New to the gym? Exercise your awareness

I can’t recall the exact day I first saw someone running on a treadmill, shouting into a cellphone, but I remember how I felt. Sad and sorry. Sad because the moron was so unconscious, so unaware of how rude she was being. And sorry that I had to put up with it.

So here’s to all the people who work out in health clubs and other shared workout spaces and act like thoughtless slobs. You drip sweat on the benches. You hog the machines. You leave your dirty towels on the floor. You know who you are . . and you’re not all men.

Some basic rules to guide you:

-Carry a little towel and wipe your sweat drippings off whatever you use - a machine or mat.

-Don’t drop that little towel on the floor when you’re finished. Leave it where it belongs - out of sight of others.

-Wipe your hair out of the sink. If you don’t have hair, don’t concern yourself with this one.

-Leave your cellphone and all other electronic distractions in the locker. Off.

-Focus on your breathing, not your talking. Not only is this polite, it will greatly improve your performance.

-Share the weights and the machines in a thoughtful way. If you don’t understand basic sharing etiquette, ask a trainer at your gym to clue you in.

-Don’t intrude on someone else’s workout.

-Clean up after yourself: cups, clothes, bottles, etc.

What’s the point of building a better body if you can’t use it in a way that makes the gym - and the world - a better place?

Q: Dear Marilynn - I am a 47-year-old male and have a habit of eating a certain way. Ninety percent of the time during the workweek, I only eat one meal, dinner. When I eat dinner, I usually eat a very large amount because I am hungry. I think I am pretty healthy. I work out four to five days a week. I am active, snowboarding, hiking, racquetball, etc. I have heard and read that one meal a day isn’t good for you, and my girlfriend wishes that I would change my habits. She is a pretty healthy-type person, eats well, minimal body fat, lots of exercise. She even purchased a small refrigerator to put under my desk, so I can put snacks in it and it will be easily accessible. That worked for about a month. My question: I have been doing this eating style for well over a decade now. Is it really that bad? It’s so hard to change this habit. I get into a work zone and I don’t take any breaks at all. I also cook most of my foods most of the time. I do not eat fast food. If it’s really bad, maybe you are the person that will convince me to change. -- e-mail from Chito

A: Dear Chito: One meal a day won’t kill you, but is it the smart, conscious, healthy way to eat? No. Does it allow for optimal energy and a steady burn of calories? No. So why are you sabotaging yourself? Why not see how much better you can feel? You exercise. You cook. You don’t eat fast food. No wonder your girlfriend adores you. It’s time for another breakthrough; time to discover the benefits of eating in a balanced way. Don’t do it for her. Do it for you. That’s the only way positive change happens. Give three-meals-a-day three months of your time. Keep a journal, and take notes on what happens. More energy? An easier time falling asleep? Improved sports performance? It’s all possible if you stop overloading your system with one macho-man meal a day. Please let me know what happens. But not until May.

Food Tips:

-Pity the poor white potato. It’s a complex carbohydrate, a good thing. But when you eat one - baked, mashed or fried - your body treats it like sugar, causing a sharp rise in insulin, a bad thing. Oven-roasted veggies are a great substitute, and so is brown rice.

  • Oven Roasted Veggies. Delicious. Cut up and season your favorite vegetables - cauliflower, green beans, squash, whatever -- mix in a little olive oil, and roast. You’ll be amazed at how good it tastes.

Marilynn Preston, fitness expert, personal trainer and speaker on healthy lifestyle issues, is the creator of Energy Express, the longest-running syndicated fitness column in the country. She welcomes reader questions, which can be sent to