April 15, 2024
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April 15, 2024
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I Don’t Do This for My Health

Losing weight is not easy. It might be easier to try to get taller.

But what are you gonna do?

So occasionally, I’ll get it in my head that I should start an exercise regimen. But what would I do?

I do like the idea of running. It’s like walking, but for people who want to get it done faster. Every once in a while I get this idea in my head to take up running, so I put “Run” on my To Do list, and magically, that doesn’t make me lose weight. Maybe I should actually run. I’ll put that on my To Do list.

In general, most of the running I do is reactionary. For the most part, only three things can make me go running: When someone yells, “Fire!” “Free food!” or “The free food’s on fire!”

Of course, the question is, “Where should I run?” I can’t just run to a destination, such as the supermarket, because then I have to run home with grocery bags. Or I guess I can run off with the cart.

So I had an idea: Every morning, after I drop the kids at yeshiva, I would head over to the local park, which has trees, a playground and a lake full of ducks who love challah. (I, too, love challah, but I don’t get to spend all day swimming it off.)

My goal is to run around the lake. Only it turns out that I can’t actually run all the way around the lake, so it’s more like I run alongside the lake, or next to the lake. I don’t even know why I need a lake. I should run around a tree.

But the thing about working out outside is that it’s almost always either too hot or too cold. Or raining. (I’m not making excuses. They’re just coming naturally.) There are like six days a year when you can’t use weather as an excuse, and two of them are Shabbosim.

So I had this idea in my head to run at the park, but I never actually did it. It did make me feel better to know I had a plan, though, especially since my diets were getting me nowhere.

But then my wife told me about a new regimen she’d heard about, where you spend about 30 minutes per day, three days a week for nine weeks, alternating between walking, jogging, running, panting, lying on the ground and crying for specific amounts of time, and the regimen gets more difficult as the weeks progress. First they wean out the laying on the ground, then the crying, and so on, until, by the end of Week Nine, all you’re doing is running, which really doesn’t seem fair. So I weaned out the running first.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Which isn’t hard, because as I found out, I don’t run very far.

The program is called “Couch to 5K,” and is supposed to be a running regimen for people who normally do nothing but sit on the couch, and they suddenly one day decide that they want to be able to run a marathon in nine weeks. By the end of the nine weeks, apparently, you’d be able to run for a half hour straight. You could run to work. I could bring my kids to school without a car. As long as they’re willing to run behind me.

So one Sunday, I began Day One of the program. Apparently, the couch is not involved at all in Day One. You’d think it would be, but no. Couch is Day Zero. It’s not even on the schedule.

The workout was supposed to begin with a five-minute walk. I did okay on that. Not great, but it was Day One. Then I was supposed to do a minute of running, followed by a minute and a half of walking, followed by a minute of run—Ow! My calves are burning! Am I supposed to stop running, or keep going and ignore the pain? Let’s think about nothing but that as we run. Okay, so now they hurt even more. What if I can’t do Day Two because I killed my calves? Then Day One will be for nothing and I’ll have to start over. I guess we should cancel for today.

So I went home and looked into it, and I discovered that if your calves burn when you run, then before you run, you’re supposed to be stretching them, which doesn’t sound like something that is possible without medieval torture equipment and a friend who doesn’t particularly like you.

And I’m supposed to do this every time I run? What if I’m being chased?

“Excuse me, sir. If you wouldn’t mind for a moment, I just need to stretch my calves.”

I don’t know why this is happening. Apparently, I’m too heavy to run. It’s not like I’m causing earthquakes, or scaring villagers, but still.

“He’s coming! Everyone run! Oh, wait. Everyone can just walk briskly. Okay, now he’s stretching again.”

My point is that I haven’t finished Day One yet. But don’t worry, I’ll figure out a regimen eventually. Maybe if I do enough stretches, I’ll be taller.

By Mordechai Schmutter

Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia, The Jewish Press and Aish.com, among others. He also has five books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].


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