Well, my effort to unseat Arnold sort of petered out after a while. I was making great progress at first, going to the gym every other day, and eventually increasing the weight I lifted and adding some new exercises. But then things got hectic and I stopped going, and let my gym membership expire.
I decided at some point that I would try again, but work out by bicycling instead, in part because I prefered riding outdoors to anything I could do in a gym, but also because working out on a stair machine in the gym drove home to me that I need aerobic exercise. I could only do the stair exercise for about three minutes before I would start retching from overexertion.
I got to be in such poor condition because I spend so much time sitting at my computer. My colorful Newfoundlander wife says I don't walk the length of myself.
Cycling was delayed because my bike got kind of banged up in the U-Haul truck that we moved our stuff from Maine in. I finally got it together to repair it, readjusting one of the breaks, replacing a couple bent chain links, but then discovering the derailleur was bent. Trying to shift to a lower gear would drive the derailleur into the spokes of the rear wheel.
I prefer to work on my bike myself, but I couldn't figure out how to fix the derailleur, so I took it to a bike shop. They couldn't salvage the derailleur, so they installed a new one, and I had to wait several days for it to be out of the shop, finally paying $75 for the parts and labor.
Happily, the new derailleur works great. My bike has indexed shifting, so gear changes snap right into place. The old derailleur I think was worn and certainly out of adjustment, so the indexing didn't used to work well, but the brand-new derailleur is adjusted just right, and makes my bike easier to ride than it was before it got damaged.
For a while now I had been kind of depressed, not feeling sad really but tired, sleeping way too much, unmotivated and finding it very difficult to do even simple programming tasks. Every shrink I've ever seen has told me the best medicine for depression is vigorous exercise. That has been my experience in the past, but the problem is finding the gumption to exercise when I really feel like just taking a nap.
I've been doing better the last few days. It wasn't the exercise, but the urgency that I fix a bug that was keeping my client from shipping his product.
I was really stymied at first, but one night I gathered all the courage I could muster and waded into a bunch of really complex multitasking embedded code, stayed up all night in the debugger, and in the morning I discovered that I was ignoring the result of a system call whose result needed to be heeded. Checking it and propagating the occasional error result made a whole bunch of stuff that used to be broken start working really well.
Yesterday I got my bike back from the shop and finally got to ride. After my experience with the step machine at the gym I didn't try to ride very far, just three miles on level ground, but I guess as a testament to my pathetic physique I worked up a good sweat, and my legs felt all rubbery for the rest of the evening.
But I felt good from the exercise, and today I rode a little farther. I'm going to go farther each day, until I'm riding for an hour every day, and eventually try riding up a big hill that overlooks the town.
Once I'm able to ride up the hill without dropping dead, I'm going to join the gym again and resume lifting weights. I'll go bicycling each day, stopping at the gym, then work out on the weights, then ride home.
It's really hard for most people to exercise regularly when we're out of shape. But if we can find some way to keep at it, there will come a point where one feels the need to exercise every day, where it feels somehow unpleasant to let a day go by without working out. If I can just keep up my motivation to reach that point, I will finally be able to get in shape.
And then I'll defeat Arnold in the next election :-)
There was one time in my life when I did so much bicycling that I was in really good shape. I had a summer job at UC Santa Cruz, where I was a student, and couldn't afford a parking permit so I rode my bicycle to work. UCSC is at the top of a big hill. It was hellish at the start of the summer, I was really depressed and in poor condition. Early on I only showed up to work every other day because I couldn't bear the prospect of the ride.
But I had to earn the money so after a while I started to ride every weekday. I started timing my trip from my house to the gym on campus, where there was a scale so I could weigh myself. I tried to beat my time each day. After a few weeks I had a much easier time climbing the hill, and I was losing weight too.
By the end of the summer I had lost twenty pounds, then started gaining weight as my legs got more muscular. I rode every day, even on weekends when I didn't work, and sometimes I'd ride up the hill again, after work, with friends just to get the exercise.
I felt so good then, possibly the best I've felt in my life. Unfortunately it didn't last, because I left school and got a job that was too far to ride, and required so much time I rarely could find the time to ride after work.
At the end of that summer I weighed about 175 pounds. When I was married in 2000, I weighed 250. I lost 50 pounds since then with low-carbohydrate diets, so much weight that I have to wear my wedding ring on my middle finger, because it falls off my ring finger and I fear I might lose it.
But no amount of dieting seems able to budge the scale anymore, and the experience with the stair machines makes me fear a heart attack someday.
I'm determined to get back to the way I felt and looked that summer at UCSC so long ago. I haven't seen 175 pounds since 1987. If I was able to get in such fine shape back then, surely I can do it again.