Take it off: Let Olivia be your guide

Remember the song, "Let's Get Physical?" Olivia Newton John wore a cute little pink sweat-suit when she sang that smash hit from the '80s. It still fits her.

Her Grease co-star, John Travolta, is not fit. After they finished singing "We Go Together," he stopped dancing and gained 60 pounds.

I see people at the Water Street Parking garage take the elevator to go to the gym down below. Some of my patients– who live a block away from my office– drive over to their appointment.

My mother used to drive to all four sides of the shopping mall because, she said, "I don't want to have to carry the bags all over the place." Is exercise that unpleasant?

When you're out of shape, exercise can be a painful event if you overdo it. One of my friends was so far out of shape that he had to stop to rest four times on his way from the parking lot at Fashion Square to the treadmill in Sears.

I thought, "Lordy, how's he going to walk on the treadmill? He can't even walk to the treadmill."

Over half the people who start an exercise regimen quit after only 18 weeks. When I work out at the gym, January is overcrowded with all the New Year's-resolution exercisers. By April, the gym is so empty I can practically do a Mary Lou Retton vault without hitting anyone.

Exercise doesn't have to mean going to a gym. Mowing the lawn, walking the dog, playing a sport, or going for a hike in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains are great ways to get your heart pumping and burn calories.

In my practice, I ask people if they exercise regularly, and like most Americans, 80 percent say no. I always suggest putting a treadmill or exercise bike in front of the TV. However, the #1 excuse I hear is, "The bike won't look right in front of the TV." Feng shui?

For each hour of TV you watch, you gain weight. Some patients wonder if that includes watching reality TV.

Let's face it. Eating is more fun than exercise. I work out regularly at the gym, and I've asked many people there, "Why do you continue to exercise all these years?"

I've not found an answer that will make me exclaim, Archimedes-like, "Eureka! That's the solution to this nation's obesity crisis." Some frequent replies: "I exercise so I can eat what I want to eat and not get fat." "It reduces my stress." "I like the challenge of exercise."

The most common excuse among my non-excercising patients: lack of time.

"I get up at 4:30am, get home at 5:30pm, and I have to cook for my family," they whine. "When do I have time to exercise?"

Or: "On the weekends, I have to drive my kids from soccer game to dance class. Who's going to do the groceries and laundry while I'm exercising?"

I find it amazing that we live in Central Virginia, and yet our lifestyles are similar to those who live in New York City. We're on the go but without health benefits.

Perhaps soccer moms and dads can run along the side lines parallel with their kids. Not only would the parents get more exercise, but they might be more forgiving when the kid misses a shot. Huffing and puffing, the parent might say, "Don't worry... I was 20 yards behind you, so I would never have been able to make that goal either."