FITNESS OR FATNESS – THAT IS THE QUESTION

By Terry Carter, Editor

I have weighed more than 200 pounds for about 25 years now, topping out at a mountainous 262 pounds about 3 years ago. As a chronic, Type 1 diabetic with a recently disabled knee at the time, my recovery prognosis for the knee was debateable. 

After surgery and about six months of rehabilitation three days a week, the doctor said I was permanently disabled, would always walk with a limp and may never run again. At this weight and an average diabetic diet that included fast food, taking more insulin to compensate for my sugar cravings and sodas, I was nearing 50 years old and losing a life-long health battle that began when I was 11 years old.

Back then I played 5-6 sports – including baseball, golf, tennis, wrestling and football – and led most teams I played on due to good hand-eye coordination, strength, flexibility and some athletic ability. After a baseball all-star game in June 1976, my mom bought me four Cokes, and I guzzled each one while eating two hotdogs. Then I asked for a fifth Coke.

As a registered nurse, she recognized this much sugar was a bad sign for my health. Two days later, I suffered through a 5-hour, glucose tolerance test and was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. 

Thirty days in the hospital was the rule back then. So this hyper, athletic 11 year old bounced up and down the hospital halls in a wheelchair. It was the nurse’s way of preventing my blood sugar from falling due to extra exercise. Thus began the complicated daily adjustments in insulin, diet, exercise and even shoes that changed my life for the better.

Better, you say? How so? Well, the doctor was matter-of-fact and told me early on that if I listened and did everything he suggested, I may live to be 60 years old. We didn’t discuss the alternative.


So for more than 35 years, I had analyzed blood sugars, adjusted insulin doses, eaten OK and stayed semi-active as our three children grew up. But dietary knowledge and fitness gurus improved the system while I was preoccupied as many of us are today. Calories didn’t matter as much as Carbs. And cardio and cross-training became the fitness trends.

When I fell and hurt my knee, the Meniscus tore. And I was forced to walk like Festus in the old TV series Gunsmoke, kind of dragging my right knee behind me because the knee would no longer bend to lift it off the ground. Some of that was caused by the knee injury; some of the limp came from the hard scar tissue after the surgery.

So after the rehab doctor tells me I will likely never run again and am permanently disabled, my inner athlete chose to challenge those findings immediately. First I signed up for several seasons of slow-pitch softball. The first season, no one let me run. The second season, I ran the bases slow but steady after spending almost six months jogging sprints and trying not to fall on my face..

And the third season, I batted exclusively from the left side to get closer to first base, and I ran hard… for an old guy with one leg. On infield grounders, I forced myself all out to first base, and I beat a handful of throws. Playing infield was good training for the legs too because I simply didn’t give up.

Back to today: I walk about 30 miles a week and go running 3-4 times weekly. With my injury, I am forced to consciously take every step carefully and precisely to prevent stumbling on hilly terrain and stairs. I still fall, but I get back up and move on. As part of this rehab mission, I have always become a 3-day-a-week regular at my gym. It’s like CHEERS: They wave to me when I enter.

I have made good progress on the weights, treadmill and swimming once a week. I am not concerned about sweating hard and growling during my last 2-3 repetitions on a challenging weight. And I am now leg pressing as much as the machine can handle, and that leg press is the best rehab exercise for my knees, bar none.


As I mentioned earlier, I weighted 262 about 2.5-3 years ago after the surgery. Now I am 224 pounds, a 38-pound drop based on taking known weaknesses and focusing on them – intently! I never ran cross country or sprints. So my 5K runs for practice and in competition are new stimulus to my body. Your body and mine alike dislike the same excercises over and over. I mix long walks with pure sprints with quarter-mile jogs, but the running itself is my body’s best cardio workout.

It may be different for you. And 224 pounds is the lightest I have weighed in more than 20 years. I could not have imagined that after I reached 35 or 40 years old. It’s incredible to be moving down in weight while eating well and taking all-natural supplements from Plexus. The combination of eating healthier, exercising consistently and taking vitamins and the right supplements is a rare combination that gave me more energy, endurance, focus and better results.

I cannot tell you how happy I am with the strength, quickness, flexibility and overall health I am feeling right now. Also I take less than 50 percent of the insulin I injected three years ago. To all of you real runners out there, I’m not Clydesdale size yet, but my goal of 205-210 is within sight. Then I will bust that 35-minute barrier in a 5K race.

And if a 51-year-old man with a chronic disease and one knee can do that, I’m sure you can at least walk 15-30 minutes after you get home from work. How about it? Are you willing to join me?

HAPPINESS TO SHARE

By Terry Carter, Editor

As parents, tradition says we will adore our kids when they are very young, teach them when they are willing and withstand the rebellious years until they move on (not .org).

My wife and I are nearing our 29th wedding anniversary, and our offspring are fully sprung. That is, they all have their own lives and homes outside ours — and they are 21+ years old. None have children yet. So Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are just opportunities to give the parentals a hug one more time from their 20-something mindset, I imagine.

Just wait until you children arrive, my children. Then those holidays will mean more to you. With luck kindness and generosity will be key traits you teach your young ones. If so, the rewards are well received on all holidays. 

But tonight I mention traditional values like love. As my son celebrated his epic birthday this weekend, I already see a great man who is capable of achieving any goal — as all of our children are. Of course all parents think their kids are the greatest thing on Earth, and I signed up for that class three decades ago.

Children are what makes life most enjoyable. As they grow, they are curious about everything. They are happier than anyone, and they are so honest. Then comes the heredity: Children are adorable, funny and unique from their siblings. It is truly a gift from God to have three healthy, brilliant and beautiful/handsome and well-adjusted children in the world today. 

We are so thankful for their leadership, their compassion, their peace and their chosen paths in life. I doubt I could have selected any of their current journeys at birth, but I am consistently impressed by what they done and their ambitions for the future. One has lived in Hawaii for years after buying a 1-way ticket. One helps save lives each day and has participated in a national rally in Washington D.C. And another found her true love, married and has been to Paris for her honeymoon.

I write for a living. But these three tales of three outstanding young adults keep me filled with hopes and dreams every time I think of them. Grown children rarely are told that they are wonderful and a gift from God — but they certainly are.

I know I speak for all parents — even those who mumble or whisper their “I love you” when I say this to my children: You are loved, and love lasts forever. Greatness lies within you, and you are already on your path to a great mountain. Always aim high, dream big. 

Then pack for an exciting journey, for success is not reaching a picturesque destination. No, success is taking a worthwhile journey requiring personal growth, hard work, endurance, peace and faith. You will reach 100 destinations on the journey. Enjoy each step, each stopover and each barrier. Greatness is not handed to anyone. It arrives after the hard work, after the pain. You are great, and your greatness arrives from journeys and challenges. Face them and solve them. It’s part of the growing-up, being-independent thing we all deal with.

Happy birthday, Bobby. I’m so proud of you doing things your way.

TINY TRAINING ADVICE

By Terry Carter, Editor

I am not a physical trainer. However I listen to trainers, athletes and read the best advice available as I continue to chase my goal weight. So I consider myself pretty informed compared to most people who enter the commonplace weight room for a workout.

I like to start with stretches because I’m older than dirt. Don’t argue — I’m probably a century older than you. Regardless stretching is essential for everyone, whether round or thin, tall or short, male or female. After a 5-minute, warmup stretch, then start with a walk to get you perspiring.

Why? Because you don’t visit the gym in shorts and a muscle shirt just to because you bought new running shoes. Sweat matters. For many of us, the more we perspire, the more weight we lose. My experience is ongoing, but I’ve seen that fat areas start  to slim down where I perspire the most. Even my neck dropped 1.5 inches in the past year due to evening walks, mixed with short sprints and some strength work in the gym.

PS — The strength work probably does not help your waist, neck, thighs unless you work in classic Circuit Training style. Translation: Medium-to-heavy weights, high intensity and very little breakdown between exercises or sets. Bruce Lee used this method to create the best real world physique ever — and remember Bruce was amazingly lean.

So I’m calling this workout the Midlife Fundamentals for those of us who fit this generous description: No longer 30; no longer as thin as we once were;  no longer as strong as we once were; no longer flexible. OK some of you were cheerleaders, and others never stretchy. You know who you are. We all have things to deal with — stand tall.

After stretching, a 5-10 minute walk/run is essential to start the sweating, aka weight loss. If you are a slow starter like me or you haven’t worked out in a while, sprint at least 3 times for 30-60 seconds. You know what kind of shape you are in. So give it 70-80 percent of your top speed. For me that is about 6 miles per hour.  Have mercy on me, you younger athletes. I realize you can fly at 15-18 mph and keep it at 12 mph for complete 5k run. 

Here is a quick anecdote that may prove helpful to your workouts: I was at the gym today and observed a personal trainer there working with several female clients. I noticed that some of the people coming to the gym consistently focus only on their strengths, aka strong guys work on strength exercises; thin girls focus on burning calories on a treadmill. My advice to myself and you is simple: If you are actually overweight like me, use their calorie-burning, endurance excises for 60-70 percent of your gym time. If you are thin and not entered in 

Now for 3 upper body strength exercises. Minimize the break time to keep your heart beating fast by perspiring. Remember to vary your various exercises, the amount of weight, the repetitions/sets so that your strength exercises continue to put muscle where you need it. Schwartenegger set the bar in the 1970s at Mr. Universe with legendary trainer Joe Wieder by varying his intense workouts. 

I focus on my back, shoulders and whole arms (biceps, triceps). I use cables, an adjustable military press and a lat pull down machine frequently. Use what machines you prefer, including free weights. BTW guys: It’s not necessary to workout your biceps with a 100-pound barbell each time you visit a gym. Every muscle needs 36-64 hours to recover from an intense workout. Working hard on the same, sore muscles you used yesterday results in more extreme soreness and virtually flat-line growth.

Then go to core exercises and/or machines. One abdominal machine I started on 2 years ago was brutal. I could not move the machine with only 10 pounds on it. I know somebody was probably laughing at me struggling to do a seated crunch. But  I endured the moment. Better technique and time have helped me to now workout with 60-80 pounds. I’m hoping to max out at 100 pounds this summer. 

Another point: If you go to a weight room more than once, you should max out on all the machines you will frequent so you can create your standardized 3 sets, 10 reps workout with the proper weight. In reality, most people — including me — cheat on the 3 sets/10 rep standard we all heard of or read about years ago. If I am trying to build a little muscle, I will find a weight that allows me to barely finish 8 reps and either 2 or 3 sets. If my goal is to burn fat/calories, then I increase my repetitions to 12-15 and do 3-4 sets with a lighter weight on the bar.

Once the core is worked over — and certain dense much groups like calves and abdominals can be worked harder due to their ability to bounce back quicker — move on to legs. Like I said earlier, I’m ancient. So I can’t do all the leg workouts. But a leg press do in 4 different positions with the maximun knee bend can do wonders for your inner, outer thighs, as well as calves. Let me know if you need more details on this.

Finally when you are feeling leg weary, you have 2 choices to complete the gym portion of your workout. Either go swimming for 30 minutes like I did recently, or go 15-30 minutes on a treadmill, Stair Master or elliptical. Or just go for a jog in a nearby park.

Invest in a 30-45 minute workout like that 2-3 times each week and try to go walking before or after work for 30-60 minutes with a friend or pet. And you will be feeling 10 years younger if you embrace the fun some people call hard work. Check with your physician before you go to the gym to get some advice and approval for such an exercise plan. I started taking the tiny aspirin tablet each morning years ago, and I find it makes me more comfortable when I get to the park or the gym with big ideals of an intense workout.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve lost a little weight, about 25 pounds. However I still have 30 pounds to go. I’m not perfect and never will be. If you prefer sitting in a lounge chair and smoking a cigar while laughing at my efforts, I wish you well. But I really wish — under my breath — that you would get out of that sleeping chair and join me at Cullen Park near Barker Cypress…

…At least when it’s not flooded. 

FITNESS IN YOUR LIFETIME

By Terry Carter, Editor

I have always been an athlete, playing a handful of sports as a student. Today, I display a few war wounds, but not many are from sliding into third base, catching a pass or getting hit with a ball.

My right knee has had surgery and six months of rehab after a non-sports accident. The right leg is now about 1/2 inch shorter thanks to the surgery, but I’ve learned to walk and jog again. And in 2015, I completed two 5K runs within two weeks. It was dramatic progress over walking and dragging my bad leg behind me like Festus in the long-running TV series Gunsmoke.

My left hand also sustained a serious injury, but at least this one was somewhat related to sports. About 15 years ago, I was the National Football Editor for an ambitious prep website called VarsityOnline.com. While covering the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, I was on the sidelines taking photos with some pricey Nikon equipment and a monopod to keep my images steady. All went well until a cornerback plowed into me about 3-4 yards off the field. Naturally I took the brunt of the collision, and my monopod — shiny, new and straight when I arrived — wound up looking like the letter Z. Unfortunately a couple of fingers on my left hand did the same. They have never recovered despite surgery, about 30 stitches and more therapy.

Now in my 50s, I’ve learned several ingredients to getting in game shape from the athletes I covered over the years and from the authorities in healing and improving your health. 

My weight has dropped about 25 pounds and stayed off since my wife and I began walking to rehab my legs. That began about 26 months ago in February. By June, my competitive nature forced me to keep a wrap on that healing right knee and jog a little at a time. Later that fall, I began adding 50- or 100-yard “old man” sprints into the walking jogs to keep the workout challenging and fresh. I recall reading that the best body builders constantly changed their workouts to keep their muscles growing because standard routines minimize explosive growth.

Later I incorporated swimming 1-2 times each week. OK, I am not much of a swimmer. But I race walk in chest-deep water and am breathing hard by the time I finish 15-20 laps. At the same time, I challenge myself by pushing off the wall and swimming as far as possible on one breath to improve my lung capacity.

Why would an old, scarred guy in his 50s do this? Same as you, I hope. I am not ready to be stuck in a rocking chair yet. Most people my aged still some get-up-and-go. I decided when I fell on some stairs 4 years ago not to let that end my active days. So I’ve chased improvement ever since, and I am typically beat when I go home from work, which is physically taxing. 

Just because we are not 25 and handsome or beautiful does not mean we cannot stay focused on being our best — and keeping our best years ahead of us by working out mentally, physically and spiritually.

The result of my somewhat rigorous workouts has truly surprised me. I am now stronger in the leg press than when I was 35 years old. I can run faster and farther than anytime in my life. However running was never my forté, I might add. Still I have shown that beginning to use a weight room and a county park running trail and a pool can change you physically regardless of your age. I am 51 now and happily accept the compliments from those who guess I’m about 40.

I credit my loving wife for making it much easier to remain dedicated because she is often at the gym and walking beside me. Teamwork makes it much easier to let the fitness dream work. She is also keeping us healthier by altering her cooking routines and mixing in low-carb meals. Vitamins, more water, more daily steps and 100-percent juices are also keys to keeping me energized.

To those of you who are thinking you are past your prime, wake up and go for a walk. If permanently disabled, scarred diabetic who used to walk like Festus can do this much, you — my friend — can do much better. Now go outside and enjoy this fabulous spring weather.

Or take a long walk off a short pier. At least you will get your steps in and a short swim also.

I CANNOT TELL A LIE: I AM ROOTING FOR JORDAN

By Scott Thornton

Honesty is always the best policy. And today, I’m flat out honest, as always.

Jordan Spieth is my favorite PGA golf today, and I am picking the next Texas prodigy to win the British Open at St. Andrews. This will make the 20-year-old phenom the first golfer in 62 years to win the first three major championships in a calendar year. We are talking about matching a feat accomplished by none other than Ben Hogan in 1953. 

Hogan was magic, and Jordan is today’s dominant player with Rory McIlroy on the sidelines with a knee injury picked up during a friendly soccer event. I am impressed by both young bombers, but Jordan has a unique quality. You cannot help but root for the young, talentd man who won the Masters and the U.S. Open.

Put me down for picking Jordan, Ricky Fowler to finish 1-2 this week in the blustery, rainy conditions. It’s  rare day when 2 Americans are favored in a European event, but I’m going with the young crowd. Tiger Woods, as mentioned in a previous column, is done. He will be lucky to make the cut when he has twice captured British Open crowns.

As a side note, I’m picking Jordan to capture 7-9 wins this season, lead the PGA money earnings list and record the lowest scoring average of any active player this season. He could notch 20 Top-10s and an average of 67.8 or better.

Not bad for a Dallas Jesuit graduate, UIL state champion golfer and a UT dropout. Go Jordan!

WRESTLING STATE DUALS IN HOUSTON TODAY

In wrestling, history favors those who are prepared — and have a recent tradition of great grappling.
With the State Dual Championships being held in two Houston locations today, the favorites include the Allen boys and Cy Ridge girls in this ultimate team event. where team scoring is everything. Both are state powerhouses with the Cy Ridge a UIL State runner-up in 2014 and team state champion i 2013.
The Allen Eagles are on an ongoing, record-setting journey with multiple team titles at the annual UIL State Tournament held in February. In the boys’ tournament, North Texas teams are expected to dominate the top positions, but Houston’s top finishers — Morton Ranch, Klein, Westside and Cinco Ranch — will make noise and could pull upsets.
Westside finished third after Morton Ranch upset them in the December Houston Duals. While Morton Ranch and Klein enter the State Duals as Region III’s top two seeds, the Westside Wolves sport 1 one dual loss all year. At their best, the Wolves are a top-3 contender.
While that sounds contradictory to common sense, it all depends on the strengths and weaknesses of teams match up. Westside has only 2-3 wrestlers who are not strong. Many teams have twice as many, but at this State Dual tournament, four is probably the most you will see if you can make it to Cy Ridge and Mayde Creek High Schools today.
The Allen Eagles? Traditionally they enter every tournament with few or no non-state caliber wrestlers. Arlington Martin, the 5A boys’ state runner-up, isn’t far behind.
Other challengers for the boys’ dual crown at Mayde Creek on Saturday include El Paso Franklin and Lake Highlands, which some said may finish in the top 4.
While the boys’s State Duals draws teams from all parts of Texas except the Panhandle, the girls’ event this year is a bit of a Greater Houston battle. Besides Huntsville (7-0) and San Antonio Wagner (6-1), all of the teams are close to Houston. This
At the girls’ State Duals Championships being held at Cy Ridge today, the host school boasts an impressive 11-0 record. The Lady Rams are the clear favorite, but they too will be challenged by the likes of district rival Cy Falls (17-2), Clear Falls (9-1) and others.
The girls’ State Duals will start its finals between noon and 1:30 p.m. today (Saturday) at Cy Ridge. The boys’ semifinals will start about 3 p.m. at Mayde Creek with finals slated for 5 p.m.

KATY TIGERS MAKE CASE FOR ‘BEST IN TEXAS HISTORY’

Once upon a time, the Katy Tigers captured their first football state championship and then stumbled into a slump that lasted close to 35 years.

The doldrums included consecutive losses to the new kid on the block as the Katy Taylor Mustangs began playing varsity football at the same time the Tigers’ new coach Mike Johnston arrived on the scene. Johnston suffered several losing seasons as he laid the groundwork for Katy’s current run of seven state championships.

In 1994, Katy reached its second state final in school history. But the Tigers lost. Still they kept learning and growing each season while chasing the ultimate goal of a second state championship for the friendly Houston suburb.

Pure talent did not win Katy’s first state titles. It was done by a Johnston area of expertise: Depth and a lack of weakness in any area of the game.

Try this stat on for size: Since the 1994 season, no Katy High School 4-year student has graduated without his red-and-white Tiger football team holding up a state championship trophy in December.

Can you imagine that every Katy student has had the chance to witness a state championship season for the past two decades?

With a state championship in 1997, Katy stepped on the national scene by qualifying for the 5A state title game four consecutive seasons — and winning again in 2000 with a perfect 16-0 record.

Since the 1997 title, Katy has claimed six championships and will play Saturday in Arlington for a Texas record-tying 8th state crown. The Tigers have also reached the state finals 12 times in the past 17 seasons, starting in 1997. Only two times have they missed the title game for more than one season.

For the record, the Katy Tigers currently have won state championships in 1959, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2007, 2008 and 2012. Those seven could become eight when the mighty Tigers (14-1) meet defending state champion Cedar Hill (13-2) on Saturday at 4 p.m. at AT&T Stadium in Arlington for the new 6A-Division II championship.

Funny thing: Cedar Hill and Katy will meet for the third consecutive year for the coveted trophy. Katy won round one in 2012, 35-24; Cedar Hill rallied for round two in 2013, 34-24.

Winner gets more than bragging rights because a three-peat for both teams is extremely rare. History, however, sheds some light on which team will win Saturday.

The Katy Tigers, under the guidance of 11-year head coach Gary Joseph, have lost to only one opponent more than once. That opponent is The Woodlands, which downed the Tigers for the third time this fall.

When Katy meets Cedar Hill this weekend, it will be the third meeting between two talented, deep teams with top-notch coaching and a will to win.

Still Joseph’s Tigers will not allow another blemish on the coach’s Texas-best career winning record. Joseph was defensive coordinator for two decades under Katy predecessor Johnston, who won state in 1997, 2000 and most notably 2003.

Taking over in 2004, Joseph has compiled a Texas-best winning percentage of 92.12 percent in just 11 seasons. He currently stands at 152-13, averaging 13.82 victory and only 1.18 losses each fall.

Simply put, the achievements of Johnston (200-75) could have made Joseph’s job easier for several seasons. However, Joseph has a quiet intensity about him. He always adjusts, finds ways to improve his players, teams, coaching staffs and himself.

He is a leader by training and an analyst naturally. No surprise why he was the defensive mastermind of the Tigers for years under Johnston’s term.

He remains fit and healthy — appearing able to run a marathon at a moment’s notice.

Texas has hundreds, if not thousands, of very good coaches. Dozens are active legends, still chasing the coveted 300-win mark. none, however, can touch Joseph’s winning percentage, or the speed in which he has climbed to 150+ career victories.

Bottomline: Katy wins on Saturday to tie the all-time victory for Texas state championships. The score? Stick with tradition when common foes meet for a common goal: Katy 35, Cedar Hill 24.