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senior fit

The Case for Fitness & Healthy Aging

An important principle that has emerged throughout my writing on “healthy aging” has been the issue of fitness and the role being fit plays in preventing illness and injury, yielding a fulfilling and vibrant life – a “life well lived”. The point of healthy aging is to be in a position as we grow older “to do what we want when we want without getting hurt”. I have always believed that my level of fitness would yield positive results as I got older emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually – and so far I have been proven right in my own life. The “fitness lifestyle” is a consciousness issue just as healthy aging is as well. I make choices everyday that are designed to enhance my ability to live the way I choose. This always includes high intensity, focused training which will (hopefully) prepare me for the challenging years ahead.

Speaking, traveling, teaching, program design, consulting, writing and other activities that I wish to do in my future will require focus, high energy, inspiration, imagination, and physical stamina and endurance. The ability to train the way I am now will translate into the future actions that will yield the result I envision for audiences in the years ahead. Planning for a future that requires me to be prepared to do my work at a high level will also demand that I be as fit as I can be in order to give me the strength to help as many people as I possibly can – while I can. This is my mission – and my purpose.

This article is about something I think about EVERY day. Each of my actions, decisions, and thoughts are applied to the outcome that I seek with every step I take in becoming stronger, faster, quicker, more powerful, balanced, imaginative, flexible and skilled. My purpose is to be able to PERFORM at a high level even as I approach my 70’s and this is the point of my plan – and these articles in this series. How fit are you today for the future you envision for yourself? Does your vision inspire you to reach beyond your grasp? Does it “pull you forward” so that you will take the actions necessary to enable and empower you for the journey ahead? Only you can answer this question! Do it now!

Power, speed, quickness, strength, endurance, balance & flexibility:  the “core” of healthy aging and growing old – not old.

I think of training in terms of performance and so much of fitness today is “gimmicks” – programs designed for the “few” in America who are NOT the obese, overweight, poorly trained, seniors, and youth. The “fatting” of America does NOT include practical programming on TV, the internet – or anywhere for that matter – that appeals to the average, untrained individual struggling just to live a ‘moderately’ happy life. I see this huge “hole” in our society everyday when I go out into the world where the “connection” between being fit and “regular” people is NEVER being made. To most of the world, fitness – or becoming fit – means acquiring a gym membership with all the “hassles” that implies and THAT isn’t healthy or inspiring at ALL!

I worked in the Nautilus and Bally’s systems as a trainer for over ten years and I never once saw the effort being truly made to help people “realistically” ACHIEVE anything. The world outside the gym is a giant “blank” for over two thirds of the population. The only thing I see that is visible today is elementary lifestyle “advice” on Dr. Oz and other related sophomoric network shows that really change nothing. The other major factor in the sales “pitch” to America on fitness comes in the form of “infomercials” that literally “sucker” people into buying USELESS stuff that will never really help them – EVER! The latest gimmick is the “abdominal belt” that will ‘melt” fat away with just 10 minutes a day! This is just the latest in the same old scam – “sell them anything and make a buck in the process!” What a disgrace and a shame that we have resorted to “hucksterism” in this country in order to sell the virtues of being fit! Jack Lalanne’s legacy has almost been completely forgotten today and I want to make sure I play my role in carrying the work he started so long ago forward with me. At least he TAUGHT simple exercises to people of all ages in the 50’s and 60’s with passion AND led them every step of the way during his shows. Those days are long gone!

When we think of helping people to become fit and healthy, we must always remember to train ourselves FIRST so that we can inspire others to do the same. I will not TELL anyone anything because for each of us our understanding and perspectives are different – just as each of us is different. I will always side with “being the example of the change I wish to see in the world” – the theme of my first article in this series. How do I retain my skill level with the “seven keys” of fitness highlighted above? I maintain them – and will elevate myself to higher levels of performance in the future – through my weekly weight training program, running 40 to 50 miles a week, stretching, and meditation. This dedication to fitness will hopefully allow me to do what I want, when I want, without injury and live with joy the active future of service I am envisioning for myself. I believe that with each passing day we are ALL falling ‘behind the fitness curve’ in life – whether we are training or not – and it is imperative that we translate our passion for being fit to others through our example. If we CAN’T DO IT, WE SHOULDN’T BE TEACHING IT!

Conclusion

My primary commitment to myself each day is to NEVER GIVE UP. If I am not sick or injured, I am training – training for my life to come and the role I have chosen for myself as “an agent of change in the world”. Each of us MUST decide what it is WE STAND FOR so that others can be inspired by our example. Jack LaLanne taught me through his example – as John Wooden did – that it is WHO WE ARE on the inside that will be the ‘key’ to inspiring and encouraging others to reach beyond their current grasp and strive for more than they ever dreamed possible. I am convinced every day by what I see in the world that what we have to offer the ‘many’ is desperately needed now more than ever. If we do not take up this challenge, who will? When will the REAL change come? It will only come when we change ourselves (on the inside – healthy aging is an inside job, remember?) and that is the greatest challenge that we will ALL face in life. It is worth fighting for this principle every day of our lives. Will you take it upon yourself TODAY and join me in this “journey of change” – and touch millions of lives in the process? I hope your answer is a resounding YES!

Article reprinted with permission from Nicholas Prukop. 


Nicholas Prukop is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer & a Health Coach, a fitness professional with over 25 years of experience whose passion for health and fitness comes from his boyhood in Hawaii where he grew up a swimmer on Maui. He found his calling in writing his first book “Healthy Aging & You: Your Journey to Becoming Happy, Healthy & Fit” and since then he has dedicated himself to empowering, inspiring and enabling people of all ages to reach for the best that is within them and become who they are meant to be – happy, healthy and fit – and be a part of a world where each person can contribute their own unique gifts to life.

couple coastline

Healthy Aging: Establishing a Vision for Your Future and Planning for Success

I have never stopped believing in the power of a vision that captures one’s imagination and fuels a deep seated passion to make a difference in life and leave legacy of contributions that is remembered long after we are gone. The idea of creating a vision that fuels my desire to live life fully forms the foundation for a life that is built on purpose and serves to open doors of opportunity for others as well.

In the context of aging healthfully we can draw from the idea that “pulling us forward’ is an inner desire to NOT live life on the “edges” but become completely engaged and energized by what it is that we do on both the professional and personal levels. I believe in the power of a vision that yields purpose and also creates a deep sense of responsibility and accountability to one’s goals. This idea of creating a vision is at the heart of how I view my life now. I have spent a lifetime making decisions about both personal and professional matters that were limiting and not empowering. When I finally created my vision I learned I had become committed to my purpose and felt free to live my dream without fear –or reservation.

Here is my vision as it is currently written: “Healthy aging is a consciousness issue. It is not merely the death of our cells but is a complex and dynamic process that is grounded in change as life unfolds for each of us. The challenge as I see it is discovering the potential that lies within each of us to become all that we were meant to be mentally, physically and spiritually. This potential can carry us to living lives of fulfillment, peace, and prosperity if we remain present during each moment of our lives – living consciously. Learning about who we are from the ‘inside –out’ while acting upon our choices in the present moment, enables and empowers us to live a life of great accomplishment. This is my vision of a world that is possible.” Implied in this statement of purpose is the idea that my health and my evolving needs as I grow in time are dependent on the present circumstances as I understand them.

Supporting this vision is what I call my ‘core beliefs’ that define WHO I am as a human being – and as a professional. Some of these beliefs are:

  • Everything that we desire in life comes through relationships.
  • The mind of man is unlimited in its potential and responds to specific demands made upon it.
  • The “Triple Win” (created by me in the 80’s); “As I help you win, we win; as we win those we touch win.”
  • The purpose of life is to discover, develop and share our natural gifts.
  • What we put out in terms of energy and actions comes back to us multiplied. (Karma)
  • The rewards in life are directly proportional to your service to others.

My values are clear. Without my health I can accomplish nothing in my life. This notion fuels my desire to train mentally, physically and spiritually each and every day in order to expand the borders of my consciousness and be of service in ever expanding ways.

I have lived in my “shell” a long time and now I feel the presence of growth in all areas of my life. These articles are helping me to clarify my message and become more than I ever dreamed possible. It is about time after all I have lived 66 years, right? The programs I develop around these ideas will form the nucleus of what it is I am here to do (including publishing my book – no excuses!). I am also going to be “pushing back” a bit against the increasing influence of technology in our lives because every moment we spend tweeting, texting, checking our iPhones and communicating constantly online pulls us away from the ‘moment’ – the present – and this is only point of power through which we can change our lives for the better.

The world is “attached” to technology now and we no longer acknowledge each other – we are just too busy!  Make the time to meditate, imagine, feel, think and enjoy your life. If prayer works – pray by all means. Making time to take the “inner journey” everyday will make a world of difference in how you view and live your life – now and in the future. This work has paid off in spades for me. I am running faster and getting stronger everyday because I have taken the time to be with “me”. I have begun to prioritize my needs as they become apparent to me so that my life continues to move forward with meaning and purpose enabling me to be able to maximize the time I have left – whatever that turns out to be. (Remember the 6 minute mile on my 80th birthday?) Be strong and know that you have something unique in you that only you can give the world. Let your light shine and see what happens!

Article reprinted with permission from Nicholas Prukop. 


Nicholas Prukop is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer & a Health Coach, a fitness professional with over 25 years of experience whose passion for health and fitness comes from his boyhood in Hawaii where he grew up a swimmer on Maui. He found his calling in writing his first book “Healthy Aging & You: Your Journey to Becoming Happy, Healthy & Fit” and since then he has dedicated himself to empowering, inspiring and enabling people of all ages to reach for the best that is within them and become who they are meant to be – happy, healthy and fit – and be a part of a world where each person can contribute their own unique gifts to life.

Senior Man beach

Healthy Aging & You: Your Life Can Change in an Instant

The most basic question each of us can ask about our future lives is this one: How do I want to be old? Now at 72 I can look back on my behavior, choices and priorities from my past and can see that I DID in fact value my life and the gift that it is to me in the present. My visit the week before my father’s  death in 1983 from cancer had a great impact on my future choices moving forward. I was 37 at the time and looking back on my experience with him in the hospital I now realize that it was indeed a “wake up” call for me.

We all have moments like the one I am describing here in our lives that catch our attention. It is important to know that when we DO experience loss or change on a large scale that we become “active participants” in responding to the circumstances that are presented to us. We need to take action – positive action – in order to alter the course of our lives. It is through adjusting to the changes and challenges of life as we grow into maturity (and hopefully wisdom) that we can appreciate what we have been given.

AN IMPACTFUL LESSON

Recently I read an account of a tragic story involving a Costa Mesa Fire Captain who was preparing for a triathlon he had entered. He was riding his bicycle on the sidewalk near his home training for the cycling phase of the competition when a driver in a van ran up on the sidewalk and struck and critically injured the captain. He was taken to a nearby hospital and treated for severe head – and brain – trauma but the doctors were unable to save his life and he died on the Monday following the Saturday incident. The driver of the van was found to be on a variety of drugs and had other prescription medicines in his vehicle. He was arrested at the scene and later charged with murder following the death of the fire captain. He left a lovely wife and three beautiful daughters behind.

The point of this tragic event is that it caught my attention when I saw a picture of his lovely wife and the three young daughters he left behind. This example of tragic loss serves as a reminder to me of how our lives can be altered in an INSTANT – permanently. I felt this loss deeply for some reason and even though I did not know the man I am feeling grateful for my OWN life today – and hopefully everyday. (Last night a mass shooting in 1000 Oaks took the lives of 12 students and wounded scores more – and so it goes on!).

I believe we live in the present to the degree that we respond to life’s events consciously – even if they are not specifically for us – and that healthy aging occurs in this moment. I thought I would share some of my thoughts with you on this important subject so that you might also appreciate YOUR life and your OWN journey in greater depth. It is through our own pain – and that of others – that we are allowed the opportunity to face our own mortality – and appreciate in greater measure the gift of our OWN life. The three principles of healthy aging that I will share with you – and practice – are physical, mental and spiritual. Let us NOT let a moment pass where life is rendered insignificant but instead recognized as precious and valuable.

PHYSICAL

CYCLING: I just completed a wonderful bike ride after getting the bike repaired following a silly minor accident yesterday that could have been totally prevented (lesson learned). It represents what I call the “endurance” phase of my training program. It covers both time and distance over a beautiful course and strengthens my heart and cardiovascular system for the years ahead. This part of my training is purely recreational and covers about two and a half hours of my training time per week. I look forward to riding my bike because I am not setting any particular goals other than to enjoy my time riding. I love just being on the trail and feeling the breeze in my face and seeing the beauty of nature as I ride by.

RUNNING: I have been a runner since 1964 and have accumulated over 65,000 miles over that span. It is the foundation from which I “grew older and not old”. It is as close to my heart as breathing itself and I am now focusing on increasing my speed while running between 5 and 7 miles 3 days a week. I am now able to average under 6:00 per mile pace for the distances I use and am doing so on a treadmill to save wear and tear going forward. Cycling has helped my running immensely and my legs are stronger as a result.

RESISTANCE TRAINING: I spend up to two and half hours total each week training on free weights and machines for both power and strength. I do 17 exercises and multiple sets per exercise twice a week. The strength I gain from this activity is priceless and if any of you wish to be able to function well as you are getting older this is the activity I would strongly recommend. The three phases of fitness training I do bring me joy and peace. I am strong, fast, adaptable and flexible and know that what I am doing in my 70’s will prepare me well for my 80’s!

MENTAL

CONSCIOUSNESS: I believe in the value of “being conscious” – that is “being present and aware” in any moment. Receiving input from your daily activities can help you to make conscious – and healthy – choices going forward. If you are constantly staring at your I Phone as I see so many doing these days then you are NOT present – and life is literally “passing you by”! Remember for consciousness to play a part in your life you have to take the time “to listen to your thoughts” and assess “where you are” at any point in time. It is an activity that requires your attention and can be easily accessed simply by “noticing” people and their behavior around you.

Smiling is a great way to “become present” because when you are smiling at someone – and thanking them – you are practicing “being in the present”. Acknowledging those around you is a good way to begin developing the mental skills and focus that will be required of you as you grow into your “older” self. I know this because it is the path I have chosen in my own life – and it works!

SPIRITUAL

I refer here to the search for purpose and meaning in life and not a particular religious path or faith. My own spiritual training and practice began in 1985 and has continued to this day. It is a principled practice based upon the Science of Mind formulated by Ernest Holmes through his teachings and book (The Science of Mind) and it has guided my choices and development as a human being for the past 33 years. It has been a priceless and integral part of my life and each day I spend time in meditation and (affirmative) prayer work in order to listen for inner guidance and prepare for the times ahead.

This part of my life is the key to being “aware” of the gift of my life and is the reason I was able to be so touched by the captain’s death. I did not have this foundation when my father died in 1983 so now I am always aware everyday that my “life can indeed change in an instant”. I am not saying we have to obsess over the fear of something happening to us but I AM saying lets remember to be grateful in every moment of our day. This aspect of our life’s journey – the search for purpose and meaning (and our place in life) – is essential if we are to live a life of accomplishment and fulfillment. CHOOSE your OWN path wisely and if you choose NOT to, at least you will know that you made that choice and you will have to be accountable – and responsible – for it in the future!

IN CONCLUSION

In reflecting on the meaning of my life as a teacher, author and speaker, I have come to the conclusion that the reason I have arrived at this point in my life is that I made CONSCIOUS choices that supported the actions that led me to be able to share this knowledge with you today. In the words we choose to use, the thoughts we entertain, the beliefs systems that we embody, the choices that we make and finally the actions that we take, we are either preparing for a future of contribution and significant service – or we are not.

I encourage you today to “notice” something that gets you thinking about your own life today – and remember to appreciate all that you have been  given today – and every day. Noticing the story of the firefighter’s death made me realize how blessed I am and with every step I take, every thought I think, every choice I make, and every action that results from this process, I am appreciating all that I have been given so that I might share what I have learned with you! Take the time today to reflect on what might occur in your own life and how you would respond to the events and changes that are occurring today. I know that a loving father’s family is thinking about this very thing in the aftermath of his tragic loss. BE WELL!

Originally posted on healthynewage.com. Reprinted with permission from Nicholas Prukop. 


Nicholas Prukop is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer & a Health Coach, a fitness professional with over 25 years of experience whose passion for health and fitness comes from his boyhood in Hawaii where he grew up a swimmer on Maui. He found his calling in writing his first book “Healthy Aging & You: Your Journey to Becoming Happy, Healthy & Fit” and since then he has dedicated himself to empowering, inspiring and enabling people of all ages to reach for the best that is within them and become who they are meant to be – happy, healthy and fit – and be a part of a world where each person can contribute their own unique gifts to life.

fall-walking

The Mind/Body Connection – Programming For Year Round Success

In the fall of each year, as summer fades from our view, we often find ourselves having to work diligently to “restart” our fitness activities in preparation for the holidays – and the year to come. As the seasons change to shorter days and cooler weather becomes a reality, we have to “re-think” our fitness plans/goals and address the changes that are coming – thoughtfully and carefully – in order to ensure continued growth and results.

Being able to understand the “cycles” of life and how the changing seasons affect us is important in programming your fitness activities for the balance of the year. Success comes when we plan and evaluate again what it is we want to achieve with our fitness activities and then “re-set” our priorities to account not only for the change in the weather – but our lives as well.

I will share with you some tips on how you might maintain your momentum when it comes to fitness programming following the summer months of mostly fun activities that don’t fit the mold of “exercise”. Remembering exercise can be a form of “play” is important when transitioning to the fall and winter months that lie ahead. Let’s be creative and hopefully this article will spark a thought (or two) or maybe an idea that might help you move into the fall and winter months ready to continue challenging yourself – and not just “working out” – or “exercising”.

The Mind/Body Connection

The key to transitions in life – as well as with fitness activities – is the thought that goes into planning the program. Very often, the mind conceives of an idea that captures what it is we REALLY want to get out of our fitness activities but the heart never gets fully engaged in the plan. We THINK our way to a new plan, but do we ever really FEEL our excitement about the plan (and its possibilities) as well? This question relates to having exercise BE FUN so that you return to it again and again.

I connect my mind (thoughts) to my heart (feelings) every day when I go into my “quiet time” – visualizing and then appreciating the training I have planned for the day. What is missing in my opinion – and the most common reason people quit on their fitness activities – is that they never connect the mind – which conceives the plan – to the heart – which “experiences” the plan. If you love what you are doing – you will do it for life – just as I have done with my running program over the past 52 years.

A Note of Caution

Technology is killing physical activity and squeezing out the present moment. I see this every day at my gym: people mindlessly peddling on a stationary bike, watching TV, looking at their phones and completely disregarding the activity – and the moment. No wonder people are bored – and quit – they are not present and have no way of knowing if what they are doing is in any way fun – or useful to their purpose (if they have one in mind at all). Smart phones DO NOT need to be in the gym or constantly with us. Taking a break while we exercise is a GOOD thing. This is a time for you to enjoy and promote your own well being. Let’s release the stresses of life for even a few minutes – and learn something new about ourselves in the process!

What Should You Do?

You should connect your mind to your body BEFORE starting your training session so that you can enjoy what you have chosen to do. This inexactly what I do. This way, I first “see” with my mind’s eye and then experience it in my imagination before I even get to the gym to train. When the “hard” days come – and they will – (especially when you have been away from planned fitness activities for a while), you need your heart and mind to communicate regularly with each other to ensure success with your plan.

When I say everything in life starts with a thought and gets carried out into the world through the feeling side of our nature, I am saying that life is constantly communicating through our senses – thought, feelings, and intuition. With thoughts and feelings working together in harmony, you will not have to make excuses or have any regrets later because you are totally committed to your purpose. This is true personal power.

In order to be successful in executing your plan you must engage your WHOLE being in order to maximize your results. This is HOW you get through the fall and winter months – by preparing in advance with purpose – and setting goals you really want to achieve. In enjoying the journey – and learning more about yourself in the process –  you can rest in the knowledge that your life works! This sounds pretty great to me!

Adherence

The issue of adherence is being answered today through technological advances that help you track your progress and also assist you in managing your behavior. By this I mean there are innumerable devices on the market that will tell you how well you have done, whether you have met your goals and also show you what you can do to improve your results. The problem as I see it is that you are still accountable and responsible for your results regardless of how much you use technology to keep you “on track”. How much fun is that?

I solved the problem of adherence early in my life by falling in love with being active as a child and then finding new ways to engage my body – and mind – as I got older. I later came to believe in recording my sessions in writing and this behavior allowed me to learn even more about my own capabilities – and potential – in the process. I found a method for staying on track naturally that worked for me and today I have complete running records dating back to 1979. I know what I have done, what I am capable of doing – and am able to set goals going forward that are based upon my results from my past and current work.

Looking back through my running records I can learn a great deal about my current capabilities based upon the goals I have accomplished. This knowledge gives me the opportunity to set my course for the coming year – and define what I want to achieve going forward. (Run a 6 minute mile on my 80th birthday for example?) It is in the process of envisioning your goals – and experiencing the results before they occur (in your mind) – that you will succeed – enabling and empowering yourself as you move toward success. Remember that everything in life – as well as fitness programming – starts in your imagination first and then gets revealed in the “real” world through your choices and activities.

Always start with what you enjoy doing most and then add additional activities as you go. Change is inevitable and if you embrace it willingly – and allow yourself the opportunity to make new choices – you will grow in confidence and commitment to your purpose. If what you are doing seems natural and fun to you – keep going and enjoy it! If not, make minor adjustments at first – and then if necessary – more significant changes later. Nothing ventured, nothing gained is the rule here.

Activities, lots of choices

The internet has many options and “meet ups” are a good way to go. There are groups for running, cycling, walking, hiking, swimming, sports related activities such as volleyball and handball or racquetball – and any interest you can imagine. Meet ups are pretty much everywhere and if not you can start your own meet up group right where you are – from workplace relationships to volunteer activities to church activities – whatever suits you.

If you find people who have a common interest in what you would like to do, the group will “keep you on track” while you share, learn and build new friendships as you accomplish your goals together. Team sports – which is another way to go – (softball, basketball, etc.) can also keep you motivated and interested in your physical wellbeing by holding you accountable to a group that needs you to participate to be successful (bowling, swimming meets, road races etc…) Going through the “tough” months on your own can be challenging, so finding support with other people who care as you do is always a great strategy.

The gym setting can be challenging because you are on your own most of the time (unless you hire a trainer). The times where you can interact with others and form mutually supportive bonds with other like-minded individuals is through group exercise programs (there are many options) such as aerobic or yoga classes. Each method has value and both can be lots of fun while you learn what suits you as an individual. These and other group activities are very popular because they bring people together – enabling you to learn and share your journey together (yoga classes are particularly powerful in this way).

In the summer of 1982 when I joined Nautilus Plus after my wife left me, I went to as many as five aerobic classes a week because they were fun, challenging, and the music and moves helped me forget my pain for a while. I eventually went back to running but I never forgot the great help I received by participating in those classes. The instructors were young, enthusiastic, talented and absolutely LOVED teaching the classes. All in all it was a very positive and supportive experience that helped me get through a rough summer of questioning and uncertainty.

Final Thoughts

  • Think of the change in the seasons and the advancing winter months as an opportunity for personal and physical growth. Don’t think along the lines: “I have to get back to exercise”. Think about the opportunity to balance out your life – and help your body in the process.
  • Do commit your best effort to planning – and “feeling” – your desires and hopes for your fitness goals.
  • BE PRESENT while doing your fitness activities
  • Let others be a part of your plan. Include anyone who wishes to succeed with you.
  • Define your activities around things you enjoy doing and continue to expand your thinking to include new and possibly exciting activities you can do by yourself – or with others if you so choose.
  • Meet ups are a great way to engage other people with you as you work toward your goals. Shared goals always have a better chance for success.
  • Remember burning calories should be FUN! Program fun into your goal setting
  • Finally, DO NOT be afraid to change your mind about your goals – or your activities. There is NEVER one right answer for a particular challenge. There are always many possibilities. Take time to consider as many options as you can and then pick one – and KEEP ON MOVING!

Originally posted on healthynewage.com. Reprinted with permission from Nicholas Prukop. 


Nicholas Prukop is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer & a Health Coach, a fitness professional with over 25 years of experience whose passion for health and fitness comes from his boyhood in Hawaii where he grew up a swimmer on Maui. He found his calling in writing his first book “Healthy Aging & You: Your Journey to Becoming Happy, Healthy & Fit” and since then he has dedicated himself to empowering, inspiring and enabling people of all ages to reach for the best that is within them and become who they are meant to be – happy, healthy and fit – and be a part of a world where each person can contribute their own unique gifts to life.

seniors-exercising

Healthy Aging: A Paradigm Shift to Prevention

In a previous article about A Paradigm Shift to Personal Responsibility, I set up the premise that the healthcare system is technologically driven and derives its results through partnerships with the insurance industry, government, pharmaceutical industry, medical profession and the hospitals that deliver services to patients.

Given the complexity of the system, patients have have to learn to navigate it to get the proper guidance, access and information from the right people at the right time for the right results. Moreover, the system is laden with traps in the form of its many “hidden” extra costs which means that going down the wrong route can turn into an expensive mistakes. Therefore, I believe that people need to become educated on the value of prevention by living a life that represents the core values of “wellness” and all that this word has come to mean over the past two decades.

A Definition of Wellness

In 1993, I prepared a presentation for the Association of Human Resource Professionals entitled “Improving Health in The Workplace”. I designed it as a proposal to encourage corporate managers to see the value and importance of prevention through the eyes of the employee in partnership with the company. My intention was to develop a “win-win” model whereby the company enhanced employees’ lives by investing in programs that would help create a “workplace health consciousness”. This would assist people in making healthier choices thereby improving productivity and performance. The company would benefit in the form of fewer days of work missed and the cost of healthcare would decline as well.

Needless to say, the presentation did not net me any new corporate clients but it did yield a couple of wonderful personal training clients. My thought process was focused on personal health and fitness services delivered on site, but being a single fitness provider the idea was probably too impractical to pursue. My presentation focused on the individual and its takeaway messages was:

We are what we eat, we are what we think, we are what we do, we are what we feel, and finally we are what we believe.

My idea was that if we become healthy in our thinking and expression first, then our bodies will follow suit: our new thought patterns will foster the adoption of new attitudes and behaviors. This model is just as true today as it was back in 1993 because wellness is not fitness – it is a consciousness of health that is ingrained in what we value most about our life and what that means to us.

The Values of Wellness and Prevention

I think it only fair to share with you my vision statement because it goes to the heart of why I am a proponent of healthy aging and believe prevention comes from “within” us as we focus on our choices while living in the present.

Healthy aging is a consciousness issue. It is not merely the death of our cells but is a complex and dynamic process that is grounded in CHANGE as life unfolds for each of us. The challenge, as I see it, is in discovering the potential that lies within us to become all we were meant to be – mentally, physically, and spiritually. This potential can carry us to living a life of fulfillment, peace, and prosperity if we remain PRESENT during each moment of our life – living consciously. Learning about who we are from the “inside-out” while acting upon our choices in the present, enables and empowers us to live a life of great accomplishment. This is my vision of a world that is possible.

I see now that what I envisioned for healthy aging will disappear in the world of the iPhone and other technologies if we do not become active players in the awareness of our own body and other sources that can control our thoughts and other processes. The goal of prevention is to “catch” the stressors BEFORE they create “dis-ease” in the body causing chronic conditions such as cancer. The problem is that the tests and the other “preventative” measures being used today only catch problems AFTER they have started to take hold in our bodies.

The Power of Five

1. The Power of Thought: Thinking is life. What we think we become. Everything in life evolves from thought. From this power comes our imagination, affirmations and ability to visualize outcomes. Dreams come from our thoughts. Disneyland was once a thought in Walt Disney’s mind. If we are staring at our phones over 200 times a day (which has been tested), we are missing out on our life and the changes that are occurring right before our eyes.

2. The Power of Change: “Change is the only constant in the natural order” as one of my favorite teachers taught me back in 1982. How we deal with change and address the challenges that change brings, plays a key role in whether we can go with the flow – or remain stuck where we are. Comfort zones keep us trapped in the place where change becomes almost impossible to embrace, but if we learn to let go of the past and embrace who we are in the present, life becomes so much more rewarding. “Go with the flow” is the best advice I can give when dealing with ALL change – it makes life so much easier and rewarding.

3. The Power of Choice: Choice is the real point of power in life. We “choose” every day of our life: whether we to go to work, go to the store, play with our kids or plan our futures. The point of making choices in the present is to create what you want from your life – and in your life. If you choose your health you will become active without excuses. You will eat well. You will entertain uplifting and loving thoughts. You will express yourself gently to those you love. You will not demand but forgive. You will value your every experience and be grateful for your gifts. This is to choose life in all its wonder and potential happiness.

4. The Power of Belief: Believing in yourself is always the place to begin. Believing in your potential to accomplish great things and to make a difference in the world takes work but it is possible with proper reflection and thought. “If you can conceive and believe, you can achieve”. This is true in all areas of life. Take responsibility for your beliefs and if they need to be altered or replaced – do so. Don’t wait until you are sick and tired and finally unable to believe at all in something more than your own life. Affirmations, meditation and reflection in quiet moments are ways to check in on your current beliefs. If you believe in yourself, anything is possible.

5. The Power of Consciousness: “The mind of man is unlimited in its potential and responds to specific demands made upon it”. This is another statement of belief I hold. I believe in opening my mind to new ideas and thoughts. I can create new and exciting ideas and some of these become realities in the world. This very piece of writing was an idea that is now materialised in the world to inspire others. My consciousness is one of hope and faith that I am being guided to create programs that will help people of all ages grow in consciousness so that they too can benefit from the ideas that others shared with me over the past 40 years.

Living in the present is challenging given the world we live in and all the demands that are placed upon us. We are on call 24/7 if we choose to let ourselves be taken in that direction. I refuse to let myself get taken into the world as Steve Jobs envisioned it. His world is not my world. I believe in the freedom to create my life by making the choices that are appropriate for me at any given time. Make your choices consciously and respond to your life and the changes it brings you by not resisting them. Be open and receptive to them. Thinking is the key. Think “through” your life. Do NOT react to outside pressures. Only then you will be able to enjoy the journey. This is true prevention.

Originally printed on HealthyNewAge.com. Reprinted with permission from Nicholas Prukop.


Nicholas Prukop is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer & a Health Coach, a fitness professional with over 25 years of experience whose passion for health and fitness comes from his boyhood in Hawaii where he grew up a swimmer on Maui. He found his calling in writing his first book “Healthy Aging & You: Your Journey to Becoming Happy, Healthy & Fit” and since then he has dedicated himself to empowering, inspiring and enabling people of all ages to reach for the best that is within them and become who they are meant to be – happy, healthy and fit – and be a part of a world where each person can contribute their own unique gifts to life.

If you need help in designing a fitness plan, you can contact Nicholas Prukop via email at runningnick@sbcglobal.net or read his inspiring book Healthy Aging & YOU

Elder woman training with physiotherapist

Resistance Training: Programming and Execution

In my previous article I made a case for a comprehensive resistance training program as a way to “cut the odds” in our favor as  we “grow older and not old”. I  also strongly believe in developing a strong cardiovascular system since it is responsible for keeping the life giving oxygen and nutrients moving into the body’s tissues and organs in order to sustain our lives. These two beliefs are driven by my desire to keep my body as strong and adaptable (and flexible) as I can in order to “prevent” challenges of all kinds from entering my experience in the future.

I would like to examine programming and execution in this article in order to enable and empower you to “take up the challenge” of becoming more than you ever thought possible through a well planned resistance training program that enhances your life through an acquired discipline, focus and commitment to your own health and well being. This process – (and it is a process) – continues throughout our lifetimes and rests on the foundation of a desire to consistently learn new things about ourselves. It is a process of expanding not only our own consciousness, skill and knowledge of our potential health and fitness futures – but also includes our developing ability to maintain such a process over time.

TRACKING

I find the key to my success over the past 55 years has been my desire and commitment to retain my program of running and resistance training by tracking all of my workouts – both running and weightlifting – allowing me to know “where I am” at any point in time. These records keep me up to date on the factors influencing my growth and reflect my effort to attain my goals of improving strength. power, endurance, speed, quickness, flexibility and balance.

The reality is that today “tracking devices” are available through technological advances and now can serve us in ways that I never dreamed possible before. I still record my results in logs and journals and appreciate the way in which this form of tracking has enabled and inspired me to keep going and improve my results. The gym where I train is filled with people “wandering” through their time there and never really getting focused while staring at their electronic devices or “smart” phones. NO ONE ever is tracking their work and consequently they will never know when – or how – to improve.

RESISTANCE TRAINING

Resistance training is the progressive stimulation of muscle fibers in order to create a more adaptable and powerful muscle. The “loads” we place on particular muscle “groups” are in alignment with the capability, experience and knowledge of the individual executing the program. There are type I and type II fibers. Each type responds differently to the multiple “stimuli” applied.

Type I fibers handle loads “over time” and respond well to longer periods of stress thereby classifying them more as “endurance” fibers. Type II fibers do not become engaged until the load reaches a high enough level where they get “recruited” to assist in handling the applied load. They are power fibers and help with explosive movements such as sprinting from danger. They normally are not required in the day to day activities most people engage in and only when we need them will they enter the equation. If they never get trained to respond however, the odds of being able to engage them when needed becomes remote.

THE PYRAMID

BASE SET (8-12 reps): This set warms the muscle and allows it to perform under a minimal load preparing it for more work in subsequent sets. A set is a prescribed number of repetitions that puts the muscle through a complete range of motion and allows the muscle to “respond” to the load. This stimulus enhances the neuromuscular system to become more capable and ready to help our bodies move effectively throughout the day or when doing other activities requiring a response such as cycling, swimming or hiking.

STRENGTH SET (4-8 reps): This set increases the load and allows for a greater stimulus and response to the activity of moving a “heavier load” through a full range of motion. This set is a “building set” since its intention is to take the muscle to “fatigue” allowing for growth during recovery and down time. One can induce additional growth in this phase by adding sets and continuing the process – depending on your experience and readiness to train in this more advanced manner.

BASE SET (8-12 reps): The final part of the pyramid is to return to a lighter load – not necessarily the original load – and allow the muscle to “work through” the waste that accumulates in the fibers as a result of the prior stimulation.

SETS: Sets are the “pieces” – the individual components – to the puzzle of resistance training. “Putting it all together” in a cohesive program is very important in determining your success. Generally, it is advisable to seek professional guidance when assembling a resistance training program since determining proper training technique, loads and the types of exercises can become quite daunting if you are inexperienced and lack the proper knowledge to do it yourself.

I think of this issue in the following manner: If I am attempting an activity such as snow skiing that I have limited or no experience or skill in doing, I will hire an instructor to teach me the basics and allow me to LEARN how be safe while I learn and begin to enjoy this new activity SAFELY.

PROGRAMMING EXAMPLES

(Include free weights, machine assisted and body weight exercises in planning)

Chest: Push ups (regular and modified), bench press (free weights), or machine press.

Shoulders: Overhead press (dumbbells), lateral raise (machine), rubber tubing with handles.

Back: Lat pull (cable), seated row – tubing, machine, wall press (body).

Arms: Curl (free weights), tubing, machine curl.

Abdominals: Basic crunch (knees bent, upper body life), resistance balls (destabilized crunch), wall crunches with back flat on wall.

Legs: Squats (wall) and lunges (static or moving), leg press (machine) calf extension (stairs and machine).

IN SUMMARY

Resistance training is the “pay check” and cardio is the “bonus”. My former fitness manager said these words to me over twenty years ago and I cannot disagree with him today. You will not get an argument from me on the benefits and power of a well planned resistance training program – especially after the age of 40! The idea that we can maintain our muscular strength and endurance over time WITHOUT training is ludicrous.

Every day that passes without proper stimulation of our major muscle groups is a day that we will never recover. The outcome could become catastrophic if we break a hip or suffer some other major injury that could eventually end our lives. I schedule my own resistance training sessions on Monday and Thursday so as to maximize my training and recovery times. Each program is varied by the number of sets I do, the resistance I engage and the time I take to execute the program. Each session is designed with this thought in mind: MAINTAIN my current lean muscle mass and strength for the years to come.

Your programming efforts are waiting for your decision to begin this new phase of your life and it is MOST definitely a “life affirming” decision. Take the time today to evaluate your needs and make the decision to begin TODAY! If you need help to get started – as I would with my skiing example – then get it! Don’t be afraid to learn new skills that could possibly save your life “down the road” because you – and your body – will be grateful you took a positive step that will NEVER let you down. I embrace this message myself everyday – and KNOW you will too! Travel well.

Reprinted with permission from Nicholas Prukop.


Nicholas Prukop is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer & a Health Coach, a fitness professional with over 25 years of experience whose passion for health and fitness comes from his boyhood in Hawaii where he grew up a swimmer on Maui. He found his calling in writing his first book “Healthy Aging & You: Your Journey to Becoming Happy, Healthy & Fit” and since then he has dedicated himself to empowering, inspiring and enabling people of all ages to reach for the best that is within them and become who they are meant to be – happy, healthy and fit – and be a part of a world where each person can contribute their own unique gifts to life.

If you need help in designing a fitness plan, you can contact Nicholas Prukop via email at runningnick@sbcglobal.net or read his inspiring book Healthy Aging & YOU.

Resistance Training: Principles and Planning

As I have grown in my own understanding of strength training over the years, I have  come to realize that many people are aware of the need to develop strength but appear to miss the point when applying their efforts to the actual process. I have observed over the years that men tend to want to “load up” their exercises and do minimal repetitions (maximizing the resistance) while women tend to work with very light weight and do greater numbers of repetitions.

Both approaches are not wrong but in applying their effort in this way they will both get minimal results. Men tend to get fatter in the abdominal cavity and women tend to gain fat mass in the hips and thighs – and eventually arms. Both approaches will not solve the “fat storage” problem and I suspect the frustration both groups feel grows ever time as each attempts to change the outcome by going with what they “think” will work.

I feel that if I can highlight the PRINCIPLES of resistance training while identifying the underlying benefits of a successful resistance training program I will hopefully “shed light” on the mystery of getting a “lean body” which we all seem to want.  Lean and strong beats fat and weak any day -doesn’t it? I know it does because I am able to say that after 30 years of weight training I AM lean and strong! Would you want that too? Of course!

PRINCIPLES OF RESISTANCE TRAINING

RESISTANCE: Applying a predetermined  “load” to a particular muscle group in order to create a deficit of stored energy and allow the muscle to respond to the “stimulus” by “adapting to the load presented” – and getting stronger over time. The muscle grows in size and strength by responding to increased loads and gives the joint more stability while creating a more flexible and adaptable joint.

REPETITIONS: The number of movements around the joint that create the result. The lower the number of repetitions – the greater the load. The higher the number of repetitions – the lower the load. Repetitions can range anywhere from (6 for “power sets” to 15 for “endurance sets”. The number of sets one can do will determine how quickly – or slowly – the muscle will respond to the stimulus. When it can no longer perform the movement (1-3 sets for beginners to 4-6 – or more – sets for experienced individuals) it has reached a “failure point”.

EXERCISES: The number of exercises is determined by the condition of the individual and the outcome desired. The form (body weight, machine, free weights) the exercises take is determined by the experience, knowledge and acquired skill of the individual. The process is always dictated by the conditioning and “readiness” of the person to train and MUST always include the safety and effectiveness of the exercises selected. Examples of exercises are: Leg extension, calf extension (seated or standing), shoulder press, chest press, back – rowing or pulldown, arm curls, lunges, and squats.

SPEED/TIMING: Timing refers to the speed with which we do the movements needed. The 2/4 count is a common tool used to either “speed up” or “slow down” the movements. (2 is for raising the weight and 4 for is for lowering the weight slowing the movement). Each has value but the faster we do the movements the more likely we are to increase the risk of injury. The heavier the load the more speed will have to be employed to “move the weight”. The lighter the load the slower the movement can done increasing fatigue and allowing the muscle to respond over time to the stimulus. Do a movement that is comfortable for you and remain in control of both the positive and negative resistance.

RANGE OF MOTION: The principle of range of motion comes into play when we attempt to move a heavier “load” through a “full range of motion” when our muscle is unable to do it without assistance from another joint. A classic example would be a standing arm curl where we are applying a weight against our bicep and attempting to raise the weight to our shoulders without using our back or lifting with our shoulders. I see this all the time. If you can’t “curl the weight” slowly – at the elbow for example – without assistance the weight is too heavy.

PROGRAMMING: Programming applies to the overall effort – and the result one is attempting to achieve. Starting with lower weight and doing more repetitions correctly is always preferable since safety must come first. The muscle develops over time and then additional “reps” can be applied with higher resistance since the muscle “adapts to the loads” over time. Patience is important and “going slowly” at first is always advisable. Weight training can show results in as little as 30 days so keep going!

THE PRINCIPLE OF ADAPTATION: This principle is the most important to keep in mind. All muscles get stronger over time if consistent effort is made and the issue of safety is always kept foremost in mind. My own training is now focusing on high numbers of repetitions while maintaining the weight I have been using to this date. The endurance and power issues are  being addressed in this manner since I am older now and my goal is to “maintain” my existing lean muscle mass”. We should ALL want to maintain our lean muscle mass since it is the most active tissue in our bodies – and burns lots of calories! The aging process WILL have a long term – and negative – effect if we do nothing!

PLANNING

Do “something” every week for the rest of your life when it comes to building – and maintaining – your existing lean muscle mass. Strength and endurance decline with the years – especially after the age of 40. The process actually begins in our 30’s but accelerates in our 40’s and beyond. I am fighting for a lean and strong body every time I train with weights.

I am building ENDURANCE through massive numbers of sets and reps. I am creating more POWER and STRENGTH through increased loads. I am increasing my CAPACITY when I keep the time between sets down to 30 seconds or less. I don’t waste time sitting or talking with people. I don’t allow myself to be distracted (no PHONE). I work toward the completion of my weight training workout in under an hour and fifteen minutes twice a week.

Scheduling time to work on building muscular strength and endurance is critical to a healthy and fit body. Your commitment to creating and maintaining your existing lean mass is VITAL so start with 2-3 days and build your program to suit your needs. Consider all your options (machines, free weights, body weight exercises etc.). Seek guidance from a fitness professional to assist you in planning your training especially if you lack proper training and experience – better “safe than sorry”!

Set a firm schedule for yourself and stick to it! I strength train on Mondays and Thursdays – and train HARD each time. I want to keep what I have as long as I can – and enjoy every minute at the same time! You should too! Find a way and commit yourself to your purpose and NEVER QUIT!

IN SUMMARY

Strength training is vital to a healthy and fit body as we age. Without our muscles we WILL become frail and weak – and our spine will collapse along with our ability to take care of ourselves – which I never want to experience. I see this outcome every day and walkers are becoming more commonplace for the “elderly”. I NEVER want to be called “ELDERLY”. That to me is the kiss of death. Remember after the age of 40 “all bets are off”. If you haven’t been active and developing your body before that age then get started and don’t waste a minute – or even ONE DAY.

Once the time is gone it can never be recovered. I am off to do my weight training for the start of my week and I can’t wait to “get to it”. My energy levels will go up and my attitude will be positive – and happy. I will accept the challenges of my day and start my week off on the “right foot”. Will you do the same? Only you can answer this question. I am guessing that if you do all you can today to get stronger – your body – and your mind – will be forever grateful that you charted a course that will forever keep you young and vital – and that is priceless!


Nicholas Prukop is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer & a Health Coach, a fitness professional with over 25 years of experience whose passion for health and fitness comes from his boyhood in Hawaii where he grew up a swimmer on Maui. He found his calling in writing his first book “Healthy Aging & You: Your Journey to Becoming Happy, Healthy & Fit” and since then he has dedicated himself to empowering, inspiring and enabling people of all ages to reach for the best that is within them and become who they are meant to be – happy, healthy and fit – and be a part of a world where each person can contribute their own unique gifts to life.

If you need help in designing a fitness plan, you can contact Nicholas Prukop via email at runningnick@sbcglobal.net or read his inspiring book Healthy Aging & YOU.

trainer-with-client-3

Performance Based Training: A Discussion

I have noticed over the years that people who train at a fitness facility with the best of intentions never seem to change either in appearance – or behavior. I believe that the approach many of us end up taking to achieving their fitness goals become entrenched in predictable patterns that prevent the changes they envision from occurring. I appreciate the commitment that it takes to work toward health and fitness goals because I know first hand the many challenges – and roadblocks – that can arise on this important journey.

With this thought in mind I would like to share some thoughts with you on how you might make your efforts at becoming fit more fruitful, enjoyable, engaging and successful. Take time to reflect on your current efforts in this vital area of life and think about what it is you would REALLY like to accomplish going forward in life from a new perspective on “getting in shape”.

GOAL SETTING

Any discussion on performance based training has to begin and end with appropriate goal setting. This process does not involve “looking better”, losing weight or any other number of superficial aims. Training to look better is nonsense because we ARE who we are. Genetics determines our look – not “working out”. If we don’t value ourselves in the very beginning (as I discussed in an earlier article) as we are NOW then how will we ever value who we want to become?

I believe in the power of the mind to determine our outcomes in life and the first place to begin before embarking on such a significant journey is within our own minds. What do you want to ACHIEVE? What do your want to GAIN from this endeavor? How will the ensuing results help you going forward in your life? The answers that you consider to these and other questions  – and then finally adopt – will give you your goals.

I am a runner and a weightlifter. I am these things so that I may remain strong and fast as I age. That’s it. My performance as a speaker depends on the depth and breadth of my training so I schedule time for my mind, my heart, my muscles, and my flexibility. I want to cover all of these bases on a daily basis so that I can PERFORM at my best when I am called upon to share what I have learned on the principles of healthy aging. I want to be my own BEST example of what is possible so my program reflects this desire.

When you set your goals remember to include milestones and “review points” to insure you are on the right track. Getting a fitness professional to help you clarify your goals will be helpful but NOT totally necessary if your take the time to determine what you REALLY want to accomplish with your training.

TIPS:

  1. Determine how you want to train your heart in order to make it as strong as possible. My goal is to be able to sustain a 6 minute pace for a mile. My training covers 6 miles 5 days a week so I know day to day where I am on my “heart journey”.
  2. Determine how you want to train your neuro-muscular system. I do this through a rigorous weight training program. I do 17 individual exercises and record my results in  a written journal that I keep with me while implementing my program. I see no other person tracking their resistance training in this way – ever. “If you don’t know where you have been, how will know where you are going?”
  3. Determine how you will address flexibility and balance issues. I do this through a stretching program that includes a push up routine (except on weight training days) and focuses on my legs, low back and upper shoulder area. I also spend five minutes in a Jacuzzi stretching my hamstrings, calves and quads. Note: Yoga is a wonderful way to embrace BOTH strength and flexibility issues.
  4. Determine how you want to train your mind. Set aside time to reflect on your goals and your progress. Think about your desire to keep improving your results and what it would mean to your quality of life going forward.
  5. Finally, visualize yourself actually DOING all the things you wish to do and see yourself enjoying every moment. I visualize myself walking on the Great Wall of China, walking through the many temple complexes in Kyoto – one of my favorite places on earth, and enjoying water skiing again in the clear waters in my REAL home of Hawaii where I spent the first 18 years of my life. In my 70’s all these are possible – and more – because I cared about my body – and mind – as they have aged over the past 7 plus decades – and DID something about it along the way.

PROGRAMMING

Take time to review your goals and make sure to adjust your program to your progress. Don’t “over commit” and reach “burn out”. The fatigue factor sets in if we get too aggressive and don’t allow for recovery and “down time”. I see lack of focus as a major block to getting the results many people desire. Know WHY you are doing something. Is it an activity that supports what it is you want to accomplish or is it just a “time waster”? I see time wasting behavior all the time in my setting in the gym when I am there. I see no point is wasting precious time that should be dedicated to getting a result that would really matter to you.

People don’t realize how much time they lose by sitting on machines staring at their phones or just doing a couple of sets of something that probably does nothing toward achieving their goals. Everything I do in my training sessions is designed to do SOMETHING to further my objectives of achieving balance, strength and speed for the future. I think of this effort as making a deposit to my health and fitness bank account for the future. It is also helping me accomplish something that I truly wish to achieve because of my commitment to purpose which is: “To serve as the best example of the change I wish to see in world”.

“Doing” is the backside of “being”. BE yourself FIRST as you ARE and then move forward one day at a time, one exercise at a time. If you can’t walk comfortably set your sights on training to become comfortable walking. If can’t walk upstairs without getting out of breath – or carry your groceries while you do – then add strength training to your programming.

After 40 balance becomes a huge issue and the older we get without addressing our strength issues, the more prone we are to getting seriously injured in a fall. Think about ALL your physical needs and then implement plans that will help you in the future. Do NOT be at risk of experiencing the serious consequences of suffering through a serious accident or injury. I never wanted to tear my ligaments or tendons – especially my Achilles tendon – so I minimized my risk by NOT doing activities that could result in such an injury.

IN SUMMARY

I promise you this: All the thought and planning that you can do IN ADVANCE of beginning a fitness program WILL pay dividends. Setting up your program with performance based milestones and goals in mind will pay off in spades if you are thoughtful in your evaluation of your present circumstances. Be realistic. Be focused. Be clear. MOST importantly: Be committed to your purpose.

I see my own performance based training sessions as just that – training for my future so that I might fully enjoy it. What could be more valuable than that? Take your time. There is no rush and you will find yourself getting more and more excited each day. I know I do. It brings me hope and a grateful attitude everyday I accomplish my goals. I will write more on this subject because NONE of us is getting any younger and the challenges WILL only become greater if we do nothing. See? I am accomplishing my purpose right now and it feels great!


Nicholas Prukop is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer & a Health Coach, a fitness professional with over 25 years of experience whose passion for health and fitness comes from his boyhood in Hawaii where he grew up a swimmer on Maui. He found his calling in writing his first book “Healthy Aging & You: Your Journey to Becoming Happy, Healthy & Fit” and since then he has dedicated himself to empowering, inspiring and enabling people of all ages to reach for the best that is within them and become who they are meant to be – happy, healthy and fit – and be a part of a world where each person can contribute their own unique gifts to life.

If you need help in designing a fitness plan, you can contact Nicholas Prukop via email at runningnick@sbcglobal.net or read his inspiring book Healthy Aging & YOU.

Hands Laptop

Healthy Aging and You: Technology, Consciousness: the Sedentary Society – Part III

In examining this subject I have found myself wondering about the challenges that this complex issue of technology and its impact on our lives is having. The reality is that NO ONE really knows what the impact of technology and our way of life holds in store for any of us. We DO know there is going to be a “reckoning” and that if we remain seated and stressed then significantly negative consequences will surely emerge. These include ongoing chronic medical issues such as heart disease, diabetes, and mental disturbances of all kinds to name a few. Finally an unhealthy aging process where people of all ages will be treated for these and other conditions will become a daily part of life for families all over America.

President Clinton was quoted in the past as saying that “this may be the first generation of children to not outlive their parents”. Quite frankly that thought shocked me so I became even more convinced that there is much work to be done before that statement can be labeled as true. It is still a real possibility and it will take all of us to find he answers. My grandson of 12 has already been diagnosed with high cholesterol and high blood pressure and this is only the “tip of the iceberg”. What about all the other children? What will their futures be like? What can be done? That is the question I will be spending the rest of my time on earth attempting to define and understand.

In this Part III I will examine the sedentary society and its corresponding partner the obesity epidemic and suggest ways we can move forward without “sitting still” until a crisis emerges that forces us to make changes to address the issues that we may have prevented in the first place! I believe in the possible and although this challenge may seem impossible we have to keep trying and not just throw up our hands in despair and do nothing. Our younger generations are counting on us to find answers and also to encourage us to ASK the best questions in order to present solutions and not merely shallow “guesses” or suppositions. That would be totally wrong!

DISCUSSION

After my training sessions I go to a nearby McDonald’s to read the paper and ponder and think – without any technology! Two examples are present in my mind of what I observe almost daily. The first one is of an elderly man who sits for hours staring at his phone and never speaking to anyone. He is always alone and he is there when I arrive – and when I leave. He is in my opinion in the “sitting and waiting to die” mode. I don’t know his circumstances but he appears to be alone in life. He is physically weak, overweight, always cold (he wears layers of clothes) and probably younger than me. Why he lives this way is a mystery to me but I DO know he is completely unaware of how his behavior is creating a future I am sure he would rather avoid!

The second one is the young man who brings his computer and sits for hours working on “whatever” while never looking up and “checking in” with his surroundings. He spends time checking websites and apparently without much purpose to his searches. The reality is that his computer appears to be his source of stimulation and while it can be a source of inspiration, a computer is not a companion. No real interaction occurs while he sits and stares at his computer. By the way, he is just one of many who do the same thing – especially on weekends. On many days there will multiple seating areas taken up with this same activity by as many as ten people.

These people are ALL “sitting their way to an early grave” and the only person who seems to notice this phenomenon is ME. Everyone, including the families with children, appear to be addicted to this form of behavior. I rarely see any people engaged in conversation and virtually NOBODY ever once looks at someone and smiles. This environment is not the one of my childhood on Maui or the times of my adulthood but it is the reality I observe everyday. Consequently, I live in a world where people no longer really interact with one another and the “quiet is deafening? This is not a world I know or feel I belong in except to say that I feel it is my job to say “WAKE UP” and MOVE!

THE OBESITY EPIDEMIC

This challenge exists but no one really knows why. Every diet in the world has not saved the world from its own gluttony. We are fatter and heavier than ever. When I was in college in the mid – late 60’s I saw virtually NO overweight or obese person. I walked everywhere on campus and exercised at the gym. I saw activity everywhere. The years following college saw more of the same. No technology – no obesity. The change came in the early 90’s. My daughter graduated from the Journalism School at USC in 1993. Her class was the last to use typewriters to write their stories. The school transitioned to computers and Lisa’s class was the last one to study her career specialty “the old fashioned way” that stories were told. News was reported with people being at the center of her universe – no twitter, Instagram, social media and all that has come to dominate our world.

From that moment on the world changed and with Steven Job’s invention of the cell phone a decade later the change became REAL and LASTING. We now live in a “seated world” where the only movement people get is when they get out their cars to do something that they CAN’T do from their cars. We line up at the drive through for banking, food and other services that keep us from walking. People even order at the drive through and now employees “walk” their order out to their cars. People SIT in their cars with the engine running eating their fries and burgers. I see this everyday also and it makes me wonder how their lives will turn out. Will they live lives of fulfillment and excitement and health or be in hospitals for “procedures” to keep them alive?

We are seeing huge increases in joint replacement surgeries on younger and younger people and because we are so inactive and heavy the issues will NOT go away without intervention and programs that address the underlying issues at the core. My answer as to why diets still are the main form of weight loss in this country is because a diet doesn’t require anything other than eating different food than we are accustomed to eating. Less than 5 percent of the people who stop dieting retain the loss – the rest gain the weight back – AND MORE!

The experts cannot agree on the solution(s) because the CAUSES are so complex. They cover a wide spectrum of possibilities from emotional, self esteem, physical, hormonal and so much more. This is why I recommend a comprehensive approach that encompasses examining all these areas in concert to arrive at an individualized approach than CAN work for EACH person in the population. However. the cost for this process may be prohibitive. There is no way we can know until we try new protocols beyond surgery, diets and drugs. I CAN say that if we do not address this issue it will cost the healthcare system billions – and possibly trillions – of dollars in the future. We just DON’T know at this point and if anyone says they THE answer – run the other way. Drugs and diets alone DON’T WORK!

IN SUMMARY

I believe in the three basic principles of healthy aging. They encompass the mental, physical, and spiritual aspects of life itself. These paths can combine to bring us relief and the answers we need in order to solve this crisis. I believe technology will keep us seated and not moving as long as we remain “unconscious” to our choices, activities and days. If we choose to keep our heads buried in our computers and continue to stare at our phones, then I don’t know what else to say except “good luck getting old”.

As my dear friend Edith Bird has said to me on numerous occasions: “Getting old is NOT for sissies”! Edith is 84 and works out four times a week doing cardio and weights and stretching. She has a wonderful soul and never makes excuses while being blessed with a wonderful heart and nature. I respect her and admire her. I tell her she is MY role model and we laugh and enjoy the time we spend together at the gym – and then we go our separate ways until the next time we see each other.

When she finally passes on (assuming I am still here), I will always hold her in my memory as someone who made a significant difference in my life. She will have left me the gift of hopefully inspiring someone else as I live out the remaining years of my journey through life. I want you to think about HOW you treat yourself and remember to think – and be – like Edith: Fearless, honest, and devoted to living each day to its fullest – with no regrets. This is the beginning to acquiring – and embodying wisdom – and that is finally after all the ONLY goal that really matters at the end of our lives!

Originally published on Healthy New Age. Reprinted with permission from Nicholas Prukop.


Nicholas Prukop is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer & a Health Coach, a fitness professional with over 25 years of experience whose passion for health and fitness comes from his boyhood in Hawaii where he grew up a swimmer on Maui. He found his calling in writing his first book “Healthy Aging & You: Your Journey to Becoming Happy, Healthy & Fit” and since then he has dedicated himself to empowering, inspiring and enabling people of all ages to reach for the best that is within them and become who they are meant to be – happy, healthy and fit – and be a part of a world where each person can contribute their own unique gifts to life.

If you need help in designing a fitness plan, you can contact Nicholas Prukop via email at runningnick@sbcglobal.net or read his inspiring book Healthy Aging & YOU.