Spencer Helps Me Exercise

You can't have diabetes without knowing about the merits of exercise.

One of the biggest merits is weight loss. I have been making an effort to lose weight, which means taking less insulin. The only way I can take less insulin is by eating less or exercising more. Experience tells me that the former doesn't work for me. So this past Christmas I begged my wife for a treadmill. I promised her I would run everyday – it would not sit idly… "I need this for my diabetes." "This will help me increase my life span." I talked her into it by adding in my half of our anniversary gift – we passed the eight year mark on Dec. 31.

My wife, Nadia, drove to the store to pick it up as a surprise for me. When she brought it home, we put it in our extra room downstairs (where her lonely stair stepper awaits a partner). We chose the downstairs because it was out of the children's way. However, two months elapsed before I realized that the downstairs location was less than ideal. I told my wife that the new treadmill needed a "break-in" period where it was just used lightly. But now, after four months, the break-in period was over. We decided to compromise aesthetic for our health and relocated the treadmill to the family room. It seemed like a perfect idea. I could wake up every morning to greet my treadmill.

Now I have this big black structure that stares me down every morning. I woke up today with the intention of starting my new exercise program. This was it. This was the year I was going to have the perfect physique.

I turned it on and pushed the lever to a warm up speed and started walking. Spencer at the time was sitting in front of the television watching Barney. As soon as he saw the conveyor belt move he ran to get his toys and threw them down at my feet to watch them flow down the track. It reminded me of jogging through our house – trying to dodge the plastic screw drivers and balls. His fascination increased as he put larger objects on the moving belt.

One of the rubber balls actually was pulled under, and got jettisoned out the side. Spencer got a big kick out of this. I tried to distract him from my exercise by getting him to watch Barney. The success I had in diverting his attention lasted but a few minutes. Spencer abandoned his purple dinosaur for the opportunity to stand next to the treadmill's speed lever. He knew he was not supposed to touch the lever, but he distracted me by seeming compliant. As I looked away, Spencer grabbed the lever and cranked it as far forward as possible so that it was at its highest speed. I firmly said "No!" and changed the speed. Spencer caught me off guard again. Rather than increasing the speed, he pulled the lever the opposite way and the treadmill came to a complete halt.

I used this opportunity to test my blood sugar to see if it was coming down or going up. The stress of trying to exercise, to manage my diabetes, to lose weight and be fit seemed to have been thrown out only to be replaced with the stress of managing Spencer. My blood sugar had actually gone up!

Getting into a routine exercise program may be a greater challenge than I thought. Every time I think about getting on the treadmill again I remember my last encounter with Spencer. Perhaps I should move the treadmill downstairs again and make a stronger attempt at opening the door to go down there. At the very least, Nadia's stair stepper will have a companion.

Perhaps I can try this in another six months, when I can rationalize with Spencer more. He will be older, but Miranda will have just started walking. Hmm – that will be another story.

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