Belly Power


Jim C. Hines put up a post about his exercise program and his diabetes today. It was interesting reading and reminded me of the work I’m supposed to be doing on my health.

Unlike Jim, I don’t have diabetes. Also unlike Jim, I’m very much overweight and my cardio health is crap. I hate that I have to worry about the health of my heart, and some months ago I’d decided that I would skip the whole “heart attack” part and get right to the post-cardiac arrest lifestyle.

But that hasn’t happened. The food I eat isn’t really the problem. I eat a lot of vegetables and fruit. My portions could be smaller, but I’m making progress on that. (As the TV show FOOD DETECTIVES points out, smaller dinner plates have a powerful effect). And I’m not really what you’d call a snacker.

It’s the exercise portion of my life that isn’t coming together. I get up at 5 am to write (if I can–actually, I drag my ass out of bed as early as possible, but the alarm is set for five), go to the day job at 8, go home at 5, finish dinner at 6:30/7, take a little family time, and then… what? By that time I’m ready to pass the hell out, but that can’t happen. There are dishes to wash, emails to answer, and a kid to put to bed.

There’s also clutter. My wife and I have lived in the same apartment for the last 15 years. The amount of stuff we have is just boggling. The bulk of it is her canvases; she’s a painter and we’re not about to throw out or paint over her old work. Add a kid in there with all his toys, and a writer with his (pared down selection of) books, and you have no room for an exercise machine.

And a machine is what I want, mainly because of pain. I was born with twisted legs–my feet were pointing toward each other–and I spent the first 18 months of my life in a big ol’ brace that forced them to grow straight(ish). (Seeing my son born with healthy, properly-formed legs was an unspeakable relief, as I’m sure you can imagine.) As a result, they’ve always given me trouble. Add on a few decades, the little injuries that come with playing pickup sports and many too many pounds, and you get pain on a regular basis. That’s why it’s better for me to use a machine in a single location–if the pain comes on suddenly, I’m at a place where I can stop immediately. No need to walk half a mile to get home.

And I have a rowing machine. I like it (as much as anyone can enjoy yard sale exercise equipment) because it’s easy on my legs. Unfortunately, there’s pretty much no space for it in my apartment or in my daily schedule.

So I have all these restrictions–physical, temporal and spatial–getting in the way of better health, not to mention that I generally find exercise boring as all hell. I realize this is a bit of whinging here, and that nothing is going to happen until I make it happen. In fact, the only thing I can do is force a positive change, but I can’t really see how that would work.

And in the meantime, I eat terrific salads and bring fruit from my breaks at work.