fitness in a pill

In boot camp class at the gym this morning we talked about the new exercise pill. At least in lab mice, this wonder drug mimics the fat burning and fitness benefits of a 6 mile run while you sit blogging and spooning in giant mouthfuls of Ben & Jerry’s.

Hisses and boos filled the room as gym rats called the pill, “cheating” and “despicable.” Honestly? My first thought was how nice it would be on those icy winter mornings to pop a pill and go back to sleep in my warm bed.

Living in Utah I am surrounded by a disproportionate number of women who maintain their gorgeous figures without diet or exercise. Literally hundreds of times my slim little friends have said to me, “I should exercise like you.” And my reply, every time:

“If I looked like you I wouldn’t exercise at all.”

But I know that’s really not true.

I’ll admit it was pure fear that turned me into a die-hard exerciser at 13. My genetic pool is not pretty and I was terrified of waking up one morning at 300 lbs. My sister and I have often commiserated over the inordinate amount of time we’ve spent over the years on diet and exercise, “Just think how much time we would save if we were naturally skinny– think how much nicer, more organized and accomplished we’d be!”

But I also know that’s really not true.

Instead of taking time from my life, I’m convinced that exercise has added to it. And instead of taking time from friends, cycling, aerobics, yoga and especially running have given me dozens and dozens of new friendships.

Any runner will tell you that your running partners quickly become your confidantes, your early morning therapists, the people who know and love you the best. After years of running together you can tell each other’s life stories and pick up on the slightest change in well-being. Running alone is equally beneficial for the time it gives me with my own thoughts and my awesome pink ipod.

The best, most important conversations with Erik and the boys are when our soles are pounding the pavement. I love seeing the pride they take in running a fast mile or pumping out 50 push-ups.

My family knows that exercise literally makes me happy. This spring when I was forced to take a hiatus from running I found myself slipping into depression(please don’t go back and read those blog posts). Only now that I’m on the other side of that funky gloom can I see that running is my slight, slender tie to sanity.

I’m thrilled scientists have created a pill like this. Someone very close to me is literally so heavy that she can’t exercise at all. This hot little drug would literally give her a chance at LIFE. Eventually we might be able to hike in the mountains together again.

For the rest of us? I don’t think they’ll be prescribing this baby lightly. The temptation for athletes and anorexics would be far too great. I for one would love to wear my skinny jeans AND eat Ben & Jerry’s. But for now, I am grateful for this demanding body of mine, the road it has taken me on and especially the people I’ve met along the way.

August 1, 2008
August 3, 2008