If anyone asks how my black-no-sugar coffee experiment is coming along, I now answer Just fine, thanks. It is getting better.
Other than in my coffee, I don’t miss sugar at all and synthetic sugar substitutes are not even a consideration. I haven’t eaten sweets and I no longer add honey to my tea since I’m embarrassed to admit that until very recently I didn’t give much thought to its source (guilt!). Recently I was introduced to black pepper tea with honey to soothe the mysterious cough that I’ve been burdened with the last few weeks. The tea is surprisingly subtle and while the honey helps the cough, I start coughing again after I’m finished drinking the tea. Now I just enjoy the hot water poured over a handful of black peppercorns, hanging on to the cup for warmth while the spicy steam rises up into my sinuses.
Another tentative success is running, an activity that I’ve really struggled with over the years. I hated running, period. I didn’t enjoy it at all and I started to believe that my body type wasn’t designed for it. I felt like a VW Beetle in a Formula One race and that everyone was watching me. It wasn’t out of ignorance that I came to that conclusion since I’d tried several times to enjoy it. At one point I met with some success when I owned a treadmill after my son was born. We had a room full of fitness equipment (oh how I miss all of that space), but we decided to put our gargantuan treadmill in the living room right underneath the skylight. There would be no excuses to avoid exercise and the treadmill actually looked like it belonged in the room, in the popular post-modern fitness-chic style of decorating. After I put my son down for a nap I would get on that thing and run for about 4K before his wail would illuminate the thread of red lights on the baby monitor. All of that fell by the wayside when we moved back to the city. We had to sell the treadmill because its weight and the pounding it took threatened to pull down the walls of our tiny wood-framed house. For a while I struggled along a track at the university athletic centre, counting my laps in a tedious walk-run cycle that had me bored to death and intimidated amidst the intramural athletes who trained in earnest all around me. Then I tried running outside with my partner, whose stride was one and a half times longer than my own. I felt inept and ackward, knowing he was holding himself back just so I could keep up. I was certain everyone in the park was watching me struggle, so any enjoyment I might have gleaned from the exercise was lost.
Now he runs alone regularly, running 10k twice in the last week (bravo!) and this has inspired me to try again on my own. Not at home on a treadmill, not in a fitness centre, but outside, alone, in the dark. I’ve downloaded a 0 – 5K program app for my cell phone that prompts the run-walk cycles at increasing intervals. I can listen to my tunes and the app gently turns down the volume and tells me what to do and when (I need a name for him, He of the silken voice). I don’t have to stare at a wall or get dizzy counting how many laps I’ve gone round. There is even a gentle reminder half-way through the run so that I can start heading back home. I get badges each time I achieve another goal and the program lets me take my time to get there. It’s designed to get me to 5K within 8 weeks, but if it takes longer, then the program is flexible enough that I can re-run any of the intervals. This has been a cold and icy winter, which is not convenient when trying to run outside. Yet the cover of darkness that Toronto in February offers me provides the anonymity I need while trying to get myself up to speed, so to speak. I’ve even found myself feeling like going out on the alternate days, but I’m determined to stick with the program and not overdo it.
I think I might start to like this running thing after all.