Taking this health thing seriously

Nov. 08, 2013 @ 07:42 PM

I’m trying to lose at least a turkey by Thanksgiving.

My wife, in the hopes of improving our prospects for long and healthier lives, declared a challenge for the month of November.

This seems to be the month for challenges, as I’ve struggled during the first week of National Novel Writing Month to squeeze in time to write more than 3,000 words of the 50,000-word effort.

I’m not giving up yet, though.

Instead, I’m just making room in my life for another challenge.

We’re amping up our physical fitness and throttling back our diet. I’m committed to making much better use of my Downtown YMCA membership, 45 minutes to an hour every day I can go. We’re ditching bread. We’re drinking water instead of diet soft drinks (a wagon I sometimes fall off). We’re eating salads and cooking dishes with more vegetables.

Honestly, it couldn’t come at a better time. Last weekend, I walked my dog along Sprunt Street in the early morning cold. He limped, fur patchy due to a bad grooming job from which it has yet to recover and I coughed occasionally into my fist. It felt like, together, we were the fuzziest old man on the block.

We could all use more exercise and treat our bodies better.

I’m not sure I took the challenge seriously enough, that first day back. I didn’t break a sweat as I walked the YMCA track that circles the second floor above the basketball courts. I listened to China Mieville’s “The City & The City” novel on my iPhone and pondered plot developments in my NaNoWriMo novel.

A woman stopped every few feet in the walking lane to drop into elaborate yoga stretches. She reminded me of the Ministry of Silly Walks sketch from Monty Python, but it seemed like a real calorie-burning method. Show off!

Another woman, with the wingspan of an albatross, did a slow-motion cross between Pee-Wee Herman’s “Big Shoe” dance and the Christ the Redeemer statue that looms over Rio de Janeiro.

And then this guy loped past me like an Olympic sprinter. Old guy. (Maybe even older than my boss. Maybe.) His hair was as white as the stripes marking the lanes on the track floor.

I caught him looking back over his shoulder at me and my leisurely pace, as if to say: “You call THAT a workout?”

So, I started running. First, one lap before briskly walking. Then two good laps, downshifting to a walk. Then I alternated between laps of running and walking.

No fancy dance moves or yoga stretches added to the mix yet. Maybe I’ll break into The Robot from time to time.

But I definitely broke a sweat. And I enjoyed it.

I doubt I’ll ever get back to the condition I had when I ran cross country as a kid. But I have to believe I can finally match the impressive pace of my elders.

Wes Platt can be reached at wplatt@heraldsun.com or 919-419-6684. Follow on Twitter at @HS_WesPlatt. Connect on Facebook at facebook.com/wesplattheraldsun.