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I cruised through my twenties without much concern about arobic fitness but that changed when I turned 30.  I was about 5' 11" and near 200 pounds.  I was pretty muscular from working out with weights, but coudn't run a half a mile.  It was at a 1977 New Years Eve party, after enjoying an evening of calerie laidened food and drink and cheering as 1978 was ashered a later found myself laying on their lawn, on my back thinking, "I'm going to die".  That's how bad I felt.  I wasn't much better later that morning.  I guess what developed was a New Year's resolution, since I decided on New Year's day to change my diet drastically, lose about 30 pounds and build my stemina with daily arobic activity.  On top of feeling lousy, I found out my cholesterol was high, and I was only 30.

First, I joined a health club to have access to full circuits of weight machines to exercise more muscles in a semi-arobic manner versus continue lifting just free weight.  I also started an arobic program using treadmills, stationary bikes and stair steppers to work as much of the body as possible.  To control my calerie intake while getting more nutrition out of each meal, I searched and settled on using the Pritikin dietary program which was publicized quite a bit back in the late '70's (high in protein, low in simple carbohydrates, no sugar or salt, no high cholesterol foods, just fish and chicken, cooked and served without oils/butter/grease). In six months I had lost the 30 pounds, at which point I decided to another 10 pounds and get to 160.

Excel chart tracking cholesterolOver the years since then I have maintained a pretty steady weight and have continued to lower my total cholesterol by building up my HDL's through exercise, drinking red wine (that was really hard to do :-)), taking niacin and lowering my LDL's and triglycerides through improved diet and arobic exercise.  I disciplined myself to watch my weight and adjust diet and exercise as needed to stay at or below a weight of 160 lbs and 195 total cholesterol or a cardiac risk index of 3.0 (HDL/(LDL+(Triglycerides/5))) or less.  This chart to the right is a 20 year tracking I've done of my cholesterol test results.  I started it to understand how well I was doing controlling it.  While the above worked for me, it may not for you; but the main point is that most anyone can control their weight and probably their cholesterol if they are willing to discipline themselves by developing a 'diet' and exercise plan and staying on it.

Picture of a type of universal gymMy changes back in 1978 were immediate.  I never looked back and lamented I couldn't eat certain things, or, I had to exercise harder.  Feeling better and living longer was all the motive I needed.  So, however you want to handle making changes in your eating and/or have to keep thinking to yourself something like the Nike mantra, "just do it".  If you can stay on a new regimen for a month, you are a lot more likely to maintain the new behavior. Eventually, I bought a home weight gym (pictured in photo).  I biked a lot while living in Colorado, since the roads were bike-friendly.  In California and Hawaii, I switched to running because the roads and motorists were less friendly for biking (an understatement).  I also used an elliptical cardio exerciser when running wasn't an option due to weather or joint pain.  I have found the elliptical exercisers to be great cardio machines that are also body friendly; no pounding on the joints and it works the whole body.

About two years ago I came across another piece of exercise equipment which has become part of any cardio exercise I do, inside or out; that is a weight vest and weight gloves.  When I first started wearing them, I knew they would become essential gear from then on.  It literally goes on like a vest and can hold up to 30 lbs of weight.  The gloves will hold up to 7 lbs each.  It definitely builds up muscle and stamina, burns more calories and doesn't feel awkward (after a couple of days).  My wife loved hers too.  She would wear it around the house if she was doing something physical and always had it on for exercise.  If you want to check them out, go to New England Fitness Co.