This past spring, summer and early fall, I was briskly walking an average of two miles a day around my neighborhood, in a desperate attempt to get healthy and lose weight to compensate for the four decades prior during which I made no such effort other than simply willing the weight to disappear off my frame. The exception to this was a brief stint six years ago when I became obsessed and lost forty pounds and my mind. Both were temporary. There was also the exception of my early twenties when God happened to be in a good mood and bestowed upon me an impressive metabolism and a smokin’ hot body.
Within the last two months, the weather has turned cold and miserable. So much so that I decided to use our treadmill instead of walking outside because exercising is hard enough to handle without having to worry about hydroplaning or frostbite.
Using the treadmill meant that I had to walk downstairs into the bowels of our basement and find the damn thing, no easy task because it was disguised as dust and cobwebs and hidden under a blanket of mislaid intentions and abject failure. Nevertheless, I cleaned it up, plugged it in, blew a few circuits forcing Nate to change something called a GFI and I’ve been using it several times a week for the past two months. The treadmill, not the GFI. I don’t know what a GFI is or what it does, other than cause the power to go out in our upstairs bathroom at which point the hair dryer stops abruptly and my teenage daughter screams IS MOM EXERCISING AGAIN?
While I like the fresh, clean air I get while walking outside as opposed to the dark, damp, musty ick I inhale in the dungeon that is our basement, I do prefer the actual workout I get on the treadmill, for several reasons:
- I am in complete control of my environment and those who know me know that I prioritize my life in the following manner: First, control everything around me. Second, breathe. With the treadmill, I control the degree of incline and the speed at which I kill myself, so if I’m just not up to climbing Mt. Everest that morning because I woke up cranky and particularly bloated, I don’t have to. I can walk as much as I want without having to worry about walking an equal distance home and that means that I will no longer be stranded two miles from my house and be forced to dig around my bra for my cell phone so that I can call Nate to come and get me, only to hear him say “Can you wait until half-time? And pick up some bologna while you’re out?”
- My water bottle, TV remote, cordless phone, cell phone and iPod are all within easy reach, compared to walking outside when I have to shove these items down my pants or in my bra because I simply don’t have enough real estate on me to properly store them and those of you who have see my hips, SHUT UP.
- I can interrupt my slow, painful death on the treadmill to hop off anytime I want and go pee or throw up, as the case may be, in the privacy of my own bathroom. I can’t do that while walking around my neighborhood unless I want to get another citation for being a public nuisance and frankly, after the first five, the thrill pretty much wears off.
- In our basement, I can mop up the gallons of sweat rolling down my face with my t-shirt with no fear of flashing anyone my boobs. Last time I did that outside, I scared the high school kid down the street straight into celibacy.
- I can watch reruns of The West Wing which help exercise my ocular muscles by rolling my eyeballs to (1) blink away the perspiration that is burning holes in my retinas; and (2) convey my disbelief at the absurdity with which they walk through a maze of rooms, halls and corridors while holding conversations that make no sense to me whatsoever, all while never once falling down. Rather than allow myself to feel inferior by their obvious coordination and extensive vocabulary, I remind myself that, zigzagging aside, they’re essentially walking on a flat surface and maybe if I wasn’t briskly trotting uphill at a 7.5 degree incline at 3.5 miles per hour swinging three pound weights in each hand at 7:30 am while wearing a sports bra two sizes too small and apparently designed specifically for the sport of sleeping and/or standing in a stationary position, I too would sound smart and not fall down.
- Best of all, there’s no weird old guy walking his dog on the sidewalk opposite me and making me feel like an inferior, wimpy-assed wussypants because at 120 years old, he still manages to walk faster than I and never once do I see him break a sweat, although admittedly, all I see is the back of his head as I choke on his dust.
With regard to preparing my muscles, I make no distinction between exercising outside or within the confines of our basement. Either way, I baby them. They’re stretched and loosened up beforehand, pampered afterward with a thirty minute soak in a steaming hot shower, kneaded and massaged before and after and sometimes even during, and they get a steady diet of heating pads and narcotics and, if they’ve done a particularly good job, a cookie or ten. Above all else, they get the satisfaction of knowing they’re contributing to the well being of their host without whom, they’d simply be a big puddle of goop.
So why the hell do they continue to piss, moan and complain whenever I ask them to repeat the same actions they’ve done countless times before? Why do they act as if I’m asking them to do unspeakable acts for the first time, like some prissy little prima donna virgins? Why are they all “OW OW OW OW OW” and “Oh my God, get off me!” and “You’re going to do what with my what?” and “I’m hemorrhaging!”
And why do they simply up and die whenever they feel like it? As in, OH YEAH? WELL, SCREW YOU, YOU INSENSITIVE MORONIC ASSHAT. WE’RE OUTTA HERE. It’s not so bad when this happens outside because more than likely, someone will see me lying in a convulsing heap of charley horses on the sidewalk and call 911 or a marine biologist if I’m looking particularly whale-ish that day. But down in the basement? Where no ever ventures unless they need Christmas decorations or to find the source of a smell?
I’m S.O.L. and thus, have no choice but to go through the five stages of grief:
Denial: Oh my dear God, what the hell are you doing? Are you serious? Here, have some Icy Hot. No? Ooooh, looky looky! Vicodin! Yummmmmy! Get up, c’mon! You guys did not just fail me. No, you did not. No way. Not happening. Nope. I’m not listening. Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na.
Anger: For shit’s sake, what the hell? I’ve done everything for you! EVERYTHING, you ungrateful pieces of dung. Fine. Stay fat and lazy and covered with cellulite. Who cares? Not me. You like being mistaken for a beluga whales and dragged off to the zoo every summer? Fine. FINE. Don’t come crying to me when you get sick of eating octopus. I hope you choke on it. And don’t even think about asking me to drag your asses back home because hey, thanks to all of you, I have no muscles. Just call me Gumby. Happy now? Bite me.
Bargaining: If you let me walk upstairs and get a cookie, I’ll never exercise again.
Depression: No one will even come to find me until they run out of underwear. I miss cookies. Wish I’d have known my last one was really my last one. I would have enjoyed it more. Too late now. Not that it matters since I can’t feed myself anyway. Atrophy sucks.
Acceptance: At least I don’t have to cook.