Fit at Last: Look and Feel Better Once and for All

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Megaselling author Ken Blanchard shares his own story of how-after countless failed attempts-he finally was able to break his cycle of weight gain at age 73, losing over 30 pounds and shedding five inches from his waistline. Ken and his trainer Tim Kearin share techniques that any person can use to get started, overcome obstacles, establish new habits, and enjoy lasting success in becoming healthy and fit in middle age or older age.

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Contents

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1 A Joint Commitment

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Ken’s Story

Think about an exciting story. Doesn’t it always have an interesting character who wants to make something important happen in their life, but first has to overcome conflict to accomplish the goal? Well, the interesting character in this story is me. What I want to accomplish that is important is to become fit again so I will feel better and live longer. To do that, I have to overcome conflict—my past patterns of behavior and how I dealt with the ups and downs of life.

As I tell you my story, I’m probably going to tell you more about the ups and downs of my life than you want to hear. Why? I’ve found that a lot of people think that because I’ve been fairly successful in my life, everything has gone along smoothly and all the breaks went my way. This was not always the case.

I was born in 1939 and grew up in New Rochelle, New York. My mom was a very nurturing person. Unfortunately, one of the ways she nurtured us best was by feeding us. If we were happy, we ate. If we were sad, we ate. If we were worried, we ate. Whatever happened, we ate. One of the ways Mom self-actualized was through the food she gave my father, my sister, and me. As I grew up, I used to fantasize about being locked in our local Jewish delicatessen overnight. I can smell a piece of cheese-cake a mile away.

 

2 The Launching Pad

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Ken: As I suggested in the introduction, at some time in our life we all have made a New Year’s resolution to do something and then not followed through—we didn’t behave on our good intentions. Most New Year’s resolutions don’t work because we find accomplishing the goal to be tougher than we thought it would be. Added to that, we get little, if any, help from people around us when we get discouraged. In fact, they often smile and say, “We’ll believe it when we see it,” and then walk away to let us manage on our own. But if we could do it by ourselves, it would not need to be a New Year’s resolution—we would just do it.

PRINCIPLE 3

Learn About Situational Leadership® II

I knew right away that I could not regain my fitness on my own—a delegating leadership style wouldn’t work for me. Then I had a blinding flash of the obvious: Why not use Situational Leadership® II1—the model that has built our business more than anything else we have ever taught— to help Tim and me figure out the kind of leadership (i.e., help) I would need to accomplish the fitness goals we would agree upon?

 

3 Great Beginnings: The First Quarter

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Ken: We were off and running after the evaluation process. I was excited because it was December, not February, and I had a highly committed partner in Tim. Our sessions three times a week really got me going on my strength and balance training with Tim providing an appropriate S1—Directing leadership style. He told me what to do and how to do it, and closely supervised my performance. With my flexibility, I was a D2—disillusioned learner, so Tim provided the S2—Coaching style I needed, with lots of direction and support. I looked forward to being around Tim. Besides being an expert in the field, he’s a fun guy. His studio is only a couple of miles from our house, so it’s really convenient. The time to drive back and forth, plus our session, takes less than an hour.

Having Tim work on my flexibility and balance, in addition to strength training, really helped. In addition, I went to the Egoscue clinic. Since I hadn’t been there in a while, they started me off with an evaluation.

They take pictures of clients from the front, back, and both sides and that way can tell if and how a client is out of alignment—which has a lot to do with flexibility and balance. Based on that analysis, they give you an S1—Directing style menu with a series of yoga-like exercises for you to do to regain alignment. For years, the Egoscue Method® was key in saving Jack Nicklaus’s back.

 

4 Dealing with Adversity: The Second Quarter

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Ken: March went well as Mike and I continued my training at Tim’s facility. We even got in some Egoscue sessions. I didn’t have a big weight loss month, but I did shed a few more pounds.

My April schedule, which included several speaking engagements in Hawaii, was a nice interruption. I took Margie, our daughter Debbie, and her almost-six-year-old son Alec with me. I love Hawaii. In fact, I can never remember having a bad time there—particularly Maui, which is where we went. Knowing that it would be a challenge to keep up my program, I worked with a coach at the hotel three times on strength, flexibility, balance, and aerobics. I got on the bike a couple of additional times and we also did a lot of walking, so I was proud of myself. I also reconnected with Alison Miller, a family friend who is a life coach in Maui. Alison came to our hotel and spent some time with us. She also does massage.

After spending time with Alison and listening to her philosophies on health, I asked her if we could talk on the phone once in a while so I could seek her advice. She gave me a group of nine stretches to do every day when I woke up. I did them religiously when I got up in the morning and continued them after I returned home. Talking with her on the phone periodically was very helpful. Alison has a natural S2—Coaching leadership style and helped me analyze what was going well and what wasn’t. I realized that when I got into a busy week, unless I scheduled exercise time and said, “This is part of my schedule,” I tended not to get it done. So I was really getting a lot better about putting exercise into my schedule.

 

5 Heading into Summer: The Third Quarter

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Ken: I look forward to June every year, but this June was especially sweet because it started out with my 50th reunion at Cornell. Margie and I both graduated from Cornell—she was a year behind me—so we developed many good Cornell friendships together. The reunion was a great excuse to get together with this group as well as a lot of other good people.

It was hard to imagine that 50 years had gone by since we graduated. Tim and I have mentioned a few times that I was starting to get a number of “You’re looking good” comments. That phrase was originated by Frank Rhodes, who was president of Cornell when I was getting my doctorate. Frank used to say, “There are three stages of life: youth, adulthood, and ‘You’re looking good.’” At the opening cocktail party, just for the fun of it, Margie and I went in different directions to see how many “You’re looking good” comments we would get. After about a half hour, we found each other and compared notes. I beat her by one—I had eight “You’re looking good” comments to Margie’s seven. So for me, that was an important mission accomplished. The reunion was a ball. I probably drank a little too much beer, but I was grateful to be alive and getting more fit week by week and month by month.

 

6 The Home Stretch: The Fourth Quarter

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Ken: Because I had gained a couple of pounds over the summer, I decided I needed to do something in September to give myself a little extra boost on the nutrition and weight control part of my program. I kept hearing Ted Leitner, the radio play-by-play announcer for the San Diego Padres baseball team, talk about Medifast: “If you’ve been struggling to lose weight, Medifast will get you results.” So not too long after we returned from Skaneateles, I thought, Why not? Maybe it can get me over this weight plateau.

I called Dr. Rice to get his feedback. He checked out Medifast in his circles with positive results. The combination of healthy choice meals together with prepackaged meals and snacks seemed to make sense, and these foods were nutrition balanced. I went ahead and made an appointment at a nearby location. When I went in for my appointment, the woman who ran the office gave me an overview of the Medifast system and the best strategy for me. I was impressed, so I joined. It’s not cheap, but I thought it was worth it.

 

7 Final Thoughts

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Ken: I have several pieces of advice for people like you who may be starting to work on a program to do something important for yourself that you’ve been putting off for a long time.

First, think about any role models who exemplify what you are trying to accomplish. Why is that important? My wife Margie has said for a long time:

To me, the dream that you are attempting to make come true will be found in someone who models what you desire. Three people came to mind as health and fitness models for me at my age.

When we first came to San Diego, Margie and I were into jogging. Ed Coverly, the fellow who led our jogging group, was 65 years old and said he didn’t start running until he was 60. In recent years, he was running two or three marathons a year. Now I don’t want to run a marathon, but Ed comes to mind when I think of someone who got himself in really good shape after he was 60.

Norman Vincent Peale was another great example for me. I met him when he was 86 years old. I’d pick him up at the airport and say, “Norman, why don’t you wait here and I’ll get the car?” and he’d say, “No! I’ve been sitting too long. I need to take a brisk walk!” He always was within five pounds of what he weighed when he was 18 years old. Yet here he was in his late 80s saying, “Let’s take a walk.” Norman and his wife Ruth walked together every morning for at least two miles. They would hold hands but not talk. They called it “our alone time together.” They were both models for me in terms of my ambition to make it to 95 or 100 years old and still be fit and healthy. Norman passed away at 95 and Ruth died a couple of years ago at 101. I want to grow up to be like them someday!

 

The Fourth Pearl: Making the Ultimate Commitment

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RESOURCES I

Since I love learning, I am constantly seeking the advice of experts in my field. What follows are valuable pearls of wisdom from five such experts.

—Tim Kearin

Marcus Elliott, M.D., and Mike Walker

Throughout this book, reference is made to having an age-appropriate exercise program. We know that the body declines physically from maturity. I have experienced this personally in my own training and in training clients as they age, and have researched the subject extensively.

I thought the best way to sum up this topic would be to have a discussion with Dr. Marcus Elliott. Marcus has a medical degree from Harvard University and is an internationally recognized leader in the field of performance enhancement and the development of elite athletes. Rather than practice formal medicine, Marcus chose to use his medical training and research to develop the finest conditioning and injury prevention program available to professional athletes. The athletes he trains “age out” of his program before 40, as they are no longer physically capable of training at that level.

 

Understanding Exercise and Fitness: Tim’s Toolbox

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Resources II

This appendix gives you a more in-depth overview of the components of fitness that I’ve shared throughout this book. Even if you already have a good knowledge of fitness, you may want to review this section anyway.

—Tim Kearin

Because the qualifications to be a fitness trainer do not require a license, there are many different approaches and philosophies to fitness. Just because some people look lean and muscular doesn’t necessarily mean they know what they are doing. The industry has numerous trainer certification courses where the basics of physiology and anatomy are taught along with safety concerns and CPR. Most universities and colleges offer bachelor’s, master’s and even Ph.D. degrees in many sports science areas, including kinesiology, exercise physiology, biomechanics, and several other exercise disciplines. When seeking out a trainer, it is always a good idea to check the résumé, which should include at least a bachelor’s degree and several years of experience working with individuals in your age group. It is also a good idea to check a reference or two.

 

Developing Your Own Fitness Program

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Resources III

Here are some helpful reminders to get you started and a tool you can use to measure your progress in each of the six fitness areas we have discussed.

Before beginning your fitness journey, we suggest you review Tim’s section starting on page 63 entitled “Selecting the Right Program for You” to brush up on the elements you’ll need to have in place when you start your program. Once you’ve accomplished the first four elements (having a compelling purpose, getting a medical checkup, becoming educated about fitness, and setting up your support system), you’ll see that the final element you need to put in place is learning about and applying Situational Leadership® II, which is covered in detail in Ken’s section that starts on page 27.

The first step in applying SLII® is to set SMART goals for yourself—specific, motivating, attainable, relevant, and trackable—so you know what you want to accomplish and when. (To reacquaint yourself, see page 29.)

The next step is to diagnose your present development level in each of the six areas of fitness by checking the appropriate box in the table below. Respond openly and honestly.

 



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