I’ve been thinking (and that is a dangerous thing) about this drive we seem to have as a nation to work out…as in exercising (eating could also be in that category). I’m not certain if we all want to lose weight, improve our health, look better, catch up on local gossip, flirt with someone, or if this is better than playing solitaire on the computer.
Whatever the reason, I once was younger and among the ranks of those who get up at obscene hours to trek to the nearest treadmill and walk my way into wakefulness. Not exactly the most serene way to start my day, but I told myself, ‘at least I’m doing it.’
There was, no doubt, a bit of compulsiveness in my actions. But the compulsion lessened if I didn’t have a trainer who was expecting me to appear. My desire to improve diminished dramatically if I simply relied on myself to get up, get dressed, drive to the gym, and engage the machines.
I spent some of my middle age running almost every day. Talk about an addiction! I would tie on my running shoes and I would run on beaches, on streets, in cities, in small towns. I ran on dirt roads, asphalt, cement. I ran with others, I ran alone. I ran with my dog, without my dog. I ran in races (usually coming in last), I ran without competition. I just ran and ran. Running really did rule my life. I decided, after miles and miles of jogging and having a hip that kept yelling that it had had enough, that perhaps I had carried this a bit far. Six miles, 6 days a week was perhaps over doing.
I remember one winter evening I decided to run my daily six, and the weather was bad, cold, and when I left the house it appeared a storm was heading in. At the time I was living in the Panhandle of Texas: no shelters on those country roads, no trees, nowhere to hide.
Off I went, and when I reached the 3 mile mark, I turned around and headed home. Much to my dismay the storm had arrived and it was snowing, sleet was blurring my vision, the road was slick, and I was freezing as the bullets of ice hit my face.
The lights of town seemed to be receding, rather than getting closer. The road was empty, I was attempting to stay on my feet, and I was convinced I had lost my ever lovin’ mind.
In the distance I saw the headlights of a vehicle coming my way, and I decided that even if Jack the Ripper was driving, I was going to get inside that car before I froze to death.
It turned out to be a pickup, and it slowed and stopped, I yanked the door open and jumped in, not even looking at the driver. Thankfully, my husband had decided I truly was out of my mind and had come to look for me, hoping I wasn’t in some ditch.
All that is to say, apparently I had an exercise addiction. Today I look at others in the gym with skepticism and sympathy. Bless their hearts, there is something wrong with them too…and they can’t help it.