By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
April 17, 2016
I was rather inspired earlier this week to throw in a rant blog, mainly due to the “gaga ooohhh ahhhh” that surrounded the final game of Kobe Bryant’s career. The level of ridiculous pandering kind of made me sick, and I refused to listen to talk radio or read any media on the subject. Jason Whitlock seemed to be the only guy that had the guts to kind of call out Bryant on his selfishness during his career, which was something I always kind of agreed with in regards to Bryant’s acumen. Sure, he was a great player and all, but he rarely inspired his team (or much like Michael Jordan, intimidated) to be better. If anything, he just wore people the hell out and drove away top players. Now yes, I gave Kobe a tiny tribute on my Facebook page, considering 20 years ago I wrote how it was a bad idea for him to jump to the NBA. But I did that more out of irony and perspective in my own life, how looking back at our former self and looking deep into our thought processes changed (truthfully, I didn’t want Kobe to go to the NBA because I wanted him to play for my future alma mater, the University of Arizona). So yes, while I know Jon hates Jason Whitlock, I’m gonna give him a little shout out regardless. https://youtu.be/XO0G2I9SsKE Like always, letting out a little steam is good for the body and the mind, and I have had to do a lot of that lately due to a frustrating work situation. But, I have good ol’ exercise to help quell some of those monsters.
So, here is some of the best stuff I have been stewing over lately, and so here it goes….
KIDS AND VIDEO GAMES
Okay, this is going to be a touchy subject for me, but a little back ground. My parents never wanted me to have video games. I had to buy my first Atari 2600, which I quickly learned was at the tail end of the Atari era and was soon stuck with an obsolete machine with crappy games that I pretty dropped my entire allowance on. I had to buy my first Nintendo, which lasted a few years thankfully before I ultimately upgraded to the Super Nintendo, the N64 and then the Playstation 1 (which was just called a Playstation in those days). I stopped feeding the machine after playing some spectacular games like Silent Hill and Metal Gear Solid. I figured, can games really get any better than this? Silent Hill is still one of he creepiest freaking games I ever played, and I still have the original player’s guide due to my love for it. And Metal Gear Solid…talk about a game changer. Truthfully, games never did get better, and while the game play has improved and the graphics look better, the feeling you get is vacant and no longer there (though I may give a pass for the new Super Mario Kart….holy cow that game looks awesome!) Anyway, video games have too much backstory these days and can go on forever with their endless titles. Personally, I just stopped playing because I really felt there was nothing to gain or to really achieve by playing these odes to mindless vegging. I mean, you have to devote so much time and effort and money to stay in the pack, it is kind of ridiculous. And the hype campaigns are even more crazy! Either way, I still love some of the old games from back in the day, because for me, I love simplicity and fun rather than keeping up with the Joneses.
So it is no surprise the rise of video game culture and the rise of childhood obesity seem to run neck at neck. When I grew up, my family controlled my habits mostly because we had just one television. Occasionally, I had some games that my parents might like, such as Dr. Mario, Tetris and Earth Defense Force (my father loved playing that game with me!), but once it got past a certain hour, the games stopped. Anyway, back to the original topic. With so many kids getting their own televisions these days, the amount of game play has increased. Trust me, it is easy to get pretty fat doing this, snacking on the worst kinds of foods and guzzling some of the nastiest, most sugar laden atrocities known to man (a.k.a. energy drinks). Now I am not saying this is the biggest reason why kids are becoming overweight, but it plays a large role. So why not fight fire with fire? http://wrvo.org/post/how-video-games-may-be-able-reduce-childhood-obesity#stream/0
Now, the “game pad” technology the article mentions has been around for some 25 years. My first Nintendo was the special package deal that had the “Power Pad” and the light gun! Of course, they did this when the Sega Genesis hit the market, and you got all of that plus three game for less than a 100 bucks! Anyway, with the lack of physical activity that kids are getting at school due to reduced physical education departments, finding something to keep kids physically active is getting tough. Now you can say “kids should go outside and play in the back yard!,” but clearly you have not been to Arizona, where just about every new home has a backyard big enough to maybe fit your barbecue grill and a couch. So what is a person to do? Of course, it all boils down to the idea that you need to actually get your kids to do this, so perhaps active participation is in order. But you know me, I am of the old school ilk….just set some stringent ground rules. Get them out of the house and do active stuff with them. I know it is tough, but it will be worth it in the long run! Personally, I don’t think solving a problem of activity with video games is the right course. I mean, we eventually figured out ways to rig the Power Pad rather than actually run and jump like we were supposed to. Nothing will top the reality of getting out in the world and doing actual “stuff!”
SPEAKING OF ENERGY DRINKS…..
A couple years back I wrote about how I decided to kick my energy drink habit. In the span of the last three years, I have maybe had a couple cans at most of the liquid caffeine. During Ragnar 2014 Monster was a sponsor of the event and thus we got free cans…so I drank the stuff. That was literally the last time I ever had a drink, even though I vowed to give it up a year before. I sometimes think about all of the Red Bulls and vodka I don’t drink anymore. It seems like the market continues get flooded with something new every day, for even “healthier” alternatives are being manufactured to battle the super giants in the industry. But it really makes no difference to me. While I used to be a connoisseur to the industry much in the same vein of a wine taster, I have no real desire to go back. And it is a good thing too, for research continues to illustrate just how bad this junk can be for your body. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/once-more-energy-drinks-raise-heart-health-concerns/
Of course, this was a relatively small study, but let’s look at the results. Amongst a group of 27 healthy participants and a lot of careful monitoring, those that drank the energy drinks had elevated blood pressure readings as well abnormal heart rhythms. Now this would be expected if you drank a couple cans of this stuff a day, but it continues to indicate that no matter what the amount is, this liquid fire is gonna do some damage to your body. Apparently, there have been some 34 deaths associated with energy drinks, though most of them are tied to people that already had bad health or consumed an exorbitant amount in a small period of time (like the guy that chugged four Red Bulls and then did a full on workout, suffering cardiac arrest. Of course, Red Bull got away, considering they issue warnings about consumption on their own product!). My favorite part of the article is how representatives from Monster Energy were quick to point out studies that kind of exonerated them from the pack. Either way, even if it doesn’t make your heart want to jump out of your chest, just think of the sugar content. One can of Monster caN have up to 50+ grams of sugar! That’s your daily intake of sugar in one 16-ounce can! And you also have to remember, who knows what else could be in this stuff. So like I always say with anything, tread lightly!
There is a great little meme I have seen many times during my fitness journey that always reminds me of one great mantra…the easiest and least given up exercise to do is walking. When I first started in this fitness journey, I walked a lot. I had so many sweaty shirts that I wouldn’t be surprised by the amount of laundry I had to do each week, especially when I realized the darn shirts were getting bigger and I had to wait to “reduce” into other shirts. There were some nights where I walked a good eight miles at Reid Park, just trying to strengthen my legs for the eventual day I started running. Well, I don’t walk much anymore, except to make a quick trip to the store for something or to take my dogs around the riverwalk. If my Fitbit hadn’t started going on the fritz lately, I would have a much better method of measuring my caloric intake per week. I mean, I usually walk a good 16 miles week, and that is not including the mileage I might drop at work. I mention all of this because I’m trying to encourage my parents to do more walking, especially now as they are getting older. It’s been kind of cute lately, for my father has been posting Runkeeper updates on his walking and posting photos of which dog he decides to walk with him that morning. I think the best one was when I joined him and we were able to take his three big dogs for a walk, which is something he can’t do since they all love to pull and combine into a 200 pound beast! Of course, I could handle the three of them, but it would still wear the hell out of my arms!
Now you ask, what is so great about walking? Well, to fit in with the topic from earlier, it’s kind of the gateway drug for all fitness. I’m glad my father is taking the initiative to do more walking, because he needs to keep his injured hamstring moving and warm. Plus, there is a huge benefit in regards to walking his dogs. http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/life/2016/04/02/why-walking-your-dog-more-than-exercise/81885906/ Sure, many of these benefits help the dogs more than anything (especially his pit-boxer mix Duchess, who can be a little surly some days), but the biggest thing that helps the human is the consistency. Remember when I first mentioned how I started walking? I never would have used the Santa Cruz Riverwalk if I didn’t have a fat little chihuahua that desperately needed to lose some weight! Admittedly, it took me a good three years before I finally took a heavier initiative, but hey, don’t judge. For my father, not only does it help his relationship with his pups (who all love him to death!), it also presents different challenges for him. They all love to pull and be active, so in addition to the fact they are keeping him consistent with his regimen, they are also helping actively work muscles. Controlling your pets is not something new in the world of muscle reaction, for their is a body rehabilitation group here in Tucson that teaches people how to ride horses and such. The thought being, if you can control all the multiple nuances of riding a horse while staying upright and keeping your own body under control, your body will work the much smaller muscles needed to maintain balance and control. Trust me, it works! I had a friend who’s bother could barely walk, and this sort of therapy helped him regain a lot of mobility back. Now of course, the dogs are not as strong as a horse, but they can be tough to handle. You would think a 13-year-old basset hound and a 14-year-old akita mix wouldn't have much pull left in them, but boy you are wrong! The “baby of the family, the 5-year-old pitbull-boxer mix is the least to pull!
So just remember, if you ever want to start a good fitness regimen, starting in the gym will certainly help. However, starting on the walking paths may be just as good!
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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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