As if working out wasn’t hard enough already…

So I finally got off my butt and decided to give this whole weight loss thing another try. Some of you may recall a few columns months ago about my impending diet of doom and all of the trials, tribulations, and tortures to come out of that experience. While absolutely horrible, I must admit that it was moderately successful, in that I ended up dropping about fifteen pounds and moved a few inches closer to my goal of eventually weighing in at a “healthy weight,” or at least one that permits me a bit more confidence than that of the majestic beluga whale at the beach! Sadly, however, it wasn’t long after that fateful weigh-in that my progress was abruptly halted by this thing I like to call “laziness” and as far as I can remember, the last time I even entertained the idea of exercising was possibly mid-summer … although it was pretty hot outside!

But nevertheless, after many failed attempts and countless “I’ll start tomorrow!”’s, I’m happy to say that I think I’m officially back on the horse now and with any luck, in no time I’ll be losing pounds faster than Britney Spears lost her remaining shreds of dignity last weekend during her “comeback performance” on the MTV Video Music Awards! I know what I have to do – namely, get off my lazy tuckus and work it on a regular basis – and in several consecutive instances, I’ve actually done exactly this, not to mention the fact that I still plan to continue in the future! And while that scale she hasn’t gone a tippin’ just yet, I’m fairly certain that I’ve got that drive back which anyone who’s gone the distance will agree is the most vital to their not simply giving up and establishing residence inside their local Cold Stone Creamery when the going bypassed tough and skipped ahead to excruciatingly exhausting! I’m rearing to go, psyched up, and on track, except for this one eentsy, wientzy little thing…

I’d forgotten that I live in Florida.

Correction: I’d forgotten that alligators live in Florida.

And seeing as it’s simply not cost effective for me to hop on a plane to rural Northern Michigan every other day to get in my required exercise, I’m pretty much required to conduct my evening walks right here in the great state of Florida, where our motto is: “Run for your life – that log has teeth!” Of course, I used to think that the alligators and crocodiles living in Florida all stayed down in the Everglades, sort of like a retirement community for giant, prehistoric lizards who prefer their meals live and thrashing. Mind you, that particular ideology abruptly changed not long after I moved down here and realized first hand that, “No – they’re not isolated to South Florida at all! In fact, my buddy read in the paper that they recently caught one at the bank…”

Now I’d heard the stories about these beasts wandering into backyards and even taking a dip in the neighbor’s swimming pool before eventually getting hauled away by animal control (note to self: alligator removal technician definitely goes on the next list of Worst Jobs in the World!), but not just hanging out at the bank! Maybe banking laws are a little different down here, but we had a strict policy of not giving checking accounts to animals back in Michigan … what in the world could an alligator be doing at the bank?!

After hunting down the article for myself, I learned that the truth of the matter was that this little fella had just sorta wandered into the bank’s parking lot – probably in the evening when it was cooler and they tend to be more active – and had taken refuge in the hedges along the bank’s drive-thru area. No biggie – they came and caught him soon enough, and ever since I’ve walked around these streets every single day wondering if there could very well be an alligator hiding in the bushes around the corner, just waiting for me to drop my keys or fall behind the rest of my pack, thus providing an easy lunch of sorts for him and his no doubt lingering nearby alligator buddies.

Of course, it kinda goes without saying that as much as I might wonder if I’m about to get jumped by a gator in a random parking lot in the middle of the afternoon, the worries are approximately one bazillion fold when I’m out exercising in the middle of the night! Sure, I technically live in one of those pretty, gated communities where everyone drives gas-guzzling SUVs and paints their houses all the same color of bland, but do you really think that’s going to hold back good, old Mother Nature and her army of all things green and slimy? Needless to say, when I’m out walking the sidewalks in the evening hours with only the company of my iPod and a starry sky, who could help but wonder if that nearby hedge or drainage pond could very well be hiding something capable of rapidly increasing my weight loss efforts in the worst and most painful of ways! Those little beady eyes the only thing visible in the night – it’s enough to make this writer reconsider the treadmill after all!

That’s one thing that I certainly never had to worry about when I used to go for walks at night up in Michigan – maybe a stray skunk or raccoon once in a while, but you never see signs warning people to stay at least fifteen feet away from skunks and raccoons … at least not on any of the trails that I used to walk, that’s for sure! Sure, there are technically bears up north, but after seeing any of a number of documentaries on the Discovery channel where alligators and crocodiles took down freaking bison like they were merely candles in the wind, as far as I’m concerned the battle would be over before it even began! And we need not even mention that as necessary as this diet may be, my stature still doesn’t exactly compare to that of your average water buffalo…

They’re out there, I know they are, but with only one treadmill in our community gym and even that being broken more often than not, it seems that my only chance at losing this belly is by sucking it up, both figuratively and literally, and braving these suburban sidewalks despite whatever scaly menaces may lurk just beyond the shadows, licking their lips hungrily as I speed-walk past to the tune of Van Halen’s Running with the Devil. And that said, while I’m not even entirely sure that alligators even have lips, I do know one thing – they’re out there, and they’re hungry.

Anything to put a little more motivation in those exercising steps, right?!