I grew up in the city of Paterson, NJ, and aside from riding my bike almost every day in the summer, playing in the house, and gym class during the school year, I didn’t get a ton of exercise. There weren’t any organized sports in the tiny Catholic School I attended and the city I lived in didn’t have any recreational leagues.
Not surprisingly, I gained (and lost, and sometimes gained again) the freshmen 10 in high school and the freshmen 15 in college.
I started working out (aerobics classes and the like) my senior year of college and have been pretty hooked ever since. There was a two-year period in my life where it was obsessive (two hours or more a day) and when I got help for that, I cut back. Eventually, I found a happy balance (I go anywhere from 3-5 days a week for cardio and strength training) that includes walking my dog for about 40-60 minutes per day. And I live in a place where a ton of walking is commonplace — New York City!
The reality is I’ve always had to work out and watch what I eat. Luckily, I enjoy the working out part the best. But there are some people who have never had to work out (like my brothers!) who, later in life, are finding they have to. And they don’t always like it. Here’s a piece about the fitness as an adult by my older brother, Richard Vergel, in Vida Vibrante.
A Latino Dad Reflects on Fitness
I hate working out. Always have. It’s a chore. It hurts. It’s not even free. Think about it: Gym memberships, brand name sneakers, well-built bicycles, boxing gloves, track suits, tennis racquets, etc. Whatever you’re into, money will be spent. My point is growing up, I wasn’t the most active kid in the world. But I was lucky, because I looked decent considering I didn’t work out; I wasn’t el gordito or el flaco. I was height-weight proportionate since puberty, so I got away with not working out.
We won’t get into why I didn’t play school sports right now (I’ll save that for another article) but I wish I did. Playing sports as a kid usually leads to a healthier lifestyle, and improved social and leadership skills. Still, I shied away from physical activity. Yet, ironically, I always had friends who were into fitness, ever since high school. They always tried to get me to lift weights with them, and I would try it, see zero results, and go back to my favorite sport – couch surfing. But that was then, this is now.
Now I’m a 42-year-old dad, who likes to eat his rice and beans and chorizo from time to time. I still look pretty good, thank you very much, but now my metabolism has slowed down and I have no choice: I’ve got to work out to stay in shape – no – to GET into shape.
Read the rest here.