Sunday, March 05, 2006

Staying in Shape

Now that I’m in my 40s, I’m not quite as slim as I used to be. My abdominal six-pack has turned into a keg. When I was younger, people would tell me I looked like a Greek god. I still look like a god, only now it’s Buddha.

Like a lot of people, I occasionally go jogging (or, as I call it, “running to no place in particular for no good reason”). My jog always starts out well: I feel healthy and energetic, and I think that maybe this time I’ll break some sort of record. This lasts for about eleven seconds. Then I get tired, but I don’t dare go back home because I don’t want my neighbors to think I’m weird. So I’ll stay out for a respectable length of time, which would be about fifteen or twenty minutes, during which I’ll cover maybe three quarters of a mile – longer with a good tail wind. When I finally arrive back home, I’ll lie down, moan for several minutes, and vow never to do anything that stupid again.

I also swim in my neighborhood pool. You can’t miss me – I’m the one who jumps into the water with all the grace and style of a moose being pushed off a pier.

My favorite sport is wrestling. I’m a volunteer coach for the local high school team. I don’t just coach – I actually wrestle with several of the team members, and as you’d expect, I get quite tired. How tired? Let me put it this way: often times my arms are so worn out that when I drive home afterward, I have to steer with my teeth. Why do I have so much less energy than the boys I coach? One reason is age. The students I work out with are teenagers, and I’m 43. I’ve got underwear older than they are. The other reason is body composition. Their young bodies consist of 87% muscle, 10% bone, and 3% fat. My body consists of 41% fat, 27% Doritos, and 32% beer. And so, in a typical practice I’m wheezing like an emphysema patient while athletes a fraction of my age toss me around and flip me onto my back until I flop helplessly like a carp. The appropriate time for me to stop this lunacy and take up a less physical sport -- like perhaps chess -- came and went more than a decade and a half ago. Unfortunately, being the stubborn old coot that I am, I just won’t quit until I get badly injured or have a coronary. I only wish my body were as hard as my head.

Sometimes I start to think that I’m no longer in shape, but then I remember: round is a shape.

If you're ever in my neighborhood, come over for a visit. Maybe we can go jogging.