PUMPING IRONY: No Shortcuts

I get a lot of emails each week extolling the virtues of various anti-aging products, but this one was more entertaining than most:

“It is official. You can now get your chocolate fix without having the slightest feeling of guilt. A new type of nutritional chocolate bar has been created that combines the indulgence of chocolate with the health benefits of red wine to create a delicious snack that is anti-aging and can improve heart health. The WineTime bar contains more Resveratrol than 50 glasses of red wine along with 7 extra “super fruits” including cranberry, noni, pomegranate, goji berry, acai, mangosteen and blueberry. The WineTime bar is high in fiber, vegan, contains no trans fat, hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, cholesterol, dairy, gluten or artificial colors, sweeteners, flavors or preservatives.”

I want this WineTime bar.

I want to have one for breakfast with green tea, one for lunch with, maybe, a mango/spinach smoothie, and one for dinner with a bottle of Malbec — just to heighten its health-enhancing effects before bed. But, I’m not gonna go there, because I know there are no shortcuts to longevity, no silver bullets to deliver us to a grand old age with six-pack abs and a full head of hair. It’s what you do every day that makes a difference, and this week I can say I held up my end of the bargain three out of the seven days. Next week I hope to do better.

Day 19, Monday, 9/26
Several of my co-workers this afternoon followed our venerable fitness editor, Jen Sinkler, downstairs to the gym for 45 minutes of kettlebell training. This is salutary behavior in a lot of ways, but I declined to join them, instead burrowing deeper into the paperwork on my desk. Besides, I told them, I had already had my kettlebell workout today — a brisk 10-minute circuit before breakfast. I had also figured that My Lovely Wife and I would head out after dinner to load up some wood chips from one of the nearby piles in the park into the back of the car and spread them on some of the bare ground in the backyard where someday we hope to grow something. That’s always a good workout. But, alas, I worked late and before we had finished dining, night had fallen (we are entering the dark time). Maybe tomorrow….

Day 20, Tuesday, 9/27
You might call this a breakthrough: I ignored my kettlebell this morning and, after my zazen and five full sun salutations (or something bearing some resemblance to same), I pulled on my sneakers, walked outside and jogged around the block — twice!! According to my rough calculations, that’s about .83 miles. My calves tightened up almost immediately, as they always do, but because I was jogging rather than trying to run, endurance was not an issue. By the end of the second lap, I wasn’t really even that winded. The knee held up just fine. Better yet, the few neighbors I encountered played the part of good Minnesotans and pretended not to notice.

Then, as if the universe was conspiring to ramp up my cardio, it started to rain, which forced me to leave my bike parked in the garage. I grabbed an umbrella, tucked my work stuff and my lunch into my backpack and hoofed it across the bridge and up the big hill to work. Another couple of miles of pavement under my feet. We’ll see how I feel about this tomorrow.

Day 21, Wednesday, 9/28
This is what momentum must feel like. Dove into a kettlebell circuit (three times through) before breakfast. No ill effects on the knee from yesterday’s jog. And then, after dinner, MLW and I drove over to the big wood-chip pile on 36th Street and loaded up the car. Much bending and lifting. Functional fitness.

Day 22, Thursday, 9/29
Well, I’m halfway through my current fitness challenge, and so it’s fitting that reality intervened to prevent me from getting to yoga today. Too many work obligations. I did do a brief kettlebell circuit before breakfast, so it wasn’t a complete loss, but I think I’ll do a little yoga tomorrow to make up for it.

Day 23, Friday, 9/30
Didn’t do a little yoga today. In fact, I didn’t do anything except bicycle to and from work. Let’s call it a recovery day, OK?

Day 24, Saturday, 10/1
In our household, mornings typically go like this: I get out of bed and MLW — who is something of a night owl — rolls over and gets some good deep morning sleep. This is the way it’s been for many, many years, and it affords me the opportunity to execute my basic one-hour morning meditation-workout routine. Occasionally, however, she’ll surprise me by getting out of bed before me, which completely throws me off my game. I’m sure she could care less if I go into the other room and ignore her for a while, but I always feel as though that would be kind of rude. So, when she arose earlier than usual this morning, I found myself a little bit at sea. I opted to be sociable rather than disciplined (though you can argue that there’s a certain discipline involved in exercising basic courtesy), and skipped my workout. I did, however, get in a good 8-mile lung-clearing bicycle ride to and from the co-op in the afternoon.

Day 25, Sunday, 10/2
Two of the waitresses at our local wine bar are running in the Twin Cities Marathon today, so I thought maybe I would join them — in spirit, at least — by jogging around the block a couple of times this morning. I announced my intentions to MLW before breakfast, but then discovered that we were out of half-and-half just when she was about to brew some coffee in the espresso pot I bought her for her birthday last month. So I jumped into the automobile and set out for our neighborhood grocery store, only to discover that the marathon had attracted a huge number of fans (most of whom, it appeared, were driving on 46th Street near Minnehaha Park) and police cars were blocking all my customary routes to the store. Forced to take an alternative route, I ran into further traffic jams (should’ve taken my bike) and returned home some time later with the aforementioned half-and-half, swilled down my latte, and was immediately recruited for some backyard landscaping work. We did make a trip to the wood-chip pile and loaded a carful of the regurgitated tree waste, which we then transferred, one wheel barrow load at a time, onto our garden, so I think it’s fair to say that I was not a complete slug today. And I’ll bet I’ll feel a lot better than those waitresses will tomorrow.

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