Buff for the holidays!

The holidays are a clear and present danger.  Not to our way of life, the holidays ARE our way of life, but to our health.  Good cheer threatens our body mass index, blood pressure, lipid panel, gastric lining and by way of exhaustion and social saturation, our emotional stability.  We spend the rest of the year getting in shape, so that Santa and his elves can tear us down.  So, my question for you is, how do you plan to stay healthy, at the holidays?

Of course, there is the obvious …

  • Do not fast before a party
  • Light on the horderves, avoid mindless eating
  • Eat slowly and do not finish the entire serving
  • Bring a healthy dish (vegetable or fruit platter)
  • Plenty of sleep
  • Wash your hands or use Pyrell; infections spread by contact
  • Limit the ETOH (2 drinks for man, 1 for woman); hydrate
  • Be aware if certain holiday events, traditions or stressors really bother you
  • Drive extra carefully. Plan travel.  Avoid fatigue and drunk drivers.
  • I also suggest you need an workout plan, maybe set an exercise goal, in order to have the best chance of not breaking the scale.

Taking my own advise, I was mulling my choices when, fortuitously, my son provided the answer.

I like to row and have done so for years.  I have a bang-up rowing machine (Concept2).  My son, who lives four hours away, also has access to the identical stationary rower.  Therefore, he challenged me; who can row the most distance between Thanksgiving and Christmas?  Mano-a-mano.

Now I know what you are saying; it is unfair, almost abusive.  First, I am 33 years older then he and thus have had three extra decades to prepare for this event.  In fact, I have been behind the oar since childhood.  When I grew up rowing was not just exercise; it was a way of life… its how we got to school…up stream, both ways.

In addition, I keep my self in shape.  I brush my teeth with the stiff bristles.  Walk every day, to the mailbox, all the way down the far end of the driveway, without stopping, and all the way back, WITH the mail … and with holiday shopping, we get a lot of mail.  My son gets all his correspondence online.  No wonder the Millennium Generation is falling apart.

I use a nonbiometric keyboard.  Yeah, you heard it, one of those old keyboards that you actually have to bend your wrist to type.  Tough, huh?  I drink coffee from a BIG mug, and I alternate hands.  And I do not sip, I gulp!   When the fall colors fell into our yard, I was out there myself, personally, holding a rake to give to the lawn guy and pointing out exactly where to pile the leaves.  I know.  Macho stuff.

On the other hand, my son is limited by the frailty and inexperience of youth.  He does not have a car, so he has to bike everywhere he goes, as much as 20 miles each day.  His knees must be shot.  Gets up at 5:30am, even in 10-degree winter, to workout with a bunch of wacko health nuts OUTSIDE!  (I tell him that it is global warming, not global warm).

He does Tough Mudder, climbing up the side of mountains while scaling obstacles, swimming through ice-laden ponds and getting really dirty.  He has to be exhausted.  Finally, critically, he is dragged down by a full head of hair, while I have the aerodynamic advantage of a thinning pate.

So, in order to spare him humiliation, I decided the only way to unbalance the odds is; cheat.  That way, when I crush his score, I will not crush his ego.  He can just say, “Hey, what’s the deal, you cheated!”  Reverse fathering psychology.

I tried to hire the lawn guy to do half my workouts.  He made some excuse about his back and returned the leaf-clogged rake.  I asked my Dad for help figuring that at 88 years old and retired he would have time for his oldest son.  However, no, he made some sort of lame excuse about scheduled tennis time and travel. I checked to see if they make a power assist rower. They do, but it actually requires a lake.

Therefore, I did the only thing remaining.  I started rowing, early. That’s right, while the rest of you were out eating turkey and being stuffed, I was in the basement, putting away the kilometers.  That way, before my son even realized it was on, it was on and I have a comfortable, fatherly, supportive, ego sparing lead.  Clever, huh?

So, what is your end-of-year health plan?  How will you spare yourself from the holidays?  An exercise regimen?  Diet approach?  Extra sleep?  Tonic sans gin?  Me, I will be getting ripped and hunky.  Look in the very popular and competitive 2014 Hottest Oncologists of Central Jersey Calendar, Eastern Region addition (Mr. June). And, if you happen to know someone in New England who could wander by my son’s gym and maybe hide the rower in the closet, I would be appreciative.  It is for his own good.



  • IBS
    Dr. S......You're so funny! Thank you for making me laugh. Your son sounds like a great kid.....Buy him a bike for Christmas :)
  • Meghan
    Absolutely clever and comical! Genius. Still laughing, but since I have 3 months to Hawaii, I need to make a challenge like that to a loved one.
  • Liz
    LOL Thank you so much for your suggestions. I have come up with a way to satisfy all of your suggestions while indulging in all sorts of ways I normally don't do. After all holidays give me the perfect opportunity and now your suggestions give me a guilt free excuse to do so . While you are rowing away in your basement on Christmas day while your family is opening presents please remember to send me all but one piece of your Christmas chocolate (you will be following rule number 3 above so I am helping you keep to your plan). I will also follow rule 3 and give one piece of that to my kid. At the same time I will be following rule #1 as that is one time when I will eat the chocolate. I will also eat the chocolate if I encounter any stressors as eating chocolate reduces stress by releasing feel good chemicals in the brain. I plan not to break the bathroom scale by not stepping on it. I don't drink so that rule is moot. Fruit platter - I heard strawberries dipped in chocolate is good. I'll bring that. Thanks to your suggestions I will wash my hands of even thinking about implementing any work out plan I devise. Sleep will not be a problem. The only exercise I won't wash my hands of is using my now clean hands to lift chocolate from the bowl to my mouth. Fortunately the post chocolate sugar crash causes sleepiness so I will take a nap. This satisfies the sleep and avoiding fatigue suggestions. If necessary I will carefully drive my car to the store to buy more chocolate. The best part of my chocolate plan is that the rules I am implementing have been suggested by *a doctor*. And of course we all know that we need to follow the doctor's suggestions both for our own well being and so as not to frustrate the doctor by ignoring good advice .
  • meyati
    LOL- and Merry Christmas and happy New Year
  • Alyce
    You are too funny! By the way how much are the calandars?
  • Caesia
    Hope you're both participating in the Concept2 challenge that's going on. If you row over 100K meters between Thanksgiving and Christmas, you can earn a donation to a charity that you choose.
  • JM
    Amusing post, thanks. However, I hope you were joking about brushing your teeth with the stiff bristles. That's plain dental abuse! My FIL was a dental researcher who taught at Tufts dental school. So dump the stiff brush and invest in a good ultrasonic brush such as Sonicare--which comes with soft bristles only; brush morning & night for a total of 4 min/day; floss daily; get your teeth cleaned professionally twice a year; follow up with the dentist as needed. A final note: don't get your tongue pierced! Those metal inserts can crack and chip your teeth. You'll do your heart as well as your pearly whites a big favor by following this regime.
  • D Someya Reed
    I, too, cannot follow #3 from your list. Mom’s “If you take it you eat it” is too ingrained to allow for a non-empty plate (unless you really do want to eat whatever is left at breakfast the next morning). I turn off the heat because I understand that shivering and eating are calorie neutral. If you find that nothing works, you can always follow the advice attributed (but not substantiated) to Mark Twain: “Whenever I feel the urge to exercise I lie down until it goes away.” Do you suppose there would be any copyright infringement if I suggested a "Hunky Oncology/Radiology Duos of Northern California" calendar? I can already see the looks on their faces.
  • Liz
    With reference to hiding your son's rowing machine…. May I suggest another alternative? Attach a very heavy boat anchor such that he is unable to move the oars and risks a hernia if he tries. I have friends who work on tall ships up there (as I used to also many years ago) who probably can loan you an anchor from their 100 ton boat while the boat is in winter dry dock. That should slow him down substantially. As far as cheating… the late grade school boys in our neighborhood are very enterprising - wanting to rake yards, wash cars, walk dogs, pick up monkey balls… (quality of work probably is not good but hey they don't charge much money, and heck how can you mess up rowing on dry land? No way to hit rocks, turtles or other boats since you aren't on the water). I'd suspect you can get them to row for you for either contraband their parents won't buy them to eat or less than minimum wage. Further if you offer a prize for he or she who rows the furthest that would likely serve as a motivator. You might be able to convince the high school football team to do this for you if you donate money to the team for each mile rowed. I don't think they'd accept free chemo for life as a prize unless you convinced them it would make them buff and not be found in random drug tests LOL. If you have any budding geeks around they could probably assemble a working rowing robot. In fact contact the local high school or geek/engineering department of the local college and offer a cash reward for the group than can design and build, in less than a week, a rowing robot that will operate 24 hours a day through Christmas. If you post the challenge on line, if it goes viral, you'd probably get one made for you in 24 hours or less. Of course the prize money would have to be high enough. Crooked used car dealers who know how to reset odometers would probably know how to move forward the row boat odometer. Budding young future felons probably would be able to figure that one out as well. Speaking of felons… visit your local jail… incarcerated folks have time on their hands. They'd probably row for hours for contraband. Of course the easiest way to cheat is scrape off where it says kilometers and put a sticker on that says miles. Thus when you go 5 km (which is a smidge over 3 miles)it will now read that you have gone 5 miles instead.

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