Walk It Off
It started with nibbling leftover Halloween candy — my two months of over-indulgence. Almond-cranberry stuffing, artichoke dip and a two-pound box of See’s candy (nuts and chews) combined forces to put me where I am today — toting those infamous seven pounds that many of us are supposed to gain during the holiday season.
I can’t say I didn’t enjoy myself during the eight weeks of tasting the fruits of the holidays – or at least the fruit-flavors of the holidays. Even though I wasn’t curling up with a bowl of strawberries or a plate of celery, I did learn a few things. For example, did you know that there are 1,050 fat-free calories in a 9.5-oz box of Hot Tamales? Me neither. I found out the hard way when my usually forgiving relax-fit jeans refused to zip up and the numbers on my digital scale boldly climbed to where they’ve never gone before.
The good news is that my heavy-weight predicament is temporary. I can alter the stretch of my waistline by going back to my tried-and-true weight-maintenance techniques. That and I’d have to knock off eating snickerdoodles for breakfast. All it will take is trading that slice of French apple pie for an apple, skipping the late-night hot toddy and getting back to my two-mile walking routine. No problem. My brain understands. I just have to convince the rest of my body.
I dig out my sneakers from the back of the closet. They are hiding under a pair of fuzzy reindeer slippers and my rhinestone-studded black satin heels. With a couple swipes of a dust cloth, they’re ready to go.
I grab my iPod, a house key, my cell phone and head for the door. Earbud in each ear, I take a deep breath and set out on a familiar loop around my neighborhood — past the 7-Eleven, through the jogging trail, around the middle school and back up the hill toward home.
Within a few steps, my pace slips easily into sync with Chaka Kahn singing “I’m Every Woman.” Her voice gives me a mantra of encouragement. I lengthen my stride. McFadden and Whitehead are next on my playlist booming “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now.” With every step I can feel the calories burn. Ah, there goes that extra helping green bean casserole. Aretha belts out some R-E-S-P-E-C-T. I nod to another walker headed in the opposite direction. Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild,” Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten,” and Chic’s “Good Times” energize my trek. For a moment I consider breaking into a jog. I can feel the healthy benefits of this cardiovascular workout. My heart rate is skyrocketing! The pounds are melting off. All those tips I learned from walking guru Leslie Sansone are paying off.
I keep the pace up for another song or two and then reality sets in. I’m taking deeper breaths. My calf muscles are screaming. My sneakers feel tight. My mouth is dry and my thighs are burning. Why didn’t I push myself away from the table before seconds were served? I curse the sweet treats I ate over the holidays. Denise’s baklava, Sue’s Butterballs and Sadye’s pistachio nutroll aren’t worth the roll they’ve added to my waist.
My vision of fitting into my skinny jeans fades. I daydream of retreating to my couch potato state. What was I thinking? I haven’t exercised since TV’s fall season premier week. My legs start to betray me. Annoyed with my shoddy fitness level, I switch my playlist to slower songs — Fontella Bass’s “Rescue Me” and “Born to Lose” by Ray Charles. My gait slows to a canter and then a stroll. As I meander past house after house longing to be home, I notice my heart rate bottom out. The powerful, energizing PUMP-PUMP-PUMP I felt pounding in my chest is reduced to a scant thump-thump-thump. I text my son, Seth, to see if he’ll pick me up. But before I push send, I re-think idea. I’ll never hear the end of having to be driven home when I was less than five blocks away—even if they’re all uphill.
Louis Armstrong’s “Wonderful World” slowly spurs me on. I find new inspiration. I smile at seeing the street sign signaling that my block is just moments away. I switch my player to hear Gloria Gaynor proclaim “I Will Survive” and make the final turn toward my cul-de-sac. Persistence pays off. I’ve won the battle. Just two more minutes and I can sit on our brick wall in my front yard and catch my breath.
Later, after slurping down a glass of cold water, I realize that the walk wasn’t so bad after all. Being outside in the sunshine, breathing fresh air and enjoying nature was just what I needed. A few more outings like this and I’ll be back in shape in plenty time to feast on Valentine’s Day chocolates.