I recently returned from an annual vacation with family and friends.
Spending time Up North is always a pleasant experience for me, but this trip was tinged with a touch of sadness.
This was the result of some time we spent at the cabin looking at old photos.
We’ve been participating in this annual pilgrimage to the lake for 33 years, and some of the photos showed us when we were much younger.
One photo in particular stood out.
In those days, I actually ran at times other than emergency situations.
I spent a lot more time outdoors. We rarely watched television, and we didn’t own a computer.
In addition, I had the built in motivation of friends with whom I participated in various activities.
I often ran with a friend who was preparing to go to school for law enforcement and wanted to improve his condition.
Another friend and I played raquetball early in the mornings.
I spent some of my time weightlifting, and not just when I got out of a chair.
All these things contributed to a leaner version of myself, and there was a lot less of me then than there is now, as evidenced by the photo.
It was sad to see how far things have declined (or rather, expanded).
Seeing the photo made me think I should make an effort to lose weight and get in better condition.
This, in turn, reminded me of a time when my old pal Skippy tried to do the same thing.
Skippy was not especially overweight, and he was comfortable with his condition.
Skippy’s fitness challenge was motivated, as so often happens with married people, by external, rather than internal forces.
Skippy’s wife, Victoria, believed in a policy of constant improvement, and her favorite victim or subject for improvement was Skippy.
Victoria had excellent vision when it came to finding areas in which Skippy could be improved.
It was no surprise, therefore, when she noticed his britches seemed slightly more snug than they had been.
Victoria was a woman of action, so once she decided Skippy was in danger of putting on weight, she introduced a new fitness regimen for the poor devil, and decreed that he should start immediately.
Skippy was less than enthusiastic about the scheme.
He was a dedicated trencherman, and liked to get his share at mealtime.
Skippy also enjoyed leisure, and believed in the value of relaxation.
However, Skippy was also a pragmatist, and hard experience had taught him that when Victoria made up her mind about something, it was much easier in the long run to go along with her wishes.
And so it came to pass that Skippy began a program of vigorous physical activity.
I often went along with him, because I enjoyed being active.
Victoria put together a schedule that Skippy was expected to follow.
He confided in me that he suspected she had started with the Marine Corps conditioning program for new recruits and made it tougher to suit her needs.
Skippy did OK with the new program at first.
He didn’t really mind the exercise, and since he and I did a lot of the activities together, we had some fun.
Then, Victoria implemented phase 2 of her program.
This involved cutting out or drastically reducing the allocation of many of Skippy’s favorite foods.
Consumption of refreshing adult beverages was strictly limited to two per week, and treats like pizza and red meat were replaced with salads and green vegetables.
Skippy’s condition began to decline, and he complained that Victoria was trying to starve him.
He seemed lethargic and he became increasingly irritable, which was out of character for him.
One day, he snapped.
He picked me up and announced we were going to lunch. He had a grim, set expression on his face.
We checked in at one of those restaurants that advertise an all-you-can-eat buffet.
I asked if this might get him into trouble with Victoria. Skippy uttered a derisive snort in response, and continued to pile his plate with everything in sight.
When we were seated at the table, my edacious comrade began shoveling in the comestibles like a stevedore loading a grain ship. When the first installment had disappeared, Skippy filled another plate, and kept at it until I worried he might burst.
At the conclusion of the feast, he announced his fitness program was at an end.
I heard later that when he arrived at home, Victoria had tried to force him back on the rails, but everything has a limit, and Skippy had reached his. Even Victoria could recognize an immovable object when she saw one.
Skippy’s fitness challenge passed quietly into history.