“Are we thin yet…?”

There has been no parent yet, driving their captive children the length of any open road, who’s ears have not been accosted by the question,

 “Are we there yet?”

 Usually asked in this relentless and rhythmic manner,

 “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet………” and so-on.

 At such times, we parents commit to one of two paths; we either attempt to match wits with our headstrong toddlers and scream,

 “Shut the hell up” as our fathers did with us.

 Or, common sense kicks in and we remind the angels in the back seat to,

 “Have patience” as our mothers did with our siblings.

 In effort to diffuse our children’s chagrin, we often present them with stimulating options such as license plate bingo, and the slug-bug game. With minds otherwise occupied, we preach that both time, and the journey will pass more quickly.

 I considered this scenario this morning as I observed a portly man in the gym stepping on the scale, anxious about any pounds lost. I have seen him step on the scale at the same time every week for several months now. He stands determined and prepares for his single step. He centers himself on the calibrated pedestal. He adjusts the scale appropriately, and then sighs of a mild disappointment as he steps off and away in abhor.

 From the scale he turns to the mirror and glances at his silhouette to study it inconspicuously — if his robust frame might have narrowed despite what the scale says.  He sighs again, and leaves the room with small uninspired steps, and eyes locked on the floor.

 These actions, I believe, are this man’s way of asking his fitness parents, Momma Scale and Papa Mirror,

 “Are we thin yet? Are we thin yet? Are we thin yet……?”

 “No” say the scale and the mirror, “you are not thin yet.”

 And like the child in the back of the car, disappointment set in as this sweaty figure sauntered away from the scale and back into the main gym for even more cardio.

 The parent behind the wheel knows the moment they turn the ignition key at the journey’s inception, approximately when they will arrive at their destination. All that can be done will be to drive the vehicle, and to follow the chosen course. The parent behind the wheel also recognizes that to reach their destination in a timely fashion, they must stay on the best roads, and not deviate from the most efficient course because to do so will mean arriving late.

 Like the parent behind the wheel, the fitness traveler is driving a vehicle of sorts, and should strive to proceed directly to his goals.  So long as one does not deviate from the best roads, and the most direct path, he is all but assured to arrive in as timely a fashion as possible — no sooner though, relative to the length of the journey.

 Here are some tips to help pass the time — some fitness driven slug-bug games if you will, that might help you stay off the scale:

 Keep covered – loosely: Once your fitness goal is established, try to wear lose fitting clothing as often as possible. Wearing garments which are too tight may be a constant reminder that you are not to your destination yet.

 Stay off the scale: The scale is truly the Are We There Yet of the fitness journey. As previously mentioned, if you know what your goal is and where you are starting from, then common sense should tell you when you will arrive. If you are on a trip from New York to Miami, it would not be advantageous to your traveling psyche to glance at your odometer as you cross the New Jersey line. Put a fair bit of distance between you and your first check of the scale. Every three weeks or less, allowing progress to occur before you attempt to measure it.

 Approach each workout and each meal as the two most direct roads to your destination: Keep the journey stimulating by enjoying your workouts and savoring your healthy meals. Don’t leave these roads, learn to enjoy them.

 Make each workout and each meal achievable:  Each workout and each meal  should have built into them, enough enjoyment to ensure you want to eat that meal or do that workout again.

 Workout and eat with a partner: Traveling alone is rarely fun. Most travel experts suggest we travel in pairs. Traveling the path to improved health and a better body is no different. Take a friend on your fitness journey. Time will pass more quickly in the gym if you have a workout partner with common goals.

 Eating with a partner of similar goals will help you make better ordering choices in restaurants, and keep you in check when the desert menu is offered.

 Keep your mind busy: Keep a list of to-do’s with you at all times, relating both your work and to your home-life. When hunger pangs strike, immediately break out your to-do list and begin in anything on the list. Speed of implementation is everything here, so I suggest at the first sign of hunger, engage in anything that will take your mind off of your stomach.

 Become an exercise hobbyist: Take a more active interest in all the reasons why you are making the choice to eat better and exercise more consistently.  Read books, study, attend clinics and seminars. Learn both exercise and nutritional functions of the human body. Understanding the reasons why, may make the destination a more desirable place to stay once you arrive.

 It is no easy task, changing the human body. Nor is it a timely endeavor. The less you think about time, relative to your destination, the more likely that destination will be to rise from the horizon and spring upon you like Ayers Rock, welcoming you to a beautiful and life-long conclusion; a better you. Now that’s a road worth traveling.  Be well.  rc

13 responses

  1. I really loved reading this column! My mind traveled back to when I was bouncing in the back seat of the Chevy coupe, with my parents heading half way across the country to see the grandparents! My folks tell me that I stood the whole way, lol!

    All of your points are excellent, and certainly will help the climber, whether it be Ayers Rock or the Devil’s Tower to make their next close encounter with the scale be of the best kind!

  2. I love when the comments are even better than the column.

    Chevy coupe? For me it was a Ford Country Squire wagon with the opposing rear seats — perfect for having foot fights with my older brother.

    Devils Tower still on my list. Thanks Dr. J.

  3. as always…..you are right again except i say – throw away the scale. there is no right number! let the mirror and your clothes be your guide but what do i know?


  4. As Roy’s older and better looking brother, I think this is one of the best of his many great columns. It brought back memories of the cross-country trip our family took in our Ford Country Squire Station Wagon back in 1969. Just us, our parents, and one very large collie.

  5. WE USED TO SING AS A FAMILY. 4-part Stephen Foster songs….and the time did seem to pass away. To make the pieces work, I was called upon to sing the alto part ‘by ear’…but after a while, it was easy to stay the course of that ‘inner part’. T
    This article was probably a God-Send to me today….Thank you, Roy I love the sentence “Don’t leave the roads-learn to enjoy them”….What a wonderful piece full of metaphors….these are the things that I can remember when ‘under fire’ in the fox-hole. THanks again! Laurie

  6. I always enjoy Roy’s columns. This one took me back to long rides in the family station wagon with my 11 brothers and sister, the windows rolled up while it rained or snowed outside and my dad smoking his pipe. Just writing this turns me green and makes me want to vomit.

    For the weight loss record, I have finally accepted the fact that I am an obese man in a fat man’s body. The first step is acceptance, the second is sweat pants 24 hours a day.


  7. Chris: I agree the scale should be left alone, but if it is going to be used for measuring weight-loss, no more than every 3-4 weeks.

    Mark: You’re a homo. A great writer, and a great friend, but a homo none-the-less. I miss those road trips as as much as I miss the Collie.

    Laurie: Thanks for the kind words! Glad they still make a difference.

    VDB: That’s funny. My dad was pipe smoker too, but in the car he almost always cracked the window — a bit. Oh, good times. By the way; I’ll bet you make those sweat pants look good!!!

  8. Roy,

    Needless to say, how great your column is each month. You amaze me with your knowledge and great respect for diet and physical fitness. Are we there yet, are we thin yet, what a great attention getter. Keep up the good work. Love you. Your Arizona Aunt.

  9. Roy, You are OH SO TALENTED in OH SO MANY WAYS! Every month you show us with your writing, every day you show us with your love and compassion for working out and helping us to do the same. I am truly in awe of you. Thanks for sharing your talents with the rest of us.

    Still waiting to “get there”,

  10. Roysef,
    Love the article. as always…. Love how you metaphor. One thing that got me thinking is to learn to enjoy the trip, the ride. If we could focus on the journey instead of the destination we might be able to cure our long term woos of getting somewhere. Loving now, loving what is. Like you spoke of the food and the workout, make sure you want it again. At each and every point there is a lesson for us. Eventually we will have unconditional love for our bodies, when we do, we will treat them better. We will worship the body we live in.

  11. Terribull: Great words of wisdom, and thank you. I can’t recall a single destination in my life that has been as fulfilling as the journey — not relating to my body, my career, or relationships with people in my life.

    Let there be no conclusion, that there always be wonder. Miss you!

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