By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
July 28, 2016
So I have been looking for work quite a bit lately, and much to my chagrin, the search has been relatively fruitless. The upside at least is this…companies that are not interested in me based in other states don’t leave me hanging. I wish I could say the same for local companies here in Tucson, who don’t even send you a curt email saying you are useless and rot in hell loser. Okay, I am getting a little too negative on this post, so let’s try to keep this thing running in the right direction. Anyway, it is looking more and more like I will be working a job I despise sometime soon, so I might as well continue living life and working hard to fix up my body. I mean, I have a good reason to go to the gym today…Jon is passing out coupons to Chipotle. Don’t know how the guy did it, but he got a little sponsorship going with the Chipotle near his house. Maybe he is one step away from getting the mythical Chipotle card, the one where you can apparently get a free burrito every day. This is only granted to certain high ranking individuals of entertainment and sports, but hey, maybe us average people can get them someday. Anyway, I really don’t need too much inspiration to get to the gym. The only thing that ultimately holds me back is the lack of money.
I guess that is why I have tried to set up a little bit of a financial future for myself, looking for a new job and asking other people to help me out in the process. I will admit, it sucks being poor and it is tough to go through each day without a paying job. I will continue to stay this…any idiot that claims unemployment is some kind of vacation should get their mouth slapped. I’ll do it myself if I have to! Anyway, an old friend invited me to a little pow wow in regards to setting up a financial future for myself, mainly to introduce me and such. Sounds like a decent deal, for you pay a membership fee and you can get some help finding the right kind of insurance, money growth ideas and tips for future savings. Sure, the presentation was a little doom and gloom, following the lines that Social Security will blow up and the mythical tax ideas of conservatives will never refill it….SO SAVE YOURSELF! Okay, they didn't say that directly, but that is how my journalist mind will interpret things due to the fact I am not allowed to put those sort of interpretations in writing (though it hasn’t stopped the thousands of useless blogs from doing it themselves!). Needless to say, it was a good way to introduce myself, for I barely know half the stuff they mentioned and they also kind of agreed with a financial idea I sort of believe in myself…buying a new house, or buying anything new and expensive (at least that is how I observed it). If anything, I have lived under the idea of recycling and reusing, which is why the only thing that I have bought new and bonafide just for little ol’ me is my vacuum cleaner, my dishes, glasses and my old Playstation 2. Just about everything else is disposable for me, which is why I feel confident about leaving town due to the fact I can pick and choose what stuff I want to leave behind and have no anguish about having to sell it a rock bottom price. Hell, if you are lucky, you might get all my old stuff the way I first received it…FREE!! One thing that was interesting was talking to an old work related acquaintance I used to know back when I was in the electrical game. The last time he really saw me was in 2014, where I was in the 280s. I kept joking with him about needing money because I’m tired of wearing my old fat guy wardrobe that is still lingering in my closet. Seriously the only clothes I have managed to buy these days are concert t-shirts and a recent gem from The Loft Cinema that was an ode to Nicolas Cage (yup, more Cage references!). He was genuinely impressed that I took control of my health.
During the presentation, there was one particular part that really took me in, and that was a section about preparation or the “what if” of living too long, even if you are sick. The numbers might be a little skewed, but it did raise some good questions in my mind. If you are sick late in your life, guess where all that hard earned cash you saved and put away is going to go? Of course, the gentlemen leading the presentation sort of answered the idea by insinuating you need to find the right insurance for your future life (and adjust accordingly) while also creating contingencies for potential health troubles. The foregone conclusion being…you will get sick, you will break down, and you will spend way too much money on your health. The presentation of this fact was something I didn’t really agree with, for I know there are steps you can take to severely slow this degradation down. Naturally, it is not the kind of answer most people want to hear. Over the past couple years, I have pointed out some massive problems that are potentially down the road, whether it be 40% of the country being obese by 2030, six million people a year needing liver transplants starting in 2025, Cancer doctors being few and far between by the time 2033 rolls around and of course, the obesity of our youth…whenever that happens due to the fact the numbers stopped growing for the first time in a decade last year. Right now, I think some people might have heard that crazy story a few years back about the quantum singularity that will happen in 2038 and we will all live forever. I certainly hope not. I can’t imagine a world where idiots won’t naturally cull themselves due to drunken stunts. I make this snarky remark because it just seems too many people are not doing enough to fix their own health. Since the Republican and Democratic conventions have overtaken the news waves and my Facebook feed has been overstocked with a few lifetimes worth of horrible political memes, it makes me rather angry that some good health debates are getting tossed by the wayside. I mean, being more mindful of teenage diabetes and prostate cancer should not be relegated to how much a stupid dress costs (and once and for all…No! what you wear does not signify what kind of person you are, whether it is $12,000 or $135 or it is $5 at the Goodwill…stop making something so insignificant into such a major political story you stinking tool pouches!!!) Okay breathe…I’m letting it happen again…just imagine Marlon Webb and his buddies “running” to A-Ha’s “Take on Me.” https://youtu.be/aaGX4JdtQi8
Seriously, that video I just posted just chills me out. Don’t know why. Maybe it is because the prancing he and his buddies are doing is ridiculously hard (yes, I gave it a shot!…maybe I will make a Youtube video trying to mimic that). Anyway, where was I. Yes, I was talking about the health of America, and boy, for all the doom and gloom people that keep saying our country is going to hell (it’s not) this is an actual problem. Maybe the fact the study is from Europe, or maybe American’s just want to keep eating like lushes, but a new study from the European Preventive Journal of Cardiology revealed some pretty sad news….being out of shape is almost as bad for you as being a smoker. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/07/27/being-unfit-may-be-almost-as-bad-for-you-as-smoking/?_r=0 For those that are scoffing and hate the New York Times (it is the political season, haha!), here is the actual study abstract. http://cpr.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/07/13/2047487316655466.abstract
The study went like this. The researchers found 1,000 men in Gothenburg, Sweden in 1963. All the men in question were 50 years old, and all were given extensive health tests, measuring their cholesterol, blood pressure and body weight. The researchers also decided to ask some pertinent questions, mainly in regards to how much they exercised and how much they smoked (remember, this was the 60s!). They then did a follow-up study a few years later to retest the men, and that is when they decided to lump the men into three groups: low aerobic capacity, medium aerobic capacity and high aerobic capacity. This was the gist of the study, to really understand how personal health can affect a person’s remaining lifespan. Anyway, over the next few decades as the men lived and died, a pattern emerged. Those that smoked on average had shorter life spans than those that didn’t. The other major test that was conducted on the men was a standard Maximal Oxygen Consumption test, or often known as a VO2 Max test, which is how the men were originally lumped in the study. Truthfully, it came as no surprise that the men who had a much fitter health profile in regards to the VO2 Max test had much longer and healthier lives. Compared to the smokers in the group, it wasn’t even a competition. Now before I go any further, what is a VO2 Max test? Essentially, it is a stress test that forces your body to utilize the oxygen stores in your body. As you are pushed, the amount of oxygen your body is utilizing is being measured, and there is a specific formula utilized for your specific body weight. Eventually, your body will stop utilizing it’s aerobic capacity and start utilizing it’s anaerobic capacity. What anaerobic utilization does is break down the carbohydrates in your body to make up for the loss of oxygen. This can certainly help with some short term bursts, but what ultimately happens is lactic acid starts building up in your body and your muscles start breaking down. Some people call it “hitting the wall.” It’s the main reason why I need to build up my running ability again before I star attempting half marathons again. Anyway, the VO2 Max test was heavily utilized during the course of this study.
As the researchers crunched the numbers over the last few years, “lack of fitness” seemed to crop up quite definitively during this study. While smoking was the number one cause for lost life, the lack of a healthy VO2 Max turned out to be a significant problem for the men as they got older. It proved to be the second leading cause of reduced years, beating out heart disease and high cholesterol. According to the research, men in the lowest VO2 group had a 21% increased risk of early death compared to the middle group, while the risk percentage shot up to 42% between the lowest and the highest. Now some caveats to the test, which the researchers noted, was the fact the men mostly self reported the details of the lifestyle, so the researchers had to focus quite a bit on the VO2 testing during the course of the study. Some might note the fact this is a foreign study and American men might not apply, but you also have to consider the fact American men didn’t have as sedentary of a lifestyle in 1963 as they do now and were not exposed as often to chemical cocktails that sometimes calls itself food or a heavy fast food/soda driven culture. But the research just keeps indicating one thing to men, whether they want to hear it or not. You have to take care of yourself, no matter if you work in the field or behind the desk or whether you old or young. It’s something I keep harping about because I honestly believe men’s health is something of a non issue in this country, where the only indicator is whether you have muscle and whether you are skinny or not. Now, I cannot make any grandiose statements about women in regards to this study because they didn’t do one geared toward women, but one can only assume the results could affect women in a similar way.
So, what other excuses do you need to make gentlemen? Of course, I fell into that trap where I really had nothing to live for back in the day, because truthfully, I really didn’t. Now I have dogs and a little bit of hope and I want to compete in more races someday…so there is that. But I know there is also a lot of family men out there that should take some more pride in their own personal health rathe than put it aside for other reason. Either way, hopefully this sinks in a little now that the good for nothing political conventions are done with.
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Meet the Author
Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.
When you read this blog you are reading through the eyes of someone who is winning the battle of real weight loss. Steve is not a fitness professional, but he is someone we can all learn from.
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