On fitness, motivation and beating the indoor curmudgeon

Under a bridge on a misty, cold-weather run. Beautifully dreary.

Under a bridge on a misty, cold-weather run. Beautifully dreary.

You can call this a Sunday confessional.

Generally speaking, there are two types of people. The first kind is the type who cannot sit still. They’re the ones who get bored easily. They want to do stuff. They want to be moving, acting, getting out there and shredding it until their body says, “No mas!”

The second kind of is the type who doesn’t mind chilling out. Grabbing some quality couch time. These are the kind of folks who can (and do) participate in Netflix binge-watching. Those AMC marathons? Yep, regular participants. They don’t mind getting out and doing things, but the Svengali-like power of the Lay-Z-Boy has much sway over this bunch.

Count me among the latter.

Say what? You may be thinking. But yes, it’s true.

I’d rather be among the former, just because it would make doing the things I enjoy – the hard things, mind you – that much easier. It would never be a debate if I was going to do another season of marathon training. It would be a done deal, barring injury, of course. Weather would never deter me. The temptation of watching “The Godfather” for the millionth time would be too weak to prevent me from doing more stuff outside.

Unfortunately, I’m not that guy.

There are a lot of great things about being able to chill. You don’t sweat the small things. You keep cool in stressful times. Restlessness is more easily controlled.

But inertia is a powerful thing, especially when your inertia is, well, static. It’s a lot easier to stay moving if you’re already moving. Getting going when you’re at full-stop is more physically taxing and mentally daunting.

That’s a problem we have here in the U.S. in general, where overeating and sitting still can be empirically measured. Every year, we’re reminded how much more obese the country is becoming. My home state of Oklahoma is a top-10 state in the nation when it comes to obesity rates; Colorado was recently ranked No. 2 in being the least obese (Montana is the leanest). And yet, with about 20 percent of its population considered obese, Colorado’s population is more obese now than Oklahoma was back in the 1990s. So that No. 2 ranking has a big Catch-22.

Clearly inactivity is not good, and it poses a particular challenge to people who gravitate toward sitting still.

Here is what that struggle looks like: Yesterday, the weather outside was crappy. The temperatures were in the mid-30s and it was rainy. I needed to get out and run. Keep in mind, I’m not a treadmill guy. I need to be outside, if for no other reason than to fight off the boredom that comes to mounting a machine and going nowhere.

My inside curmudgeon was ready to pack it in. I didn’t have anything to prove, and Sunday’s forecast looked much better. “Just bag it,” inside curmudgeon whispered in my ear. “Tomorrow is another day.”

And I was down with that. But there was still daylight left. It wasn’t that windy. And that rain? More like a fine mist.

“Get up,” outdoor curmudgeon said. “Get your run gear on, put on a ballcap and pound out a few miles. Make it five. You’ve run in worse. Much worse. Don’t be  wuss!”

These two battled it out for a couple hours as the afternoon wore on. The merits were weighed, and outdoor curmudgeon won out. No one else was out, but that was OK. The riverside trails were all mine. There was some beauty to the dreariness. Five miles later, I can say I didn’t regret a second of it.

If you’re the first type of person I mentioned earlier, God bless you. This dilemma rarely confronts you. If you’re within the second group, take heart. It might take a little more to knock you out of the couch-induced sloth, but you can do it. Consider each battle an exercise in growth, with each victory making it easier to transition from couch potato to human dynamo.

Bob Doucette

Should we mourn the demise of Twinkies?

twinkies

Are you going to miss Twinkies?

Really?

Hostess went bankrupt for the second time in about a decade. And then it went under for good, taking with it all those sugary, cakey, cream-filled  snacks that most of us grew up with.

And then people went nuts. Cleared out the shelves. Started hoarding. And inexplicably, put them out to the highest bidder on eBay for laughably exorbitant prices.

Then the blame game started in full swing – who DARED kill our Twinkies? The stubborn bakers’ union that wouldn’t take the deal offered by management? Or the greedy C-level executives who ran the company into the ground?

The way I see it, there are two things worth noting. First, it stinks that more than 18,000 people are losing their jobs.

But as far as the snack cakes go – will you really miss them?

I haven’t had a Twinkie in, well, I don’t know. Years. Many years. They weren’t a regular part of my diet growing up or in adulthood. That’s probably not a bad thing.

Consider what they’re made of. The ingredients list: Wheat flour, folic acid, niacin, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, iron, sugar, water, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, vegetable shortening, animal shortening, eggs, dextrose, modified corn starch, corn flour, glucose, baking soda, monocalcium phosphate, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sweet dairy whey, soy protein isolate, calcium caseinate, sodium caseinate, soy flour, salt, monoglyceride, diglyceride, polysorbate 60, corn dextrin, soy lecithin, cornstarch, cellulose gum, sodium stearoyl lactylate, sorbic acid, FD&C Yellow No. 5 and Red 40.

So basically we’re talking about two finds of flour, two kinds of fats, five kinds of sugars (two kinds of corn syrups!), two kinds of food colorings and an ingredient than can be used for, among other things, rocket fuel.

So what do you get with this chemistry set confection? One Twinkie has 150 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of protein and no measurable vitamins and minerals.

Because no one eats just one Twinkie (they come in packages of two), you get 300 calories, 9 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat 2 grams of protein and still almost nothing when it comes to vitamins and minerals. That’s 15 percent of the average person’s recommended daily calorie intake, and the only thing it will do for you is go straight to your fat cells and spike your blood sugar levels.

That brings to mind a couple of other things.

The United States is rapidly becoming more obese every year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 35.7 percent of U.S. adults are obese; 16.9 percent of children and adolescents have the same condition. That’s 90.5 million Americans, just under a third of the nation’s population.

The eating habits that make us obese also have health consequences that go beyond our collective girth. Take diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association reports that in 2011, 25.8 million people have diabetes, or 8.3 percent of the population. Diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, vision loss, high blood pressure, neural diseases and amputations. In 2007, diabetes cost the U.S. $174 billion. That’s billion with a B.

I’m not going to be so dumb as to blame all these maladies on Twinkies or the myriad of products Hostess used to produce. And I’m not going to advocate the food cops ban junk food. Ya hear me, Mayor Bloomberg?

But let’s take into account that crap like this is killing us. It tastes good for a few moments, gives us a gut-ache, and over time, turns us into larger, more lethargic and lesser versions of ourselves until we slowly wind down and succumb to the maladies of a lifetime of poor diet and inactivity.

That’s no way to live.

As I’ve said, I’m sad for those who lost their jobs. It didn’t need to happen. But will I miss Twinkies? Of course not.

Should you? Would you trade all those Twinkies and Ding Dongs and Ho-Hos for the ability to bust off a sub-seven-minute mile? Or the ability to run 26.2 miles at age 60? Or physically outwork people half your age?

So you’re going to miss Twinkies? Don’t worry. Some other company will by the patents and sell them under a new label.

But if they never came back, I wouldn’t miss them a bit.

Bob Doucette

On Twitter @RMHigh7088