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My View: A little pain, a lot of gains from workout regimen

By Mitchell Steinhorn

A wise man once told me “I tried working out ... it just didn’t work out.” Over the past year, I have been working hard to make sure that it didn’t happen to me.

Every Jan. 1, most of us make resolutions. At the top of that list is usually getting to the fitness center. Most of our resolutions fall by the wayside. Mine, too.

As a licensed funeral director, my work hours vary. There’s no such thing as a 9-5 job in my business. I get calls at all hours of the day and night to help a family in need.

For many years when my days began early, my exercise routine would almost always take a back seat. “I’ll go later,” I would often tell myself. But later always came and went ... and I never got to the gym.

About a year ago it all changed. I had a minor medical scare that gave me the motivation I needed.

I found that making a commitment and sticking to it does have an impact. My schedule is as busy as the next guy’s, but I have found that by getting up each morning at 5:30 a.m. and going to the gym results in a positive effect on my day.

Mitchell Steinhorn.

In the beginning it was hard. The biggest challenge was dragging myself out of bed that early in the morning. I needed help. I needed a trick to do it. So I positioned my alarm clock far enough away from the bed that I had to physically get up and walk over to turn it off. Since I was already out of bed, I just started my day.

So, for the past year, I have gone to the gym religiously six days a week at 5:30 a.m. My first revelation – who knew so many other gymgoers are there before the sun rises? It’s a mixture of men and women, young and old. All of them have their own reasons for getting in shape.

I start my workout by lifting weights. Then I do cardiovascular, usually on a treadmill. It wasn’t easy at first. It took a while before I worked up the stamina for a meaningful cardiac workout. But I’m proud to say that I’m now doing a 60-minute treadmill routine.

I continue to build my endurance and test myself. Just like the line from the movie “Rocky”: No pain, no gain.

It also helps when you’ve got a workout buddy. My pal Larry and I work out together twice a week. Since we’re both doing an hourlong cardiac workout, we encourage each other if one of us starts to struggle.

Another great benefit of these early morning workouts is the opportunity to clear my mind. Depending upon the day, I might focus on the tasks later that day. Sometimes I dedicate that time to solve whatever problems arose at work. It’s uninterrupted time to think, something I can never get at work. When I’m really lucky, I don’t think about anything and watch television.

Combine this dedicated workout with a slight change in diet and I have lost 20 pounds. I feel better. Maybe most important, I don’t have to hear my doctor lecture me anymore about the importance of exercise and eating right.

This also gives me the incentive to return to working out when an emergency call in my business pulls me away. I wouldn’t have done that a year ago.

So don’t wait six months to begin a New Year’s resolution to work out. Start tomorrow and I hope to see you on the treadmill next to me.

Mitchell Steinhorn, the owner of Amherst Memorial Chapel, is an early riser.

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