There is such a thing as getting too much rest, and the excuses persuade me to put off exerting myself for another day, and another, until I have to stir what energy and will that remain before it is too late. Another few days and I might need help to rise from this chair. The muscles have begun to hang from my bones. The energy I must expend to bathe and dress leave me with little desire to embark on my errands. But necessity propels me from my abode, and once in the car, moving through the streets and seeing the world I have shut out (except as seen through the window of the tv screen), I begin to feel better.
Last month I confessed to my doctor that I knew most of my health problems would be greatly helped if I could lose 50 or 60 pounds. He printed out a 1,000-calorie diet and told me to buy an exercise bike. The diet contains almost no fat, no desserts, no snacks, and no chocolate. A half-teaspoon of butter will not cover the thin slice of bread I am allowed. Skim milk tastes like chalk dissolved in water. But I stuck to the diet for 3 weeks. I lost 3 pounds, and even though I am not hungry on these reduced rations, I did not lose any more weight.
So I have bought an exercise bike with moving handles. My son put it together for me. It sits on the porch where I have promised to ride it at least once a day–twice if I can–to start getting back my strength and endurance. If it also burns calories, so much the better.
I rode the bike this morning for 10 minutes, slowly until my knees stopped aching. After 5 minutes I sped up, but did not turn the resistance knob. Eight minutes, and I became aware of my heart rate speeding up. I began to breathe a bit faster. My legs felt a little tired, but I knew I could make it to 10 minutes, and I did. Don’t overdo it, I told myself.
I got off the bike and put the cover over it. My lower back felt warm and loose; my leg muscles were numbly tired. I can do this, I thought. And soon I will crave the effort, will need it to relax the tension of responding muscle. It is a new level of inertia–not inaction, as before, but a stable rate of motion that can be more easily increased with a little extra effort. And it will feel good. I know it will.