You Get Out of It What You Put Into It

Paul V. Arnold, Noria Corporation
Growing up as a kid in blue-collar Milwaukee, my parents made it a point to provide words by which I should live. Some of these life lessons were delivered at the dinner table or while on the living room couch; others took place with me standing face to a wall during a "timeout" (I think I was a big reason why my dad's hair turned prematurely gray).

I don't recall all of the talks (or all of the reasons that led to the talks), but I remember the most important ones. "You only get out of it what you put into it" was a big one. I got that speech multiple times, and appropriately so, because it applied to sports, schoolwork, relationships, chores, etc. If you don't supply A (practice, preparation, effort, study, attention, the right attitude, healthy essentials, precision, craftsmanship), you don't get B (performance, accolades, good grades, strong muscles, friends/girlfriends, an allowance).

"You only get out of it what you put into it." The adage sounds like a no-brainer, but it's something you have to continually dust off and apply in order to avoid falling into unhealthy habits.

Case in point: I had always considered myself a pretty fit guy, but in the spring of 2008, I came to the stark realization that a lack of aerobic activity and a diet consisting largely of junk food were taking a significant toll. I weighed 180 pounds, and had total cholesterol, triglyceride and HDL/LDL levels that were in the "borderline high" to "high" category. My cholesterol ratio showed me at an elevated risk of coronary heart disease and stroke. Changes were necessary.

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I began paying closer attention to what I ate (cut out habits such as three Toaster Strudels or a dozen cookies before bed) and decided to take up jogging, an activity I enjoyed while attending college in the 1980s. My initial running goal was to complete five kilometers (3.125 miles) on the local trail by the end of August 2008. But the more focus and attention and time I put into it, the more that I got out of my body. I reached the 5K goal, then pushed and reached a five-mile goal ... and then a 10K goal and a 10-mile goal. Last November, I ran my first-ever half-marathon. I've kept plugging away ever since, logged an average of 75 miles per month, and on September 20, 2009, I ran and completed my first full marathon, running 26.2 miles in 3 hours and 59 minutes. I plan to compete in at least two marathons in 2010.

Not coincidentally, my weight is now at 150 pounds and a recent physical showed a 20 percent improvement in total cholesterol level, a 49 percent improvement in triglyceride level, a 17 percent improvement in LDL and a 25 percent improvement in risk ratio. I still need to manage and further lower those counts, but I am now in the "desirable" category that points to a decreased risk of heart disease and stroke.

"You only get out of it what you put into it." It applies just as much to the mechanical machine as it does to the human machine. Supply A (the correct environment, the correct amount of maintenance by correctly trained technicians, the correct lubricants, the correct replacement parts and components, the correct cleanliness practices, the correct usage by operators, etc.) and you will get B (a healthy, productive, cost-efficient and high-performing asset).

To drive home this correlation, Noria chief vision officer Drew Troyer is teaming up with Dr. Katherine E. Anderson, the director of naturopathic medicine at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) at Southwestern Regional Medical Center in Tulsa, Okla., to produce a series of columns for Machinery Lubrication that explains how reliability engineers can serve as the holistic physicians of machine care at an industrial facility. The articles will draw analogies between machine care and care of the human body. The series will explore machine care aspects, health care analogies and overall objectives at each life cycle stage: design; equipment manufacturing and installation; commissioning; operation; maintenance; and disposal.

It's time for a check-up. You may come to realize that changes are necessary ... and that you need to dust off and apply some healthy, commonsense practices that your dad, mom, mentor, boss or colleague once told you.

- Paul V. Arnold, editor-in-chief

For Paul V. Arnold (center) and for machines, improved health is attainable with work.

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