Don't be fooled by the title of this blog. I don't discuss herbs very much here. This blog is general-purpose, although I do like ranting about politics and religion.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Happy Birthday to Me

Well, I had a birthday today, and man did that hurt. Not really.

What is there to say about getting older? I mean, this happens every day anyway, not just when one takes the time to mark a specific milestone. I had actually thought that, absent the onset of a given sickness, that getting older just involved a general decline in all faculties until the engine of life just shut down. An older acquaintance of mine, a good and noble man named Dan Devoe, did just that. He was generally healthy, but spent the last twenty years since I first met him, gradually getting older and slower. Not that he was "in decline," exactly. He just slowed down to a stop. His funeral was last month, and he had over 80 years behind him when he went. Not a lot of suffering, either.

Now, I have always been in generally good health, and even counting the fact that I am a good 100 pounds overweight, feel pretty good. But I had noticed some slowing down. I've always been willing to sit still and be sedentary, but now it seemed positively virtuous to do nothing. And this bothered me. I've actually been putting off doing something about it for a few years (I'm a master of procrastination).

After it became clear that procrastination was doing me no favors, I finally broke down and did something about it. So, off I went and bought a membership in Gold's Gym and started working out. Now, this is positively atypical of me. I've never been athletic. Even after finished Basic Infantry Training in the Army, when I was arguably in the best physical condition of my life, I wasn't really interested in physical fitness, and the sooner we stopped exercising the better.

However, after thirty or forty minutes walking at a good clip on the treadmill, I find myself having to force myself to stop. It feels so good! I couldn't start up at this rate, however. My first day was 10 minutes on a stationary bike, and I was really puffed out afterwards. And the bike was set at the lowest level of resistance. During the next few weeks, I ramped up the time and effort, switching to the treadmill for greater variability, and now, although I am not exactly running, I am doing a very fast walk for up to forty minutes. One day, I worked for thirty minutes and spent the last five minutes actually jogging. This was a bad idea, however, because my calf muscles were really hurting for days after that.

All this physical activity has had interesting effects on my body and mind, all positive, so I shan't complain. I think it might be a way of forestalling inevitable decline, if I am to be so blessed as to simply slow down as I get older, and not come to some painful and catastrophic stop. Even in that event, it turns out that physical exercise is fun. Who would have thought?

I did worry just a teensy bit that I would look peculiar in the gym along with all the athletes and trim-fitters I was sure I would find there, but it turned out that lots of people there have couch-potato pasts, and some of them not as past as others. So, I don't look much out of place at all, after all.


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