10 October 2007

Elliptical observations

I didn’t drive until 2004. I relied on public transit to get everywhere. This meant that I thought nothing of walking for half an hour to get where I wanted to be, and then walking back afterwards. Especially if the bus didn’t turn up.

In Massachusetts, I would start to gain weight as winter set in; all my body wanted me to do was eat and stay in bed. But in spring and summer, I’d walk it all off again.

And then I learned to drive, and we got a car and moved to Texas. Now in summertime I find myself glad to get back into the air conditioning after a brief stroll across the parking lot. I started getting heavier in summer, rather than in winter.

Oh, it can be beautiful in fall, winter and spring, especially evenings. But even after concerted effort, I wasn’t getting anything like as much exercise as I used to, and I was gradually getting fatter. Clearly I had to do something.

The traditional solution most Americans favor is to join a gym and not go to it. This gives you the feeling that you’re doing something positive, while still leaving you with all your valuable couch time. However, gym memberships are expensive, and school experiences have left me with an indelible view of locker rooms and gyms as places of ritual torture and humiliation.

Another popular solution is to buy an exercise machine. This has distinct advantages over a gym membership. For starters, it’s a one time expense, which is better than a gym membership if you know you’re just throwing money away. In addition, the machine can be used as a place to hang shirts, ties, and other apparel you’re too lazy to put in the closet where it belongs. And if you need the space, you can do what our last landlord did, and put the exercise machine out in the yard to act as a kind of rust sculpture and casual birdfeeder.

I did some research, and elliptical machines seemed to be the best option. They are low-impact exercise for the cardiovascular system, provide some exercise for the upper body, the machines are quiet, and some of the newer ones are quite small. I found that a local store had a good deal on one, and bribed some friends to help transport it home as the box wouldn’t fit in the car.

Some assembly was required. In fact, putting the device together was a good dose of exercise to start with. Everything seemed to work, including the electronic control panel and the servos that adjust the magnetic resistance, and the next day I tried it out for real.

And much to my surprise, I’ve been exercising pretty much every day since then. It has been one month with the machine, and have skipped exercise on only a couple of days when work and social engagements made it impossible to find a solid block of time. Exercise has become a habit, which I gather is one of the secrets to actually doing it. I now separate work from a relaxed evening by burning off around 2500 kJ. I can listen to radio shows, and I don’t have to interact with strangers in the shower. I’ve dropped 2kg so far.

© mathew 2017