity says you can look like Mr. or Ms. Fitness USA in two simple steps: by spending several months of discretionary income on the latest elliptical/climber/stepper/tread contraption, then spending “just 20 minutes a day” sweating to the oldies on it.

Let me let you in on a little secret. There’s a reason the people in those commercials/infomercials are smiling: They are highly paid fitness models, probably getting a percentage of the money poor saps like us dump into the latest fad. Bodies like theirs come as gifts from God by way of their parents’ good genes. Machines can help, but the raw material has to be there in the first place.

But, hey, if you want a $2,000 clothes rack …

And, of course, no amount of exercise will overcome lousy eating habits. “Six-pack” abs and six-packs of beverages rarely coexist. Gotta really limit the calories, and who wants to do that? The famous philosopher Garfield nailed it when he said, “You can’t spell ‘diet’ without ‘die.’ ”

Pass the lasagna.

None of this should be taken to say that exercise is for naught. At any age, walking, bicycling, swimming and age-appropriate resistance training can ward off not only some diseases, but also the aches and pains and weight gain that come with a more sedentary lifestyle. Just be realistic about the possible end results and stick with a sensible program.

Step away from the remote—and the bag of chips. Get up. Get moving. Get healthy.

—Rich Desrosiers

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