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Personal Commentary: New Year’s resolution includes walking to a happier, healthier me

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By William J. Dagendesh

wj.dagendesh@colostate-pueblo.edu

After double-knotting my shoelaces and gulping down a quart of water, I stepped out into the brisk, cool air 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. Weight loss, a strong heart, and improved circulation and stamina are only a few of the many benefits that can be earned 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.

Photo courtesy of peoplepoweredmovement.org.

Oh, did I mention my wife, Peggy, tagged along to provide moral support?

“Bill, I walk all the time, you will love it,” Peggy said as she locked the back door and gestured me to walk with her. I stood there for what seemed like an eternity, unsure if I wanted to subject my body to this physical torture.

Actually, there was a time when I loved it. I participated in high school track and cross-country events, and jogged when serving in the Navy. I even participated in half marathons and did well considering I competed against much faster athletes, and those were senior citizens.

However, I had not jogged in years due to damaged cartilage in my knees, and I feared such activity might add to my injury. My wife convinced me the walk would do me good.

“I promise, you’re going to feel great,” Peggy assured me as we ventured down the road. I admit, my knees 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 a hiatus from cardiovascular activity, and now I 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?” Peggy asked.

“I’m hanging (puff) in there,” I replied as beads of sweat dotted my forehead.

As we walked, Peggy talked non-stop about a variety of subjects. I said nothing, but nodded my head and concentrated on my breathing.

“You’re looking better already,” Peggy said as she punched my left arm playfully. I smiled, huffed and puffed.

“Thanks, honey (puff), I’m beginning (puff) to feel (puff) better too,” I said in between gasps. I looked as if I stepped out of the shower. Sweat trickled down my face and bled through my T-shirt. I panted heavily. 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 homes she found appealing, 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 a hill with a steep ascent. I wanted to retch.

“You (puff, cough) got (hack, snort) to (puff, cough) be (hack, snort) kidding (puff, cough)” I said. Peggy shook her head, smiled and encouraged me to continue.

I looked like I had crawled out of a swimming pool. 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. The sun gave her reddish-brown hair a copper glow. She looked beautiful.

I hated her.

I nodded my head and continued walking. Wherever she wanted to go was fine with me as long as our course lead me to our front door.

“Great (cough, gasp), whatever (hack, puff) you (snort, wheeze) say,” I replied as I savored each breath. Thirty-five minutes after it began, our walk was over.

“Now, aren’t you glad you went walking with me?” Peggy asked as she patted my shoulder. I nodded my head in agreement.

“I’ll bet you’re anxious to go on another walk with me tomorrow, aren’t you?” she asked.

I smiled and nodded my head. I began 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.”

Peggy smiled.

“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.

Peggy closed her eyes and shook her head. Why would she do that?

I wonder if it was something I said.

William J. Dagendesh, who is editor in chief of CSU-Pueblo TODAY, to date, has dropped 10  pounds. He can be contacted at wj.dagendesh@colostate-pueblo.edu.

Benefits to exercise

  • Weight loss
  • Improved stamina
  • Improved circulation
  • Increased strength and flexibility
  • Helps reduce the risk of certain cancers and adds years to your life.