[mis]calculating Calories At Christmas
by Pauline Hylton
I thought I’d get a head start on the holidays this year. No, I haven’t purchased trendy gifts, or cut out magazine pictures of Martha Stewart’s extravagant table decorations, or even retrieved my 17 sets of unusable, bug-infested Christmas lights from the garage. No, I’m doing what every red-blooded, early-menopausal, 50-plus-year-old is doing. I’m joining the gym.
The reason is pure mathematics. Every year since my fortieth, besides losing my 20/20 vision and my arches caving in, I gain exactly 1.63333333 pounds during the months of November and December. That’s not much if you are a size 4 and weigh 103 pounds, like my disgustingly skinny, over-50-plus friend. She’s only up to about 125 pounds. But, if you started at say, um—err, over 125 pounds, then that weight is significant.
So, when the neon purple and green flyer arrived in the mail, advertising a mere $10 per month gym membership and plastered with smiling, physically fit women who probably don’t do dishes—or wait for the washer repairmen—or clean up a meal that doesn’t agree with your senior-citizen dog, I threw down the gauntlet, so to speak, against HF (i.e. Holiday Fat).
A brave friend joined me on my quest in the battle of the bulge. As we entered a warehouse-size room filled with mysterious machines, an energetic woman adorned with a whistle necklace and clip-on nametag greeted us. Her eyes perused my lumpy figure.
“Perhaps you’d like the deluxe membership which includes a personal trainer and bring a frumpy, I mean, bring a buddy?” She waved legal-sized documents in my face.
I frowned and stated, “No thanks, I’m interested in the $10 a month package.” I got out my checkbook and located a pen. “I’d like to sign up for six months.”
“Sure, that will be $169.”
It’s been a while since I was in school, and math wasn’t my best subject, but I was pretty sure that six months at $10 a month didn’t equal $169. I checked with my friend who is a certified teacher. We agreed—something didn’t add up.
After a very complicated conversation in which random numbers were pulled out of the air, I agreed to the monthly $10-plus-tax fee, plus a ‘start-up fee,’ plus an ‘ending fee,’ plus a ‘thinking-of-ending fee,’ plus an ‘if-we-go-bankrupt fee.’ All in all, I was just glad to be walking out of there with the shirt still on my back.
I think that after we left, the energetic woman consulted with other staff members who have a ‘work-out pool’ that determines how many times a new member will show up. I’ll bet that they bet I’d be out before Christmas.
I’m out to prove them wrong. In fact, I just visited the gym today. I viewed several complex machines with pictures of see-through muscular men with bright red coloring various places on their arms and chest. I’m wondering if it’s blood.
I pushed, pulled, huffed and puffed. Then I got on the machine. I decided to tackle the elliptical. WARNING—THIS IS A MACHINE FOR THE HIGHLY COORDINATED. It requires you to both rotate your feet in circles WHILE pulling your arms back and forth. I did that. For 20 minutes. And now I can hardly walk.
It’s okay, though. I went home and pulled out the guacamole and chips.
My daughter, Sarah—a graduate student in nutrition—says that one pound is approximately 3,500 calories. I worked out and burned maybe 150. Came home and ate about 450. So now I’m looking at a negative number on loss and a positive number on gain. Yikes, this is more complex than the mortgage crisis.
And that is the real problem with America today. You see, the energetic woman at the gym has the same math skills in her monthly-fee assessment as I do in my caloric calculations.
Maybe I will only make it until Christmas.
Pauline Hylton is a freelance writer from Largo, FL, who specializes in humor or whatever else you’ll publish. She loves dark chocolate, her family and the Lord (but not necessarily in that order). For more of Pauline’s writings, visit www.PaulineHylton.com.