Sunday, October 09, 2016

walking on the wild side

While Barco is in the dog hospital, I am taking advantage of the new freedom.

For a couple of weeks now I have discussed trying to lose some weight. I even re-cycled one of my most effective weight loss programs from the 1980s.

But all of that sat there in The Good Idea pile. You probably have one. Some people call them bucket lists. Write a symphony. Cure cancer. Repair the wobble in the Earth's rotation. Nice things that we never get around to doing.

Four days ago, I decided to take the plunge. The first step was many steps. I started my morning four-mile walks again. It is true that I spend almost four hours a day walking Barco. But the ground we covered would not even have been a healthy dividend in Liechtenstein.

So, I start every morning with a brisk four-mile walk, just as my friend Leo, who visited here last year, suggested. It sounds like a long distance, but once I get going, it is a simple task. About an hour out of my day.

Well, it should be an hour. The pace I could maintain at the end of last year let me walk a mile in 15 minutes or less. 4 miles an hour.

I have not been quite that swift this year. Instead, my pace has hovered around 7 minutes per mile. About a 20% slow down.

There are reasons. It has been a year since I have done the daily walk. (Walks with Barco simply do not count.) As a result, I have been suffering from aching leg muscles -- what the exercise freaks call delayed onset muscle soreness, with its own acronym: DOMS.

And, of course, I am a year older. The body simply does not snap to attention as it once did.

Because I know exercise alone will not suffice, I have also cut back on the second half of the weight reduction formula: calory intake. I have learned enough with my intimate contact with Weight Watchers and the Rotation Diet that a variety of foods need to be on my plate, but the portions must be smaller. That I have done.

Now, when I get a bit peckish in the evening, I head off for a 3-mile walk in the dark. Between the two major daily walks and my incidental walking, I am logging over 18,000 steps a day. In distance, that was over 9 miles yesterday.

Our village is filled with personalities. One of the most noticeable was a northern woman, dressed in a black leather walking outfit that resembled a bikini, who I would often see on the highway. She was always walking. At quite a good clip.

I wondered about her story. In a small town like this, there are always rumors. Few of them complimentary. People are basically mean about such things.

One day, I saw her in a restaurant ordering food (to go, of course). I struck up a conversation with her.

Her name was Julie. (It is funny how eccentricities seem to disappear once a name is applied to a person.) She told me she walked because she was deathly afraid of the negative health effects of being overweight. (I could tell she thought I regularly sat on a couch eating pork rinds with Marlon Brando.)

Even though she seemed to have almost 0% fat on her well-tanned frame, she felt the need to keep on moving. Maybe it was more than a need; it was an obsession.

I doubt I will ever turn into a Julie. Lots of obsessions lurk just beneath the surface of my personality, but exercise is not going to be one of them. I know myself too well.

What my walking regime has done, though, is strip off 4 pounds in 4 days. It is not much, but I am headed in the correct direction. And I am actually enjoying starting my day with that walk.

When Barco returns, we will need to negotiate a new walking schedule. The early morning and late evening will be solely mine. Because of his bloat condition, there are big changes coming for him with his feeding and walking times.

Professor Jiggs, Barco's golden retriever predecessor, was a big dog. I told him I was going to buy a dog cart for him. He thought it was a good idea. I should have known he thought I was going to pull him around in it.

Barco may be the beneficiary of Professor Jiggs's error. If I buy a black leather speedo, you will know it is time for an intervention.

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