Yourself For The Long Haul
from Tom Venuto's Fitness Renaissance Newsletter
By Jon Blackburn -
I am writing this around the end of January
and I am thinking this is just about the time that many of the New Years
resolutions begin to lose their momentum and people who were intent on making
changes in their lives begin to settle back into the couch and turn on the TV.
I find a similarity in the stair climbing events that I enjoy participating in.
I see newbie stair climbers start the race and hit the bottom of the steps
flying up the stairs and whooping with excitement, I think to myself that I
will be seeing them again and sure enough about the 30th floor they are
standing to the side, hands on their knees with their chest heaving trying to
get more air. The problem is they didnt respect the course they were
running and completely underestimated the endurance and demands of the event.
Stair climbing like all endurance events is about getting into the right pace
and rhythm that gives the best sustainable progress. I like to save my WOOO
HOOO for the top of the stairs to celebrate finishing the climb well.
I have a friend I train with who has been
running marathons for decades. He has been preparing for a 100 mile ultra
marathon for months, during our training sessions he told me his plan is to
actually start by walking the first couple of miles then go into a slow run.
Can you imagine being an accomplished runner starting a race you have been
training for by walking and allowing the field to get away from you! I believe
the man is wise because he knows how demanding the course he is about to run
will be to complete. Everyone feels good at the start of the race. The key is
to find a sustainable pace that will get you to the finish!
I have people tell me with excitement that
they lost 15 pounds last month and I encourage them to stay on it. I sometimes
think that their excitement is similar to the whoops of the inexperienced stair
climbers hitting the first few floors of the Sears Tower. Making changes to you
physical condition is a much longer more demanding process than a hundred mile
run or climbing the Sears Tower. I am convinced that if most people took on the
task of walking from New York City to Los Angeles in the same way they tried to
make changes to their bodies they would sprint the first 100 yards, jog the
next mile, walk for a while then quit before they left the city limits.
I believe one of the keys to making changes
to your body, strength and fitness level is to balance your effort and progress
with sustainability. Do you want to make improvements to your life and health?
Do you want it bad enough to do it very slowly? What is important is not how
you eat for a day or a week, it is how you will eat for the next several years.
Having a great workout is not great if you make yourself so sore or are so
overwhelmed that you stop exercising a week later. Dont misunderstand
that I believe you should not stretch yourself to do more, better and different
things with nutrition and exercise, you just need to be very careful to protect
good habits that you develop and keep what you are doing sustainable. I
frequently ask myself, Can I do this the rest of my life? If the
answer is yes I keep on doing it and start looking for a little more.
Two years ago bringing the groceries into
the house or going up 15 steps would make me breathe hard. I weighed 340 pounds
and did nothing for exercise. Today I will climb up and down as many as 10,000
stairs in a workout and will go up and down 3,000 stairs routinely. I got from
where I was to where I am by starting very slowly, doing ridiculously easy
workouts and making very small changes to my exercise habits over a long period
of time. Our bodies are amazing in their ability to adapt to the environment
they are put in. If we sit on the couch, watch TV and eat bon bons, our
body will get really good at doing that. If we walk, swim, cycle, run, climb,
ski or lift our bodies will adapt and get really good at that in time. Our
choice is what environment we put our bodies in, and how quickly try to make
Copyright 2005, Jon Blackburn,
NOTE: Jon Blackburn is one of the
contributing authors in the upcoming book, "Fit Over 40: Role Models For
Excellence At Any Age." For more information and a free sample of the book,
For more information on Jon's journey check
Tom Venuto is a bodybuilder, gym owner, freelance writer, success
coach and author of "Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle" (BFFM): Fat Burning Secrets
of the World's Best Bodybuilders and Fitness Models. Tom has written over 150
articles and has been featured in IRONMAN magazine, Natural Bodybuilding,
Muscular Development, Muscle-Zine, Exercise for Men and Mens Exercise.
Tom's inspiring and informative articles on bodybuilding, weight loss and
motivation are featured regularly on dozens of websites worldwide. For
information on Tom's "Burn The Fat" e-book,