As I am writing this, rivulets of hard-earned sweat are coursing down my ruddy face. No, I'm not being mugged, and I'm not listening to rap lyrics (sort of the same thing, don't you think?), but I've just completed a nice long jog around campus, and I'm trying to cool off here at the public computer terminals in the Student Center.
I have begun the folly I begin about this time every year. You see, about six or seven years ago, I was someone who managed to lose about 55 pounds through nothing more than eating a sensible diet and running and lifting weights every week. I was thrilled at my success and my theretofore missing self-discipline, and physically I felt better at 39 and 40 than I did at 22.
During the following years, I managed to stay on a maintenance program that kept my metabolism high enough that I could pig out every now and then and not worry about gaining weight. I was never quite as faithful to the regimen as I was at my time of lowest poundage, but every week I managed to run three or four times and lift weights at least once. I mean, I was not in fear of answering my doorbell and seeing Richard Simmons beckoning to me with a forklift.
In the past few years, however, something has happened. That resolve I had seven years ago started gradually to slip away. I ran and lifted weights less and less, and although I still ate fairly healthy, I pigged out like someone with only a higher metabolism should.
The bottom line is, I'm now about 20 pounds above my "maintenance" weight, and about 33 pounds from where I was at my leanest, and where I'd love to get back to if I could. After a spring that saw me gradually exercising less and less, I've told myself (for about the 10th week in a row) that I've got to get back on the fitness schedule. No ifs, ands and butts.
Of course, I always end up doing these exercise comebacks the wrong way. It would be best to start a stepped-up exercise program in the winter, or at least in the early spring. That's when the weather is too cold to do a lot of yardwork (freeing up spare time), and on days when it's not actually freezing, the weather is so cool outside that it's a pleasure to go and run.
But do I take advantage of that, like an intelligent person would? No. In the winter and early spring, I'm indoors all the time, relaxing or working, and a bathing suit hardly ever gets put on. So, those extra pounds aren't as much of an embarrassment. Besides, I can hide out in nice wram sweaters, and no one seems to notice.
But when summer approaches, the sweaters come off, and I realize that in a matter of a few short weeks I will begin escorting my kids to beaches and pools and water parks. I WILL BE SEEN IN PUBLIC LOOKING LIKE LUMPY RUTHERFORD FROM 'LEAVE IT TO BEAVER.' So, I put on my shorts, run out into the humidity and heat of a late Texas spring, and begin huffing and puffing.
I know that I don't have the metabolism I did even a year ago. Then, I could run around this 500+ acre campus, and not have to stop even once. The only time I would stop was if I felt like it, or if I needed to remove a dog's teeth from my leg. Today, I must have stopped a dozen times. Instead of daydreaming and coming up with ideas for blog posts, stories and poems (which is what I used to do), my mind was focused instead on, Okay, I'll keep running to that big tree up there, and then I'll walk for a bit. No. No. I'm not going to make the big tree. Okay, I'll stop at the far side of the driveway. No. No. How about the near side of the driveway?"
But dang, it, I did it. More than 30 minutes, and this is my second day in a row. I feel good, especially since I also lifted weights at lunch. The only thing that is possibly a little troublesome is that the coeds I passed on the jogging trail, who normally are in iPod brain control mode and don't even notice me, seemed yesterday and today to be looking at me with a combination of shock and horror. I imagine they saw this 40-something guy, sucking in air like a broken bellows, and wondered if--eww, gross!--they were going to have to put to use their CPR training on a smelly heart attack victim. Of course, what they might really be thinking behind those horrified glances is
Rapist. Rapist! But thank goodness, an out-of-shape rapist I can easily outrun if it comes to that!
I've cooled off now, in body if not in mind, and it's time to go home. Maybe since I exercised today, I can eat a big dinner and have some of that cheesecake for dessert. Hmm...