The shape of things to come

I seem to be on my way to inventing a whole new body type. You’ve heard, of course, that people are “apples” or “pears” based on the shape of their bodies — each shape having specific health concerns associated with it. Well, I think I’ve leapt right past “pear” to all out “gourd.”

I had the best intentions ths spring. I (found and) dusted off the pedometer, fed it a new battery, and decided to follow an interval walking program from Prevention magazine. Some days you walk at a steady pace, other days you alternate fast and slow walking for specific amounts of time. It’s supposed to burn way more calories than just plain walking. On the “steady” days, you start out with some strength and toning exercises using what are essentially giant broken gumbands (which I bought on Amazon).

I tried the walking program (and I only fell once during the “Sprint” pace as I stepped half on the street and half on the neighbor’s grass berm), and even did the gumband exercises — no small task, considering it meant following a few sentences of explanation and one picture of a buff woman in perfect shape…

Stand on end of 6-ft exercise band with left foot and place right foot on band about hip-width away so band is around outside of right foot. Place right hand on hip and hold opposite end of band in left hand so it crosses body (band will be loose). Simultaneously lift fight foot out to side about 45 degrees while raising left arm out to side to shoulder height. Hold for a second, then lower to start. Complete a full set, then switch sides. Do 2 sets on each side.

I was quite a sight, I’m sure. The cat was fascinated and amused. But I persevered for a few sessions through all 5 similarly baffling exercises, puffing like Thomas, so it had to be working, right?

But then, I got sick — another flu thing and KILLER sore throat that knocked me out for a week. Then there were all the trips to visit mom, and trips to her house to clean up, and lots of work to churn out. And many trips to Taco Bell because I couldn’t find the time to grocery shop or cook. Walking fell by the wayside. As did my backside — hence the pronounced gourd effect.

And wouldn’t you know, I actually have an “event” to go to this week — a professional organization fund-raiser masquerading as an awards ceremony honoring my former bosses. I really want to go — I wouldn’t have my career if not for them 17 years ago taking a chance on a writer with virtually no professional experience and teaching me the proverbial “everything I know” during my four years there — so much so that I plunked down $120 for two tickets (for light hors d’oeuvres and a CASH bar) and even got a new dress.

A new dress? I can count the events I need a new dress for in once-every-three-years-or-so terms. I’m sure I could have trotted out the “black pants and fancy top” thing for this. But, my soul needed something new. So, about 15 dresses later, I found one. Black of course, even though I was determined I didn’t want black. But really, when you’ve got the gourd thing happenin’ the black thing better be happenin’ too.

Soooo, I will someday, soon, I promise, haul my saddlebags back on the walking path. I may even keep up with the stretchy bands. But not before fully enjoying my $120 worth of cheese cubes and a couple $4 glasses of cabernet and wishing those three guys well in my spiffy new dress.

Maybe I can just tie the cute little zebra-striped shrug it came with around my waist — suburban camouflage?

 A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise.
                                                                      ~ A. A. Milne


Walking on sunshine. How quaint.

What a treat on the third of March to be walking outside in shirtsleeves, shaking off the cobwebs and breathing in cool, unfrigid air — especially when the temperature on the second of March didn’t venture above freezing. I thought the neighborhood would be full of walkers, as it usually is on warmer days, but the roads were mine alone. 

Such high hopes for such a walk on such a day. How exhilarating, how cleansing. How lovely to see the earth, How promising to hear water rushing in the creek as if spring were already here. How satisfying to see the sad remains of melting snowmen in soggy yards. How reassuring that my favorite houses are none the worse for winter wear.

 And oh, how painful. 

I haven’t “power walked” in four months — a fact I am acutely aware of before plodding half a lap. Even my pedometer — usually quite inspiring — failed me, apparently unwilling to be roused from its peaceful winter slumber to measure a few thousand stinkin’ steps.

It’s amazing how slowly watch hands can move. (Only 20 minutes? What about now? Four more minutes — is that all?) And it’s downright pathetic that hills you climbed not so long ago with nary a huff now leave you puffing quite audibly. And that you skip the big hill altogether to do the “flat part,” and end up skipping half of that so you don’t have to walk past crazy neighborhood eccentric guy again, who is loading wood ever so slowly into his dilapidated pick-up and, you swear, eyeing you as you walk quickly by, holding your breath as you think “don’t talk to me, don’t talk to me, don’t talk to me, don’t talk to me. whew.” And then you catch a glimpse of all those unflattering bulges in your shadow that even late-afternoon lankiness can’t hide.

Of course, there is some satisfaction in having walked for 38 minutes instead of sitting in front of the computer or lounging in front of the TV. Satisfaction that will quickly be replaced by aching muscles. But no worries, I’ll have plenty of time to recover — 65-degree March days are as fleeting as my willpower. When the next warm day surfaces (in April), I can lace up my tennies and start the whole painful getting-back-in-shape process all over again. As this process takes longer every year, I should be hitting my stride in late July — just in time for summer heat to force me inside again.

I really don’t think I need buns of steel. 
I’d be happy with buns of cinnamon. 
                                   ~ Ellen DeGeneres