River Walking

I went out and bought one of those digital, 3 in 1 weight scales from Shoppers Drug Mart yesterday. The indecisiveness of our $9.99 Walmart special was driving me to drink and to eat. So, gone is the "Not for legal trade" plastic white piece of crap and arrived is the slick glass and stainless steel super deluxe weight scale that captures your profile -- gender, height and age -- and spits out your weight, body fat percentage and body water percentage, then declares your health condition.

And that's where the heartache begins. I haven't checked things this morning, as that would require taking off my socks -- Did I mention you have to take your socks off to get measured? -- and bending over is just too much work. But last night, the Beast confirmed my deepest, darkest fears -- that according to the UNDERFAT HEALTHY OVERFAT OBESE scale, I am teetering into the obese category. The Beast also confirmed what the piece of crap Walmart special was trying to tell me, that I am 206 pounds, not 205.8 or 206. 2, but 206.0 on the nose.

So, now I have three measures to track my progress or lack thereof: body weight, body fat and body water percentage. Whoopee! Obese? Come on!

Then I turned sideways and looked at myself in the mirror. (insert long pause here) Ahh, there's the rub, as Hamlet said. Looking straight on the perspective is misleading, overly optimistic. Looking at the side view is the money shot, the view of truth, the modus operandi for this Middle Age Bulge journey I've set upon. Where did that lopsided hourglass figure come from? Could it have been that beer, those chips, the yam fries and blackened chicken melts and overflowing lunch meals served up in the cafeteria at work? Yah, probably. Certainly.

I've noticed in the dawning days of what needs to become a significant life change that my eating challenges are easily overcome in the morning, midday and afternoon -- it's the evenings that prove to be the most difficult. Sitting in my favourite spot reading The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy, my stomach and brain begin their familiar dance trying to figure out what food or drink would make the evening more perfect. My thoughts drift from the page to the cupboard and images of crackers and cheese appear, disappear, then reappear. Vegetables and fruit don't even make a guest appearance in the movie reel of my mind.

"I'm going to go for a long walk after supper," I declared, feeling compelled to do something to begin moving the health meter in the better direction.

With temperatures dipping near -30 degrees, I put on all of my winter accoutrement including the uber warm, super large snow pants and snow boots, and headed north. Across the old snow dump at the end of Father Mercredi street, through a well-worn walking path in the willows, a quick slide down the bank and I found myself on the frozen snow covered Clearwater River.

The full moon had made its presence known earlier in the day, shimmering behind the clouds on the northern horizon, like a second sun. Now it owned the sky, bathing the long expanse of the Clearwater in a kind of magical half-light, shades of dark blue and purple with the pinpricks of stars creating a celestial ceiling.

I liked the solitude of this path, adjacent to a teeming city but completely stark and apart -- so close yet so far. Following the snowmobile tracks on the south side of the river I slogged ahead one heavy step at a time, feeling that spot on my heal where my boots dig into my flesh, adjusting my step to mitigate the pain. I decided that I would walk as far as the new building going up along the river next to Rona, then turn around.

When I'm walking around town, every distance seems so much longer, the city so much bigger. There is a similar effect on the river being both longer and wider than I imagined. My thoughts often drift back to the early settlers and how the world must have seemed so much larger to them. With fast cars, fast airplanes and fast Internet connections, the world has been compressed beyond measure.

It was cold as I turned and began walking with the current, but it felt good as ice crystals formed on the tip of my jacket covering my chin. My legs grew heavy, one foot in front of the other, by rote following the tracks toward Snye Park where I got off the river and scooted through the forest and former snow dump before emerging on to Hill and finally Demers Drive, home.

December 31, 2009 - 205.4 pounds, 31.1 % body fat


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