Try 3 months for $3

The other morning I got up and walked to work, and just kept walking. Now mind you, unless I’m out on the road peddling my charms and wares, I walk to work every day. It’s a pretty straightforward commute: Out the front door, down the sidewalk, across the driveway, up a little rise around to the back of the garage, let myself in through the second-story door, and there y’are. I won’t count the trip out to the chicken coop and back because I’m trying to be modest.

Although I have always remained relatively active and have never truly let myself go completely to flop, I have also spent a vast percentage of the last 25 years slumped in a chair at a keyboard, or slumped behind the wheel of a car rolling to the next low-key whoop-de-doo. There have been certain doughy accumulations. Furthermore, one day not so long ago my brother the logger and I were comparing our accumulated clicks, twinges and impingements and it struck me that apart from the fact that I have never been hit in the head with the butt end of a tree, he’s no more physically frayed from his certifiably dangerous profession than I am from all my long-term butt parking.

Then the sitting studies started rolling in. Now, I’m a skeptic when it comes to popular medical news, since mostly what you get is the most superficial skimming of the most shocking scintillas, followed in five years by an utter reversal, and we all get nutritional whiplash as we trade out our low-fat margarine for stone-ground nut butters.

I figure you get your genetics, you do basic due diligence, and then maybe you can tweak the remaining 10 percent of fate. But these sitting studies made it sound like I might as well work in a burning tobacco factory as sit on my hinder from dusk to dawn, and – and this was the worst part – those intermittent jogs I was taking weren’t enough to undo the sedentary bulk of the rest of the day.

And so I began to take preventive measures. First I tried sitting on a big red yoga ball. It was fine, I suppose, but one day I got to bouncing on it as a form of procrastination and wound up knocking the computer monitor off the desk and injuring it well beyond the terms of the warranty. Next I tried a standing desk, but this only led to me slouching and slumping and leaning on my elbows the same as before only now while standing on my own two feet. It was a minimal improvement at best.

Then my wife suggested I get a treadmill desk. I chuckled condescendingly as she is 10 years younger than I and thus surely lacks my capacity for skepticism even if she is really into high-level black-belt yoga and can do things like ski to the back 40 and back, whereas I … I …aaand so I got a treadmill desk.

Do you know how hard it is to type, “treadmill desk?” Of all the trend-chasing, fad-following silliness I’ve gotten myself involved in over time, this ranks right up there with parachute pants and jelly bracelets at the roller rink. Nothing like walking all day and getting nowhere.

It’s bad enough when the guys down at the feed mill ask me what I’ve been up to lately and I say, “Crafting precious metaphors.” Now I have to say, “Crafting precious metaphors while walking 2.2 miles an hour—in place.”

But you know what? Two months in and I’ve dropped about 15 pounds. Certain hitches in my giddyup remain, but I feel more spry in general. My record is 11 miles in one day, although it’s usually more in the four- to six-mile range.

This is supposed to be a column, not an infomercial, so I’ll wrap it up, but I’ll leave you with two final bits of information: the words you just read were written over the course of 3.85 miles, and whatever wisecracks you or the boys at the feed mill come up with, they’re trumped in spades by the look in my wife’s eyes when I come in the door after yet another nine-mile day at the office.

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Adapted from Michael Perry’s weekly “Tent Show Radio” monologue. Learn where to listen at www.bigtop.org/tsr. Perry photo by Andi Stempniak, Eau Claire Leader-Telegram.

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