Monday, December 21, 2009

The Veggie Workout

Just when you thought you knew all the important benefits of including more fruits and vegetables in your life, here’s another one to ponder .

In the last five years, there has been a gradual change in the world of fitness training. These days, pushing dead weight around, has become so unconstructive and old fashioned. Resistance training [Weight Training] has shifted from a stagnant push or pull approach to one that includes more real life movements.

Borrowing from the world of physical and occupational therapies, the new inclusive term for this approach is Functional Stability Training, or FST. The object of this technique is to help us as we age with activities of daily living, or ADL.

All this became relevant about six months ago when we got Buster, our new yellow lab puppy. Labs have a tendency to put on weight very easily, so we began to weigh him weekly to monitor his weight. He was sixteen pounds when we got him and at that point not much of a challenge for me to lift him while stepping on to the scales and then doing some quick math.

I’ve been working out in gyms all my life, and at under 160lbs, nobody would mistake me for Arnold, still I can comfortably handle 50 -60lbs dumbbells.

As anticipated, Buster began to put on some weight; on average about two pounds a week. After the first month, things started to become a bit more problematic, in that he would wiggle and squirm a lot which made it difficult for me to clearly read the scale.

After two month, he was 39 lbs of wiggling Jello, and when I tried to weigh him, he got great pleasure in licking my entire face while trying to impersonate a slinky.

In addition to weighing him we were also measuring the amount food we were feeding him. Our efforts appeared to be working since he was quite lean and muscular, unlike so many other labs we have seen who were quite obese.

After an exceedingly hectic few months, my wife and I decided to take a break toward the end of summer, so we boarded the dogs and went up north to Portland for a few weeks.

Last summer was a great fruit season in the Bay area with a bountiful harvest of all my favorite fruits with the exception of watermelons. I tried all the usual techniques of thumping, percussing and smelling without much success. My percentages were pretty low, maybe at best, one out of five. Most of my melons were mealy and under or over ripe.

When we got to Portland, we tried some baby watermelons from Whole Foods as well as some baby yellows from the Sat farmers market. They were ok, but not really outstanding. I was becoming resigned to the fact that it probably wasn’t meant to be and I begrudgingly moved on to the wonderful Oregon cherries and raspberries that were at their peak of flavor.

One day when I was out and about, I stopped at a local market to pick up a few things and while browsing , I got into a conversation with the produce mgr about my watermelon drama. He said that he had just gotten a shipment of a local watermelon that was outstanding, and then proceeded to pull out a knife and offered me a private tasting of his prized melon. It was amazing, everything that I was looking for all summer was encapsulated in that slice. I felt vindicated, happy and almost giddy. Still not feeling totally confident, I asked the kind man to pick out a melon for me, for which I was exceedingly grateful.

His selection was medium size, and not until I got to the checkout counter, did I realize that it weighed 30lbs. "I’m in shape", I said to myself, as I euphorically walked out of the store. I only had about ten blocks to walk to get to where we were staying and thought, hey no problem….

The following statement should be etched in stone; There’s no easy way to carry a watermelon. I initially tried carrying it by the handles of the double wrapped plastic bag. After walking about a block, I had to change hands to relieve the pressure from all the weight that was digging into my fingers. I used the alternate hand routine for a while, until both my hands went numb.

My next foray, was to embrace the melon, which at this time was beginning to feel like a bowling ball. I gave it the bear hug treatment for a few blocks, and then went back to a combination of carrying and hugging, until I finally made it to the apartment, exhausted but triumphant. When I finally cooled down, I realized that I had just had the best workout, in my life.

My epiphany, led me to several addition ‘’workouts’’ while in Portland. I was beginning to look at butternut squash and russet potatoes in an entirely new light.

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