After double-knotting my shoelaces and gulping down a half quart of water, I stepped out into the crisp, cool morning to begin the first of many a.m. walks toward a healthier, happier me.
Now, I’m all for physical exercise and the healthy rewards it brings. A strong heart, better circulation, weight loss and improved stamina are only a few of the benefits to be gained through exercise. However, I didn’t realize how out of shape I was and how long it had been since I had treated my body to a cardiovascular workout.
“Bill, I walk all the time – you will love it,” Peg said as she locked the door and gestured me to walk with her.
I remember a time when I did love it. I participated in high school track and cross-country events, and jogged while serving in the military. I even participated in half marathons and did rather well considering I competed against much younger, stronger athletes. And those were just the 10 year-olds.
However, I had not jogged in years due to damaged cartilage in my knees, and I worried that such movement might add to my injury. My wife convinced me the walk would do me good.
“I promise, you’re going to feel great,” Peg assured me as we ventured down the road. I admit, my knee felt better with each step, and my leg muscles didn’t feel quite so tight.
However, my breathing needed work. I had taken too long an extended hiatus from cardiovascular activity, and now struggled to keep pace with my spouse who never jogged. I knew I was in for the workout of my life.
“How are you doing, honey?” asked Peg as the morning sun gave her copper color hair a saintly glow.
“I’m hanging (puff) in there,” I replied as beads of sweat dotted my forehead.
As we walked, Peg talked about what she found appealing about the homes we passed along the way. I said nothing, but nodded my head and concentrated on my breathing.
“You’re looking better already,” said Peg as she punched my left arm playfully. I smiled as I huffed and puffed.
“Thanks, hon (puff), I’m beginning (puff) to feel (puff) better too,” I replied in between gasps. I looked as if I stepped out of the shower. Sweat trickled down my face and bled through my T-shirt. And the sad part is we had walked only a quarter of a mile.
I concentrated on my breathing, and each gulp of air tasted sweet. However, my wife had more walking experience, and it showed.
As she continued to talk about the churches, schools and homes we encountered along the way, I nodded my head in agreement.
“That’s (puff) great (cough) honey (puff), that’s (cough) nice (snort)” was all I said.
After what seemed like a lifetime, we reached the halfway point of our walk, turned around and headed home. The return would be easier as the path was downhill (literally) from here. My wife had other ideas.
“Let’s cut across here” she said as she grabbed my hand and led me to the bottom of a street with a steep ascent. I wanted to retch.
“You (puff, cough) got (hack, snort) to (puff, cough) be (hack, snort) kidding (puff, cough)” I managed to get out as I shook my head. Peg shook her head, smiled and continued to talk about the area homes.
I looked as if I had been swimming. My hair lay plastered against my head like a wet mop, and I wrung the sweat from my T-shirt. My wife, on the other hand, sported only a few beads of sweat and was breathing normally. And she looked beautiful, too.
I hated her.
I nodded my head and continued walking. Wherever she wanted to go was fine with me as long as our course led me to my front door.
“Great (cough, gasp), whatever (hack, puff) you (snort, wheeze) say,” I replied as I feverishly sucked in oxygen. Thirty-five minutes after it began, our walk was over.
“Now, aren’t you glad you went walking with me?” Peg asked as she patted my back. I nodded in agreement. “In fact, I’ll bet you are eager to go on another walk with me tomorrow, aren’t you?”
I smiled and continued to nod my head. I started to breathe easier again.
“Yes, I am,” I replied. “I’m determined to (cough) get back in shape and will do whatever it takes to (hack) make it happen. There is only one thing (puff) I need you to do for me.”
“Sure, and what’s that, sweetheart?” she asked.
“I need you to (wheeze) talk me out of it,” I said as I collapsed on the couch.
Peg closed her eyes and shook her head. Why would she do that? I wonder if it was something I said.
William J. Dagendesh is editor in chief of CSU-Pueblo TODAY, and to date, has dropped seven pounds. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.