Looking Back, But Not for Long

The July Project: Number 31

It took me 33 days, but I’ve made it to the end of the July Project. The main objective of this month-long blogging initiative was to devote time and attention every day to thinking and writing about my efforts to move more and eat better. Even on the three July days when I didn’t post anything, the subject was always in my thoughts, so I’m calling that goal substantially accomplished.

Another stated aim was to collect ideas that I can reflect on at some later date when I find myself struggling to move forward, and to share those ideas with anyone else for whom they might be useful. A few people have told me that these posts inspired them to work harder on their own fitness or writing goals, so in that respect, the project has been an unqualified success. Many thanks to everyone …[MORE]

Laying a Minefield of Metaphors

The July Project: Day 20

I received a note this morning from a Facebook friend who’s struggled as hard with weight loss for most of her adult life as I have. She asked, “Can you send me some of you exercise motivation magic? [I’ve] fallen off the wagon…. The battle never seems to end.”

I wrote back to say that I know the feeling very well, but that somehow it’s helped to stop thinking about fitness in those terms. I’ve tried to make exercise part of who I am—not a short-term project, and not a battle, either. Her words stayed with me all day: the battle never seems to end.

Last weekend I happened to catch an interview with Valerie Bertinelli on CBS News Sunday Morning in which the 49-year-old actress talked about losing 45 pounds, and about her efforts to come to terms with why she gained the weight in the first place. She mentioned plans to run a marathon, and the interviewer chose to sum up the story …[MORE]

You Can Make Up Rules, Too

The July Project: Day 9

A few days ago, I mentioned the rules of the exercise game that I’ve been playing:

Rule #1: Do something every day.
Rule #2: Everything counts.

On Wednesday, someone who’s been reading this blog lately said to me, “I just can’t exercise every day.”

I replied, “I’m not saying that you should …[MORE]

Not Everyone Will Be Supportive, But That’s Not Your Problem

The July Project: Day 6

A couple of weeks ago, I was four miles into the daily routine when I had to stop to take a stone out of my shoe. I was at the park early because I had some evening plans. It was a blistering-hot afternoon, so when I finished tying my shoe, I sat on the shaded bench for a moment, mopping sweat.

Just then, an SUV drove by, and a teenage girl hanging out the passenger-side window yelled something in my direction. All I heard was, “…get off your ass….” Any other pearls of wisdom she wanted to offer were lost as the vehicle sped away down the park road. I said out loud, “Are you talkin’ to ME?” I looked around—no one else in sight at the hottest part of the afternoon. She must have been talking to me …[MORE]

Of Serendipity and Companions for the Journey

The July Project: Day 5

I wrote a draft blog post this morning about some social aspects of taking care of your health. I’m saving that one for another day, though, because I’d rather share the story of tonight’s trip to the park.


I was starting my walk at Memorial Park tonight when my iPod battery died. Rather than carry the useless thing for 6½ miles, I walked back to the car and threw it in the trunk. As I started again, I considered whether the dead battery might be a sufficient excuse for cutting tonight’s walk short. I rationalized the value of getting home an hour earlier, maybe getting some more work done before bedtime.

Memorial Park Houston

But when I’d walked about a mile, I ran into Gary, an old friend and a park fixture like myself. He was walking in the opposite direction, but when we met, he turned around and joined me. We walked together the rest of the way. I didn’t cut my walk short after all.

Three miles later, we got to talking about some of the other “frequent flyers.” We talked about the guy who …[MORE]

A Brief Meditation on the Need for Patience

The July Project: Day 4

Turtle

Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t get fit overnight. You spent years getting out of shape, right? It might take a few years of good habits to reverse the damage. Be patient. You’ve got time.

When you feel impatient, say to yourself: “I’m healthier today than I was yesterday.” Repeat as needed for a sufficient number of years.

The T-shirts Were Right All Along

The July Project: Day 2

I see T‑shirts with slogans like “Softball is life,” “Rugby is life,” “Shark-diving is life,” and so on. I used to find them stupid and arrogant. What the heck is that even supposed to mean: softball is life? Obviously, there’s a lot more to life than softball.

Hockey is lifeGotta have it? Go ahead and click. I won’t tell.

Then I found my own exercise passion: walking. It didn’t turn into an obsession overnight, and I never felt compelled to rush out and buy a walking is life T‑shirt. But I got hooked on it.

And over the course of several years, I discovered the wisdom of the T‑shirts …[MORE]

Now Is a Good Time to Start

The July Project: Day 1

I like to take on a new self-improvement project or two every month. I pick some part of my life that needs work, and then I try to give it time and attention every day. This week, as the first half of 2010 came to an end, I got the idea of collecting my favorite ideas about diet and exercise—a draft owner’s manual for my body, a reference I can turn to when I’m struggling to lose one more pound. Maybe someone else would like to read it, too.

I’ve lost about a hundred pounds in the last six or seven years. When people ask me how I’ve done it, I don’t like to give them the simple formula …[MORE]

You Could Be Here a While

Last weekend I told some friends about the work of Aubrey de Grey, gerontologist and chief science officer of the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence (SENS) Foundation. Dr. de Grey speculates that we’re eventually going to cure the causes of aging and that some day humans will live to be a thousand years old. That notion always gets me thinking about a question I find intriguing: How would you live your life differently if you knew you had another thousand years to live?

Let me put it another way: How would you treat your body if you knew it had to last another thousand years? Would you quit smoking? Would you be more careful about what you eat? …[MORE]