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Smell the Coffee: Computer potato no longer

By Karin Fuller

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- If this column has both upper- and lower-case letters when you're reading it, the credit for that goes to my editor.

It wasn't that I was having a keyboard malfunction. It was that my arms hurt so bad I couldn't muster the strength to hold down SHIFT. For me right now, the credo "no pain, no gain" has been modified to include "and no caps."

I am now eight days into doing the much-hyped P90X exercise program. Along with fitness, it provides a crash course in anatomy, as those participating learn all the new places a body can hurt.

The home video program requires an hour a day, six days a week. According to my calculations, I'll be finishing up the 90-day regimen in early December, at which time I can drop down to a less intensive maintenance program. With each freshly voiced yipe! as I attempt to climb stairs, I keep reminding myself that it's only 90 days. I can do anything for just 90 days. Three months isn't that long.

Over the past few years, pretty much the only exercise I've gotten is from jumping to conclusions, stirring up trouble, pushing my luck and digging up dirt. Such activities can be exhausting, yes, but they never make my muscles ache. They never really push my physical limits.

My job has me at a desk all day, and I'm often planted at my computer in the evenings as well. For a while now, I've been thinking that sitting around all the time, even if I'm busy jumping to conclusions and pushing my luck, is not really the best way to stay fit into my 70s. When my friend Shannon started doing P90X, her enthusiasm for the workout had me intrigued. She prodded me to try it, and I jumped in with both feet.

Feet that now feel like they're made out of lead.

I've done workout videos before and quickly grew tired of the instructor, but Tony Horton manages to be both cheesy and oddly endearing, in spite of his frequent demands to perform movements the human body wasn't designed to do. Tony is the anti-Richard Simmons. Where Richard wants everyone to be nice and feel better, Tony seems fine with just causing pain.

In that, he succeeds. I've never hurt so much in my life.

But I've also never been as proud of myself for sticking with something as difficult as this. Granted it's only been eight days, but I'm not a fan of discomfort. When I can, I make a point to avoid it.

In the past, my attempts to get in shape have usually been limited to patting myself on the back for not parking in a spot close to the store (even though I probably would have if one had been available); occasionally sucking in my stomach and hoping it'll magically stay that way; and ordering a Diet Coke with my Big Mac and fries.

Now, though, I hurt so bad there's no way I'm going to risk undoing a minute of this pain for the momentary pleasure of junk food. I've not even been tempted.

I've been surprised by how much it's helped to have someone to work out with. Shannon had already been doing the program for several weeks when she infected me with her enthusiasm. She insists she's going to keep me on track, no matter how much I complain.

I complain a lot.

But like Tony Horton himself often says, "P90X: I hate it, but I love it."

Reach Karin Fuller via email at karinfuller@gmail.com.


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