What those who haven't made exercise a part of their regular routine don't understand about those who have is that exercise doesn't have to be considered a chore. In fact, for many of us, it's positively therapeutic.
I know that no matter what kind of a day I might be having, a nighttime workout can help me to unwind and forget the cares of earlier. Likewise, a workout first thing in the morning will energize me and lift my spirits for the day ahead. In fact, when I miss my morning workout, my day is usually "off." Exercising centers me, in more ways than one.
So don't underestimate the importance of exercise to your life. Not only can it boost your health and shape your body favorably, it can also provide you with a level of peace and clarity you might miss out on otherwise.
Q: This will sound funny, I'm sure, but last week I was playing twister with my two kids, and my hip has been hurting ever since. I haven't been enjoying my yoga, and it's uncomfortable to do the stairs at the gym. I'm pretty sure I haven't done any serious damage, but I'm wondering if I can work through this, or if you think I should lay off exercise for a while.
Joe: You may not have done any serious damage, but to be on the safe side I usually recommend having a professional look at your injury. If not an orthopedist, then a chiropractor could probably diagnose the problem.
Assuming that you only have some joint or possibly intramuscular irritation, I would advise that you work around your injury, giving it proper time to heal. It's like the old Henny Youngman joke where the guy walks into the doctor's office and says, "Doc, every time I do this it hurts," to which the doctor replies, "Well, then, don't do this!"
Obviously, the hip is a joint that's enacted with most every form of cardio you do. Does your injury hurt on the bike? Is it OK on the elliptical trainer? Is there a hand pedal device at your gym? You will have to learn to listen to your body and figure out a way to protect that which ails you until it's had enough time to heal. If this means taking time off from lower-body work, then so be it.
Trust me when I say that by taking a few days off now you could well be saving yourself weeks or even months off later.
Q: I'm 16 years old, and my coach just told me that I need to add 20 pounds if I want a chance at making varsity football next season. I play linebacker, and I'm 6 feet tall and weigh 180 pounds. I was going to get some MRP's and protein powder, and maybe some protein bars. I'd like to know how many shakes or bars I should have a day.
Joe: While shakes and bars are a good way to supplement your diet with extra calories as you try to add bodyweight, you must remember to make the core of your diet real food. Chicken breast, steak, fish, rice, pasta, potatoes, and fruits and vegetables eaten regularly throughout the day will be your surest route to packing on the pounds, and they come with the added benefit of being less costly and less processed than supplements.
That being said, protein shakes can come in handy in situations when sitting down to a meal is impractical or when it's just too difficult to put another forkful of food in your mouth. The important thing when trying to put on weight is to consume calories throughout the day, not just during the traditional three meals.
Six meals, be they food or in liquid form, should go a long way toward adding 20 pounds by next season. Oh, and make sure you get into the gym, too, assuming you want to add 20 pounds of muscle and not fat.
Joe Weider is acclaimed as "the father of modern bodybuilding" and the founder of the world's leading fitness magazines, including Shape, Muscle and Fitness, Men's Fitness, Fit Pregnancy, Hers, Golf for Seniors and others published worldwide in over 20 languages.