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Philip Maramba: He's had to find some tricks to staying fit

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - It's a tough pill to swallow when you become the thing you used to disdain.

In my case, what I've become is middle-aged.

And it's not so much middle age, per se, as it is the notion that I have to resort to tricks and gimmicks to get myself into shape.

Used to be, I relied on sheer effort and discipline to maintain health and fitness. I took a quiet pride in that.

And, yeah, I kind of looked down my nose at folks relying on ThighMasters and esoteric diets to stay trim and thin.

As the numbers on the scale have crept steadily upward and I retrace my steps as to how I got where I am, I realize that I'm probably on the same path my elders took.

When you're only responsible for and answerable to a schnauzer, it's easy to spend an hour or more at the gym five or six days a week.

When you're at the beck and call of two children and held accountable for by a wife, well, there are only so many hours left in a day for yourself.

(And, if the children are under age 3, you'd rather spend those hours sleeping.)

What I didn't recognize in my youth, I realize now: Life happens. That's how I got to where I am - just like everybody else.

My tipping point came during a series of yoga stretches to relieve an aching back. I'd fallen off their daily use years ago.

Suddenly, I discovered a fluffy new layer in my midsection getting in the way. That's when I knew it was time to do something about it.

So now I'm reaching into my own bag of tricks.

Trick No. 1: The New Year's resolution. This puts it in writing. I will work toward fitness this year. OK, so that one's easy.

Trick No. 2: Do this whenever - and wherever - I can fit it in. So if you're out and about the Fort Hill area around midnight and spy some loon making the rounds sporting reflective clothing and a flashlight, be careful how you drive. It could be me.    

This seems a lot more reasonable and much less nebulous than last year's trick: Prepare for an extreme sports competition.

(I eschewed an online training guide the competition website recommended, thinking I could just go back to my old fitness routine, which, it turns out, didn't mesh at all with my new lifestyle. It wasn't long before I hung it up entirely.)

But to get all this done, I'm going to employ one more trick, which is a motivator I was employing even when I didn't need "tricks."

It's the hardest part of working out. But if you can accomplish it, you're already well on your way to getting your exercise done.

Here's the secret to Trick No. 3: Go into your closet and put on your Nikes. Now tie your shoes.

Contact writer Philip Maramba at or 304-348-1248.


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