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Body Worry : Others Making Changes for the Better

36th in a series

May 22, 1987|REMAR SUTTON

WASHINGTON — I am on a tour for the book about my remake--about 110 shows in 21 cities in 37 days. Most of these cities have newspapers that carry my column, and I would like to tell you about some of the people I am meeting in those cities.

First, I meet a lot of wives worried about getting their husbands interested in health before it's "too late"--many women use that phrase, and when they use it, they look away briefly.

The rest of the wives worry, too. Some, the lucky ones, tell me about their husbands' efforts in recovering from a heart attack or bypass surgery or a stroke. But a few, stopping by to wish me continued success, add that their husbands didn't start soon enough. These are the new widows.

Most of the people I meet, though, excite me rather than depress me. In this city, I got to talk with dozens of people who have started their own remakes and are seeing changes take place.

One lady, 55, has taken up scuba diving and skiing. "All my life, I've wanted to do that," she said, "and never really thought I could." She has lost 30 pounds, too, and doesn't drink like she once did.

Lower Cholesterol Level

In Virginia, a man nearly ran over me in a shopping-center parking lot in his enthusiasm to tell me about his changes. He had lost 50 pounds, was walking five miles three days a week, and he told me all this before he jumped out of his car. His cholesterol was down, too--the fact his doctor liked the most.

In Dallas, I stayed at the Cooper Clinic. Thank God, I didn't need another physical this time. I just stayed there because the gym is nice, the walking track is beautiful, and the health-food restaurant would make anyone like health food.

One day, I watched a 350-pound man as he walked on a treadmill. A poor treadmill time for anyone would be 10 minutes. This man, not surprisingly, only managed 3 minutes.

This man, like many extremely overweight people, may have a genetic or biological reason for a lot of his weight. Regardless of the reason, excess pounds cause more health problems than image problems. That's true for you, too, even if you're only 20 pounds overweight.

Recently I was in Venice working out at World Gym. Founded by Joe Gold (who is to weight lifting what the President is to politics), World Gym is home to the most serious and famous weight lifters. The standard biceps around here seems about the size of my former belly, and even Superman would feel runty standing by the average lifter.

But in the midst of all that muscle, I met a nice couple from Santa Monica. Bryant Cushing, 59, and his wife Carole, 49, have been lifting weights for six years. They are not jocks. Carole said she tried jogging but hated it, and tried roller skating but couldn't come to a stop. They started lifting as a lark and quickly found they liked it. And they particularly like doing it together.

'Mr. and Mrs. Schwarzenegger'

Carole doesn't look muscular, she looks tight. Bryant looks tight, too. He, incidentally, has had a quintuple heart bypass operation. He is also a believer in stress tests. He was feeling just fine, but a maximal-stress treadmill test uncovered his heart disease--and probably saved his life.

These two say a lot of their friends think they are crazy ("They call us Mr. and Mrs. Schwarzenegger"), but they don't care. "We have more energy than all of them," Carole said pressing 60 pounds over her head.

Are you brave enough to start a weight-lifting program with your spouse? Even the most serious gym will make you feel at home. Weight lifters like people who try, not just people with muscles.

These two inspired me to a really good workout, but the person who really inspired me was Rick Dudley. He stood in line for 15 minutes at a bookstore in Virginia to tell me how my efforts had inspired him. "I've taken up weight lifting and have dropped 30 pounds of fat and, boy, do I feel stronger," he said. As Rick talked to me, he was leaning on his crutches. He has multiple sclerosis.

I spent so much of my life thinking I couldn't do things, or wishing I had the time or energy to do things, or cursing the fact I didn't have the natural talent to do things. If you know those feelings and excuses, I hope Rick Dudley will remain on your mind as he does on mine.

"Body Worry" chronicles the progress of a bald, overweight man who tries to transform himself into a "hunk."

Progress Report

Beginning 36th Week Waist: 43 inches 33 3/4 inches Right biceps: 12 3/4 inches 13 inches Flexed: 13 inches 13 3/4 inches Weight: 201 pounds 167 pounds Height: 6' 1" Blood Pressure: 128/68 118/60 Pulse: 64 56 Bench press: 55 160 Hunk factor: .00 .67

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