Staying in Shape for the Long Haul



Paul Stevens


Halloween was just a couple of days ago and wasn’t it fun to see the little ones show up at the door, wide-eyed and dressed up in all manner of costumes, holding their treat bags open anticipating what we were about to add to their collection of goodies?  We always buy way too much so there remains a small mountain of treats to clear up.  Not that they will go to waste of course as there is no shortage of treats to keep our sweet tooth satisfied for the next several weeks. 

When the Halloween treats are just about done, it seems like you roll into the excesses of the Christmas/Holiday season, providing yet another opportunity to overindulge.  You get yourself over that bump and then it’s Valentine’s with another sugar overload.  Get past that and then Easter shows up and offers you another chance to overwork your insulin capabilities. Things don’t calm down until late spring it seems but then the cycle starts again with the next Halloween.  It’s a grind but we survive.  This is where you have to be firm and remind yourself that ‘all things in moderation’ will help you win the day.

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The other notable thing about October 31st is that is marks the day that I received the ‘thumbs up’ from my orthopedic doctor to be free of the neck brace that has been the highlight of my wardrobe for the past 10 weeks.  He could barely finish the sentence when I had the (insert colourful language here) neck brace off and punted to the sidelines.  The doctor said my bones had healed well and that I could resume normal activities once my neck muscles were comfortable. 

This means doing some physio to get everything strengthened again and in the interim I can drive my car as well as ride my bike if I feel up to it.  With some diligence on the rehab front, I should be able to join my hockey buddies towards the end of the month.  The Pylons shall rise again! I felt like I had just won the lottery accompanied by a deep down sense of relief.

I am up to about 40-45 minutes on the stationary bike with several hard intervals of 40 – 60 seconds scattered throughout the time.  Finish off with some light weights for my upper body and also some leg exercises and stretching as well. This is enough of an effort that I am left with a heavy sweat at the end of each session.  Muscles that were barking somewhat from the residual effects of being hit by the pick-up truck are noticeably eased when I finish and then relax a bit. 

The option for me would be to do something on the lighter side such as going for a walk and while that helps, it does not have the same immediate results that I get from doing something that requires a little more effort. I guess I am doing something right as many of the doctors I have visited along with the physiotherapist are pleased with the progress I am making to the point of surprise that an old guy like myself ( I am 61) has managed to rebound in relative short order with no lingering side effects that we know of although my wife will insist that my mental acuity has been irreparably damaged.   Of course, that fits with her pre-accident diagnosis of my state of mind.

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I am by no means an Olympian but like you, I try to keep myself in a reasonable state of repair so that I can enjoy life to the fullest.  I did not plan on becoming fodder for another ½ ton pick-up truck or any other motor vehicle for that matter but as they say, bleep happens.  Although I was knocked cold for a period of time as a result of the collision, I do recall waking up in the hospital surrounded by a number of the hospital’s medical staff and I heard the comment from one of them who said, “This guy is in good shape.” 

Thanks, I guess, but I can think of better ways to garner a compliment.  I can only imagine what problems I might have had to deal with if I had to replay the accident in a lesser condition.  So, all that work and effort that you put forth can have benefits beyond just looking and feeling better without having to go through any sort of challenging incident.

Now that I am free of the neck brace, I can vary my routine beyond the stationary bike.  I will work with my physiotherapist to put a program together that will work on revitalizing my neck, continue to build cardio capacity, and get into some overall strengthening.  We have a nice assortment of workout facilities in the immediate area (everything in our small city of Sarnia is no more than 10 minutes away) so I plan on making use of these services. 

For example, I could join a spinning class a few times a week to get the cardio side of things in order and compliment that with some weight training.  I’m not looking to pick up where Arnold Scharzenegger left off, just do enough to get myself to where I was before the accident.  If the weather holds out and I can get on the bike, this will provide another opportunity to get outdoors and add variety to the fitness routine.

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OK, so everything is coming along as well as I could have hoped for.  All I have to do now is try to avoid picking up a seasonal cold or flu bug that could set me back a week or two and make me fell crummy in the process.  Some things we can control, others we can’t so I will proceed as if I have never heard of a cold or flu!

Your friend, Paul.

And remember – Carpe Diem (but in relaxed sort of way)!

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