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by S. R. Adams

"Exercise should be against the law," I muttered as I lay flat on the bleachers, chest heaving, sweat pouring off of my body. "With all the technology available, there must be a pill or a potion, a tonic or lotion to stay healthy and not exercise. They must have come up with a solution for all the body's ills, aches and pains."

I should explain why I was flat on my back, red in the face and stinking in a public park on a relatively mild August day. It started with a phone call from the helpful nurse/midwife I had seen for a checkup the week before. I had explained to her a few problems in my life--a forty pound weight gain in six months, night sweats, at least one hot flash, painful, somewhat irregular menstrual periods and lumpy breasts. She ordered bloodwork for thyroid trouble, anemia, cholesterol, blood sugar and a hormone check for menopause (although she said it was doubtful at my age). So at 4:30 on that fateful afternoon she called to inform me that I had a total cholesterol count of 256. My initial response was "so what?" Cholesterol is not something I had ever paid attention to before--I have always eaten as I pleased, never gained an ounce and only exercised when the Air Force made me. "You'll need to consider a change of lifestyle," said the nurse/midwife.

Lifestyle change? But I had just had one! When the Air Force and I parted ways over my little nervous breakdown, it was a complete change of lifestyle. I went from being a one hundred and ten pound bundle of nerves to a one hundred and fifty pound slug. Don't get me wrong--being a slug has its good points. I haven't missed the stress of the outside world at all. I feel no need to be gung-ho and save the world any longer. I don't have to go gray over rules, policies and procedures that would make you civilian types shudder and I don't have to continue to fight the "good ole boy" network that ruled my life for fifteen years.

I've enjoyed the life of a coach potato--never missing my soaps or Rosie, being home for my kids for the first time in their lives. I've become a better cook, taught myself computer skills on the internet, built my own webpage, done a bit of writing, sewing, reading--all the things I never had time for before. For the first time in my life people aren't approaching me with food, declaring that I will blow away in a slight breeze. I even taught myself to knit fer crying out loud! I've switched my beverage choice from Coke--mother's milk in the South--to Diet Coke and lost twelve pounds without any more exercise than is necessary to stroll through Six Flags Amusement Park every other week over the summer.

Now I'm in the park, sweating like a pig, watching the birds of prey circling overhead just waiting for me to die. Okay, so they're only house sparrows, but the point remains; why must I exercise? Why can't I just sit in the air conditioning and enjoy a nice long life and eat any damn thing I please? Who told my cholesterol to jump up to 256? My husband comes around the track and motions for me to join him for the journey home. My dear hubby is decked out in a tummy belt, knee-high cotton socks and a full sweat suit. He walks about three miles twice a day, five days a week to keep the Air Force off his back. I sigh heavily as I heave my weary carcass off of the bench, wishing I had brought the cell phone so that I could call the kids for a ride home, and vow to bring my cigarettes next time. Sometimes you just gotta say what the hell.

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S. R. Adams is recently retired from the military and has started a second career as a mom. She can also be found quite often in WOW, hosting or just hanging around.

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