To the Mules

Post Date: July 17th, 2015


So my triglycerides were stubbornly elevated and unresponsive to fish oil. My cardiologist leveled with me: the remaining option was weight loss: Eat less, and exercise at least 45 minutes 3-4 times a week.

She had to be kidding. My idea of exercise was tapping on a keyboard and getting up from a chair.

That was about the time my GirlieMates (a name we adopted when we first traveled together to Ireland) made reservations for the six of us to see the Grand Canyon by way of a mule ride down to the bottom where we’d stay at a ranch, and ride back up to the rim the next day. A September adventure!

Then the brochure came in the mail. All I saw was the weight limit (yes, they weigh you!) for riding a mule. I was well over it.

I didn’t expect this conspiracy between the mules and my cardiologist. Still, in spite of myself, I made 10 pounds of progress. My triglycerides took a dive.

I got a dietician’s advice in April by way of editing her creative 12-month calendar of healthy eating tips. It was clear my devil was not sugary drinks or eating out too often. It was portion size.

So unfair! When food is so delicious, why must I eat less of it?

I shed five more pounds the next month, including half a pound lost during a 12-day vacation. (Zounds!) My triglycerides tumbled down to a nearly normal level.

But still 18 pounds too much for the mules. Those stubborn mules. I mean, pounds.

The clock is now ticking loudly as the Canyon escapade draws nearer. Five more pounds are gone (yay!) but still 13 to go (boo!). That’s because of the cushion I’ll need to allow for the clothing I’ll be wearing at the weigh in.

That much weight in nine weeks is doable, says my head. But it feels precarious. I’ve learned that summertime is as dicey as the holidays for weight loss with plentiful amounts of food at summer festivals, weddings, BBQs, parties.

The bathroom scale is both friend and enemy. It records my losses but once in a while shocks me by showing I’ve gained or stayed the same. Discouraging vicissitudes.

At least my cardiologist’s push to exercise has developed more easily. I mapped out a one-mile route last fall and huffed and puffed my way through it. This spring I pushed it up and did things like walking the mile down to the village post office to mail a letter rather than twenty steps to my mailbox. Of course that meant another mile right back home up the inclines that are Greendale.

And now I walk 2¼ miles 3-4 times a week. I walk in the evening so that when the inevitable hunger arises two hours later, I’m – befitting my age – in bed.

Walking, yoga and wall sitting have made me stronger and fitter than I’ve been in 10 years. Last Saturday in preparation for the mule ride my GirlieMates and I took a horseback riding lesson. I did yoga ahead of time and didn’t hurt at all afterwards.

But they didn’t weigh me.

The push is on. In the end, it is the thought of sleeping in the car while my friends are riding into the Canyon that keeps me at it.

The journey on those mules will be a whole lot easier than the journey to them.