Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Strictly by choice, I’ve been spending nine minutes every day in complete misery, and I’m absolutely loving the results.

About three weeks ago, I adopted the “Speedy Waist Whittler,” a treadmill-based exercise routine I discovered in a random magazine that showed up in my mailbox. I was skeptical of the ability of this 20-minute regimen to deliver on its claim to carve a full inch of belly flab from my figure in a mere month. After all, I’ve invested over twice that time into efforts which have yielded nothing more than negligible results.

The Whittler rests upon the theory that the kind of measurable success I’m seeking can only come from short spurts of intense effort sandwiched between stretches of moderate momentum. Accordingly, The Whittler doesn’t get uncomfortable until around Minute Five, and by Minute 14, we’re closing in on the cool down. But those roughly nine minutes in between? Let’s just say, I feel lucky every time I make it to the quarter hour mark without paramedic involvement.

My narrowing midsection tells me that the time I’m spending in the upper register of my endurance range is critical—that what happens in those nine interminable minutes is the difference between where I am and where I want to be. It seems that even a small amount of time spent just beyond what I think possible delivers a far greater payoff than an extended effort in a mid-range zone.

What’s more, the standard changes as I go. The workout I’m calling challenging this week isn’t the same one I barely wheezed through last week. My definition of difficult is changing; expanding; evolving as I become stronger.

This all makes me wonder where else should I be stretching my endurance. What other extraneous flab could I excise from my life by upping my game for a moment or two every day? I’m inspired, really.

At least I was, before Thanksgiving week hit and my sister showed up at my door with our traditional pumpkin cheesecake. Now the only whittling in which I seem to be able to sustain interest involves altering the circumference of said dessert.

At the moment, I’m in the throes of decision. I’m completely committed to whittling—I just don’t know which soft circle to target--the one that I can reduce in about three minutes of sheer bliss, or the one requiring nine minutes of utter misery.

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