Monday, February 4, 2008
February Weigh-In: Dan Dengel
"Weighing In" is a new monthly article I will be posting to the blog that features one individual's experiences with and perspectives on physical activity. Our personal health is linked to a unique history, upbringing, and exposure to resources. It is my hope that by sharing one another's realities, struggles, and successes, we can come to appreciate our own strengths, and be more forgiving of our perceived flaws. Perhaps learning from each other will breed self-acceptance and reservation from judging others.
Dan is my best friend in the whole wide world. We met a little less than five years ago and forged a strong friendship largely over workout sessions at East Falls Fitness (EFF). Dan was a student at Temple, and I had a job that let me out at 2:30, so he would pick me up at "The Spot" (12th and Arch) and we'd cruise over to EFF. Early on, I remember teaching Dan how to lift weights body part by body part, showing the exercises that work certain muscle groups. But as the months went on, he became more self-sufficient with his workouts and less reliant on me for help. He did continue to ask me questions about new moves he'd seen others doing and suggestions for areas where he felt stale. Now he writes up his own workouts, balancing routines with the changing demands of his schedule. It makes me smile sometimes to see just how far he has come...
How old are you?
How was physical activity first introduced into your life?
I started running track as a boy and two of my brothers did the same. I tried baseball and basketball too, but found I was not very coordinated if a ball was involved, so stuck with running. In 8th grade, I added swimming. I was also a boy scout and the was pretty active with hiking and canoe trips a few times a year. I would say overall my family, specifically my siblings, helped keep things active.
In what type(s) of exercise, physical activity, or athletic pursuits do you currently participate?
I like to go to the gym and lift a few days a week. Outside of that I try to run the track at least 3 miles one or two days a week. Then, of course, Muscle Group!
What does fitness mean to you?
Fitness to me is a way of living. It is the recognition of what my body can do and how I take care of my body. I equate fitness with activity. This includes the activity of working out, but also what I eat, when and how much sleep I get, and my mental/emotional energy.
What is your favorite type of workout?
I love lifting! If I have a good lifting session I generally feel pumped and excited. I love working my biceps and triceps, lately been getting better with working legs and shoulders. I also love swimming but rarely get the chance, and when I do it does tucker me out, but I love it!
Speaking specifically, what is your favorite exercise? Least favorite? What is it that you like/don't like about these?
Fave exercise: Pull-ups (just fun to see how many I can do and feel the burn - like when my arms shake - so cool)
Least fave: Mountain climbers (they hurt my back and I get tired so quick)
What is your profession and what hours do you work? What time does that leave for exercise? How do you fit it into your day?
I am a psychologist and I work 9-5 weekdays with one late night a week. I like to exercise in the morning before work so I get pumped - I am there most days by 7am. I am not as good about working out on the weekends, but try to run when the weather is nice.
Who/what has supported you in your fitness pursuits?
I am supported by Lindsey Schweiger, who really helped me learn proper lifting form and helped me get over my gym anxiety...also by my brother, Greg, who I sometimes work out with - he is a good motivator. Early in life I had a running partner and that was great. I think I am mostly supported by friends who are willing to be active with me. I love OutFit's Muscle Group because everyone there keeps moving.
What factors play into your motivation the strongest? (i.e. friends, weather, money, work, scheduling, sleep, etc.)
If the weather is bad, it is easy for me to say, "Forget it." But I think the biggest motivator is a friend wanting to work out and pushing me to do so. I will always favor working out with a buddy than on my own. It just keeps me going.
Who are your health/exercise role models? What do they embody that inspires you?
Anyone who is active inspires me, but I am not sure I have a role model.
In what exercise settings do you feel comfortable? Why? What settings do you find uncomfortable and why?
I am not so comfortable in the big gyms with lots of muscular men all grunting and sweating and strutting about. When I have been in gyms that are more low-key and people just come in and do their thing, I tend to feel more comfortable. I prefer a place where a trainer is not working out right near me. My fave place was working out at the Johns Hopkins gym - the men and women would all be lifting and doing their own thing - staff and students - and people were friendly and seemed happy to be there (and this was at 6am so if there were smiles, they were genuine!)
Fill in this statement: I can't imagine exercise without __________________.
Music. Sometimes I love to just break from what I am doing and dance around a bit. I have only been caught once at the gym shaking my groove thing.
When it comes to exercise and health, what still remains a mystery for you?
How to eat right. I have a hard time with calorie counting and knowing how much I should take in and how much is in the foods, and then what is a good food versus a bad food. Besides the obvious - cake would be bad - well, if eaten too much. I think I just need to be better about what I eat, including portion size.
What are your guilty pleasures when it comes to eating?
It would have to be chocolate chip cookies - and when in New York, the Black and White cookies. I am a cookie monster. (Ohhh, and sometimes cake too...)
What's your favorite OutFit?
Jeans and a T-shirt