It’s not yet November, and the New Year’s resolutions have already begun. Or maybe they’re just now kicking in.
Every Dec. 31 for at least the past five years, I dutifully write down that I’m going to make an effort to “get more fit” or some other euphemism to “get more active,” which is itself just another way of saying “exercise.” (Using catchphrases like that feels like I’m writing a PR campaign to sell myself on something I apparently don’t want to do.)
Yet, here I am toward the end of October, putting myself in the mindset that it’s time to get serious. I’m thinking about running shoes that haven’t trod asphalt since my youngest was pre-ambulatory. I’m thinking about a gym-bag zipper that sticks from lack of use. I’m thinking of where in my office I can change into shorts.
Oddly enough, I’m not thinking about fitting into those exercise togs sitting patiently and unused because they’re the ones I always wear when I get soft in the middle, so they should probably fit. I don’t particularly care that they probably look very 1990s, especially when I remember how Bill Clinton looked in running gear that seemed too short for his body type and how he seemed unfazed by the murmurs from those concerned with how those optics played.
I don’t even think “optics” had the connotations it has today back then, that’s how old my running shorts are. I can only hope that the fabric is still sturdy and won’t split, say, while I’m shuffling along Kanawha Boulevard or some other highly public place. Same for the shoes; I’m hoping that the adhesives haven’t dried out and the rubber won’t decompose before I’ve worn out the tread.
I am, however, looking into something called “compression shorts,” since I prefer to believe that the elastics in my support garments have worn out — and not that my girth caused them to snap.
My thoughts lately haven’t so much drifted toward fitness as been hemmed in and corralled. Both at home and at work, the physical activity of my family and friends has become such that my Catholic guilt is telling me I’d better get with the program, and move it or lose it.
After giving soccer a go, my son has moved on to the local youth track club and seems to have hit his stride with the Capital City Striders. While my daughter occasionally joins him, her activity is of an artistic bent, as she pursues a passion in dance.
I can’t even escape from this at work, as my department is promoting wellness — and darned if my colleagues aren’t taking advantage of the opportunity to exercise three days a week. One of my officemates already runs regularly, my other has started bicycling and swimming, and my supervisor in Philadelphia is combining all three to prepare for his first triathlon. (He gets double guilt points because it’s part of a more than yearlong effort to increase his fitness, having lost about 50 pounds since late last year. Dude’s sucking up all my excuses to not do this.)
Thing is, it’s not about needing to lose weight. My doc says what I’m carrying is about right for my age and build. My cardiologist, on the other hand — yeah, heredity has led me there — says I need to get my heart rate up regularly. But I didn’t really need him to tell me that.
As a guy who arrived at fatherhood late, I’m now transitioning into late-middle age as my kids are transitioning from the short, energetic bursts of toddlerhood into the long-run of adolescence. I need to get my wind back so I’ll be able to make that run with them well into adulthood. I need to maintain my bone mass, so I won’t be so fragile when I reach my retirement years.
Thank the Lord, I’ve managed to stay pretty healthy even while neglecting my body. Thank my wife, also, for keeping the family eating smart and, OK, nagging me to get moving.
That said, I’m still going to sneak in the occasional cheeseburger, and I’m not going to refuse an office donut or two. But I will work to ensure that my output balances my intake. For my family’s sake, and probably my own, I’ll resolve to make good on this resolution.