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Exorcising my waistline - Michael Davis

I spelled it correctly. To me, the act of trying to stay physically active is like exorcising.

Exorcising demons, yes. But mostly, exorcising myself of my own way of life.

One of the great things about going out for a brisk walk or jog is the time alone it affords you.

Some might argue, and I might be one of them, that the normal daily commute to and from work offers a great chance for the masses to contemplate the world around them and work through whatever trials life offers up.

But the mere act of getting out and putting effort forth to shape up the body, to me, is an opportunity to shape up the mind.

As part of what I'm calling my shape-up-or-ship-out program, I've taken to the sporadic walking ritual.

I'd rather it be an actual exercise routine, but there's nothing routine about it. Whenever I get the time and have the energy, I go out for a brisk walk. Sometimes, I even run for a block or two until my chest starts to burn, my mouth starts to feel like I'm eating cotton and I can't stand it any more.

Through these walks, I've begun to notice certain truths about life in general: certain trees smell bad; you have to stop at FOX 5 headquarters because you can't run where there's no sidewalk; and that guy or girl in the Lexus waiting at the light is probably looking in their rearview mirror and laughing at you as you come up from behind.

There are other things you start to notice as you begin an exercise regimen.

Running in a rain-soaked T-shirt can become cumbersome; it's hard to see when you're glasses look like the windshield of your car during The Great Deluge (I'm starting to think those novelty glasses with the windshield wipers were a good idea); and public transit buses put off a great deal of heat when you pass by and they're stopped at a traffic light.

It all started when I noticed my trousers starting to fit a little snugly.

For most of my life, I've had a pretty active job.

You don't really know how much exercise you get from just walking around all day until you stop. Far from living what you might call an active lifestyle, just working, I guess, kept me somewhat in shape?if you discount inhaling all the second-hand cigarette smoke.

But the old 32s aren't on the radar and woe is me when the 34s have started to get tight.

I'm told the sit-up routine does nothing but harden the belly after a while?and not even the flat way. That's why I've taken the high road and actually started hoofing it to take the inches off.

For years I've noticed other people in the city running around in shorts and T-shirts, some holding CD players with head phones in their ears?some with little radios Velcroed to their arms.

I'd always wondered how it is these people got the motivation, or the free time, to actually go out and start sweating. Didn't they have better things to do like read or write or watch a movie?

For the last three weeks, at least once a week, I've pounded sand and tried to become one of them.

It's tough. I've gotten rained on a few times and chased by dogs once, but after I've taken a shower and fallen asleep, it's been worth it.

Once, the muscles in my chins hurt for four days, but I'm not complaining. Maybe I just don't know how to walk right. Once I got lost and wound up in Druid Hills. Which was probably good for me.

I can't say for sure how long I'll keep this up. I've heard that once it becomes a habit, you get used to it and sort of do it without thinking and without much frustration and effort.

But like the novelty glasses with windshield wipers, it may just be a passing fancy.

Michael Davis covers government for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at mdavis@henryherald.com.