Recently, I read an article about a research project that followed two groups of mice: a young group and an old group. Both were tracked 24/7 to see what their activity levels were, when they were busiest, the state of their awake/sleep times, and what impact it had on their health. The young mice were busy throughout the day and slept soundly at night. The old mice were less busy throughout the day and slept less at night.
However, after the researchers put wheels into their cages, both sets of mice became more active. They exercised more, ate less, and both became much healthier. Life was looking up for everyone—until those rotten scientists removed their wheels. So what happened? The mice started laying on their couches, watching The Big Bang Theory marathons, and eating tons of White Castle.
No, wait…that was me. Anyway, if you want to read the article, click here.
There are times when getting up and exercising on my own personal wheel is something of a chore. I work at a desk job, so my daily movement can be limited. I got a fitness band to help gently remind me when to get up and move so that I don’t resemble Jabba the Hutt by the time I’m ready for retirement.
Throughout the day, my bracelet lights up and repeatedly flashes the message: GO MARIA! GO! If I don’t go, the bracelet continues to flash. I imagine it must be awful if you’re prone to seizures.
So what do I do? I go. I walk and walk, and then walk some more. Still, that damn bracelet keeps yelling at me. As I’m walking aimlessly around my tiny office, I occasionally can be heard saying, “WHAT THE XX!!# DO YOU WANT, BRACELET?” You can imagine how popular I am.
My bracelet reminds me of my 9th grade Physical Education teacher. Let’s call her Ms. Hell-Raiser. Ms. H-R had all the subtle, engaging charm of a Death Star storm trooper. She appeared to be carved out of marble but lacking the usual warmth of marble (yes, I realize that marble is cold), with calf muscles that may have been bigger than actual calves. Each beautiful morning would begin with orders like these:
“You lazy bums. I SAID MOVE!”
“WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU LOSERS?”
and my personal favorite:
“If you idiots had to run for your lives from a hungry lion, you’d all be breakfast.”
My classmates seemed able to respond to these kinds of motivational/cruel speeches by—remarkably—running faster. I, on the other hand, was okay with the idea of being eaten by a large predator. At least I would have gotten out of gym class.
So, of course, Hell-Raiser hated me.
When everyone else was done running around the track, I’d still be running at a pace that my teacher deemed glacial. This might be true, but for someone who would have rather been sitting in English class discussing how much she loved Leora in Arrowsmith or why To Kill a Mockingbird was the quintessential American classic, it was stitch-in-the-side, all-out, blazing fast, warp speed.
Hell-Raiser was incensed because she thought I ran slowly on purpose. Not so! While I often did enjoy seeing her purple face and infuriated grimace as I made my way around the mind-numbing circle known as the track, I could not actually go any faster. I am slow and plodding, just like every other member of my family, and probably a long line of ancestors before me. We are the people who perfected not being spotted by predators because we would either stand still (and not be detected) or hide behind a tree while everyone else darted away and the lion chased them down.
If there had been bicycles in gym class, I could’ve wowed Hell-Raiser with my superior racing skills and beaten her in any competition. Of course, I also would’ve ridden away, never to be seen again.
My high school gym experiences made me believe for a time that there are 2 kinds of people in the world:
- Those who love exercising, eating right, and weighing 20 lbs.
The trauma inflicted on my psyche has led me to do some serious soul searching. Yes, I know exercise is important, and I try to do it every single day. I use lots of motivational tools and tricks to keep me going. So, here is my list of things I tell myself to keep getting onto my “wheel” every single time.
8 Great Things About Exercise
- It doesn’t last forever
- It has been known to cause heart attacks—so there’s always a way out
- Sometimes, the really gung-ho athletes around you trip and fall, providing random and welcome sources of comedic relief
- When done properly, there’s only a small chance I might fall and break a limb
- The more calories you burn, the more White Castle you can eat later
- The Gym is obviously a place to suffer, which knocks off time in Hell…and those awkward reunions with your 9th grade Phys. Ed. teacher
- Exercising allows you to be morally superior to people who lay around watching The Big Bang Theory marathons and eating White Castle (you know, the same people you actually envy)
- It helps you become a master of pointless repetition, bringing some of us right back to our Catholic school years when we learned the Hustle
What is it about exercise that makes me so hungry? If the idea is to torch calories, why do I come home wanting to eat more? The list of recipes above offer 28 easy to make or easy to find treats that even I thought looked enjoyable.
So, Hungry Lifers…what’s your favorite form of exercise? Were you traumatized or inspired by your gym teachers? Which TV show/food do you binge on? Please leave a comment, and then get back on your wheels NOW. Thanks.