But I held on, set the pace and took off.
I have joined a gym and took that first ventured step on a treadmill — something I don't think I've ever done with any regularity before. The forced walking, the undeterred pace of the thing, was a bit different. I had no choice but to step along, pacing more out of fear of appearing on some Stupid, Funny Video show than losing weight.
A couple of years ago, I swept the Doritos off my prone self, struggled up from the couch and began walking around a city park with a friend to lose weight. I had gotten so fat that I beeped whenever I backed up. Whenever I got on a scale, it'd holler out, “Hey, one person at a time.” My doctor began suggesting diets. One, I think, since I was in pretty bad shape, was to eat a stick in the morning, lick an apple for lunch and drink a glass of air for dinner.
Part of all that came with the depression of losing my wife in 2006. I kind of gave up and did that destructive thing survivors often do. I ate junk food and sat in a chair all day, rolling games in whatever APBA baseball replay I was doing. The most exercise I was getting then involved hiking to the refrigerator for another Pepsi. It's easy for people to suggest healthier diets and exercise, but there's so much more needed to break that cycle. I finally realized that and thought if I didn't do something, I'd turn into one of those people you see leaving his house only after paramedics remove a wall.
So my friend and I hit the park and I lost about 100 pounds in two years. I wrote about all that here back in August 2013.
But, much as the crack addict returns to the pipe, I returned last winter to the potato chip aisle and the ice cream aisle and the candy aisle. I was, alas, stranded on Fat Ass Isle. I gained quite a bit weight. Christmas and Thanksgiving? Why, thank you, I think I will have another slab o' pie
It got out of hand. No, really it did. Whatever was in my hand got out of it and into my mouth. Offer me a burger and pie and I looked like an industrial wood chipper.
Two weeks ago, when I neared my birthday, I joined a local gym that had all the equipment necessary to turn flab to ab, girth to worth, chunk to hunk and all that. The same friend who trudged weekly with me on the trail the past two years had already become a member and she extolled the virtues of walking and exercising indoors and at night.
So I went.
I put an old pair of sweat pants on and a tee shirt and, looking like some dorky extra in Olivia Newton John's circa 1980s “Let's Get Physical” video, I stepped on the treadmill and cranked it up to 3.7 miles per hour since I had no concept of speed. I might should have considered starting off slower. Me at that speed was like driving a Volkswagen minibus 95 mph at Daytona International Speedway.
I flailed and stumbled and staggered. I tried to get a drink from a bottle of water and promptly missed my mouth and poured it on my face and the tread below. Meanwhile, some fit asshat on the machine next to me jogged rapidly in place without sweating and without mussing his hair. I was wondering if I was bleeding from several orifices; he was trotting along oblivious to my demise.
But I stayed on the treadmill and, after losing feeling in my lower extremities, I looked at the odometer on the machine and saw I hit 3 miles. Nary a long stretch for most, but for me it was akin to a journey of 1,000 miles.
Later, I got on a stationary bicycle and peddled away. The bike has a little stand on it to allow for reading. I paged through my Sports Illustrated as I churned about 5 miles.
After two weeks, it's getting better. Last night, we tried a stair machine. It felt like my kneecap was going to shoot off and ricochet through the gym so I quit. But I rode 7 miles on the bike. I go three times a week now.
Each journey begins, like they always say, with a single step. My first step was a bit stumbled, but I kept at it.