Saturday, July 21, 2012

Finally joined a health club, LifeTime, to lose weight and trim up

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You get older and your metabolism slows down. And as your metabolism slows down, you start to put on weight. Most people put on weight in "shifts." That means as you age 10 or so, your weight increases and adjusts to a new "normal." Many people try to off-set weight gain by eating healthy. But eating healthy isn't enough. Remember, your metabolism slows, so what used to be "regular eating habits" are now excessive eating habits for you. What you used to eat before, now is adding weight as the process of burning calories naturally slows with your metabolism.

So you have to exercise. Exercise helps compensate for metabolism slow-down. It actually helps boost your metabolism.

Well, in the 20s, 30s and even the 40s, my metabolism was always good. Now that I'm in my 50s, I can't rely on it to eliminate the calories and weight that I have been putting on. I reach a natural plateau in the 50s of 220 lbs. Everyone has a different natural plateau of weight. That's mine. But, when you enjoy eating the way I do, the weight starts to pack it in, and it doesn't spread around equally. For some reason, weight gain loves to hang around my waist. 

And that weight gain adds stress and the stress wears you down and pushes your metabolism down, too. It's a vicious cycle.

I tried dieting. I did the Atkins Diet in the 40s and 50s and it worked great. Sure Atkins died of a heart attack. Basically, everyone does, eventually. The Atkins Diet is great for fast weight loss but the real challenge isn't getting used to the boring daily menu of all protein for 10 days or more, but rather when you are done and lost 30 pounds, how do you keep it off.

Eventually, Atkins weight loss stops working if you do it too often. Maybe it causes liver problems or gall bladder problems, too.

I lost 40 pounds once on Atkins. I kept it off for about a year, but eventually it slowly crept back on with a vengeance. Lost weight doesn't like Atkins and when it comes back, it packs in the fat even more.

In the 30s and 40s, I used to belong to the East Bank Club downtown. It really wasn't to lose weight but to have fun. It was a power convergence point where you met clients, old and new. It was fun, more like a country club for people who liked to spend a lot of money on exercise-wear, the fashionable sexy stuff that looks great on models, people like Jillian Michaels and on TV commercials, but looks funny when on regular people. There is a whole industry in fitness clothing and now technology, too. 

Maybe I should find a fitness business for a client to help them because most really don't know how to market beyond the community demand they enjoy -- people who come to them rather than being led to them to join.

Teh Nova Plates at the EBC were great. The pool on the rooftop was the best in Chicagoland. Hot women, too. Isn't that why most men join a health club? To meet hot women? 

Maybe so. But that's before they start to put on weight.

So last week, after a decade of ignoring the physics of life, I decided to join LifeTime in Orland Park. It costs about $140 a month for a family of three, including my son.

Why not? I thought. I waste a lot of money other ways in life, especially on technology that doesn't last very long.

I have to tell you the past week has made a huge difference for me. I've moseyed on up to 2306 pounds. Yikes. I can't help it. I'm Middle Eastern and I love food. Being Middle Eastern is an advantage when it comes to healthy living. That Mediterranean Diet is phenomenal and does a lot of good. Though I had a heart valve replacement surgery several years ago, my arteries were clean and clear. Because of the extra virgin olive oil and the hummus and garbanzo beans and the Tahini. Believe it! That Mediterranean diet works and can help you clean your system.

Of course, some people are genetically inclined to bad health. My dad smoked for 60 of his 70 years, two packs of Camel filterless cigarettes a day. He lived 70 years, but probably would have lived 100 had he not smoked. (I smoked when I was in college but quit during basic training in the Air Force and never picked it up again. That was more than 40 years ago.)

In one week, I'm down 10 lbs. I went from 236 lbs to 226 lbs and I am eating the way I always eat. The only difference is I go to the healthclub every morning around 5:30 or 6 am -- sounds early but I am up at 5 am every morning and I usually sit at a computer and write for 2 1/2 hours before heading for a hectic day of managing media and political consulting clients who are ALWAYS ON THE FRONTLINES OF CONTROVERSIAL NEWS. In the media almost everyday. That's stressful, the other killer of people besides age.

I have a plan. I power walk one hour every morning. That's it. That translates into about 3 miles with the treadmill set at "3."

I was going to buy a treadmill. I found a ProForm 850 that normally costs $1,200 at Walmart for only $490. Almost bought it. Fortunately, I don't have an SUV any more so I couldn't get it home and changed my mind. The next day, I joined Lifetime.

Of course, the only problem with Lifetime is they have been doing this so long they don't care any more. The service there is pretty shabby. There's no follow-up. Just the fast-talking sign-up pitch and then pay. I was going to join anyway.

The equipment is out-of-date. So 80s. The treadmills don't connect to the technology. You can't plug in your iPod into the treadmill or any of the equipment. They told me they are going to install WiFi in September. If you have to wait that long, you obviously don't understand how important wireless is to today's society.

They have a wall of TV sets each tuned to a different channel and you can listen in to any of them by using an FM radio set to the channel. (91.1 FM, for example.) The problem is the system sucks. I don't want to go out and buy a radio. I dropped the radio and all the other technology that followed like the Walkman when the iPod and iPad and iPhone were born, about 5 years ago.

You can go to Radio Shack and buy a $20 adapter to plug into your iPod Touch or iPhone to listen to the TV FM broadcast signals of your choice. (There are about 10 of them). But they don't work on the iPod Classic or on the iPad which has a 10-12 hour battery strength. The iPhone lasts a few hours but you will be burning up battery power pretty quick.

So I set the iPad on the Treadmill ledge that is there coincidentally. Not as a ledge to hold an iPad but as a design feature. I just lucked out. And I use a Bluetooth earphone system -- Back Beat Go from Plantronics. And I play an audio book and listen while I work out.

It makes the time go faster, especially learning more and more about Internet marketing and media and PR from the audio book I purchased.

Lifetime is not the power location to meet clients, either. Which is good, I guess. It's worn down looking. The in-door and out-door pools are good, but we're members of the Orland Pool, which for $150 a year is the BEST! The only advantage of Lifetime is that their in-door pool is heated and open all year round, and a great choice after the outdoor pools there and at Millennium Park close for the Fall.

The food isn't bad at their little restaurant at the entrance. Very healthy and very affordable, too. A good buy.

Anyway, it's just been 10 days. But the results of daily exercising speak for themselves.

I'll keep you updated when I am down to a svelte 180 lbs and have a 8 ridge washboard stomach. Well, just  being able to look down and see all of my feet without leaning forward, well, that's something any baby boomer would hope for these days.

-- Ray Hanania

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