Health & Fitness 2014: Strong medicine

CL kicks off the new year with an issue devoted to helping you feel better.

Earlier this year, several of us at CL took part in an office competition which, once we all chipped in, was worth $500 to the winners. The goal: Lose the biggest percentage of body weight over a period of eight weeks. The Josephs had it: Joe Bardi and Joey Neill went down to the wire, Joe finally pulling out a victory with a drop of 10.9 percent, going from 207 to 184.5 pounds. A few other folks lost a substantial amount, but the rest of us, in Joe’s words, “hid behind cubicles” when it came time for the final weigh-in.

Even with 500 bucks at stake, most of us couldn’t put down that beer, pick up that dumbbell, and get off our respective butts.

What is that about? Why do we fall off the fitness wagon so easily?

I asked that question of one of my many former trainers — Elliott Hulse, named Best Personal Trainer in 2007’s Best of the Bay by yours truly, because his tough but humane boot-camp approach helped me sweat off 20 pounds (which are now back in full). He said the tendency of many people embarking on a new fitness routine is “to see the end before taking the first step,” without realizing that success is “a loooong time away.” People need to consider something they’re comfortable doing that they can continue to do, not just for eight weeks, but for 10 years — or, really, he added, for the rest of their lives.

Like walking.

“It’s something you’ll never have an excuse for not doing. Do it every single day forever — till you die.”

Disarmingly sound, not to mention simple, advice — this must be why his Strength Camp videos on YouTube have a million followers.

Here’s hoping you’ll find other good ideas for getting and staying healthy in this issue. Features include a first-hand account of navigating Obamacare; a report on a promising but expensive medical breakthrough; and inspiring stories of disease survivors. We’ve got the latest on three alternative routes to fitness which may tempt or terrify you, including one inspired by Cirque du Soleil and another driven by the desire to destroy your opponent, plus playlists to keep you moving however you work out.

You’ll find a dining guide to restaurants that do well by roughage, recollections of a Tough Mudder veteran, a harrowing but hilarious litany of musicians’ injuries, and a profile of an innovative program in which artists help hospital patients to heal. We also include a review of Pinellas’ great new soul food restaurant, Sylvia’s (hey, it’s health food for the soul!). And don’t miss Scott Harrell’s column on why this whole health & fitness thing is a crock.

Then go out and take a walk. Even Scott won’t begrudge you that.

—David Warner

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