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SPECIAL: Editor’s Note — Choice and Response Ability

If you think getting in good shape is only about looking good, think again. Maintaining a fit and healthy body is good for your appearance, true, but it’s also good for society. How’s that? Think about it this way: If more people took responsibility for their own health and well-being, insurance and health care costs would plummet. Unfortunately, irresponsibility is off the charts.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, medical expenses for the overweight and obese may be as high as $147 billion annually. The costs of inactivity bump that up considerably higher—but what if more people got off their butts on a regular basis and stopped stuffing their faces with fast food? Eventually, we’d all be paying a lot less for health insurance, the rates of which have skyrocketed because so many people are continually eating too much crap too often, not exercising and ending up requiring medical attention.

We must be responsible—the “response” being to eat better and exercise so we are “able” to cruise through life happier and healthier without sucking huge chunks of money out of our overtaxed system to treat diseases that are preventable. And I’m not just talking about heart disease. Being overweight and/or not eating right increases the risk of diabetes, arthritis and multiple cancers—not to mention depression.

Matters become even more important as we age and our immune systems become less efficient. The older we get, the more we need to hit the weights and do aerobics on a regular basis to remain mobile and stay in the game.

A perfect example of someone who’s made the responsible choices is fitness icon Jack LaLanne, who’s celebrating his 95th birthday. Jack is the embodiment of aging gracefully thanks to exercise and nutrition know-how—and he’s still a crackling ball of energy. See John Balik’s birthday salute to Jack on page 146.

In this issue we also profile two gentlemen who are following in Jack’s footsteps, although they’ve been around only about half as long—Clark Bartram is 45, and Doug Brignole is 49. As they plow through middle age with gusto, both men have grasped the importance of staying muscular and fit, and both plan to continue the bodybuilding lifestyle.

Clark and his wife Anita are passing on their love of and dedication to fitness to their kids. Seventeen-year-old Taylor appears on the cover with her iron dad—IRON MAN ’s first-ever father-daughter cover. She’s a star on her high school track team, while her brother Mitch, 13, has his eye on a football career. In fact, he’s set to embark on a workout regimen with Dad to increase his athletic prowess—and no doubt build an impressive set of guns. An IM cover could be right around the corner for him too. For more on Clark, his family and his workout and eating tips, turn to page 126.

As for Doug, he adamantly states that the fitness lifestyle helped save his life at a time when everything was crashing down on him. He even contemplated suicide, but eventually returned to the fitness game and restarted his personal-training business. Now he’s back to his old bodybuilding-competition weight and looking absolutely ripped beyond belief. Inspiring, to say the least! His story, including his workout and diet, begins on page 156.

LaLanne, Bartram and Brignole have all made a choice—to be responsible for their own health and well-being. Those of us who “get it” should encourage more people to choose that response as well, so they will be more able throughout their lives. IM

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