Exercising rites

by Debbie Carini

When the clothes in your closet have been trying to tell you for eight years—through strained button closures and strangulating waistlines—that you need to lose weight, it’s easy to ignore them. You can shuffle them around, get rid of some at a garage sale or decide that many are out of date anyway.

But when your doctor says you need to lose weight, and oh, yes, your blood pressure is looking a little high, you know you need to do more than become a steady customer of the elastic-waist section of the pants department.

“You need to get your heart rate up,” my doctor told me. The daily walks with my mom at a leisurely pace just won’t do.

And so I’ve started “run/walking” on our treadmill.

It’s an amazing piece of equipment with many bells and whistles—it can tell you calories burned, report your heart rate and goes up to 10 miles per hour (a moped is all I can imagine traveling at that speed).

I don’t remember why we have a treadmill, but I’m sure it was purchased one January, with good intentions of keeping resolutions and taking off holiday weight. And other than watching my son and daughter use it, I’m not sure I’ve ever considered it anything more than another piece of furniture on the screened-in patio.

But now I’m trying to run on it. And since I don’t want to end up as a meme on YouTube, I’m easing myself into the process by walking and running. I set it on a grade of 3 to make walking a little more difficult. According to the website Couch to 5K building up to running should be a gradual progress—a process of five to 10 minutes of walking interspersed with one to two minutes of running.

I can handle the walking part (I’m even able to read all the back issues of Time Magazine that have stacked up in the den), it’s the running part that threatens to do me in.

When I start to jog, I hold on for dear life and the machine starts telling me all kinds of information—my pulse, the time, the distance. The numbers for pulse are all over the place, leading me to believe that I am alternately an at-rest vampire or an over-caffeinated hamster on a wheel. And the digital time display is a heartbreaker. I run and run and am sure 20 minutes have passed by, only to look down and find that I’ve been going at it for 90 seconds. 

Our cat, Edgar, likes to sit nearby and watch and yawn because no one judges him when he saunters across the yard, his ample belly swaying side-to-side. Meanwhile I start to sweat profusely, which could just be my fat crying. And I make promises to myself like “I will eat more kale” and “I won’t break into the Halloween candy that’s in a plastic container in a hidden place in the garage that only I know about in case we need it for the apocalypse if it occurs before October 31.”

And then the whole ordeal is almost over and I start to think about breakfast—some bacon sounds really good, and I tell myself “I can just run it off tomorrow!”

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