Wednesday, May 31, 2006

My legs hurt, because I have begun waking up at 6am to run/walk 2.5 miles. I am beyond out of shape. How'd I get to this point after only a couple of months in DC, especially since I walk to work? In New York, I walked miles a day. I'm not a very good dieter, and I definitely only enjoy working out because I know it will bring me the physical appearance I desire. Honestly, if my tooshie doesn't look better in a bathing suit from the workout activity, there's no way I'm doing it. I can't imagine ever being one of those "I enjoy the way I feel after I work out" people. My dad's like that now. He works out to stay healthy.

My dad had a heart attack 5 years ago. Since then, he's given up smoking and started walking on a treadmill every night for 2+ hours while watching a movie. My brother and I haven't lived in Mobile since his heart attack, so he's basically taken over our playroom. Where once there was a ping pong table, he has created a gym of sorts- rowing machine, stairmaster, 2 stationary bikes, the treadmill, a weight lifting bench, punching bags. My mom is embarrassed. The carpeting is destroyed... but infact the most humorous part of my dad's new commitment to his health has got to be the bits of OCD that shine through.

He doesn't rent movies or watch them on HBO, Cinemax, or Showtime. My dad buys the movies. And he doesn't just buy movies in the way a normal person would buy movies, he lists the titles in a special PDA. If you happen to mention any movie at any time while hanging around with him, he checks for the title in his system. I once mentioned a Lifetime movie, Homeless to Harvard, over dinner and got an email from him a week later saying he had won a bootleg copy on eBay. The movies sit in boxes and plastic shelving units all over my ex-playroom. After he's finished watching the movie, he places them on designated wooden shelves with a Dewey Decimal-like filing system. His friends often borrow movies... call our house Arniebusters. He enters the number into his PDA at check-out and return.

On the far wall of the playroom, my dad has purchased and hung a map of North America. On it, he maps his imaginary cross-country journey on foot. As he hits major cities throughout the US, he marks the spot on the map with a sticker and date. I remember when he told me he was almost in Massachusetts back when he first began his walking... I felt like asking him if his imaginary friend was coming too. So far, I believe he's walked from Canada to Mexico and California to New York about a million times each.

In figuring out that I acquire habits as rapidly as my father, I have learned to create my internal motivational programs a little bit more constructively. I know that I can't take a day or week off from exercising when I begin a regiment. I won't go back to the program if I break from it. I know that I can't resist eating the whole box of brownies if it's in my fridge and I'm dieting, so I eat the one I wanted and toss the remains out. As with my dad, it's less about the goal and more about the consistency in my behaviors. So 6am, sore or not, I'll be running. Over and over again.


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