A metered male mulls new regimen of exercise | TheUnion.com
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A metered male mulls new regimen of exercise

Mike Drummond, Columnist
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

I was the first of my siblings to walk. Since my birth predates theirs by at least three years, perhaps this isn’t the quality accomplishment it might seem. If only I’d had the prescience to pin a pedometer to one of my predisposable-era diapers, I could have logged every mile I ever walked. How different my life might be.

My wife says I would be healthier if I took a morning “constitutional.” Had I taken steps to amass the proper documentation, I could rebut with my now-undiapered hip area pedometer, where my lifetime mileage would be well into the mid-six figures.

Here at Clear Creek Ranch, walking is not easy. Everything is covered with dense chaparral and chaparral denizens. Unless I want to return home florally flagellated and covered with fauna fang-marks, I walk on paved roadways – near the scenery but not among it, preferring as I do ambience to ambulance.



An average hike for me consists of going in one direction until I hit a predetermined point (the point of boredom). Then I retrace my steps home. Even a picturesque country road becomes monotonous when trailed twice a day. And mountainous! The entire round trip is always uphill and facing into the sun.

Some days, my wife drops me off at our mailbox on her way to town. This gives me about two miles in one direction and a definite incentive to walk (home is where the couch is).




My walking outfit is rather pedestrian. I am a study in sensory deprivation, or at least sensory misdirection. An orange vest and a balloon on my wrist make me visible to the careening SUVs that mistake our bucolic country lane for the Indianapolis brickyard, while mirrored sunglasses and a sombrero allow me to discreetly avoid direct eye contact with neighbors who drive by at merely freeway speeds.

The natural sounds of our part of the forest (the plaintive roar of chainsaws interspersed with the clatter of assault weapons) are masked with a Walkman tape of ocean surf and melancholy whale yodels. I toddle along, 2,000 feet above sea level, measuring my forward progress in leagues and fathoms and my relative speed in knots.

Wade a minute! Not to knock the wind from anyone’s sails, is all this artificial exercise really necessary? I log several miles each day just wandering around the house searching for things I’ve misplaced. There are long “rest periods” between these bouts of activity, and I do most of it in my underwear, but mileage is mileage, irrespective of couture!

I recently purchased my first digital pedometer. It does not give extra credit for climbing stairs or lugging firewood, but then again, a step toward the refrigerator counts just as much as one toward the Stairmaster.

I soon became a measurement junky and knew the exact mileage to any destination on the ranch. Recently, over some wifely objections, I curtailed my hiking regimen for several weeks to develop the graphs and maps I needed to rationalize counting my every waking step as exercise.

That’s when my wife got a meter of her own. One that unjustly measures results rather than mere activity. It is called a Fat-O-Meter and it set me to blubbering. A medieval lobster claw pincher-like caliper device that estimates the body’s density and fat content – no excuses allowed.

There have been times during subsequent interspousal debates when I’m thankful that the calipers won’t crank open far enough to fit over my head.

I’ve been praying to San Joaquin (as I understand it, the onomatopoeic patron saint of perambulation), but so far, no reprieve.

Mike Drummond is a Nevada County writer whose column appears on Tuesday. You can write him in care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945; or e-mail him at miked@theunion.com.


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