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didn't celebrate the birth of Jesus. Christmas started about 200
years after his death. The Romans had a winter celebration called
Saturnalia, and they decided that would be a good time to have a
birthday party for Jesus. That's why we celebrate his birthday in
December instead of the spring when it more likely occurred.
I can foresee
the time, maybe not too far in the future, when all references to
Jesus are removed from these events, and we return to a festival more
like the pagan Saturnalia. I am praying for our country. I hope you
will do the same, and please, keep Christ in your Christmas this year
and every year.
Can you look at someone and tell if they are overweight or obese?
Most people can't, according to a new study presented by the United
Kingdom Congress on Obesity. Researchers asked 1000 people to look at
15 pictures of different men and tell whether they were normal
weight, overweight, or obese. Most of the participants could select
the normal weight guys, but were far less accurate when classifying
the overweight and obese pictures. This is understandable since only
36 percent of Americans consider themselves to be overweight, even
though 69 percent actually are.
What might be even more alarming is that doctors are just as lousy at
determining who is overweight simply by looking. In a follow-up
study, 315 doctors were asked to look at the same pictures and
determine those who were overweight and obese. On average, they
correctly picked only 8 out of the 15.
Doctors need to know whether a patient is overweight, because
carrying too much fat can lead to a host of other problems such as
sleep apnea, joint pain, acid reflux, high blood sugar, high blood
pressure, and depression to name just a few. Doctors are often
hesitant, even embarrassed, to bring up the subject, especially if
they are overweight themselves.
If you are concerned about your own weight, the most reliable visual
cue is your waistline. Visceral adiposity, or fat around the middle,
has been linked directly to heart disease and diabetes. A measurement
of 35 inches or more for women and 40 inches or more for men is cause
I can hold a plank for about six minutes. So what does that
accomplish? Not much. It's really a waste of about 5½ minutes. Planks
help develop body stability by strengthening the abs, but holding
them longer than 30 seconds won't produce better results. In fact,
doing so is pretty much a waste of limited training time.
According to Jonathan Ross, an award winning personal trainer and
author of the book
Abs Revealed, the plank burns almost no calories yet
provides a high level of discomfort. If you can hold a plank longer
than 30 seconds, add movement. There are several plank variations you
can add. Here are five to get you started:
in the plank position, lift one foot then the other off the
you can raise one elbow, then the other off the ground. This
is considerably more difficult.
holding the plank position on your elbows and toes, rock
forward and backward. Keep your back straight throughout the
can vary this by rocking side to side, but again keep your
if you really want to make it tough, make circular movements
with your torso. This combines the forward-backward and the
side to side motions.
These are just a
few suggestions, but I think these will be enough to challenge you
for a while. Remember just holding a plank for more than 30 seconds
doesn't do much for you. According to Ross, it's like repeating the
first grade over and over.
I can't get by without owning up to my predictions back in August for
Carolina's football season, but I'll keep this brief. I predicted an
11-1 season with the only loss being to Auburn. I predicted wins over
Texas A&M, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Clemson - all of
which were losses. Instead of 11-1, Carolina was 6-6. The Gamecocks
had two wins over legitimate teams all year - Georgia and Florida.
They lost three games they should have won - Missouri, Kentucky, and
Tennessee - and one they could have won - Auburn. They were whipped
soundly by Texas A&M and Clemson.
It was not a good year, to say the least. The defense started out
terrible and never got any better. The offense played well enough to
win most of their games, but they couldn't get anything going against
The Gamecocks will go to Shreveport to play Miami, also 6-6, in the
Independence Bowl. Who knows what will happen there? Who knows what
will happen with the defensive coaching staff, and who knows what
next year will look like? There are a lot of unanswered questions
with this team. But, hey, it's only sports, right?
May I suggest that you not leave any cookies and milk for Santa this
year? You're not doing the old man any favors. Think
about this. Santa makes deliveries at about 91.8 million homes on
Christmas Eve. (You've got to trust me on this one. I've run the
numbers.) If every home leaves the fat man one chocolate chip cookie
and an 8-ounce glass of 2% milk, Santa will consume over 20.6 billion
calories during his one night of work. (91.8 million homes X 225
calories per home = 20.6 billion calories.) Since 3500 calories
equals one pound, the man in red will gain approximately 5.9 million
pounds in 24 hours. (20.6 billion total calories divided by 3500
calories per pound = 5.9 million pounds gained.) Now I know he's
gonna burn off a few calories lifting that load of stuff he delivers
and going up and down all those chimneys, but still, what with all those
cookies and milk, he'll still balloon up 3 or 4 million pounds, and
that's just not good. So nix on the snacks this year. Besides, the
old man just doesn't have time for all that noshing. He can only
spend about a thousandth of a second at each stop and make it to all
those houses in 24 hours.
I wrote this article 10 years ago. I reread it the other day just to
see what, if anything, I would change if I wrote it today. The
answer: Nothing. Everything I wrote then is still valid today. Here's
Let's discuss some of the most commonly asked questions that I get
concerning fitness. First, we'll tackle questions dealing with cardio
or aerobic exercise, and then we'll look at some questions relating
to strength training.
Cardio exercises increase your cardio (heart) fitness. They include
running, walking, swimming, and stair climbing to name just a few of
many options. Remember to check with your doctor before beginning any
exercise program, especially if you're over 50, overweight by more
than 15 pounds, or have high blood pressure or diabetes or anything
else which might affect your performance.
How often do I need to do cardio workouts?
At least 3 times a week, but 5 or 6 times a week is much more
effective. If weight loss is your goal, aim for 6 workouts a
week. Always allow yourself at least one day of rest.
How long do the workouts need to be?
About 30 minutes a day. I prefer to perform the exercise for 30
continuous minutes as opposed to 15 minutes twice or 10 minutes 3
times a day.
How hard do I need to exercise for maximum effect?
Your goal is to elevate your pulse rate to about 60 to 70 percent of
your maximum heart rate and keep it at that level for a full 30 minutes.
You can use a Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale to determine
your intensity level. On a scale of 10 with 1 being very easy and 10
being extremely hard, you should be working at a level around 6 or 7,
or moderate to hard.
Now let's look at some commonly asked questions dealing with strength
How many reps
should I do? Most people should aim at between 8 and
12 reps per set.
How many sets
should I do? I start most of my clients out doing 2
sets and after 2 to 3 weeks, increase them to 3 sets. There is no
need to do more than 3 sets, because the increased benefits are so
minimal, it's not worth it.
How much weight should I lift? You should lift
enough weight so that by the twelfth rep of the third set, you are
very nearly maxed out. If you can do a few more reps, it is time to
increase the weight you're lifting.
How often should I lift weights?
At least 2 times a week, but you will make better gains if you lift 3
times a week. Take a day off between lifting sessions.
There is an ongoing debate about how much exercise is too much.
Generally it's been established that we need about 150 minutes a week
of cardiovascular exercise for optimum health. That's about 30
minutes a day, five days a week.
Most Americans don't get anywhere close to this. For these folks,
doing too much exercise is definitely not a concern. However, there
are a growing number of individuals who far exceed the recommendation
of 150 minutes a week. Should they be concerned?
The science on all this is scanty. One study did determine that
endurance athletes after years of running show a five-fold increase
in the incidence of developing atrial fibrillation. A-fib is a
moderate to severe condition that causes a heart arrhythmia. I can
attest to this personally. I developed a-fib several years ago after
running almost every day for over 30 years. With me it's not a
serious condition, only manifesting itself for a few hours every
couple of months, but for some it can be debilitating.
One thing I have determined from anecdotal evidence comprised from 37
years of running and over 10 years as a personal trainer is this: If
you run more than 25 miles a week on a regular basis, you will suffer
from injuries, and you will experience down time. I know you can't
tell marathoners not to run marathons, but if you do pile up the
miles, be prepared to spend some time nursing various and sundry
injuries. I now limit my running to 30 minutes a day, five days a
week, or about 15 miles a week, I also walk 30 minutes, one day a
week, and I take one day completely off. It's a formula that works
well for me.
Then the Grinch
thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought,
doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little
Seuss, How the
Grinch Stole Christmas!
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Harbison Recreation Center
106 Hillpine Road
Columbia, SC 29212
The Harbison Rec
Center offers more facilities for less money than anywhere else in
town These are just some of the features: a new weight room with
all new machines, free weights, treadmills, ellipticals, and
stationary bikes; a 25 meter junior Olympic size indoor heated
swimming pool; sauna; whirlpool; racquet ball and tennis courts; a
basketball gym; and miles of traffic-free trails for walking or
jogging. There are classes for seniors as well as summer camp and
after school programs for kids. Also newly remodeled locker rooms and
an all-purpose room for large gatherings. All for only $315 a year
for singles or $600 a year for families Check out their website: http://www.harbisonhoa.com/rec.
Wolf's Fitness Center
5432 August Road
Lexington, SC 29072
Wolf's is a total
fitness facility offering some great amenities. There's a huge weight room
featuring free weights and machines. There is a cardio area with
treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, stair steppers, and the
cardio theater. Other
amenities include an indoor walking/running track, sauna, child care
facilities with an attendant, tanning beds, clean locker rooms and
showers, and sports supplements. Prices are very
reasonable and there are no
enrollment fees ever. Wolf's also offers a full slate
of fitness classes including kickboxing and pilates, as well as spinning classes.
Check out their website, www.wolfsfitness.com for rates and