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A Fair Perspective

Six-month-old Baron Rodriguez, of Crandall, Texas, is held up by his mother Natasha Rodriguez for a photo with Big Tex as his brother Anthony Rodriguez, 11, looks on during the State Fair of Texas, Friday, Sept. 28, 2012, in Dallas. According to Natasha Rodriguez, she has held up each of her three children for a photo with Big Tex when they were infants. (AP Photo/LM Otero) Photo: LM Otero, Associated Press / AP

Mark Mabry was assisted in this column by Chris Powell, host of ABC’s Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition. Powell's bestselling book, “Choose to Lose" is available in Paperback this December. Follow Chris and Heidi on Twitter @realheidipowell and @realchrispowell.

I learned a few lessons at the Texas State Fair last week.

Lesson 1: Wait until nobody is playing the squirt gun game, and then give the guy ten bucks. He’ll let you play with only two players. If the only two players are you and your daughter... You’re guaranteed to come home with a plush toy (an “exotic” plush toy, as I pointed out to my little girl. “It came all the way from China”).

Lesson 2: Eat plenty, but beware. If you eat 3750 calories, it is better to have pre entered your address into the navigational system on your iphone. Because if you’re like me, the sugar high will not let your thumbs operate delicately enough manage the touch screen.

Lesson 3: Give your kids a dollar or two, but pay for everything anyway. The real experience will come outside the gates when someone hits you up for cash to “get dinner”. Even if it’s not a real hungry guy, your kid will think it is, and will give them all they have and talk about it for weeks.

After the fair, I posted my calorie count on Facebook. Fortunately, Chris Powell, the host of ABC’s Extreme Makeover Weight loss Edition is a long time friend, and Facebook friend. He and Heidi, his wife (also a brilliant and merciless trainer), saw the post intervened with a voice mail pep talk.

They detailed a 3750 calorie workout that would negate my gluttony at the fair. I committed to do it the very next day.

Here are some other lessons.

Lesson 4: If you don’t run long distances frequently, plan ahead. Bring some baby powder or Aquifor.

Lesson 5: Give yourself about 4 hours.

Lesson 6: Bring an ipod with songs rowdy enough to drown out all negative self talk.

Lesson 7: Put a little bit of distance between the food you ate at the fair and the actual workout to burn it off. No more details offered.

The Biggest Lesson:

Even though the calories balanced out, the Fair fiasco v. The Chris Powell Workout, was not a zero sum game. In fact, I would argue that there is no such thing as a zero sum game. Win-lose happens. Lose-lose happens. Win-win happens. But non of those analyses of a situation can negate the EXPERIENCE of having played the game.

Midway into my first run, a guy named Norman wondered over. Norman is a self taught economist, who introduced me to some economic metaphors that applied to my sick predicament. We talked from mile 2 to mile 5. He also gave me some pointers about living in Texas. (I’ve learned that nearly all Texans will do that).

The flurry of exercises in the middle of the running taught me that my “core” is pretty week when it comes to hanging from a bar and lifting my feet up over my head. Hanging knees to elbows is now part of my daily routine. I’m actually getting pretty good at it.

I learned that the lifeguard, Dani, has a boyfriend serving in Iraq right now.

During the swim I met a man named Perry who is fighting brain cancer. I had only two laps to go. He wasn’t allowed to shake hands because of germs, so we bumped elbows.

Because his bones are so brittle, swimming is the most strenuous thing that he’s allowed to do. Fortunately, the chlorine level was so high in this particular pool, that his Oncologist said it would be fine for him to swim here... You’ll not hear another peep from me about burning eyes in the pool.

Perry talked about finally noticing God, taking more time to listen to people, and loving his family.

The cancer isn’t yet in remission. He told me that his particular strain of cancer has never been “beaten”... only slowed down.

As far as calories go... those are gone. But, the whole experience netted me new perspective. And...

Ava rode out of there on my shoulders holding a little blue teddy bear and fell asleep on my lap on the way home.

Thanks be to God for a country that allows us to play how we want and pay how we want.

“Exercise is the celebration of the body’s ability to move. And so embrace it as you’re going through this.”

Watch my fun at the fair and hard work at the gym below:

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FYI: The Workout

6 mile run

50 box jumps (24" box)

50 jumping pullups

50 kettlebell swings (50 lbs)

50 walking lunges

50 knees to elbow, hanging from bar

50 push press (45 lbs)

50 back extensions

75 wall ball (10 lbs ball, all that is available)

50 burpees, with jump and clap above head

50 double unders

5 mile run

1400 meter swim (.86 miles)

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