Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Weighty Subject

The quest for a less significant self is an annual thing. It’s a traditional resolution. No matter how many, or how noble, no list of resolutions is complete without including weight loss. The old, "I’m going on a diet," resolution used to suffice. The resolution was kept until starvation set in on the 2nd of January, at which point all resolving parties were satisfied they had done their part. Not so anymore. Just resolving to go on a diet isn’t enough. Gone are the days of the simple, “lose a few pounds” routine. Now, it must be coupled with, “and shape up.” This has all come about because of numerous annoying  studies that link exercise with efficient and permanent weight loss.

It makes sense. And to be honest, the only person I have met that exercise didn't help is myself. Last year I started out like gangbusters on an exercise program and actually gained weight. After gaining several pounds I determined what the problem was: replacing all the liquids and salt lost through perspiration by slamming down a few beers and scarfing down a couple bags of chips following each exercise session. 

Community gyms and health clubs are available everywhere. Unfortunately, those places are haunted by folks that don't need the diet or any additional workout. This creates an uncomfortable situation for those of us that need to get into better shape before we would feel comfortable about going someplace to get into better shape. All of us have an inner fear that we might, say for instance, be trudging along vigorously on a treadmill, when the workout junkie next to us breaks into a rousing chorus of the old Jell-O theme song. "Hey! See them jiggle... Hey! Watch them wiggle..."

Are you licensed to run that thing?

It is that fear which has opened the door for the creation of an entire industry: the manufacture and sales of exercise gadgets designed to be used in the privacy of your own home.

There must be twice as many exercise gadgets and doo-dads as there are diets to match them up with for the supreme weight loss program. Every piece of exercise equipment has its drawbacks. 

The old standby, the treadmill, is probably the singularly most common piece of flab fighting machinery. Easily half the homes, and fully 95% of all garage sales in America have at least one  treadmill. They are sort of a rite of passage in the progression through exercise equipment. It wouldn't surprise me to discover that the high-end exercise equipment dealers require a sworn affidavit attesting to the fact that you have done your time on a treadmill before allowing the purchase of their better equipment.

“I’m sorry buddy, but I can’t let you buy this Deluxe Abdominator Pec-Popper unless you've put in at least 500 hours on a  treadmill. Hey, it’s an industry regulation.” 

The major problem with the traditional  treadmills is boredom. Even worse than that, treadmills are a threat to the mental health of the family dog. While down on the treadmill, grinding out your miles, poor Phydeaux is at a loss. The boss is going through all the motions of a cherished pastime, but nothing's happening. This is very disconcerting for a dog.

Since there is little to be done to make walking in place more exciting, treadmills now offer all sorts of interesting frills. You can now purchase treadmills that count the distance, calculate calories burned, provide metabolism ratings, track the time, measure the speed, monitor heart rate, and provide an in-depth astrological evaluation for use in planning your financial portfolio. 

Yeah, sure. Like she needs to lose weight!
In the event you want to work your arms and legs while straining your back at the same time, a rowing machine is the device of choice. Many of the finer models offer the option of an attachable bench so the rowing machine can be turned on end to provide a "complete gym" with bench presses, curls, dead lifts and other weightlifting routines. Unless you’re taller than fifteen inches.

A more recent exercise program involves stepping up on a platform in an aerobic routine. The platform is sold in a package with an instructional video that always stars some vacantly happy bimbo named Bambi, or Trixy, or Bubbles. “Here we go now! Up and step and back and switch and side and step and faster now... Up and step and back and switch and side and step and…” They maintain this cadence as if there is some outside chance that a normal human being could actually keep up. 

Finally, after years of experimentation, I have come up with the perfect exercise program. Three times a week, I take all our various exercise equipment purchased over the years from out of the closets and under the beds, and set it all up. I then take it all down and store it again. This provides a rigorous 45 minute workout, during which my target heart rate is hit and maintained for twenty minutes, and every muscle group in my body is utilized. What more could one want?


  1. You say smart things, o wise one. Those damn treadmills are a pain and BORING! I however did succumb to the mental brainwash that hypnotized me into buying a rowing machine. I ordered it online just before Christmas and when I opened the box, lo and behold, it was in pieces. But not the "some assembly required" type of pieces, but rather the "do you have a glue gun or welder" type of pieces. I think someone is trying to tell me something.

    Happy New Year!

    1. All I can say for absolute certain, is that EVERYONE who exercised in 1897 has since died. Don't know if there's a direct correlation, but it sure looks suspicious. Maybe you bought the "full package" rowing machine. Exercises your mind and body. Happy New Year to you, too!

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