Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Back to the Routine

I'm back home in Celebration and into my fitness routine. In Chicago, I tend to revert to bad habits, not doing any exercise and indulging in an obscene amount of Culver's ice cream. In Florida, for some reason it seems a lot easier to stay active. Most mornings I go walking with a friend, and most evenings I head over to Celebration Health for a few laps in the pool. In between I might venture out on my bike or take the cat for a walk. Granted, it's hard to get my heart rate up when I take Stitch out on his leash. Every few steps he likes to collapse and roll around on the sidewalk as though he is having a kitty epilepsy fit. Still, we usually make it most of the way around the block.

Today, I arrived home in the afternoon. My flight was scheduled to land at 2 p.m., and we actually touched down 15 minutes early. It was a fairly comfortable flight; I was first in the A line at Midway, so I was able to select an exit row. I had a sugar kid behind me, but that's always a risk on flights to Orlando. Other than that, it was a smooth, non-eventful flight, just the way I like 'em. Even though I fly a roundtrip at least once a month, I am actually terrified of flying. The logistics of a silver cigar tube jetting through the wild blue yonder at several hundred miles per hour just doesn't compute in my humble litle brain. Yes, I know that it's safer than driving (and I really believe it after driving through the Atlanta ice storm on our Chicago to Celebration trek). But if I get in a crash in Canyonero, I have front and side airbags to cushion some of the blow. If a plane decides to drop out of the sky, there's no cushion between the clouds and the ground.

I found an excellent website called that has helped me a lot. It explains just how airworthy planes really are and what all those funny noises that you hear are all about. I'm fine as long as a know that a weird creak or rattle has a legitimate purpose. Now, rather than being paranoid, I can anticipate various stages of the flight. I have a very logical mind, so a little knowledge goes a long way in reassuring me that flying is, indeed, safe, no matter how impossible it might seem to defy the laws of gravity and good sense.

Once I got home, I tamed the house down into some sort of order. The cats had made a fort with two of the back doormats. The bird was complaining loudly about being on "house arrest" in his cage (he's used to being loose when we're home). I also had to log on and do some work, since I'd wasted the whole morning traveling. I had done some programming of a training course that I'm working on, but it's hard to do much without internet access.

I realized that evening was rapidly approaching, and I knew that I needed to do some serious exercise. Visions of the turtle sundaes that I had consumed during the previous days danced around in my head. And of course there was a meal at The Melting Pot that would have made Henry the Eighth cringe and the never-ending buffet at the House of Blues Gospel Brunch. It was time to put my fitness club membership to good use.

I dug up a swimsuit, tossed it into my workout bag, and headed off for a nice, invigorating swim. Celebration Health is usually very quiet in the late evening. Often, I have the whole lap pool to myself, although there are usually a few inert bodies relaxing in the therapy pool, which is meant for arthritis-friendly exercise but which also doubles as a whirlpool. It's kept somewhere in the 89 to 92 degree range, and there are powerful jets on one side.

On this evening, there was one person in the therapy pool. As I passed him, I did a doubletake, but my eyes were not deceiving me...he had a cell phone glued to his ear. I'm used to seeing people gabbing away just about anywhere, but a swimming pool? What conversation could be that important? It must have been hard for him to hear and be heard, since he was sitting in the whirpool jets. To make up for this, he was shouting heartily into the mouthpiece. You'd think it would be easier to move to a quieter location, but no...he was determined to talk from the pool.

It's funny to see how our society has no sense of privacy anymore. I've heard people carrying on loud, animated cell phone conversations in public on topics ranging from a relative's mental illness to graphically detailed bathroom habits. Worse still are the people who use the Nextel walkie-walkies. With others, you have to use your imagination to fill in the other end of the conversation. With the Nextel people, all their dirty laundry flaps in the breeze for anyone to see (or rather, hear). My favorite was the couple who were having quite a nasty argument over their Nextels. I was standing near the husband, but he was oblivious to me and the rest of the crowd as he lambasted his spouse. She gave as good as she got, and all in the public eye. Better than a soap opera.

My brother the truck driver once played a nasty joke on one of his buddies. Everyone in his company as Nextels, and they use the walkie-talkie feature frequently, like a bunch of overgrown kids playing space ranger. Their conversations are inane banter, liberally sprinkled with expletives. One day my husband and I were driving along in Canyonero with my brother and sister-in-law. My brother's buddy gave him a shout on the Nextel, and my brother really got him going into a politically incorrect conversaton full of four letter words. Then, he finally revealed that there was an audience. I thought the poor guy was going to die of embarrassment! I'm sure he'll be careful of what he says on his Nextel in the future, at least when talking to my brother.

I did my laps in the six foot section of the pool. At 5"2', that means that my feet don't even come close to touching the bottom. That helps me get a better full-body workout. I vary traditional swimming with using a swim noodle to hold me up while I propel myself across the lane in various unconventional ways. Sometimes I ride it like a bike, or I lean back on it and paddle lazily along. Other times I wrap in around my waist and mimic cross country skiing under the water or lean forward and hold it out in front of me like a kick board. The swim noodle is truly one of the most versatile pool toys ever invented.

I worked out for half an hour so I could get home in time for the new episode of "South Park." I like to leave enough time for a few minutes in the whirlpool and a nice, long, luxurious shower before I leave. Mr. Cell Phone had left by the time I was ready to hop into the therapy pool. I relaxed in its warm waters for five minutes or so, then headed into the locker room.

Once I was showered and dressed, I headed out to Canyonero. It's always a little surreal to hear the Muzak that continually plays outside the entrance way to Celebration Health. I've never seen a hospital or health club (Celebration Health is both) that had outdoor Muzak before.

I felt invigorated after my exercise. It always feels so good to get my heart pumping and to feel like I'm burning off at least a few calories. Tomorrow morning I'll head out on my before-work walk to start the day with some physical activity; then, at night, it will be back to the pool to end it with a workout too. No Chicago laziness here; I'm back into my routine, and it feels so good.

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