Exercise: It’s a Hoax

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It will not give you energy.  It will not make you feel good about yourself.  It will make you hungry and tired, and even your ear lobes and toenails will sweat.  Sweaty is not a good look for me.  

My idea of exercise is a good brisk sit.   Phyllis DillerOlympic Lr

dandeliondaisychainWhen I was a little girl, I watched the other kids run to the playground, and I thought what’s the point?  When the teacher blew her whistle, they all ran to the line.  And I thought what’s the point?  On Track Day, when kids (not me, of the last chosen for every team) competed in a variety of physical feats on the field behind our elementary school, I sat in the grass making dandelion chains for the victors.  I cannot remember any time in my life that I’ve felt compelled to move. I mean, really, what’s track daythe point? I am a sedentary person, a pet rock, a stagnant river.  I am a manatee on two legs, lolling about, waiting to be fed.

I am not intellectually lazy.  My mind is always active, and it is in constant battle against boredom.  If reading were an Olympic sport, I’d score a gold medal for turning the pages really, really fast.  I can’t stand a minute when my mind is inactive.  When my Zen friends talk about meditation, when the goal is not thinking, I say Omwhat’s the point?  Even when I sleep, my mind is churning out stories that require mental gymnastics.  Case in point:  last night I had a dream about Richard Harris in a raging fire!  Even at my age, conjuring an image of Richard Harris—while sleeping—requires some pretty impressive firing of synapses.

hiking bootI like about as much nature as I can see from my LaZy Boy recliner, Even knowing this, my husband thought a family hike would be a good idea.  So yesterday, my husband pulled into a parking lot at a beautiful picnic area in the Smoky Mountains.  And I immediately thought, wouldn’t it be nice to spend the afternoon sitting at one of those picnic tables reading the newspaper?  And where in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, could I find a Sunday New York Times?  My reverie was interrupted by the chaos ensuing at the back of the SUV where my husband and children were strapping on backpacks for a 2.2 mile hike up the mountain.  I began singing “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” to remind them that this heinous hike had nothing to offer but the other damn side of the mountain.  But even if I’m no athlete, I am a good sport, so I followed our merry little band to the trail head.

I'm going to sit right here and read. You go ahead and walk upstream. I'll see the very same water just a few minutes after you do.

I’m going to sit right here and read. You go ahead and walk upstream. I’ll see the very same water just a few minutes after you do.

This is the only part of the hike I enjoy . . . the end.

This is the only part of the hike I enjoy . . . the end.

It wasn’t long before I began to compose more satisfying, quiet alternatives to this forced march.  I saw myself gathering a fluffy cloud of leaves where I could doze until the hikers returned.  But I’m a good sport, so I hiked on.  I admired the almost fluorescent green scrim of moss growing on fallen logs, and I thought, If I lie down, how long would it take until moss grew on me?  But I soldiered on.

Then I spotted a stately tree with a broad trunk, and I thought wouldn’t it be nice to sit right there for a few hours, with a Diet Coke and a bag of Cheetos at the ready, reading that big fat book, Goldfinch, waiting for me on my nightstand?  I kept climbing, and maybe it was because I was short of breath and sweating that I thought of having slow, lazy sex—the kind that requires little movement– on a huge flat slab of rock.  Three hours later, back at the SUV, everyone was breathing hard and sweating, popping Ibuprofen to prevent aches and pains, and I thought what’s the point?

I got a call from Dr. Kohls last month. She is a kind but thin doctor. Her side of the conversation was mostly jabberwocky.  I gathered my blood test results were all mimsy:  such and such was high, but should have been low; a little number should be big; and something else was all jiggy.   “Huh?” I responded.  “The point is,” she said, “you have to start moving a little more.” And then she added, as if it were nothing, “Just exercise a half hour a day.”

Woman exhausted after workoutAfter the shock wore off, I grudgingly embarked on a very measured training regimen.  Now, every day, I take the elevator down to the fitness room in our building for 30 minutes—not 29 or 31–of painful, boring, aerobic exercise on a treadmill, bike, or elliptical.  I thought about reading while riding these beasts, but concluded that it wouldn’t improve the ordeal but it would contaminate my most pleasurable pastime—like eating popsicles after a tonsillectomy.

My doctor said brisk walking could count for exercise, so I tried stepping it out on the interesting sidewalks of downtown Cincinnati.  First I had to find the right garb in the Robust Department at J.C. Penney:  yoga pants, a tight little top emblazoned with a sequined kittenl a sweat band. At Dick’s, I found a camelback gizmo, so I could stay hydrated.  At Bob Roncker’s, I bought $129 shoes and sleek, aerated $14 socks.  All suited up, I paused for prayer: Please don’t let this kill me.

I began walking at a jaunty pace, pumping my arms, using cleansing breaths I learned in Lamaze class.   I was exhausted, but jubilant, when my stopwatch registered 30 minutes–not 29 or 31.  I realized then that I was three blocks from home, and there wasn’t a cab in sight.

I ask you:  What’s the point?



Copyright © 2014 Sandy Lingo, All Rights Reserved





  1. Please tell me it was a young Richard Harris! I have dreamed about Kevin Costner…bought him pants at “McAlpin’s” so he would have something to wear when he was released from prison (?).
    You have written a fun – and very visual – piece.

    • Your comments are funnier than my posts!! When are you coming back to class?

    • Sandy, every time I read one of your blogs I giggle. Thanks for including me.

  2. Sandy, You are funny as always but I beg to differ. The point is health: glucose, body fat, pounds–all of which go into, you know, living longer?!?!?! I just had a wake up call and, believe me, at nearly 65 you don’t want to take chances. I don’t want to have triple bypass heart surgery like my dad or hobbling around on a walker cuz he won’t get the knee surgery he needs. Yes, treadmills can be boring but a life with more energy and fewer health problems is worse. Just my opinion. Had to represent the other view.

    • Yep, I know. I was just kidding :)

  3. Sandy,

    You crack me up! I may have only worked alongside you for 2 years, but I could totally hear you saying all of that in your wonderful voice! Love it and I miss you making me laugh!


  4. OMG, Sandy – I am laughing out loud. If I could express myself the way you do, I could have written this one. Oh shoot, my coffee cup is empty – I’ll have to get out of this chair to refill it. When I sit back down, I’ll move a little closer to the window so I can see what a gorgeous day it is outside.

  5. This line almost did me in: “When my Zen friends talk about meditation, when the goal is not thinking, I say Om, what’s the point? “

  6. Sandy, being one of those ” skinny bitches” that was born to move my body, I will think of you in your comfy house, chair, clothes, and shoes today as I slip into my thermal socks, long underwear, thermal turtleneck , polar fleece, ski pants, ski jacket, and ever so comfortable ski boots.(in that order) I bet your tired just thinking about getting dressed , let alone placing the crowning glory of a helmet on your head, sticks on your feet, and hurling your body down the side of a mountain in the unseasonably cold temperatures of Northern Michigan.

    • This seems like the very definition of hell to me. I am thinking about you as I watch Dr. Phil in my recliner. :) Be careful. I’ll be sipping hot chocolate in the club house.

      • I forgot to mention the layers of kenisio tape that holds me together under it all

        • Seriously? Tape? I thought bras and girdles were bad!

  7. Yes, Sandy, I remember and hated those Twiggy “consultants” at Jenny’s. and the Weight Watcher leader who said hunger wasn’t a bad thing .I’d wager they were born that way and nary a push-up was in their perview. Thanks for giving voice to the opposition.

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Sandy Lingo

Life itself is the proper binge.  - Julia Child

A writing friend said that when she reads my writing, she always wants a second helping.



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