I tagged along on a business trip with my husband recently and ended up at a quaint lodge with walking trails that offered guided hikes.
“You should go.” my husband said enthusiastically. “Get out of the room and get moving.”
He’s like that. If we pass a lake, he’s like, “let’s go swim it.” A mountain, “Let’s go climb it.” Me, I’m more like, “There’s a hammock, let’s take a nap.” But, to make him happy I decided to go.
My first clue this was no stroll through the garden was the various stretching poses everyone was engaged in, not to mention the exercise paraphernalia. They had expensive sneakers, dri-fit work out clothes, Fitbits, weights, even water bottles.
“Alright everyone, we’ve got about another minute then we’ll head out.” the hotel guide advised.
Feeling uncomfortable about just standing there, I tried to look like I was stretching. Left foot in, left foot out, left foot in, shake it all about. While I’m doing this, I’m sizing up the group to see who’s likely to be a slow walker.
I stretched my way over to a heavy set woman in her early forties. “You here by yourself?” I asked trying to strike up a conversation.
“I’m straight she says.” quickly moving away from me.
“No. I didn’t mean…” I started futilely.
“You’re not going to wear those sandals are you?” a little old woman wearing a spandex outfit and Nike’s that reached half way up her calves, asked me.
“Oh, I, uh, no.” I stammered. Rather than expose my lack of athleticism to her, I lied. “TSA, they, uh, they lost my luggage. What are ya gonna do, right?” I said, trying to sound nonchalant.
“TSA doesn’t take luggage.” she stated flatly.
“Yeah, uh, the luggage belt thing… x-ray, poof, it just, wham, all my workout, uh, sneakers, just gone.”
She frowned at me like I was a lunatic. Then quickly scanning me from head to toe, she seemed to nod in agreement with herself.
“You don’t exercise much. Do you?” she scolded, sounding like my high school gym teacher.
Feeling a bit defensive, I responded “I don’t really need to. I’ve never had a problem with my weight.”
“I bet you don’t weigh nothing.” she began. But before I could feel flattered by her words she continued snidely “You got no muscle. Fat doesn’t weigh as much as muscle, you know.” she said poking my carefully concealed belly fat. “Why you’re just like the Pillsbury dough boy.”
Thoroughly insulted, I determined that I was not going to walk with her. Leave her to bring up the rear by herself. My smug sentiment was quickly replaced by panic when the guide hollered “Move out!” and everyone suddenly began to run.
Was there a snake? An active shooter? Why were we running? I wondered, zig zagging across the path, knocking into people and cactus in the process. As the runners pulled ahead of me, I could hear something gaining on me. Fearfully I snuck a glance over my shoulder expecting to see a wolf or bear. But it was a three legged dog cheerfully lumber past me with remarkable speed.
The old woman was nowhere in sight. I guess I had bolted faster than I thought. Had I not been reeling from the pain of my chafing sandals and cactus needles sticking out of my knee, I might have felt bad about leaving her so far behind. As it was I just wanted to get this over with. Due to my lack of preparation, need for water, and unaccustomed to the sea level elevation, I made the loop in what seemed like hours. Because it was. Four hours, according to the bellman who advised the rest of the group had been back for three hours including the “old woman” who, turns out is a famous marathon runner.
The self loathing didn’t hit me until passing through the dining room that evening when I caught a glimpse of people celebrating the marathon runner’s ninetieth birthday. Rather than allow myself to slip into depression, I came up with a plan of action. After all, I am married to a man who’s all about taking action.
I have since bought expensive sneakers, spandex work-out clothing and learned proper stretching exercises. Someday I hope to be motivated enough to actually work out and turn this cookie dough belly into a hardened fruit cake. Probably next week. Or maybe next month. But definitely before I turn ninety. We all need goals.