Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Glory Road: Free Weights and Free Speech

   So I did it. The days of dine and dozes will shortly be over because I bought myself a walking treadmill. Soon, I will be strutting and writing my way to glory and a return to fitness.
   I've been a gym nut for years, off and on. It's nothing new for me to spend as much as six hours exercising.  I've been a workaholic for years, too, so at least I'm consistent. What will be different (and what I'm most excited about) is the notion of working and playing at the same time. Really, if you look it at this the right way, it's almost as good as doubling your life expectancy! (And joking aside, this really will improve my quality of life. After years of being fit, I feel uncomfortable with excess poundage.)
   I will no longer feel guilty about not exercising enough. Writing for hours and then spending more hours online with social media and such will no longer be the tradeoff for being out of shape.
     I've always been a fan of free weights and relatively simple exercises. To begin with, I'm not a big person and the quick-fix machines in a gym tend to be sized for Schwarzenegger men (which I've always found odd, considering they are the ones most likely to rely almost exclusively on free weights). One size does not fit all. Machines not sized to fit you force you into unnatural paths of movement. And that leads to injuries. The great thing about free weights is that you yourself control the movement.
   Why I was thinking I needed something that plugs into a wall I don't know. Possibly, it's because I'm used to seeing expensive treadmills in a gym. Perhaps it's because we've been trained by consumerism to assume the most expensive thing is the best, though quite often it's not. I didn't think I'd be in the position to buy a treadmill for months yet since the cheaper electric ones are $2,000 and up. And a desk treadmill is even pricier. So I'd put it out of my mind and steeled myself to stand up while I wrote.
   It wasn't until I caught sight of the hamster wheel for people (what a great concept!) that I realized how flawed my thinking was--why not make this or buy an inexpensive manual treadmill? While I love the hamster treadmill (there are free plans on the internet if you're interested), it would be too big for my house. It would also look decidedly strange with all my antique furniture, though I suppose it could be passed off as a dystopian look.
   I found the walking treadmill I wanted on eBay. It will be an easy conversion to a writing/walking desk and for extra oomph all I'll need is ankle weights. Then I took a gander at Amazon. The same manual treadmill was almost half the price! Free shipping, too. (No wonder retailers are shaking in their boots.) If I lived in a larger place, I might have felt honor-bound to shop locally. But I live in a tiny rural place where a treadmill is as uncommon as city arrogance. We go for country sly in this neck of the woods, uh huh.
   Things had reached breaking point. Looking down at my growing shadow every day (was that the way the sun was hitting it or was I even fatter?) was wrecking my concentration for writing. The last straw was a recent internet story: doctors now think sitting down all day is worse for you than smoking!
   Considering I quit smoking six months ago (and then sat down, for the first time in years, to write fiction) this really, really pissed me off. I mean, what kind of karma is that? I couldn't be smug about quitting smoking anymore (which is really the only fun thing about it) because sitting down is even WORSE? It was then that I spotted the hamster treadmill story.
   So many would-be writers are prepared to hang on for years, even decades, to achieve their publication goals. And they do. But they won't exercise. Inactivity becomes a reward for chaining themselves to desks. I wonder if this latest story about the evils of desk-sitting will change some minds. We'll see, I guess.
   But for me, that  treadmill can't get here fast enough. Free speech AND free weights? It's heaven--the best of both worlds for any writer wanting to stay alive long enough to enjoy the fruits of his or her labors. Use It Or Lose It. No Pain No Gain. These adages work just fine for writing, too. In a world hellbent on making things complicated, why not go against the flow and doubly simplify your life?

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