Ask anyone who has ever known me, and they’ll tell you that I must be one of the laziest bums around. You’ll know they got that at least half right, and you’ll know that I’m avidly working on the second half.
I have never been very excited about exercise, so who better to instigate one of the largest fitness events in this county?
Right. I’ll tell it to you like it is, and will never talk down from my Fitness Prince tower. What I have experienced, physically, over the past three years has amazed me, and I hope some of it will inspire you.
First, at 48 years old, without very much sports experience in my life, save a little swimming in college, and after watching people swim
across Lake Waccamaw like they were certifiably crazy, I got it in my head that I could do it.
Since then, I’ve told many people that the hardest step in accomplishing a Take the Lake Personal Endurance Challenge (PEC) is simply to get it in your head that you can do it, and the rest is just follow-through.
Here in early August, it’s a bit late to start training for a PEC unless you’re serious about it and will train earnestly for the next four weeks. But for those who are ready, this inspiration is for you.
First, it’s all about you, for you, and by you. Don’t expect anyone to come up and push you into training for Taking the Lake; you have got to make that step yourself.
Second, you have got to want to do this. Except for the Bike & Hike, these are real physical challenges. Not everyone wants to walk in a 15-mile circle, but those I have spoken with who have done this say it was worth it, even a significant achievement in their lives.
Third, we hope you’ll take it seriously, especially in training. Sure, many people can just up and finish our Walk/Run, Paddle or Swim without much preparation, but those are people who don’t really need the help (or motivation) we’re trying to provide. We could argue, also, that they could finish those PECs faster, more comfortably and with far less risk if they train first.
About my experience: all this business has changed my life for the better, and I have to thank the Labor Day Swim committee for keeping the dream of their patriarch, Lee J. Greer, alive.
Take the Lake is not a fitness program, but an incentive. Like a marathon or triathlon, it is the mountain you prepare for months to climb. Our celebrity participant this year, John Deans, refers to challenging events like this as “the big payoff.”
It may not be sound medical advice, (and we insist you discuss any exercise routine with your physician,) but I like the seasonal aspect of how this is working.
I begin to train for Take the Lake in the late winter, then increasingly work harder through the spring and summer until I’m actually in fairly decent physical shape. Then I climb the mountain. The good habits hang on for a few months, and then I take it easy for a while.
This may sound like it leads to “rollercoaster” dieting, but it hasn’t for me, and it is much less daunting than looking at an exercise or diet that I will commit to 24/7 for life. Hey, it works for pro athletes, it’s working for one of the laziest bums around, and it can work for you.
About now, I start looking at serious dieting – less caffeine, plenty of water, carbs, protein over fat – and I consider my body more like a machine I’m running than a suitcase I’m lugging around.
Like Deans said, “It made me feel good to be in that kind of physical shape.” Deans will attempt all four PECs in a single day during our X-TREME! event Aug. 27, and he will find himself in top physical shape after training these next few weeks.
Training for something like this changes your perspective and your motivations. Walking is no longer something you have to do, but an opportunity to work on the legs. Cycling or walking instead of driving makes more sense in more places than before.
I was late for an appointment in town yesterday and was disappointed that I had to drive my car the two-mile roundtrip and missed a good cycle opportunity. That’s the frame of mind you want to be in, where you have a beautiful, challenging goal ahead of you so shiny and bright that working toward it is no longer a chore, but a welcome feature of your day.
We all have things that get us down; joint problems, aches and pains, and it’s all too easy to use those as excuses to not use those joints and to hide in our houses and cars.
I spoke with Emogene Suggs recently. The 84-year-old Nakina woman walks about two miles every day and believes the exercise “keeps me out of the doctor’s office.
“I have to say that my doctor bills have not been very much,” she said, “and I credit that to walking.” The retired teacher and county employee began walking after a friend convinced her to take a hike one day, 28 miles to Ocean Isle Beach. She was 59 and she was hooked, and she has been walking “every day” since then, for the past 25 years.
Her genes may have a lot to do with it, but Suggs credits her daily exercise for keeping her completely off medications. We now know that inactivity has siblings called aches and pains, and they all hang out together. Let one in, and they’ll all crash on your couch, raid your fridge and take over your life.
Speaking of doctors, whose advice I seriously recommend you take over my own, I spoke with one last week, and he was emphatic that some things we perceive as limiting our exercise – painful joints, mostly – can actually be overcome, and often just by using those joints, and using them wisely. We can wear braces or modify our exercise routine, but we can still be active – just ask your doctor.
I said that no one will push you to climb this mountain, but it does help to have a friend compel you and train with you, and you’re lucky if you have one who won’t let you quit or even ease up.
I’m fortunate to have one in Brett Gore, a Marine who long ago threw the word “quit” out of his house.
Last year, as we were completing the final leg of our crazy 48-mile trip around, and around, and around, and across Lake Waccamaw, we both agreed that, yeah, this was fun, and yeah, it was a great challenge, but a bit much, and that once was certainly enough.
The very next day I called him and said, “You ready for next year?” and he said, “Yeah, let’s do it again.”
And that’s the frame of mind I’d love for you to be in, having finished at least one Take the Lake Personal Endurance Challenge, having achieved something that you would tell your friends is “one of the top 10 achievements of my life,” and looking forward to climbing that beautiful mountain all over again.
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Take a few minutes and reel through the years of Take the Lake, as we review the many themes and posters that have helped make fitness more fun in Columbus County! Click here
DID YOU KNOW...
that the second-most-popular Boy Scout merit badge in the U.S. is for Swimming? And the ninth-most-popular is Personal Fitness? Yes!
Six girls complete
all four PECs.
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