America's Favorite Saturated Fathead

September, 2003

Greetings, carbo-clockers!

In an attempt to keep me from committing some sort of myocardial infraction,
my cardiologist has "suggested" that I take up some sort of daily exercise
program. He made this suggestion in much the same way that John Dillinger
suggested that several banks transfer some of their liquid assets over to
him. In both cases, the offer went along the lines of  "Do this, or else you
surely will die."   Apparently this statement also applies to my diet, which
also underwent a complete overhaul, due to some lab tests that indicated
traces of blood in my Cholesterolstream, registering a 401 (thus putting 301
points over the 'acceptable limit') and nearly giving the lab techs heart
failure.
  The doctor was not amused by my offer to exercise by using only 'dial'
telephones and getting a wristwatch that I would need to manually wind.  He
said, "Thirty minutes of exertion, five times a week-- no exceptions. Your
choice of the method- but you are going to do it." OK, so we are going to do
it. I just had to figure out how. Aerobics was out of the question- I
somehow seem to get distracted when surrounded by young women wearing
spandex and moving rhythmically to music.  Swimming? I only know two
strokes:
the backstroke and thrashing about in the water waiting for sharks. To jog
is to pulverize one's joints into powder. This leaves only two forms of
exertion that are acceptable in public: walking and cycling.


The Great Treasure Walk.

My first foray into the world of walking came with my Wednesday night power
stroll. My first ten minutes were spent trying to figure out my stride,
which resembles the graceful fluid movements of the Mummy.  I shuffled
around the neighborhood at dusk, fearful that the townspeople would send out
a posse with torches and pitchforks, scouring the streets looking for the
escaped Frankenstein monster.  After all it was a full moon that night. I
brought my son James with me, in order to put my mind at ease - having
somebody close at hand who can run for help if I met with an accident or at
least help identify my body afterwards.
    We were about two-thirds completed with the '30 minute marathon', and I
was nearing the home stretch when I came upon the deal of the year. Sitting
by the curb (it was garbage night) was a less than three year old lawnmower.
It was a self propelled mulcher-- with all the accessories--- including a
sign on it saying 'Free- please take'.  It had a nearly new grass catcher
bag with it too. I made the last block and a half pushing the thing home. I
cleaned the spark plug and air filter, gave the start cord a tug,
and ---touchdown!  I don't have to buy a new mower. (My old lawnmower was
about as easy to push as an Oldsmobile- and it was the trigger for my
checkup. I was already pricing a replacement.) It made for a nice birthday
present.
     I went for a walk Sunday morning just after dawn, and as I cut through
the neighborhood park I came across a folded wad of dollar bills lying on
the damp ground. Four dollars. So far my exercise is really paying off.

Wheels of Insanity

  I'm supposed to go riding outside on a bike, as some sort of family
activity. My old bicycle (a Schwinn Collegiate 5-speed that I inherited from
my older brother Brian) is listed as an antique on a 'vintage cycling'
website. (The bicycle that is.)  It was made from the same type of steel
used to make rails for the railroad. Riding it was like pedaling an ocean
liner. A co-worker asked me if I would like an old bike that he had stored
in his garage. The bike was made by Raleigh (a British company) and was in
almost perfect condition. I took it for a ride in my subdivision the other
night. I got my blood pumping real good- from sheer terror. Just from riding
on the side streets I got the general impression that everybody in a car was
out to get me. Before I go out again, I'm buying myself a helmet, shoulder
and knee pads-- and a box of hand grenades. I need something to defend
myself against the onslaught of distracted soccer moms jabbering into their
cell phones while plowing around in their SUVs.

This is all well, fine and good for the outdoor season, but for those of us
who live near Chicago, the ice age comes sometime in November and hangs
around until mid May. When I see people scurrying about in the snow while
wearing only a sweat suit and track shoes, I immediately assume that they
are either suicidal or homeless, because in my opinion no one can possibly
be crazy
enough to go jogging on snow and ice.  I needed to come up with some
method of indoor exertion (other than that, OK?)  This meant a trip to the
local hardbody hardware store.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the plethoric milieu of exercise
equipment that has overwhelmed our society, I beseech you to visit the land
of false hope, vain resolutions and broken promises-- the fitness equipment
store. Here is an entire warehouse is dedicated to the idea that you can buy
a machine that will make you healthy-- if you use it for something other
than a place to hang your laundry.   Treadmills, weight benches, stationary
bicycles, rowing machines and other worrisome -looking machines are all
lined up for your inspection in a happy well-lit atmosphere. They look so
innocuous
in an anodized sort of way. But you can't fool me. If you were to move these
devices to some dank, dark dungeon their true
character would surface-- they are the tools of a torture chamber.  Maybe
that is why they sit unused when they are placed in lonely basements; the
very thought of being tied to one of these machines in the dim light of a
bare bulb
conjures up visions of Vincent Price or Bela Lugosi tightening thumbscrews
and snickering at the hapless victim's plight. Who wants to run on a
treadmill whilst envisioning Lon Chaney chasing you with a pitchfork?  But I
digress.
    I was looking for a piece of hardware known as a Stairmaster-- but they
all seemed to simulate the exertion of climbing 'up' an endless flight of
stairs. I couldn't find one that went 'down'. Nor could I find a stationary
bicycle that had either an ashtray, a cupholder or a place to hold a
sandwich. The pads on the weight benches were too hard to get a decent nap
on. I'M KIDDING, OK?
       Seriously, I had my heart set on finding a exerciser known as an
'Air-Dyne'.  An Air-Dyne is a cross between a stationary cycle and a box
fan; the more you pedal and pump with your arms -- the more the fan blade
turns and the more resistance is felt by the rider. Not only is it a good
cardiovascular workout, but it also serves the dual purpose of ventilating
one's home.  That's the thing for me-- I can't stand the idea of wasted
effort. Everything MUST serve a purpose. I have a utilitarian nature. It so
happens that a friend of mine was moving and wanted to divest himself of
some of his fitness machinery. One of the items he had was an Air-Dyne that
he no longer needed, and that he wanted me to have.  Thanks again, Jim. I
will continue to use it in good health-- and otherwise.

I guess that the exercise plan is working-- I've lost 7 pounds in 14 days--
and I have more energy than a small car battery. Now if I can only get used
to the food pellets ........

Gotta go,  Left, right------ left


Neil