Sunday, August 14, 2011

The end of an era

My habit of a daily walk—which I performed under US mail delivery conditions—is at an end. It lasted three years, two months, and eight days (1).

I didn't give up through apathy—which has been the case with all forms of self-improvement in the past—but rather bio-mechnics. In that my left hip was discovered this week to be ridden with arthritis and it needing a fairly urgent hip replacement if I am to avoid unpleasant pain. Until that happens then if I am to do exercise it needs to be non-weight bearing. The options given were swimming or cycling.

I am an okay swimmer, despite having no flexibility in my left leg (2). However swimming entails showing your body to others. And when your body image is almost cripplingly awful to the extent that you cannot even look at yourself in a mirror without getting a stab of pain about how you look ... it's not really an option.

So ... that left cycling. We'd just off loaded our piece-of-shit exercise bike, purchased some 12-years before, and needed a new one. Fortunately friends could help out and, last night, we retrieved a loaner, muscling it into the car in a semi-disassembled state with theWife then reassembling it upon getting home.

Today was launch day. After a day of nerding at a friend's place literally on the outskirts of town I finally made it back home to begin the process of swapping out my daily walk for a daily ride.

First things first. Entertainment. That was courtesy of On the Media, the weekly podcast via NPR. I had my portable speaker jacked into a USB-to-power plug and my Mp3 into that. I had it balanced on a cobwebbed tyre that was leaning against the shed's wall. Then there was the adjusting of the seat ... it taking a while to find the optimal spot ... and fixing up of the pedal straps.

Then, with a heavy heart (and heavy body), I began.

It sucked.

Now it sucked because it was different and because it was harder. The beauty of walking for exercise is that it's minimal effort if you want it to be. And it's just so easy to do. You pretty much have to be clothed and that's about it. Off you go. But the bike ... the bike was harder. My legs ached from pedaling within about two minutes., I got puffed pretty quickly, and sure enough a patina of sweat beaded then dripped down my newly trimmed head.

The bike offered numerous metrics to measure by. The key goal setting ones being I suppose distance travelled, calories allegedly burned, and of course time. I decided initially to try for 10 minutes. That was hard, so, so hard. To take my mind off it I texted the evil vixen who'd long-term-loaned my the devil's bike and called her horrid names. Well ... actually I didn't. I did text her to moan about it like a giant beardy-sook. She was nice about it. Then the 10 minutes passed and I figured I'd go for twelve minutes or 100 calories—as far as you can trust that metric of course—whichever came first. Then ... then I kept going. Finally I decided on eighteen minutes as my cease point. Why eighteen minutes? Because when I started walking three years, two months and eight days ago I was initially just trying for a geographic goal—walking around the large block near my house. When I was getting into serious walking and started worrying about times then I found I could typically do the block in eighteen minutes if I walked fast enough.

So 18 minutes was the goal. And ... I made it. In fact, because the metrics was set on rotate (i.e. the display has 10 seconds on distance then 10 seconds on time-taken etc.) then when it finally kicked back to time I had cracked eighteen minutes and twenty five seconds. Hooray!

Will a shaking body, aching legs, and mysteriously tingling butt, I awkwardly dismounted the bike, retrieved my entertainment tat, then closed up the shed and went on in to immediately sit on my fat can.

So ... that was about an hour ago. How do I feel? Sore. But probably not as sore from walking. Towards the end of this week walking did become pretty agonising. Even going the mirror-image for increased comfort only helped a bit.

It's also a tad disheartening to see the metrics scroll by when you realise what noshing on neck up foods does to you energy wise. Eighteen minuted on the bike equated, according to the metric, to about 130 calories burned. That's about one and a half fun-sized snickers bars ... or a Weis bar—the daily dessert treat I'm supposed to have instead of the large hot-fudge sundaes I get once or twice a week (3). Indeed a McDonald's large-sized hot-fudge Sundae is about 500 calories ... or 69 minutes on the exercise bike.

Sigh. No wonder people like me put our heads in the sand when it comes to crap like this. It's just too depressing to contemplate. I think I am going to set it so I don't see the calorie count metric as it's just a reminder of how big I am and how very, very, very, very far from the body norm I really am.

Still ... onward and upward. I may have a shitty hip that causes mild to extreme pain depending on the exertion ... but it hasn't stopped me from doing something. It's not the something I prefer but it's still a valid something.

So ... here's to a valid something. It gets us through in the end.

At any rate ... let's take off our hats and bow our heads for a moment.

RIP daily walk. 2008–2011.


(1) As noted before I only failed to have a purpose walk on one of those days—but on that day had massive scads of incidental walking so I generally consider it to be a pseudo-missed day.
(2) My default swimming style is breaststroke (2a). But with a stiffened left leg it means the kicking aspect is largely redundant and I basically rely on arm power to get me through the water.
(2a) The same as Lara Croft! But, let's face it, there's a reason why the programmers chose breaststroke for Lara Croft...

(3) TheWife is away for two days. On the way home from nerding I got four for the freezer :(


  1. Apparently one of those delicious little Lindt chocolates is 100 calories. Depressing. I had two on Friday. :|

    Good work on the 18 minutes. When I was riding that thing every day I never got past 10! I doff my hat to you!

  2. Anonymous9:23 AM

    I used to put on a 30min TV show as a guide. The thing about the calories is that exercise increases metabolism which means you burn stuff faster just sitting down... eventually.


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