Pedaling for Penance by Mike Courteau

Pedaling for Penance by: Mike Courteau

I have been attending spinning classes and/or cycling regularly since December 17th. Today, a little over four months later, I weigh 182 lbs.—eleven pounds less than when I began working out at this pace.

But let’s be clear, I have not been religious about my diet. On the contrary, I haven’t denied myself much. I eat and drink what I want, mostly, although I still proceed with a generalized dietary sense that I ought to mind my cholesterol since it has been high in the past and, even though I managed to lower it some years ago, it has been creeping up again lately.

I have worked out extremely hard to lose those eleven pounds. I have pedaled harder than I could have ever imagined. Today, for example, I did a one-hour spinning class led by instructor Kathy Fiorino—always the toughest—and I was perspiring from every pore.

It is the rare person who can push him or herself harder than others can. I am not one of them. I need someone to kick me in the ass. Then I’ll perform. Otherwise, I’ll look for the quick exit like so many others.

What has amazed me though, considering how hard I’ve worked out, is that these eleven pounds didn’t come off sooner. One would think that the punishing workouts delivered by the Lifetime Fitness instructors would have verily melted the subcutaneous fat off my body.

I realize, though, that diet plays a role, and had I kept assiduously to some sort of Atkins-type diet—one high in protein, low in carbs, and low in fat—I certainly would have maximized my results and made my workouts more efficient.

Alas, I realize that exercise is repentance, for me. Sure I want to become more fit, but I am not yet ready to make the dietary sacrifices to become so. I enjoy my red wine and my family’s Friday ritual of Papa Murphy’s pizza. And don’t think for a minute that I will not indulge in a Vincent burger or two when I start frequenting Target Field starting this Sunday. As long as I stay committed to showing up, sheepishly, to Kathy’s class every Tuesday morning to perform my penance, then all is well, or well enough.

None of this is particularly wise, I know, but unless one is training for something specific, why not enjoy the best of both worlds? I am, as I have written before, in the best cardio shape I’ve been in since high school, and I still enjoy my Mediterranean Pizza and Malbec.

Of course, I have not yet mentioned my affinity for fine cigars. Indeed, earlier today, I began to fantasize about some day in the not-too-distant future when I’ll be able to bask in the sun on my deck and puff a Dominican cigar for an hour or so.

Do you think that is a bad idea?

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