It's sort of a fraternity type of thing - the way senior citizens acknowledge each other at the fitness gym. You know what I mean. The way motorcycle riders or Jeep Wrangler drivers wave at each other whether they know each other or not.

So it has been at Steel Fitness when I went in for workouts during the recent 21-day health and fitness program in which editor Deb Galbraith and I enrolled. The older folks just sort of acknowledge each other as if to say "Glad to see you're still healthy enough to do something like this! We better enjoy it while we can!"

I also noticed that lots of us senior citizens flock to the gym early in the morning. Of course young people are rushing off to their jobs, and college kids never get up until sometime after noon. Those early morning workouts really helped get my engine running, and I felt really great for the rest of that day. (The next day wasn't always so good. Those were the days I could not raise my finger to my ear.)

I must admit I am sorry to see the 21-day program end. While many visits to the gym left me tired and aching, I am pleased with the results, and I learned a few things about fitness and nutrition. I also learned not to eat broccoli (or anything that produces gas) the night before a workout. I guess that's just a senior citizen thing. (Maybe that's another reason so many go to the gym early in the morning?)

So our third week in the program we did a strength-training exercise with Mike Kramer, the gym's general manager, and we learned about our basal metabolic rate and how to calculate it. BMR is the number of calories you need to maintain your current body status while you are lying in bed recovering from a day at the gym. I found out that my BMR is around 2,200 calories per day. If I wish to lose weight, I need to consume fewer calories than that. The fewer calories I consume, the better my chances of losing some weight.

Consuming too few calories - like in a starvation diet - simply throws your body into survival mode and nothing good happens. (It's sort of like survival mode on a "Star Trek" episode where lights begin flashing and sirens go off and Scotty yells to Kirk, "Aye, Captain, I can't get anymore out of her!!!!!") The secret is to eat sensibly and exercise on a regular basis.

In addition to our workout with Mike our last week, I participated in my third Pilates class on Thursday and came back for a yoga class on Friday. (Deb lied to me. She said yoga was easier than Pilates. She just did that because I was leading in the weight loss contest.)

Thursday night I ached when I went to bed. I thought to myself, "There's no way I'm going to another class tomorrow!" But when I woke up Friday morning, I was ready to go, and I went to yoga class. I was amazed that my "recovery" time had shortened and that I ached less than earlier in the program. And yoga is NOT easier than Pilates, just different. (Like root canals are different than having your fingernails ripped out.)

So the final day of the program arrived. I went to the gym early to do some cardio work on the elliptical and on the bikes. (I just wanted to look all sweaty for our final weigh-in.)

"And just what were the results of that final weigh-in?" you are probably asking right now. Who won the editors' challenge? The answer is simple: we both were winners. Deb lost 10 pounds and I lost 11, but more importantly, we both liked how we felt that final day, and we both have committed to continuing our health and fitness programs. (Notice I did not say that we have been committed.) Overall, our 21-day group lost a total of more than 50 pounds.

Deb and I would like to thank the wonderful people at Steel Fitness, especially Pat McFerren, a trainer who shows an exceptional amount of caring for everyone she works with.

You know folks, if we all took care of ourselves throughout our lives, we would not have to worry so much about health care reform. We have the power within us to maintain our health, so true health care reform begins with us.