“With every job that must be done there is an element of fun. And when you find that fun….SNAP! The job’s a game!” - Mary Poppins
The sense of work is that it is something that causes both physical and mental hardship. It is not the first thing you want to do every single day upon waking up at six o’clock in the morning. Most children will treat responsibility like a plague and some have faked sickness or prayed to the heavens for a snow day to get out of performing an unwanted task. One of the things that seems to take the most work as an adult is staying in shape especially when our bodies stop growing and the only thing that continuously expands is our stomach and other parts of the body that react to that one extra donut a week! It is just not fair and never seems to take much!
It is not necessary to be thin or in perfect shape. Just healthy! Healthy to the point where we are not at risk for diabetes, heart disease, or the ravages of sleep apnea. There are so many wonderful aspects of being an adult in the sense that we have freedom to make our own decisions with some guidance from those around us. As for me, it is difficult to compete with a massive Market 32 supermarket literally right next door to my apartment complex. For someone struggling with weight issues, it is the equivalent of having a massive videogame emporium across the street from a thirteen-year-old boy obsessed with the virtual world of Super Mario! Just to avoid sounding like a hypocrite, I do not always practice what I preach and sometimes find myself purchasing a Carvel ice cream cake in the frozen section that says “Happy Birthday” even though April 2nd may be six whole months away! But at age 35 I know that even strenuous exercise will not erase the consequence of eating an entire Carvel ice cream cake in three days unless it is something extreme such as hiking the entire Appalachian Trail for seven months as was the case in 2005. Someone once told me that it is possible to exercise all the way to the moon and even though it helps, it is more important to watch everything that one eats all day. (This is the part where you are probably wondering, “Is this story going anywhere?” And yes it is!)
If I were a personal trainer then the first thing I would ask any client is, “What kinds of things do you like that do not involve food? What do you enjoy doing for fun?” We would talk about all of their exciting pastimes for a solid hour before even touching the subject of exercise. Thanks to the magic of YouTube, it is possible to use the fitness center Wi-Fi to watch endless clips of Pee Wee’s Playhouse or whatever floats your respective boat. “Jeez Louise! Stop saying the ‘e word.’ It is not called, ‘exercise.’ It is called, ‘watching YouTube videos of nostalgia from the Disney Channel from the early 1990s.’” There is also playing Blackjack on my phone and not crying too much about losing fake money as opposed to the real money if I were silly enough to regularly visit the River Casino in Schenectady to burn my hard-earned money. There is also reading, and I should make more of an effort to commit to books. On the other hand, watching YouTube videos is more of a motivator to exercise so I will stick with whatever seems to be working at the moment.
One of my more bizarre exercise regimens is walking to my favorite restaurant on Wolf Road. One time I drove the distance and clocked the mileage. It turns out that it is a 12-mile round trip! It helps to think about my grueling time on the Appalachian Trail and how a 12-mile round trip journey in Albany on flat terrain would have seemed like a vacation during those seven months. I also think about individuals who are paralyzed and how many of them would be saying to me, “What in the world is wrong with you? I wish my biggest problem would be pushing myself to walk for hours in the State Capitol!” The journey is also fun because I listen to the radio on my old school CD player with an unpredictable amount of songs that usually appeal to my tastes. There are also CDs with books on tape, which makes me feel a little better about not reading as much as I used to and the words being pumped in my consciousness takes away from the loneliness of the journey. On another note, the restaurant is always a fun place to visit, and I have the attitude that it is an entitled reward to all of that hard work. Sometimes I find myself drowning in bitterness and wonder why all of my accomplishments and social progress has not been enough to justify being a substitute teacher in the public school system? One usually wants what they cannot have, after all. The purpose of this monologue is not to be negative but as a reminder that we should put much of our time and energy into activities that will carry a reward. The human body will react positively to healthy food and one’s efforts to exercise. In real life, working hard and having a good attitude makes a difference, but one is not always guaranteed a victory especially when they are at the free will of others who have the power to accept or reject. And the restaurant will always be there at the very end of what seems like an endless tunnel!