Thanks to Rusty Moore from Fitness Black Book  for the Guest Post! If you haven’t checked out his blog  do so immediately. He offers a ton of sensible advice about how to get fit and live a healthy (and enjoyable!) lifestyle. Thanks, Rusty!
I’m not that impressed with Fitness Magazine models. I know I probably should be, but the physiques I see look almost “forced” to a certain extent. I am more impressed with people who are fit as a natural result of being active. Sure, the men and women in the fitness magazines have extremely low body fat levels, perfect skin and hair, 8 pack abs, etc…there is just something that doesn’t “feel right” about the way they look. I look up to athletes like mountain climbers, soccer players, sprinters, and others who are functionally fit. Most of these men and women balance gym workouts with their sport. The result is a more attractive and healthy look in my opinion.
[During the summer, I’m lucky to get in the gym 2 times per week. In this picture I’m teaching my nephew how to Skimboard on a beach where I grew up. We had a blast, but I was very sore the next day…3 days actually.]
“You Know You Are a Gym Addict When…”
There was a stretch in my life of 12 years where I would workout in a gym, 5 days per week, 52 weeks out of the year. I seriously didn’t even take a break on vacations. Before I traveled to a destination, I would see if they had a nearby gym and found out what a day pass cost. I actually spent 2 hours a day in a gym in Hawaii during a one week trip. What was I thinking? Seriously…I will probably end up going to Hawaii 5 total times during my lifetime. Why would I spend a minute of that limited time in a stinky gym? Really, what was I thinking!
You Won’t Lose Much by Taking Time Away from The Gym
The last 3-4 summers I got most of my exercise by playing tennis, volleyball, the occasional run around the lake, etc. I stayed active, but was only doing 2 gym workouts per week. After 3 months of summer, I would get back in the gym on a more consistent basis and gain back all my strength within 2-3 weeks. I would also get back to lower body fat levels  within 30 days. As long as you stay active, you can maintain current levels of fitness for a long time.
[Planet Earth is a better backdrop to your workout than a gym. Well…I guess the gym is technically on Planet Earth. You know what I mean!]
If Your Time Is Limited in the Gym, Train for Strength
If you want to maintain the muscle that you have, strength training is the way to go. I recommend a slow and steady approach to strength training. Things like forced reps, and negatives are just a short term strategy to gaining strength. You will reach sticking points quickly by employing these methods, you will risk getting injured, and you will feel sore on your days off. Call me crazy, but shouldn’t working out make you feel better? Here is a “sensible” approach to strength training: Gain Strength Without Fail By “Mastering the Weight” 
All Gym Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy
If your only physical activity is working out in a gym, then you should mix it up. It is a big world out there…so get out and explore a bit. When I used to spend all my time in the gym people would ask me if I was a swimmer or some sort of athlete. It kind of sucked because all I could say was…”I workout a lot”. How boring is that? The conversation pretty much ended right then and there. Gym talk is not very interesting. Seriously…it will put people to sleep.
Too Much Gym Time Can Turn You Into a “Gym Rat”
Am I the only person who thinks the gym is a strange environment? There are weird styles and some odd individuals. Don’t get me wrong…I still spend a decent amount of time in the gym, but I “keep it real” (at 38 I’m probably too old to say “keep it real”…but you know what I mean). My whole existence isn’t based around trying to gain as much muscle as possible and I could care less about the current bodybuilding champ. I don’t spend my whole time talking about Arnold or protein supplements. I actually walk and talk like a normal human being and I’m friendly and considerate to those around me. I pretty much don’t fit in! Note: Don’t even get me started about the locker room and people who seem to hang out buck naked for long periods of time. Not a good deal at all!
Competitive Sports Can Push You Past the Pain Barrier
After work every now and then I meet up with my buddy Gerry and we play tennis. We aren’t that good (he’s a little better), but we fight hard for every point. Even when I’m sweating like crazy, I can’t help but sprint to get to the next ball. I just don’t want to lose. The nice thing about competition is that you get so caught up in the game you don’t always realize how hard you are pushing. After a tough 2 hours of tennis, my metabolism is on fire. I can’t create the same effect on a piece of cardio equipment. Pick a sport, have some fun, and burn calories like mad! If you haven’t done this in a while you will be surprised at how effective some sports are at burning off unwanted body fat.
[Here is a picture of two of my good friends hanging out in a beer garden. It was taken at a hip Seattle music festival called Bumbershoot. We hung out and enjoyed a few cold beers before we watched “The Shins” take stage. Beer and outdoor concerts are a match made in Heaven!]
Let Your Hair Down and Live a Little!
The biggest thing I’ve learned about being fit for a lifetime is that you don’t have to be “on” 100% of the time. If my Grandma makes blackberry cobbler, I’m going to eat it! If I’m at a wedding, I will drink champagne. I enjoy a few beers every now and then…and probably more than a few at a New Year’s Eve or a Halloween party. Once or twice a month I meet my friends after work downtown for “Happy Hour”. Bottom line…You can occasionally stray from your diet and still remain healthy and look great.
Other Guest Posts: