Exercise and Me: Now THAT'S an Oxymoron!


       My friend is trying to talk me into running with her every morning. Evidently, she is not aware of my strict non-physical fitness policy. I have a hard and fast rule when it comes to running: fuggedaboudit! I have sworn off running unless there is some incentive involved, for example, avoiding molten lava. Even then, I could probably only work myself up to a brisk skip, and that would be on a really good day.

       It’s not that I am lazy. Shoot no! I simply dread becoming one of those K Run Snobs. You know, the ones with the Nike shorts and tee shirts with matching head and wristbands who carry around huge bottles of Evian water in canvas coolers. They spend all their time looking at their sports watches and saying, “ Dang! I’ve GOT to get my time down to 5 minutes on the mile. I am just DRAGGING at 5 minutes 15 seconds!” To which I always respond, “You are probably starving! Do the words 'I’d like fries with that' mean anything to you?” That usually stops them cold.

     It would be kind of nice to impress my kids by engaging in some exercise regimen though. Something that involves more than just jumping up and down when I step on one of the tens of thousands of Legos all over Corey’s bedroom floor. Running seems a bit of a stretch though. I could probably handle a short walk, say 30 minutes or so, if someone would walk ahead of me luring me with a couple of Hostess cupcakes and bottle of Pepsi (carbo-loading being key to any athlete’s success, of course).

     Actually, about four years ago, I tried riding my daughter's bike while my son Danny roller bladed with me. It took everything I had just to get around the corner (half a block) and I am not kidding. Then, somehow, through one of those superhuman strength things that you hear about when someone gets extra adrenaline and lifts a car because their child is under it, I managed to go four (FOUR!) blocks before completely collapsing. It was a miracle! It was one of those life-defining moments that you share with your child and bond over. I remember it perfectly, because it brought us to a new place in our relationship: comrades.

    ME (lying on the sidewalk, gasping for air): Danny-- run, skate, hitch a ride, for God's sake! Go get Daddy, and tell him to bring the van.

    Danny: Come on, Mom. You're doing good. You don't need help.

    ME: Yes (gasp), I do. Please get Dad quick! And tell him to throw in a canister of Grammy's (gasp) oxygen!

    Danny: Come on, Mom. You're doing good. You can make it.

    ME: Danny, go home. Tell Dad (gasp) and the kids I love them. And (gasp, gasp) Danny, no matter what happens, (gasp) make sure you go to college.

    I have no idea how I got home, but somehow I lived to tell the tale. 

    I often see walkers using all kinds of gimmicks to keep them on the straight and narrow path to good health. Headphones hooked up to cassette players, weights on ankles and wrists, dogs pulling them on leashes. “Who is walking whom?” I smugly ask myself as I reach for another handful of miniature Snickers. I did try the headphone thing once, only once. I  just about killed myself by trying to run to The Doobie Brothers’ “China Grove”, which set the pace just a TAD quicker than I was ready for. When I came to and wiped the gravel off my face I decided then and there I would not subject myself to any music with a tempo faster than Mr. Rogers’ “Bathtub Song”.

    At one point I even enlisted the help of my doctor to get started on a healthier course. He gave me the usual spiel about eating right, daily exercise and then said that no matter what, I should accept myself and love myself as I am. This from a man who spray paints his bald spot to match his hair. Actually, in all fairness, I don’t know for sure if he really spray paints it. He could be using shoe polish. Of course, I am not entirely sure I want to take advice from a man who tells me I am not getting enough fat and cholesterol in my diet. As much as I would like to use that as a license to set up an account at Kentucky Fried Chicken, it unnerves me somewhat.

    But I digress. That happens when my blood sugar gets low and there are no honey-roasted peanuts in reach to boost it back to a healthy level. Maybe I’ll just jog into the kitchen and see what’s in the pantry. A little bend and stretch for the soda on the bottom shelf and a reach and pull for the Fiddle Faddle on the top of the fridge.

    Yes, I think I am really starting to get into this exercise thing. Now if I could only get into my running shorts.


By Patricia Eggertsson
Copyright 1999

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