Monday, July 4, was a holiday. I signed up on June 30. It was really exciting for me to finally start an exercise program; I was so excited that I waited four days before actually going to the gym. I had a time management problem, obviously. Gym hours only run from 4:00 in the morning to 11:00 at night and I only have a 19-hour window to work with. But this day was Independence Day, and I made a decision to declare my independence from this wonderful lifestyle that I had been living, which included modeling a physique similar to that of Jabba the Hut. I wasn't working that day, I had no barbecues to attend, my dog didn't have diarrhea, so I was out of excuses not to go. I left my house and drove north to the gym.
Arrival at the gym parking lot was the first victory for me. I drove the two-mile distance from my home, and then cruised the 500+ space parking lot (which had only about 30 cars parked in it) for another half-hour trying to find a good parking spot. Yeah, you can tell I was motivated to get out of my truck. I eventually chose a good spot, which was timely, because I was begining to exhibit the signs of a creepy parking lot predator. I parked, stepped out of my truck, and began my walk toward the main entrance. My heart started racing...not from excitement, but because of this weather phenomenon we experience from June to August called "summer." This results in us having to park our vehicles on the surface of the sun. The temperature that day was "furnace" (official temperature that day was 107 degrees; parking lot temperatures tend to be 5-10 degrees higher); thus, my workout started at the beginning of my walk across the parking lot. I felt like I was walking through Death Valley; the only thing that was missing was a cactus and cow skull on the ground. As I approached the doors with the glistening and glorified appearance of a sweating, heavy-breather ready to code at any time, I crossed paths with people exiting the gym, bouncing out with their fancy gym bags and exercise clothes, with those beep-beep things around their biceps, and I staggered in with my stained, red canvas bag that I normaly use to carry lunch, which today contained a towel, two bottles of water, my will, and my yellow receipt from the signup sheet, which I needed to have available to present to the counterperson.
As I entered, I quickly glanced back and forth to make sure no one was staring at this creepy sweaty guy that was entering the building. I sidled up to the counter, where two young women and a young man were seated. I was greeted by the two women. The man was too busy ogling the women and having his own episode of uncontrollable panting (different than mine), and was too involved in his own little world to say anything to anyone. So much for customer service. I eventually dug out my receipt that was lodged in the lowest point possible inside my bag, and handed it to one of the young women at the counter. Since my biggest fear at that moment was becoming the star of a YouTube video entitled "Treadmill Fail," I immediately asked her if I could get some assistance on how to start such an intimidating machine. As she folded my receipt and handed it back to me, she said, "Sure, no problem! She asked the young man, "Uh, Biff (or whatever it was), could you help this gentleman?" Biff was still too busy ogling and didn't hear her, but by now he was turning blue from breathing too hard. Rather than try to break his concentration, which would have resulted in a post traumatic stress disorder later in his life, she decided to take it upon herself and said, "C'mon, I'll get you started!"
We walked over to the long bank of treadmills, which were situated around a hundred feet or so from the entrance. There must have been 50 or 60 of them, in three rows. Naturally, she led me to the first available treadmill, which in my mind appeared to have a hundred flashing neon arrows pointing to it, but I resolved within myself that I was going to have to get over this phobia of being stared upon, and that this was going to be the machine upon which I would begin my fantastic and inspirational journey. At this point, I expected her to turn into a Starfleet officer and start pushing the treadmill console buttons as if it were the pilot control panel of a Federation Starship. I awaited the long set of instructions that were going to be coming my way. She began her oration: "Just push this RED BUTTON and it resets the treadmill; push this GREEN BUTTON to start the treadmill; push the right GREEN ARROW to speed up or slow down the treadmill; push the left GREEN ARROW to raise or lower the angle of incline, and the RED BUTTON stops the machine."
Red, green, up, down. Four buttons. I thought that "EASY" buttons only existed in commercials and were just red.
Having dodged a potentially harrowing situation, I put my pen and notepad away since I wasn't going to be needing them to write down instructions. I stepped on the treadmill and pushed the (duh) BIG GREEN BUTTON. As it clicked, the machine began counting down from "3" and a couple of seconds later the belt began to move. I straddled the belt with my feet on their respectable edges of the machine and looked down and watched it move, while fearing my potential YouTube performance. After a couple of minutes, it occurred to me that I probably looked pretty strange staring down at a conveyor belt for such a long time, so I made the move. I slowed down the belt speed for safety, and stepped onto it without issue. So much for YouTube.
In Galations 5:1, it says: "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. " God is teaching me that anything that draws me away from Him subjects me to slavery; the consequences of bad decisions (or no decision) leads me to living as a slave to my physical condition.
So, I'm standing firm...well, except when the machine is moving...
And while this 4th of July pales in comparison to the day when 56 brave men gathered in Philadelphia 235 years ago to sign their names onto a piece of vellum parchment with iron gall ink, in order that they could declare their freedom from an oppressive force, it was on this day that I celebrated my Independence Day...
I began to walk the first step of a journey of a thousand steps...even though it's on a treadmill.
Well, in my case, it's a journey of approximately 22,176,657 steps, but who's counting?