Looking For Olympic Inspiration

Susan Page
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Wednesday - February 22, 2006
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The Olympic Games - aren’t they inspiring?

Yes ... and no. Watching them always forces me into a fitness reality check. As I sit and watch the broadcast from Torino, I’m acutely aware of how different I am from these elite athletes. They’re young, physically gifted, courageous and have desire.

I’m not ...not ... not ... and don’t.

They’re also willing to suffer pain, sleep deprivation and injury to win. I’m willing to work out as long as it doesn’t hurt or interfere with watching 24, Grey’s Anatomy and Dancing with the Stars, and snoozing a full eight hours per night.

But I think my age is working in my favor when it comes to exercise. I can never remember what I go upstairs for, so I go back down. Then, when I remember, I go back up. I repeat this routine many times during the day with car keys, cell phones, sunglasses, tickets to volleyball, mail, my purse, a sweater, and any number of other items I forget as I try to leave the house. I’m sure I do at least five miles a day on the stairs. I call it Memory Challenged Aerobics.

Also, last year I started working out with a weight trainer because I knew I needed pushing. Darren refuses to let me slack as I’m prone to do. He’s taught me a lot about the “core” - those little muscles, the intercostals, that support the big ones. I also have a few DVDs that I work out with periodically: Gunner’s Core Secrets, Yoga for Dummies (don’t laugh!) and a Pilates one.

As we all know, at the core of every prescription for good health is exercise and, even if we aren’t Olympic material, we still gotta move “it” or lose it. Now that low-fat diets have been debunked as beneficial to fight heart disease, colon and breast cancer in a newly published study, and we don’t know whom to trust when it comes to diet, we have to rely on the one still-valid medical consensus: Get off the couch.

The key to exercise success is to put it on your calendar as a sacred appointment, just as if it were with your boss, a client or a doctor - not to be late for or broken. Then make it a habit. Walking and weight lifting are known to strengthen bones. Running takes off inches. Swimming is an overall workout that doesn’t hurt the joints. And don’t forget my personal favorite, forgetting why you went upstairs.

And talk about courage. There was a contest last year that didn’t get near the media coverage of the Winter Olympics: Botswana’s “Miss HIV Stigma Free” pageant. All the contestants were women who are HIV positive. Judging was less on physical beauty than on courage and spirit. In Africa, there is still denial about HIV/AIDS, especially among the men. This event helped draw attention to the disease that has ravaged all of Sub Saharan Africa. The winner, Cynthia Leshomo, had a message, “Let’s fight the stigma associated with AIDS, but not the people with AIDS.” She has had HIV for five years and is lucky enough to be on anti-retroviral drugs.

Finally, a gold medal goes to members of our state House of Representatives for having the courage to admit the gas cap they passed last year is a bad idea for Hawaii. Now if only the Senate, especially Ron Menor, DMililani/Waipio, one author of the gas cap law, will put Hawaii’s drivers first and take the repeal to the finish line.

And while they’re at it, go ahead and cut the G.E.T. on gasoline, too. We’ll all jump for joy - another way to exercise.

Exercise. It’s an Olympian feat that even us mere mortals can accomplish, memory-challenged or not.

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