Sunday, January 17, 2010


A 64 year-old woman can't stop moving; otherwise, the consequences are dire. This was only too obvious yesterday when my husband and I took our first hike in Berkeley's Tilden Park. Now I knew I was out of shape. For a variety of reasons too typical to mention, I'd stopped any semblance of regular exercise for almost a year. Sure, I went to yoga two times a week, but yoga ain't aerobic no matter how many head stands one does. (And, no, I don't do headstands.) My feeble attempts at getting back to dance class petered out when I got sick in the fall. By the time I was feeling better, my excuse was that I'd have plenty of time to pick up the ball once I got to California. (The same excuse, by the way, that I used when I didn't lose the extra 6 or 7 pounds I'd gained after my parents died and I went back to work full time. As soon as you get to California, you'll be able to control your own kitchen and won't be tempted by the constant flow of office goodies and restaurant lunches. Easier said than done.)

Well, the buck stops here. Having to stop several times during yesterday's hike was pathetic. (And who in the hell designed the hike so that the return would be all uphill?) Standing outside of myself, looking at me slumping with hands on hips, practically hyperventilating, made me feel like one of the contestants on "The Biggest Loser." I pictured all those overweight men and women huffing and puffing, sweating gallons, moaning and groaning. Stuck in my mind's eye was the image of one of last season's contestants collapsed on the beach after a mile walk and then being carted off in a medical helicopter.
"I have to stop," I yelled to my husband who was ahead of me, practically out of view.
"Keep walking," he said with not a bit of empathy. I hated him. Couldn't he see that I was struggling?
"I'm really out of shape," I managed to spit out.
"Do you want me to wait for you?" he said.
"Yes," I said, feeling like a scared, little girl.
I fought the overriding urge to collapse on the grass. Instead, I focused on my breath, doing my best to inhale slowly, then exhale to the same count. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale.
Frustrated but not down for the count, I started walking uphill once again.
"You were a bit harsh," I said to my husband. "I told you I was really out of shape."
"I'm going to be your coach . . . just like on the 'Biggest Loser.'"
Some switch. For years Alan had begged me to stretch him, to show him how to do various exercises. And now he was going to be my coach? No thanks.
"You know you watch that show just to make yourself feel better," he said.
I wanted to kill him. "I watch that show on occasion because I'm amazed at what they can accomplish."
"It's the worst kind of reality show," he said. "Looking at terribly obese people in their bicycle shorts and halter tops. Disgusting."
I was too tired to argue. I needed to finish the hike and sit down. But I wouldn't let this one slide.

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