Monday, September 28, 2015

Exercise on Purpose (or Die Trying)

This is the 6th post of a 13 part series on my Healthy Life Habits. In case you've missed the previous posts we've already covered:

Oh boy. This is the healthy life habit that soooo many people hate. We find all kinds of excuses NOT to exercise. Yet, we buy treadmills and thigh masters, only to shove them in the garage where the spiders claim them or we turn them into clothes racks.

Why exactly do we detest exercise so so much?

We hate it so much, we make constant fun of those who post their gym selfies, berating them for being vain and insipid. We roll our eyes at the 5k fanatics and the half-marathon moms.  And we do it with gusto.

Take Jim Gaffigan’s or Jon Pinette’s stand up routines. While I exercise in some intentional way every day, I still laugh my ass off at their cynical and condescending comedy.

There’s an entire subculture of exercise/healthy living bashing. If you lift weights, you’re a meathead, right? Shallow, stupid. “We have the audacity to decide who Mr. Universe is and we pick someone who probably can’t name the planets in our solar system” says Jim Gaffigan (who I adore btw). 

If you eat kale you’re a ditzy California hippie chic. “What else can we sell these idiots?” (again, Jim Gaffigan)

If you drink almond/soy/coconut/hemp milk, hey I’ve got a bridge in California I’d like you to take a look at. (that’s me. ha ha. yeah. I know. *sigh* I’m no Jim Gaffigan.)

If you’re "gluten-sensitive" you’re allergic to the “amber waves of grain” and it’s a communist conspiracy. "Doesn’t mean they don’t love this country. Just means they can’t stomach the purple mountains majesty.” (Jim Gaffigan. Yes, I love Jim Gaffigan.)

Then there’s my other all-time favorite comedian, Jon Pinette, who doesn’t do sit ups. “I don’t do ups. I do downs. Sit down. Lay down. Black Jack I’ll double-down. Give me a cheeseburger, I’ll wolf it down.” (Lmao!)

All kidding aside, here is where I make a very sad point. Jon Pinette is gone forever. He died at the age of 50. Did you catch that? 50. It’s awful. Too young, too young. What did he die of? I’m quoting wikipedia here, but it’s all public record:

"Pinette was pronounced dead at 2:30 p.m. on April 5, 2014, at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel in Pittsburgh. The Allegheny County Medical Examiner's office said Pinette had been suffering from liver and heart disease. An autopsy was not performed, as Pinette’s personal doctor signed off on his cause of death as pulmonary embolism."

Does anyone doubt that his food choices and lack of intentional exercise most of his life played a factor? A big one? The resulting obesity and clogged arteries took him down and robbed the world of a fantastic entertainer.

And so I ask again, why do we detest exercise so so much? Why do we make constant fun of those who commit to exercising on purpose at least three times per week?

Underlying most hate is fear. And what is one of the most common ways to cope with fear? Laughter. Ever laugh nervously when the IRS sends you an audit summons? Yeah.

I submit that we are afraid. Afraid of the kind of early grave that Jon Pinette fell in to. AND we are afraid that we don’t have what it takes to do anything about it. How freaking scary is that????

But Jon Pinette knew he was in trouble and started making changes. He started exercising! If he could do it, so can you. Will it be easy? No. Will you have days you don’t want to get out of bed, much less hop on a bicycle? Yes. So how do you cope? How do you not give up?

Let’s take a look at Jon again. He faced a long, long road to wellness, too, so he made his weight and health central to his stand up comedy. Why? Well, because it was his life experience and his art form was comedy. His struggle to lose weight (I believe he lost over 100 pounds at one point) and to learn to eat healthier was put “out there” for the world to have a good laugh over. 

This was how he processed his own fears. He used his art form to make sense of his self-destruction and rebirth. You may not consider yourself an artist, but I bet you can think of some ways to channel your struggle to start an exercise program and stick with it. Like keep a journal, draw cartoons, talk to friends, maybe even crack jokes at open mic night.

Intentionally or not, Jon's comedy also informed. “Look at me” it said, “and come to your own conclusions” in a way that made us laugh at our own health problems, our own struggle to motivate ourselves, our own resistance to what we know is good for us: exercise. We laughed at the fear.

Although Jon never intended the ultimate punch line—his untimely death—it still packs a huge wallop. Ka-blam! Here is what can happen to you.

But he was trying to change in the end. Despite it not being enough to stave off an early death, I think we can all learn from his struggles, like how anyone can start exercising. ANYONE. 
Also, he showed us how to power through on the days we just don’t want to get on that damn elliptical machine.

The kids and I have listened to every one of Jon Pinette's albums so much we can sing along. My kids' favorite bit is “Raviolis and a nap! Raviolis and a nap!” which is Jon’s self-proclaimed mantra while he was on the elliptical at the gym. 

When he felt like he couldn’t keep going, he’d start chanting “Raviolis and a nap!” Hey, whatever gets you up off your tuchus and keeps you going. 

What do you need to get off your ass and start moving? It doesn’t have to be 2 hours at the gym. It can be a simple 10 minute walk to start. Commit to a little intentional exercise at least 3 times per week or a short walk every day starting right now.

Can’t walk? How about chair yoga?

You’ve got an excuse not to exercise?

I’ve got an exercise for that.  


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