Like everything else that tastes or feels good, such a mode of living has its negative side effects. Doctors are often the first to say something:
DOCTOR: Kathy, you’re so fat that if you were to go outside and get hit by a truck, you would demolish the truck.
Some doctors apparently cut class the day they covered bedside manners.
Diet and exercise. Diet and exercise. Exercise and diet. Blah and blah! Yes, we hear it over and over. It’s like when your mother kept telling you to put on your dorky winter hat and gloves before you went outside to make snow angels. You know it’s good for you, but only extreme duress will get you to comply (like that look of impending murder your mother gave you when you tried to sneak out of the house bareheaded).
Diet is a tough concept to swallow, but exercise is a big horse pill that tastes like castor oil and gives you the cramps.
EXERCISE!! Just as with death, which it resembles, the decision to accept exercise comes in stages.
Stage 1: Your first reaction upon hearing the word “exercise” is to put your hands over your ears and run screaming from the room.
Stage 2 involves bargaining: No! Please! Not me! I’ll do anything! I’ll wash dishes, clean the bathroom, give up the Internet for an evening, anything! I’ll never commit another sin in my life! Just don’t ask me to move around or get on a machine! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!
Stage 3: You start to think that maybe the doctor was right. This usually happens on a day when your knees hurt, you have to stand for two minutes catching your breath after climbing a staircase that everyone else is taking two steps at a time, and you look at yourself in a mirror sideways.
Stage 4 comes when you finally accept the fact that you had better get in shape or you will end up like those people in the power chair ads on TV. Your fate will be worse, though, because most of the sidewalks in your neighborhood have more cracks and holes than a volcano. If you try to ride a power chair you will probably end up doing a flying summersault into your neighbor’s living room.
Now comes the hard part. You have decided, against all odds, that you are going to get in shape or bust, and that includes … *gulp* … exercising. But how? Where? When?
You go out and buy an exercise video. This way, you can do it at home, with the shades drawn, preferably when nobody else is home. If you don’t do it right, nobody will notice. For a whole week you are religious about doing the whole workout every day. Then you start to find reasons why you can’t do the whole thing or why you should just skip it for today. After a few weeks, your willpower whimpers and dies and your exercise routine goes down the toilet.
You start thinking about joining a fitness center. If you are anything like me, you are really intimidated by gyms. Every time you have been in one, you have seen almost nothing but youthful, toned, athletic bodies running, jumping, pounding machinery, lifting weights and looking like they are so used to it all that they don’t even sweat anymore. If your body fat index is off the charts, you are going to stick out like an opera singer at a rap concert. To add further indication that your presence is not wanted, the place offers no classes that someone of your level of non-fitness could take without looking like a fool.
Okay, so you know that Bally’s isn’t going to be a welcoming presence. Well, why not just take some extra walks every day, ride a bicycle or do some jogging-in-place while watching Dancing With the Stars? Well, the same dearth of willower that was at work with the exercise video also applies here. One day you won’t feel like doing it, and there goes the whole plan. Having an exercise buddy helps, but chances are your exercise buddy isn’t any more motivated than you are, and if she/he can skip it so can you, right? Right. So you do.
I have pretty much solved the problem of where and when to exercise by joining my local Curves gym. Someone at work recommended this to me. I’ve been going there for more than a month. They take a monthly fee from my checking account, which is the best motivation ever to keep going back. I wouldn’t call their routine fun, but it only lasts 30 minutes and I always feel good afterward. It did take a long time to find what I wanted to do when it came to exercise, but once you find it, you should stick with it. That doesn’t mean you can’t take up tennis lessons if you want to. It is good to have a routine.
They also have a Zumba class. Now that’s fun. You get to shake your booty and wave your arms around to some nice salsa rhythms. You can be as silly as you want, and if you don’t get all the moves right nobody cares.
Maybe exercise isn’t all that scary after all. I’ll let you know.