Go-No Go Decision

This is the first guest post I have posted on this site.  Written by Dr. J. (sort of his real name) of www.calorielab.com

Dr. J. writes a health/fitness column each week that I always look forward to reading.  In fact, it’s the only one I read regularly — the ONLY one.  When you consider the scope of the internet, and if you know my appreciation for common sense as a lifestyle, that’s really saying something.  Please take time read the post below, and take time regularly to check out www.calorielab.com.  Be well.  rc

The Go-No Go Decision

Pilots often say, Better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than in the air wishing you were on the ground. Being the lead line in an FAA accident report is not an enticing option.

Before making a Go-No Go decision, the wise pilot obtains and evaluates available information on the weather, the plane and themselves. Armed with this data, the decision whether to fly or not is made.

I went on a flight this week where, as you will see in the video, there was a delay before beginning the adventure. Waiting for improving weather, in this case, led to a safe conclusion of the flight.

For the individual considering starting off on a health and fitness program, there are some similarities to the Go-No Go decision making for the pilot which will help in assuring a satisfactory result for their upcoming voyage.

Getting ready to start your health and fitness program

Just as a pilot must evaluate himself for flight, you must evaluate your readiness to begin a health and fitness program.

Are you prepared to adopt a new healthier lifestyle? Do you really want to be healthy and fit or is it just a wish? It will take willpower to be successful and it will not be easy. However, willpower and motivation can be built. Sometimes waiting is not the best option. As you make headway in your fitness program, you will gain confidence, and that will help you with continued progress.

Most people want to spend too much time in this preparation and evaluation part. I’m going to suggest that it may really be the least important area. I feel that the more practical, concrete preparations you do, the greater will be your chances of success. Actions can lead to further action!

These practical and concrete behaviors can be more easily applied in the next two evaluation areas, your fitness environment and your fitness tools.

Preparing the fitness environment

Just as the pilot must be prepared for the environment of the sky that he must navigate through, you must be prepared for the fitness environment that you must navigate.

Although it might be nice if it was all blue skies and light winds, this will not be the case. You will be facing tempting situations where it will be easy to crash your fitness program.

You may have control over your home environment, but at work, at parties, in meetings and while traveling you will have to pay much more attention. The best way to deal with all this is to have a plan before you have to face the inclement weather. Perhaps you can plan on what you will eat at these situations, and if it is not provided for you, provide it for yourself. Rehearse what you will say to another who may not be, shall we say, your wing person on this flight.

Take the time you need for exercise. This is your health and fitness, and you must put this first. I assure you, others will understand if you are firm but kind in your approach..

Preparing your fitness tools

Just as the pilot must be sure of the flightworthiness of the airplane, you must prepare the practical tools that will carry you on your voyage.

The more practical, concrete behaviors that you have, the greater your chances of success.

Decide what dietary plan fits your nature, time and tastes. You will probably have to learn new eating habits, but there are several dietary systems that will all work if you apply them. Numerous studies have been done on healthy ways to eat, and all of them work. The differences in how successful each of them are, are very minor. The determining factor is always whether or not you stick with the system.

 If you can, choose a diet that has the potential to become a lifestyle for you with only minimal adjustments. Make your own healthy meals at home, and get yourself a lunchbox with your favorite design to take your homemade meals to work if that would be helpful. Going out to lunch is a diet killer for many people, so be prepared. Have healthy snacks in the house, in sight if that is helpful. Put unhealthy foods out the door, or if they must be in the house, keep them out of sight.

 Make your home a safe place. Try not have the foods in the house that will tempt you to fail. Do have the foods in your home that will help you succeed in changing your lifestyle for the better. Have the exercise equipment or tools such as DVDs or other workout motivators ready and available for your use. Planning ahead is everything. Schedule the time you need to be successful, and you will be.

Even with the best of planning, there may be some rough spots that will challenge you, especially in the beginning of a newly begun health and fitness program. Having trust in your formulated plan, and staying on course with only minor deviations as you move towards your goals will usually work out for the best. As your voyage gradually becomes more solid, your confidence will grow stronger.

So, are you ready to launch into your health and fitness flight? Is it time to go, or do you need to do more preparation and evaluation before beginning?

Looks like the weather is severe clear to me. No time like the present. Fly safe!

That’s entertainment… and possibly a reason to exercise!

If you don’t understand and accept the values and benefits of daily exercise by now, I want you to wear a John Hagee mask so I know who you are when we meet on the street.   Functional fitness training, strength training, cardiovascular training, core training, bla bla bla-diddy-bla bla bla. Whatever – I’m over all that.


People watching – now there’s a value added benefit to exercise that most trainers, physiologists, and wellness specialists don’t delve too deeply into. Being a people watcher in the gym can enhance your exercise experience, be educational, and entertain you – simultaneously. In that sense, people watching can be cause for you to leave your home or office at the end of the day, and get that much needed exercise.


Though I own a well equipped fitness studio at my home, it comes with an inherent problem – it’s at my house, where I live and where I work all day long. Despite my passion for daily exercise, nothing is less appealing after a long day than sticking around the place where I have been for the past 24 hours living and working.  Strange as it sounds, and despite proximity to my own good equipment, at the end of the day I often head off to a gym – away from my gym.


I’m fortunate  because in all the world there is not a better people watching gym than the 24 Hour Fitness in Oceanside, California. The city of Oceanside itself is a loosely stirred cocktail of such human ingredients as aggressive Marines, wanna be porn stars, die-hard fitness enthusiasts, meth junkies, surfers, working class men and women, a high population of pacific islanders, and very few people who fall outside of these categories. The gym where I workout is but a magnifying glass on that amalgamation of humanity.


Most days I meet my workout partner, Marshall, for a good measure of high-intensity cardio, and a dash of strength and core training. Marshall and I prefer doing cardio on the StepMill, a device that enables one to walk constantly up the down escalator. For many reasons, I believe the StepMill is the most superior piece of cardio equipment in the gym. It also provides the best vantage point for Marshall and I to participate in the observation of human behavior, because these machines tower above the others. Let the people watching begin.


There at our feet they intermingle; all the people who make this gym so compelling. I have no doubt that the inside of an atom is less chaotic.  There are hard working Marines with unyielding energy and little body-fat who never stop moving, never stop sweating, and never stop competing with one-another — Ooorah! Watching the Marines can be as educational as it can be entertaining. They often bring to the table exercises and workout schemes that are new to me, or, at least ones I have not visited myself for some time. Our Marines get it done in the field so well because they get it done on their bodies first. True.


Not far away, a handful of acne covered high school football players with puffy arms, loud voices, and very little endurance fill in some gaps near the free weight side of the gym. They can sure move a bit of weight up and down, but usually not in good form, and most often in need a lot of rest in-between. Despite their school jock status, these kings of the 11th grade are not well-conditioned athletes (yet), and not a good example of what exercise is all about. There is little to learn from watching these man-boys except what not to do in the gym, so take good notes.


Mix in a few 300 pound Samoans who never quit smiling, could bench press my car, and like to read the newspaper to each other and converse loudly in the 10 minutes gaps between their sets. Not the pinnacle of fitness either, but they are good natured and exclusively responsible for the sense of humor and laughter in this gym that seems to be appreciated by most. In that sense, they are the Wal-Mart greeters of the free weight room and serve to make it less intimidating to newcomers.


In close proximity to the Samoans, there are several separate groups of fully tattooed ex-convicts with shaved heads, in baggy shorts and wife beater shirts. They may be back on the “inside” next month, so they tend to try and lift heavier and more often than they should when they are on the “outside”. California prisons have abandoned weight room facilities so they are making meat while the sun shines. Again, not a lot of learning to be done here except what not to do in the gym – as well as how not to dress. There can be as much learned by observing other people exercising poorly, as there can be gained by watching a true athlete. By watching intently, you just know when something isn’t correct.


In the cardio theater there is row after row of peroxide blondes and blonde teeny-boppers. Some look to be pole dancers while others just aspire to look like pole dancers. Most with tattoos along their lower backs, sprayed on tans as they go through the motions, their killer pony tails swing from side to side on the elliptical machines – all the while their faces stare blankly at Wolf Blitzer on the TV before them as they ponder in their simple minds what “nuclear proliferation” might mean. Perhaps that’s a country near “Iraq and such”. Though they often possess thin bodies, this is more likely the result of youth and dubious eating habits, than efforts in the gym. Just going through the motions of exercise might make one feel better, but in this day and age, save the gas money. Not much to be learned from this group.


There are also a few square-jawed collegiate athletes who call this gym home in Summer, both male and female. These are the least compelling and the least entertaining persons in the room, but an astute observer can improve their exercise technique and increase their repertoire of exercises by keeping their eyes fixed to these folks. Like the Marines, collegiate athletes often employ new schemes, better techniques, patterns, and in a more proper application than other gym members. These are often the product of modern strength and conditioning principles brought along to the gym directly from coaches and trainers at their respective universities. The lesson they teach best: intensity and focus. Mimic, but let common sense be your guide.


Some aspiring young fitness trainers working with everyday people seeking improvement are also in the mix. Fitness trainers, myself included, can be placed into two groups: those who choose this as a career and approach their craft as such, and those who think it would be great to hang out in a gym all day not have a real job. The latter outnumber the former by  thousands to one, and in the gym in Oceanside, it is no different. How ironic it is that one can learn much about how not to exercise by watching a novice trainer teach someone how to exercise. I cringe when watching this process on occasion.


This is all compelling from my stair-stepping vantage point, somewhat educating, a bit motivating, and always entertaining. These people, with whom I never interact, are my very reason to go to the gym. They motivate me and they entertain me – simultaneously. They often affirm for me how not to exercise just as much as they confirm and legitimize my own insight and experience. They remind me of all the reasons why we should exercise, and all the more, why we should do it properly and within reasonable bounds.


This isn’t just my gym, this is your gym too. The names and shapes may be different at your club, but the actions and common threads will likely be there. My moral in all of this? Observe others and learn – but use common sense as your tablet, and keen application as your pen. As much as you learn, be sure to learn-not in equal portion. Apply your notes with diligence and with self respect. Observing others lends a hidden value to my gym experience and just might do the same for you. Mostly it amuses me, and after a hard day’s work, I’m good with that. Be well.

Mental as anything…

 I’m going totally mental. My mind has become too quick to absorb the flow of character flaws which pours from hominid to hominid, along with their sweat and breath, in the course of their exercise. From within the these human forms, my gym air fills with emotional exhaust fumes. The release of those personalities is toxic in large doses.

 The forces of good and the powers of evil are reflected to us from the eyes, the words, and the breath of those in our proximity.  I exist all day in a bingo hopper of gods and demons; the gym of letting go.   Problem is, I can’t always tell which eyes are throwing off evil, and who’s words cast off the good. That in itself may be my problem; my expectation that a person be exclusively good or evil, and that no intermingling of those predisposition’s is possible.  I should know better…

 This consumes me. As I move about my gym floor, I continually hear bits and pieces of varying personalities and a variety of thoughts – all day long. From this bantering and release of inner turmoil, I am often able to weave together consistencies among the thoughts of others in my mind, along with the behaviors and the tendencies which accompany them. The tapestry I see from that assemblage displays a strange singular image in my head; God-like creatures, dancing to the music of the devil.

 “Are people”, I ask myself, “in the gym for the purpose of good, or for reasons lesser reasons?”

 For as much as I identify and rationalize the value of the gym as a place of mental release, physical change, self-medication, and self-improvement, I accept that it is also a gathering place for hearts astray, for escaping problems, and for a forced socialization.

 It may be another gross over simplification in my mind, but it’s as though there are two mind-sets in the gym; those running toward something, such as improved health or an augmented aesthetic form.  Or, those running away from something else – work, family, problems, etc.  There is seemingly much more talk in my gym of these days of running away; adultery, promiscuity, drug and alcohol use, and disrespect for others, as there is of getting lean, getting strong, and beating diabetes or cancer. My sanctuary is boiling over.

 If these words hit your eyes with an obvious negative connotation, here’s an exercise which may explain why:

 Put a glass of dirty water beside a glass of clear water. From the glass of dirty water, take but a single spoonful and stir it in to the clear water. In an instant, you now have two glasses of dirty water.

 Starting over again, stir in from the clear water, a spoonful into the glass of dirty water. The dirty water remains dirty – the clear water has not changed anything.

 My point in this exercise? That in a room with several people, some with good and others with not-so-good intentions, it seems to me that not-so-good is winning – so far as the gym goes. But that’s only the surface, and just a casual observation. The truth is always somewhere in between, right?

 I guess this is why I like to workout in an armored trance, existing fluidly within the slight pinch of my headphones. I am one who is running toward something and I can’t wait to get there. Actually, I’m running away too – from myself.  My workouts are where I leave my problems behind, but I do so with my flesh, not my mouth.  Like I said, the truth is always somewhere in between, right?

 I understand that the actions, conversations, and behaviors I bath in each day at my gym are not limited to gym life. That people are good and evil in and out of the gym. And more importantly, that most of us are predisposed to both good and evil wherever we go. That the command and release of our positive and negative behaviors is an ongoing series of choices, sometimes battles in life. I also understand that for the gym masses, each person is probably both running toward something, and away from something else.

 It’s interesting though, what a wide, broad, and clear view of the human experience my gym window provides for me each day. How lucky I am, to have a window seat on the ark of human behavior, as I watch the arch of human behavior.  Be well.  rc