Getting serious about fitness… this time

Animated cartoon on a exercise bike,

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Whatever you do, don't tell my Mom. She'll have an apoplexy. I've just purchased a gym membership. For the two of us, of course. There's no way I'd be going to the gym alone, and a big part of the reason why I'm there is moral support for C, as well. So far, it's not doing too badly. We've been there three days in a row. This is the biggest commitment to fitness I've made in my entire life.

The two of us have known each other for quite a while now, and seen each other in quite a selection of states of fitness. I grimace when I think of the first photograph C ever saw of me. I was packing on the pounds quite ridiculously back then, with a kisser that was more reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock than anyone else. I managed, not through design, but through the sheer stress of living, to shed a little bit here and there. By the time C and I met, I was one pants size down from that; by the time I moved out to California, well, better make that two. A few months of sustenance living on bachelor chow while going through stressful situations will do that to you. Gleefully, I can remember not even bothering to pack my fat pants. I'd never need those again.

And then, well, California… joys such as that raspberry pudding at Phil's Fish Market that made our eyes roll into the back of our head, the fruits I'd never even heard of, let alone eaten (a pluot? What on earth is a pluot?), the wonderfully sweet produce that's all around us in this valley, and of course, that Central Coast region specialty, the tri-tip. I bragged at one point that I'd never had a poor meal all the time I'd been here. I think that still holds true. But all of this comes with a price. Those two sizes smaller pants that I delighted in getting myself in? Well, I can't get in them any more; the next size up is hardly comfortable, either. By rights I ought to be back in the fat pants size; and, once upon a time, I would have simply gone out and bought me some more that fit. Not this time. This time, we've got the mutual support system to get it right. It's in both of our best interests to make sure each other stays as healthy as possible.

We've done a couple of pair excursions on the stationary bikes before now; odd days, here and there, where our schedules permitted it. I remember, several months ago, promising to deliver the motivation for us to get each other going; to get each other exercising; to look after those recurring issues we each have with our knees, to provide strength as a partnership – to be a team. You know exactly where good intentions always end up leading. We did have plenty of fun; ironically, one of the big draws for these outings was the wonderful fish restaurant on our way home, and – yes! – I did finally experience the euphoria, the adrenalin rush of the aftermath of exercising, when I bit into a Subway tuna sandwich after exercising and discovered it was quite simply ambrosia, the nectar of the gods. We both felt better for it; we knew it, and we both knew we needed to keep it up, regularly continue to pursue it. There's a stationary bike in the family room; we can't of course both ride it at the same time, though, and that eliminates that competitiveness component that's possibly a huge amount of what pushes us both. You can't let me pedal further than you, because, well, you've been doing this exercising lark a lot longer than I have. And I can't let you pedal further than me, because, well, you're a girl.

So here we are, we've been to the gym three days a row, and hit those stationary bikes with the recumbent chairs. Thankfully. Those hard saddles on the uprights were the most uncomfortable things I'd ever felt, and they weren't a great motivator. The first day, the bike seemed too easy for me, so I pushed that level selector up. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. OK, now I'm feeling some resistance. No trouble, no difficulty, no sweat… of course, by that time I'd barely been going for sixty seconds. Twenty-five minutes or so later, it was quite a different matter, it was absolutely pouring out of me. The heart rate indicator was showing 151. The little picture on the side of the machine that shows where your heart rate should be puts 151 pretty much at the upper limit for cardio. Slow down, slow down. I wondered whether I'd make it to the end of the course; one more skyscraper-like peak of hard work appears on the screen showing the random course we'd selected, and then, after that… oh give thanks! The last couple of minutes are relatively flat and low-impact. I think I can do this, I know I can do this. Total distance covered – 10.80 miles? How did you do, darling?

Day Two wasn't as easy. I picked up where we left off, on Level Nine, and got myself quickly to that upper limit on the heart rate graph. I saw the way you were looking at me, this couldn't be good. Perhaps you should turn it down a notch. I turned it down to level 8, and my heart rate settled down again, just where it should be. There's no sense in over-exerting it; it's pretty obvious this thing is doing you some good, just feel all this stuff pouring out of you. I want to go a bit further today, let's make it 11 miles. Let's absorb all the numbers on this display in front of me into my mathematical brain, keep constantly recalculating how much harder I'm going to have to work to manage that, push it some more, push it some more. The flat bit of the course is in front of us, OK, I'm going to push it for this last two minutes, 10.78, 10.79, 10.80 miles again? You too?

Day Three. We said we weren't necessarily going to push it, but, you know what? I feel up to it this morning, let's go ahead and do it one more time. No, I don't think walking to the gym is a good idea today; let's drive it. I'm going to do it again, pick up where I left off, and push it, push it, push it, it can't possibly be that much extra effort to make eleven miles, I must be able to do it, I must be getting better at this.

10.80 miles again? You're kidding me.

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About darlingman1970

Born in the UK and a graduate in mathematics from Cambridge University, Chris Nash has followed a career in software engineering which he continued after moving the United States in 1996 and now brings him to California in 2010. However, Chris does not want to be considered as merely a code monkey, and has always been interested in writing; in areas as diverse as factual technical manuals all the way through to fiction. An avid reader, Chris is a fan particularly of mystery novels and enjoys above all the works of Agatha Christie and David Hewson. Chris has recently gone through some significant life changes which, at the moment, he is considering as the basis for a forthcoming novel and as food for thought on his blog. He manages to couple his loves of writing and technology and is particularly interested in how internet innovations have an impact on the writing and promotional process. Chris is a firm supporter of Creative Commons and other 'open' initiatives and believes strongly that such distribution mechanisms are the "right" way to handle intellectual property in an evolving digital world. Chris is a keen Nintendo DS and Wii player in his spare time, and is currently happily attached, living in the Central Coast area of California. Find him on Twitter as @darlingman1970. Don't ask him how old he is.
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