The treadmills don’t know that I’m writing this, but I sense that they are out to get me just the same. My gym has, I guess, twelve or so treadmills. Eight of them are new, but there are four older ones. The newer ones are better, but the older ones have a big advantage; they have a good-sized shelf in front of the display. (To read a magazine on the newer treadmills, you have to get this little plastic cover that fits over the display.)
Usually, it’s the older ones that are occupied, but today, there wasn’t anybody using any of the treadmills, and I had a bulky ESPN The Magazine, and I’d worn one of the T-shirts without a pocket, and needed a place to put my iPod. I got on one of the older ones, put my stuff on the shelf, hit the start button, and it started off at the stately but boring pace of one half of a mile per hour.
Even I walk at a faster pace than that. So I pushed the buttons on the keypad, 2.2 miles per hour. Nothing. It kept going at 0.5. I hit the “plus” key on the keypad. Nothing. It kept crawling along. I got off the treadmill, and it kept going slowly, and it kept being unresponsive. I put my feet back on the tread.
Whammo! All of a sudden, it kicked up to three miles an hour. I tried to keep up, and then about six seconds later, it shut down completely. Blast, says I, and I step over to the next treadmill, which does the exact same thing, speeds me up to three miles an hour. I am, however, able to coax this one back down to 2.2 mph, and so I complete my mile. (I actually walked a mile-and-a-quarter today, but I’m not counting fractions of miles, at least not just yet.)
So I get off, and the blasted treadmill informs me that I’ve walked off a total of 94 calories.
What a gyp. I mean, what a gyp. Do you know what a sad, puny amount 94 calories actually is? I mean, good God, look at the Whataburger nutritional information. There only actual food item you can order (outside of coffee and diet Cokes) that’s less than 94 calories is the “Garden Salad,” and nobody who isn’t an actual PETA contributor has ever gone into Whataburger and ordered the garden salad. And that doesn’t even count salad dressing. A double-meat Whataburger is 840 calories. A medium chocolate malt is more than that with 1120 calories. A large order of fries is 530, and the medium onion rings are 420. That’s a decent-size meal right there, and it’s 2910 calories, just what a growing boy needs. Divide that by 94, and that’s almost 31 miles on the treadmill — a mile a day for a month to counteract one dinner at Whataburger. God help you if you get the biscuit and sausage on top of that.
I’m planning to walk a hundred miles by the end of the year, which is roughly the caloric equivalent of four Whataburger meals. You want to know how many times I’ve eaten in Whataburger in my entire life? I don’t know, but I bet it’s a bunch. (Not so much since I moved to Jersey, of course.) And that’s just Whataburger.
94 calories. That’s it. It doesn’t seem fair, somehow. Still, five miles down, 95 to go.