Friday, October 6, 2000

My Personal Trainer

My body ached. My feet were killing me. Oddly enough I had stopped panting and was almost breathing normally. I was starving and HOME was in sight.

It was my first day of "training" with Peggy as the trainer. I didn’t realize this was her plan. After three days of walking around parks and zoos, watching me huff and puff up the steep hills of the San Diego Zoo (but doing it), she’s decided she’s not going to let me slack off.

It was to be a little "walk the dog" morning. Kimba hadn’t been out in awhile, so we attached her harness and out we went. Peggy was already feeling smug when I stepped on the scale this morning, for the first time in a long time, and discovered that on a week of NOT watching what I ate (including eating junk food) and doing all that walking, I’d lost four pounds! I’m assuming it was four. As I say, the "18 lbs" that has been sitting in the left column has really been a lie. I haven’t weighed myself and I know I’d gained weight before Peggy got here. But I have lost at least four lbs. She’s determined not only to keep it off, but to instill good habits in me that will last beyond her return to Australia in 3 weeks.

So off we went with Kimba, who looked like a sausage with legs as she marched ahead of us. We hadn’t gone too far before Kimba decided this wasn’t as much fun as she anticipated. First she lagged behind, then she limped. Peggy carried her for awhile, but she’s darn heavy for a little dog. We decided to return home. (Good move, Kimba, I thought...I get a reprieve!) Alternately carrying, leading, and dragging the panting Kimba, we returned to the house. But was this the end of our walk? Noooooooooo. Peggy, the taskmaster, wasn’t going to let me off so easily.

I suggested we walk to RoseMarie’s office, forgetting how far it was. Peggy didn’t set any breakneck pace, but managed to keep just two steps ahead of me, whether I walked slowly or whether I walked fast. She was determined I was going to keep up. I have to admit to being right proud of myself when we finally arrived at RoseMarie’s office. I wasn’t even winded.

We sat and chatted for about 15 minutes and then had to make the walk back again. It’s a longer distance than what I used to walk from my old office to home, and we made it in about the same amount of time. I take this as progress.

Exercise has always been "the ‘E’ word" to me. I cannot remember a time in my life when I have been involved with sports of any kind. I did ride a bike as a kid (up and down the hills of San Francisco was no mean feat, lemme tell you!), and for a time I took ice skating lessons, but I was a real klutz (which will come as no surprise to Peggy, I’m sure) and never learned much more than the simple forward movement. There was also a time when I did some roller skating in a rink (I even did secretarial work in a roller rink for a very brief time). I liked swimming, but not appearing in public in a bathing suit. There was never really a sport that I participated in and definitely none that I enjoyed.

In grammar school there was no sport stressed. At recess, I was the one who was usually off in a corner with her nose in a book. I walked a lot, though. It was some 8 city blocks to school, and that included climbing some pretty steep hills. I often went to the public library after school and then walked home carrying the six books I’d read that week. It was exercise, but it wasn’t "EXERCISE." I was uncoordinated when I participated in games with friends and was usually laughed at, so I preferred not to expose myself to ridicule and just bowed out.

In high school, I was extremely active in a lot of activities. In my senior year there is a picture of me on almost every page in the book--from classroom pages to extracurricular pages to theatre pages. The only pages which have no pictures of me are the sports pages. My high school must not have required P.E. for everyone because I can’t really remember taking it. At least not for long.

In college we went on camping trips and I did do a bit of hiking--but it was never for the thrill of hiking; it was more a means to an end--the only way to see the view from atop that hill is to climb to the top of that hill.

UC Berkeley did require that all students take a P.E. course. But I discovered that "social dancing" would meet the requirement and so I learned to samba, rumba, tango and cha cha cha rather than suit up for some sport on a playing field somewhere.

When I went to work, of course, there was no time for exercise and after Walt and I married, I started birthin’ and raisin’ babies, which is exercise enough. There was a very brief period where we tried doing the Royal Air Force exercise program at night. I remember "walking" across the floor of the living room on my butt--then having the downstairs neighbors ask what in the world we did each night that made those weird sounds. That program died a quick death.

So I have grown to senior citizenry without having acquired a love of moving for the sake of moving. My joints now resent any demand made on them. Sitting for longer than 5 minutes causes creaking and pain upon arising. The weight makes the knees protest when climbing stairs. Walking is fine up to a point but sooner or later the ankles cry out "Excuse me? Remember us? I don’t think so!"

I don’t expect that Peggy’s enforced program is going to change my life. But the fact is that it is easier for me to walk today than it was when she first arrived. And I managed to walk for as long as we did today without my lungs burning. I was even able to carry on a conversation, when I was able to catch up with her.

I’m sure this is very frustrating for her, having such a slug to go and do stuff with, but she’s being very patient and just, in her quiet way, very insistent that I am going to get off this lazy butt and get out into the air for a bit.

If it doesn’t kill Kimba and me, I’m sure we’ll both be better for it. We might even continue our morning walks after she leaves. But the jury is still out on that one.

At least all this walking I've been doing in the last 3 weeks is good preparation for following Steve's long stride around Stanford next week. I might even be able to keep up without wondering if I'm going to collapse on the spot, as I did at UC Santa Barbara.

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