Since Monday, I have been working out. I simply drive over to my church, climb stairs and walk up hills. It’s quite aerobic: the first set of stairs from the lower parking lot to the back garden is 41 steps (yes, that's an actual picture of them), and from parking lot #2 to the church is 21. There’s also a large main paved lot and a killer hill that gets you to the front door. It’s an absolutely great place to go and wear yourself out physically and I’m really surprised, albeit glad, that more people don’t make use of it.
Maybe they do; my exercise time is a mere 15 minutes in the early evening, after leaving work and before arriving home. There might be plenty of people doing the same thing I do in the morning or afternoon.
That’s not to say nobody uses the church parking lot for some kind of...exercise, since yesterday I found a used condom (it was orange) in the “Visitors” area. I ought to be grateful they were considerate enough not to park in a handicapped spot.
Other interesting things I’ve seen so far during my daily Fifteen Minutes of Fitness: a huge red ant carrying something useful or edible away from the Pizza Garden – that sucker had to be at least a quarter inch long. He probably gets a bigger slice than any other ant in the colony. Extra cheese and everything. I also startled a cat my first day; it was huddled under some monkey grass doing who-knows-what. No kittens there, judging from the absence of sound… my own cat was a throwaway at the same church, so stray cats are quite common there. This one double-timed across the parking lot and disregarded my friendly greeting.
There were several factors that pushed me over the line from “thinking about working out someday” to actually doing it. First, we have our annual health screenings coming up at work, in just over a month. If I can get everything into the acceptable ranges, it will reduce my insurance premiums. I’ve been doing everything diet- and medicine-wise to improve things, but exercise is the missing puzzle piece. Occasionally on Sunday I have taken that long staircase to the building and discovered that once I caught my breath, I felt good for the rest of the day. And that awful hill has whipped me and stolen my pride way too many times.
I notice I’ve been sleeping better this week. Hot showers help the sore muscles. There are also some, shall we say, digestive improvements. I predict my weight will start inching down again within the next few days, provided I keep up this routine.
A week or two ago, I had a phone conversation with Faith, a friend from high school. As often happens, Faith and I lost contact after our weddings, which were about a year apart. It’s been over three decades now. Her kids are about the same age as my son. Petty teenage issues have receded into the distant past and we found a lot of common ground in two hours of conversation.
One of the things we both remember is that Faith had weight issues. She tended to dress in layers, and always walked with her eyes toward the ground. I didn’t start packing on the pounds until after giving birth, and it was a gradual process that included gallbladder surgery, diabetes, foot and ankle injuries, arthritis and flat feet. And there have always been excuses for remaining sedentary. Excuses galore.
But Faith described her health and fitness history, and it was similar to mine. Her motivation was her mother-in-law dying of congestive heart failure and diabetes complications while only in her sixties. Faith told me her cholesterol and blood glucose are now back in the normal range, and that the key is sticking with it. This lines up with everything I’ve read about exercise: Do it frequently and no matter how briefly or how lightly, it will begin to show results. So here I go. My goals are to lose at least 25 pounds long-term (and short-term, to show a BMI within the range that will benefit me financially at work) and to get the triglycerides down.
I’m not projecting out any farther than that – better to concentrate on the here and now than on elaborate fantasies.