Thursday, October 20, 2011

Running From Kathy Bates

My friends seem to dig the fact that I now run to stay in shape. They encourage me and give me kudos all the time. But it drives me nuts when I hear them say, “Oh, ‘I’ could never do that.” I say, “Yes you can!” Because — as of this writing — none of my friends are paraplegics. As we used to say back in the day: there’s nothing to it but to do it. And here are a few tools to help.

Breaking Up with Your Couch
If you’re tired of watching your ass take root and outgrow the geographic boundaries of your furniture, then check out Couch to 5K. It’s online. It’s free and it works. It is an easy-to-follow plan that gently guides you into walking and/or running. Remember, no one is expecting you to start training for a marathon. Baby steps, grasshopper, baby steps.

A Little Traveling Music, Please
If you’re dreading the task of cobbling together a play list of workout music from your vast and yet somehow still pathetic music collection, check out Podrunner. Every week creator and host Steve Boyette delivers a heart-pumping mix of tunes that gets you moving. If you like House Music, you’ll love Podrunner. You may even feel the urge to go out clubbing afterwards. Enjoy the podcast or the app.

Before I discovered Podrunner, I was trying to run while listening to audio books. This wasn’t easy to do when I was reading Stephen King’s “It.” Running from a psychotic clown is not as fun as it sounds.

How Am I Doing?
If you get the urge to chart your progress — how fast you’re walking/running and how far — you’ll want an app called Runtastic. Available for Blackberry, Android or iPhone. It’s a nifty little GPS timer that keeps you honest and inspired in miles or kilometers. Hopefully future editions will include an option for light years and warp speed.

Occasionally someone will say to me, “It’s easy for you, you’ve always been thin.” Yes, but being thin doesn’t mean you’re healthy. Skinny people die all the time, and not just because big people are trying to kill them. 

Before I started running, I was about 10 pounds heavier than I am now. Not a big deal, but remember the camera adds 10 pounds. When I saw pictures and video of myself, it was unpleasant. The technology should be further along than this. Instead of more megapixels, how about fewer pounds? Where’s the app for that?

It’s not just about the weight. I want to maintain health, tone and flexibility for as long as I can. In my octogenarian years, I want to rock it like Lena Horne and Eartha Kitt. (If you don’t know, you better ask somebody.) 

Also, being constantly bombarded by the media with images of uber-pretty and super-fit people doesn’t help. It exacerbates our teenage insecurities that we try to mask with gym memberships, carb free diets and, when all else fails, Spanx. 

We’ve come a long way in the last 10 years but overall, the world — as we know it in America — is not kind to large women. Let’s face it.  We can’t all be Kathy Bates. And so I run. I run from the inevitable physical decline that comes with age. I run from death. I run from Kathy Bates.

Running may not be your thing. Six months from now it may not be mine. What’s important is this: 

  1. Find something that you enjoy doing: Kick boxing, belly dancing, advanced Klingon bat’leth technique. If you like it, you’re more likely to stick with it.
  2. I hate to say it, but nothing beats the combination of exercising and eating right. Try to eat better quality food and cut back on the size of your portions. Do you really need to super size it?
  3. Find a workout buddy. You can motivate and be accountable to each other. You can also take turns driving each other to Ben & Jerry’s for a post-workout treat, but only in moderation.
  4. Remember it's not a race, unless, of course you are running a race and then it is.  
  5. Set a goal. Is there a look you're trying to achieve or a favorite pair of jeans you want to get back into? What’s your goal weight? I have a specific number in mind but that's between me and the evil digital paperweight in my bathroom. (I will share whatever my actual number is with the guy who mans the counter at CaribAir. When you’re boarding a puddle-jumper airplane in the Carribean, and they ask you how much you weigh so that they can gage how much fuel the plane needs, it’s probably best to set vanity aside and be honest. The counter man will, of course, let you whisper the number in his ear as the whole airport doesn’t need to know your business.) 
  6. Above all, start slowly and be patient with yourself. Your ass wasn’t built in a day. Whittling it down might take a minute.

And for the record I love Kathy Bates. She had me at Delores Claiborne. But if she ever plays the clown in a remake of It, I just may have to run a marathon after all.

Thanks for reading The Urban Erma. You can listen to the podcast on Podbean or subscribe for free on iTunes. In case you were wondering, in addition to blogging I am also a pretty good stand-up comedian. I do "Thinking Cap Comedy." If comedy were music, I'd be Jazz. Want to see a show? Check out my schedule at @

No comments: