Thursday, February 25, 2016

8 Secrets of People Who Exercise Regularly

By Linda Melone, CSCS for Next Avenue

Credit: Thinkstock

I began working out 35 years ago, at the tender age of 21, and have never stopped. During that time, I’ve seen leg warmers come and (thankfully) go; tried Pilates, cycling and yoga and worked as a personal trainer for 15 of those years.

I don’t recall taking more than a week off at any given time. Exercise has simply become something I do, as much as showering and brushing my teeth. I don’t think about it, I just do it.

But when I began training clients in 1995, I quickly noticed a trend: Most people quit exercising within months of starting. They’d lose their motivation for one reason or another and it was over. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) backs up my observation: 25 to 35 percent of adult exercisers stop working out within two to five months of starting.

So I asked several top trainers and other people who exercise regularly how they’ve kept going through the years and what advice they could offer others. Here are our tips, starting with my personal favorite. I hope they’ll help you stick to your workouts for years to come.

1. Get exercise done first

By that I mean: exercise first thing in the morning. My early morning clients were always the most consistent and dedicated. You’ll have too many excuses to skip working out by the end of the day and you’ll likely be fatigued by then. At 6 a.m., the phone isn’t ringing yet.

2. See the glass as half full
Take the focus off what you lose by exercising (like maybe your couch potato time) and look at all the things you gain, says Tom Holland, Ironman triathlete and author of Beat the Gym. “You can get discouraged by setting unrealistic expectations, such as quick weight-loss goals, for example. But mood boost, gaining functional strength [the type that enables you to perform everyday tasks with ease] and easing pain [studies show that exercises help ease joint pain] can be great motivators.”

3. Make do with the time you have

Don’t wait to have a free hour. “Short workouts and staying active throughout the day count towards calorie burning,” says Holland. “Truly fit people move around all day long. I’ll do a set of push-ups or squats during the day when I get a minute. It all adds up.” Calorie-burning known as NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) refers to calories you burn doing small activities during the day. Fidgeting, getting up and down for water or to use the bathroom all count towards weight maintenance.

4. Get out

“I think it’s important to get out of the house,” says Richard Moore, 57, a 40+ year veteran of weight training and gym member, and president of Coldwell Banker Platinum Properties, Irvine, Calif. “I have equipment at home, but find it hard to get motivated.”

Moore hits the gym at 5 a.m. most days and does a 35-mile bike ride with a friend Sunday mornings. “It’s a bit of an obsession. I can’t imagine myself not doing lifting weights,” Moore adds.

His best tip? Take out your workout clothes the night before so you don’t have to think about what to wear when you get up. It could be the difference between working out and going back to bed.

5. Imagine the future

Picture yourself years from now, says Mark Nutting, 58, co-owner of Jiva Fitness, Easton, Pa. “When you reach 50 years old, you potentially have another 50 in front of you. Ask yourself: What are those years going to look like? Will they be filled with new activities that challenge you and keep you engaged in life or will they be years of disability, walkers and caretakers?” If you envision the former, you’ll be sure to keep up your fitness. Adds Nutting: “Ask yourself, ‘What would happen if I stopped?'”

6. Keep up appearances

Both Moore and Nutting admit that vanity also keeps them going. “You not only look better, but working out increases your self-confidence and makes you feel better about yourself,” says Moore. Nutting agrees: “It’s our pride in ourselves. Vanity is not a bad thing. I own it.”

7. Cut yourself slack

Mix in easier workouts along with tough ones. “I used to hate running,” admits Alison Heiling, fitness and motivation coach for AcaciaTv. “But I’ve been doing it regularly for nearly 10 years now.” Her secret: “I always have at least one workout each week at an effort, intensity and duration I enjoy. Pushing hard for progress is great, but who cares if you’re feeling overworked all the time?” It’s about balance.

8. Expect your motivations to shift over time

“As someone in her 50s, I can tell you that my inspiration has changed over the years,” says Lisa Wheeler, star of the Weight Watchers: 7 Day Tone & Burn DVD. “I adapt to what excites me now. As long as I am staying physical, paying attention to my mobility and stability and finding the joy of movement, I am good to go!”

Whatever brings you joy and helps you build community with your fellow exercisers is what will keep you coming back, she adds.

In the end, exercise is a matter of finding pleasure either within the activity itself or realizing the benefits to your body and mind. The best way to avoid starting over? Don’t ever stop.

© Twin Cities Public Television - 2016. All rights reserved.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

Pet Rescue Missions Give Shelter Animals and Retired Pilots a New Leash on Life

By Judith Reitman-Texier for Next Avenue

Volunteer pilots fly thousands of animals to safety each year.

I am belted into the cockpit of a Cessna 182, a four-seater single-engine plane, flying 5,000 feet above the North Carolina/Virginia border. The pilot, Thomas Hendrickson, points to the silhouette of the Appalachians and the blue-gray rivers fanning through miles of farmland. The flight from Horace Williams airport in Chapel Hill, N.C., to Tappahannock-Essex Airport in Virginia is an hour and a half, much quicker than what would have been a four-hour car ride, meaning less stress for our passenger. Heather, a fawn-colored collie rescued from a kill shelter, is normally skittish, but as we fly over those rivers, she is sprawled Zen-like in the Cessna’s back seat.

When we land in Tappahannock, a rat terrier with a surgically wired jaw is waiting to board Heather’s connecting flight. Pilot Bernie Frankowiak, 50, CFO of a car dealership, will take Rocky, the terrier, to Redding, Penn., where another pilot will fly the dog to his adoptive home in New Hampshire. Meanwhile, Frankowiak will continue with Heather to Brandywine airport. There, a representative of Rescue Express will take her to her foster home.

Writer Judith Reitman-Texier at Tappahannock Airport with Heather.

Hendrickson and Frankowiak are part of a network of thousands of volunteers who fly dogs and cats—and sometimes hamsters, snakes and birds — thousands of miles for organizations with names like Paws N Pilots, Flying Fur Rescue, Dog Is My Co Pilot, and Animal Rescue Flights (ARF). The animals are on the euthanasia list at kill shelters located mostly in the South. In Idaho, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Utah and other states that enforce spay neuter laws, rescue groups and adopters await them.

Who’s Saving Who?

The pilots receive no pay and, in fact, dig into their own pockets to fund flights. Victor Girgenti, a Long Island businessman in his 50s, has flown his Piper Meridian on 750 “missions” for Animal Rescue Flights; he spends about $1,000 in jet fuel per flight.

For these animal-loving flying buffs, mission trumps cost.

“We bring animals from places they will die to places that want them, where they will live,” says Dr. Peter Rork. The 62-year-old retired orthopedic surgeon founded Dog Is My Co-Pilot shortly after the death of his wife in 2012. Three times a week, he flies upwards of 50 dogs from western kill shelters to safe havens. “You save animals, but I feel they save me,” he says.

Businessman and amateur pilot Jon Wehrenberg found himself languishing in retirement when an animal rescuer asked him to fly a dog interstate, fast. At 64, he co-founded Pilots N Paws, which now has over 5,000 pilots flying 15,000 animals to rescue each year.

Flying for rescues provides a renewed sense of purpose to these hobbyist pilots who, like their passengers, are moving into a new stage of life.

“I feel useful and appreciated,” says retired lab technician Frank Walters, 62. Jerry Perleman, a retired music teacher from Roslyn, N.Y., values the camaraderie: “You’re stepping up to the plate as part of a team.”

A Need for Speed

Each day, 10,000 animals are euthanized in shelters across the county; that’s about 4 million dogs and cats every year. In many cases, the otherwise healthy dogs and cats could have found adopters in other states, but transportation is the challenge. Animal rescue groups network with ground transporters, but long hauls are stressful on crated animals and animals in kill shelters don’t have time to wait for scheduled transport. Pilots, on the other hand, can fly with little advance notice.

“It’s terrible to think an animal is going to die because he has no transportation,” says Jeff Bennett. The retired Florida businessman has flown more than 4,000 animals in the past four years on Pilots N Paws missions. Twice a month, he loads up his Cirrus SR22 with dogs and cats from the South and brings them to Florida rescues.

For Bennett, 56, the most poignant moments are on landing, when adopters first greet their new companions. “Especially the military personnel with PTSD, when they first meet their dogs, it brings tears to your eyes,” says Bennett.

Pilots N Paws and similar networks do not arrange the flights; they simply post a rescue group’s need for transport:

Blind lab needs ride from Lake City, FL to Franklin, MA. Distance 1039 miles.

Transport PTSD Service Dog to FL from Rochester, MN. Distance 925 miles.

Within a day, several pilots responded to the request to fly Heather, each offering a leg of the journey; within two days, the schedule was set.

Marines with PTSD meet their service dogs

Happy Passengers

Most of the time, the dogs and cats are crated. Sometimes they are tethered to a seat or get a first-class ride with the pilot.

Rork flies his Cessna 206 with the largest dog in the passenger seat. Victor Girgenti recalls flying a nervous 175-pound mastiff/Great Dane named Sam who was too big for a crate. The dog occupied himself in the back of the jet with a bag of dog food…until he found his way to the passenger seat where he settled in, calmly gazing out the window. Layla, a rescued black lab on her way from North Carolina to service training in Ohio, sat on the lap of’s co-founder Pam Rhodes, while her husband piloted.

“The animals know you are saving them,” says retired international airlines pilot Keith Becker, 69. Becker has flown 107 missions and over 450 dogs and cats for Pilots N Paws over the past few years. On one trip, he had tethered a large Doberman behind his seat. “When we landed, that dog gave me a big wet kiss on the back of my neck,” he recalls. “You can’t find a more grateful — or affectionate, passenger.”

Most of the pilots are men. But several woman have been among the trailblazers. Debi Boies, an animal rescuer, founded Pilots N Paws in 2008 with Jon Wehrenberg in 2008. Pat Picornell, 55, a wealth adviser, began a Bahama route for that organization when shelters there began closing. She herself has flown more than 1,000 island dogs to mainland rescue groups.

“It’s something to look forward to,” Picornell says. “When the weather is beautiful, why not make a flight and pick up some dogs?”

© Twin Cities Public Television - 2016. All rights reserved.