Journal entry: February 18, 2009 (age 39) – Age 40
Wow. I am really out of shape. Or, as the current saying goes, I am in shape – the shape of a circle.
Eye problems, a lack of coordination, and a passionate disinterest in sports prevented me from developing a healthy childhood perspective on exercise. I also blame the misguided nutrition advice of public service announcements on the Saturday morning television of my youth. Was I wrong to heed the nutrition experts who earnestly pleaded with me and my peers to complement our sedentary hours in front of the TV with copious servings of cheese? Nay, I was not born, but conditioned to have “A hanker for a hunk-a, a slab or slice or chunk-a, a hanker for a hunk-a cheese.”
The spring seasons I spent running long distance for my high school track team were the only times I was in truly excellent shape. (I suppose my shape then was more like an uncooked lasagna noodle.) Luckily, as a child and young man, I was blessed with the metabolism of a hummingbird on methamphetamines. My rail-thin frame was usually surrounded by Raspberry Zinger wrappers and Styrofoam containers violently bereft of their Big Macs.
Then I hit 30. Over the last 10 years, my calorie-burning rate has slowed, roughly matching the sales decline of Windows 98. Folk wisdom argues that it was my marriage 10 years ago that led to this endomorphic progression. But I don’t think Amanda can be held responsible for my lifestyle’s vicious circle of inertia and fully loaded nacho platters. The consequences of my lack of exercise (and my abundance of diet) accrued gradually, until my house became a dumping ground for Domino’s boxes, Lipitor prescriptions, and “comfort-fit” jeans. Sloth has now spent 485 weeks at Number One in my personal Top Seven List of Deadly Sins. Meanwhile, Envy is jealous of Gluttony’s equally strong hold on the Number Two slot.
Like most people, I huff and puff after climbing a few flights of stairs. (Like most people, I also frequently rationalize my behavior with the handy phrase “like most people.”) More dramatic evidence of my out-of-shape-itude was required to clear the encroaching, carb-induced haze. It happened recently (well, OK, it was four years ago), when I found myself huffing and puffing while…sitting. I was so engrossed in a very special episode of Joan of Arcadia that it took me a moment to identify the activity that had triggered this struggle for air. I had just tied my shoes. Now I was really out of breath – almost hyperventilating – at the thought that I had overexerted myself by TYING MY SHOES. That’s when I got in the habit of having a phone with 911 on speed dial nearby when I cut my toenails. (“Medic-Alert, I’ve clipped this little piggy, and I can’t get up!”)
I think it’s time for a change. I think it’s time for change that I can believe in. I think I am the change that I have been waiting for. I think it’s time to get in shape. Or I may just follow President Obama’s weight-control plan, and start a rigorous regimen of chain-smoking and bad bowling.