This is not working out


We are a nation of fat people. We eat too much, exercise too little and don't care about it. We, the very hefty people of the United States of America, are one nation under a God-awful amount of fat, indivisible from our sofas with liberty and pancakes for all.


According to the Centers for Disease Control, from 1976-1980 to 2003-2004, the number of overweight or obese people has doubled for adults, and it's nearly tripled for children. I'm part of that 30 percent, and they’re probably counting me as two people.


It wasn't always like this. I used to be a big health nut. I ran for miles, lifted weights and ate very little. Then somewhere along the way, I strangled the Jim Fixx inside me with a Slim Jim and traded his lifeless corpse for a Corona.


So imagine my shock when a friend invited me to join him at his gym. I had a mouthful of chocolate cookie in my trap when he told me, so the response was deliciously ironic as well as garbled and messy.


I like to think I'm an active guy who likes to play sports and go for walks and do things other than sit around even if I'm not athletically fit, but straight exercise seemed more forced and boring than a Coldplay song.


"They better have a decent bar," I told him.


So off I went. It's been two years since I've set foot in a gym, so clothing options were more limited than Sally Struthers at the Gap. I slapped on a Homer Simpson tee that had sections of his brain mapped out for "donuts," "sex" and "beer." My ever-expanding gut made the "beer" and "donuts" portion three times bigger and the "sex" portion twice as small.


I also couldn't find my old running shoes. I had to settle for a cherry red pair of Chuck Taylor All-Stars. Add a pair of dorky looking basketball shorts and I showed up looking like I was ready to play basketball in 1957 for the Indiana Honkeys.


I stuck with the treadmill, the stairmaster and the exercise bike. Despite their healthy sounding names, these are actually harbingers of confusion and destruction. They allow you to walk, climb and pedal for miles without actually going anywhere. You've walked two miles but the scenery hasn't changed and you're in the same spot when you started.


This is why we have a drug problem in this country because the hallucinations drugs cause make more sense than the activities that make us healthier. Sure there's a leprechaun punching a unicorn, but at least there's enough context to help you realize the leprechaun is doing it to protect his Razzleberry Pop Tarts.


By the end of it, I worked up a good sweat, my muscles beamed with strength and my energy actually felt like it had kicked up a couple of notches.


In other words, I thought I was going to die.