Over the past several years, I’ve written a lot articles on maintaining your machine shop equipment. I’ve always believed in being proactive when it comes to maintenance and preached it many times in this column.
I am convinced that by doing maintenance up front you’ll keep these expensive machines lasting longer and performing better for a long time. So based on that, I got to thinking, it just makes sense that I should also write about something that is or should be more important to us all taking care of you!
Let’s face it, engines need to be rebuilt; it is what we do. You are engine builders. Engine builders know when it’s time to service an engine. Engine builders generally know how many laps or how many miles or how many pulls or how many 1320s an engine can do before it needs to be tuned, adjusted, rebuilt or replaced. You can do this for just about any engine that comes through your shop. I’ll bet you can listen to an engine and diagnose what’s wrong with it or look at most engine components and know their history by what kind of condition they are in, and what we should do to put them back in a premium condition. These are all the things that you’ve learned over the years.
Then why is it that most of us share another common trait? We ignore our own engine. Yep, that human engine we call ourselves.
If you’re anything like me, you’d rather be in a street fight than see a doctor. Just like some of our customers, we think we know better than the expert in this case, the doctor. I bet a lot of you have doctors as customers building them some really cool go-fast engines for their Sunday hot rod. But as guys, we do our best to not be aware of the subtleties of what our own engines are trying to tell us. Most of the time we work 12 to 16 hour days, six to seven days a week. We don’t take time off. We’re always at the shop. We don’t eat right, don’t sleep right and we don’t take care of ourselves as we should.
You work in extreme conditions; you are under day-to-day pressures of owning your own business. You are using all kinds of specialty tools and run very special high-end machines that can take out an eye or remove a finger in less time than it takes to write this sentence. We use some of the nastiest chemicals every day to help us clean work pieces. We drink coffee like water, smoke like chimneys, and eat big old greasy burgers every chance we get; we don’t do any exercise cause we’re too busy doing the work that needs to be done. Why? We are guys and we are invincible.
So where am I going with all of this? It’s time to talk about being more aware of our bodies and to be healthier as we mature in this business of building engines. Notice I said mature; we never grow older, do we? Being able to be older requires us to be here for longer periods of time. You can’t get any older if you are dead. Got it?
So what can you do? What SHOULD you do? I’m not going to make you read all kinds of data that I read during the research part of writing this article; instead I’m going to recap what I learned. I want to give credit to Men’s Health magazine and Web MD as these are two of the best informed research places I went to while reading up on this topic.
“Put the lime in the coconut and drink it all up, put the lime in the coconut and then you feel better”
1) Eat right. Research tells us that it’s better to eat several smaller meals per day than that big ol’ cheeseburger or that big ol’ burrito, or one massive meal. Why? Because your metabolism will work at a higher rate, burning off more fat and keeping your energy more level throughout the day. I like to drink beer when the workday is done. I read that if you eat an apple before you hit that favorite amber liquid, you will drink less and won’t pig out on the peanuts or other freebie goodies at the bar, plus, you’ll feel better the next day. Give it a try. Can’t hurt, right? And keep in mind you can still have that cheeseburger, burrito or whatever just don’t do it every day.
2) Stop smoking. Yeah, easy to say and hard to do. I know most all of you have seen me at trade shows or other events smoking like a blown-up engine. I know I must have tried to quit a thousand times over the years and just could not get it done. However, this time I am very proud to say, it seems to be working. Guess what? It has been 8 months since I last smoked a cigarette. Pretty cool huh? Now I gotta work on something else though. I am eating more and my gut is growing. Go figure.
3) Get your prostate checked. Yeah, I know, I could easily joke about this ordeal but I am going to stay on the serious side and tell you to do this once a year as part of your annual physical exam.
4) Get your cholesterol checked. High cholesterol is often called the silent killer since there are no outward symptoms until it’s too late. But it is something you can control with diet and exercise if, and I mean if, you know it is an issue.
5) Get your blood sugar checked. Diabetes is fast becoming the most common grim reaper out there. Know your family’s history and, regardless of that history, be sure to have your sugar checked as part of your annual physical.
6) If you are over 50 then go get a colon exam. Yeah, I know nobody wants anybody looking up their old address but colon cancer is one of the most preventable cancers you could ever have. Better to know and deal with it than to be, well, in the dark, so to speak.
7) Get off your butt. You say you get a lot of exercise by carrying the load of responsibility of owning a machine shop. You get exercise by jumping all over your supplier who doesn’t deliver. You get exercise by running off at the mouth. You get exercise by dancing with your customers when the job is late or some other delay beyond your control. Well, that ain’t gonna cut it. Start out by just walking one mile every other day. You will be really surprised by how well you feel with just that simple approach.
This quote from Men’s Health should really hit home; “being sickly, potbellied and limp isn’t fun, and it’s not a great way to attract the ladies either.”
We need you to be around. We need your knowledge, we need your expertise and we need your engine building skills to keep this industry going forward. Be a part of it. Be a healthy part of it and stick around for a while.
See ya in the shop for a long, long time!