Both Adam and I are finally exercising a little bit again. I’m skeptical that intense, formal exercise is all that important to good health – I mean, the ones who tell us so are the same kind of experts that told us that all fat is bad – but common sense tells me that I should be able to walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded.
Neither Adam nor I are physically active people. We don’t like any sports or activities enough to spend much time on them. If I had a pool in my back yard, I’d probably swim, but if I have to drive somewhere to do it, it’s not going to happen on a regular basis. When we had a gym in the basement of our high-rise condo building in Chicago, we’d work out regularly. It was convenient, and I liked being strong. But joining a gym is expensive and when you have to drive there, a workout can take a couple of hours. It’s just not worth it. I don’t feel guilty about it – it’s a choice that I’m comfortable with.
I do like cardio workout classes and yoga, though. I joined the YMCA when we lived in San Diego and in Lexington because child-care was included and it was very inexpensive. It was the only way for me to get any time away from Sam, too. When we got to Northern Virginia, however, I replaced the classes with day care for Sam and physical therapy for my mystery pain. I haven’t started up any kind of regimen since then because I’m a little worried that the exercise itself might have contributed to my pain problems.
I was really starting to feel like a slug, though, so I finally started walking the dog again. When I was pregnant with Sam, I walked him almost every single day. It didn’t matter that it was the hottest part of the summer when I was eight months along – I still enjoyed it. Toby really needs to be walked or he becomes a nuisance, so I decided to once again make a point of walking him at every opportunity. This means twice a week while Sam is at day care, plus maybe once on the weekends while Adam is here to watch Sam. I can’t walk the dog with Sam along. First, she isn’t fast enough. But more importantly, if I don’t have 100% focus on the dog, he is unruly. The minute he senses that I am not focused on him, he runs and pulls on the leash and makes the walk very unpleasant. It is a very dangerous situation if another dog comes along, not because Toby would attack the dog, but because he wants to play so badly that he’ll pull me to the other dog. Toby is only 63 pounds – small for a Lab – but he is extremely strong. A couple of times, I got into really bad situations where Toby was pulling me over and I had Sam in the stroller and I just couldn’t hang on to both of them. It was just awful, and I decided never to do it again.
On the other hand, when I do focus on the dog, I barely need to correct him. He can sense that if he gets out of line, he’ll get a correction (a tug on his leash). When we get in a rhythm of walking, with him heeling and obeying me, it’s a beautiful thing. When he sees another dog, he needs to be reminded to heel and “leave it,” but he’s usually just fine. There’s a unique communication between us that seems to be a special dog-human bond. It’s my very favorite part of having a dog.
So at least I’m doing that, and as soon as Sam starts going to school every day, I’m going to try to do it at least four times a week. I might try to find a yoga class I could attend once a week, too.
For his part, Adam has started riding his bike to the Metro station and riding the train into work. It’s just a mile and a half ride each way but, just like for me, it’s a lot more than nothing and it kills two birds with one stone. And that’s the best kind of exercise there is.