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Hamster wheel of fortune

I was sitting on the floor last week, my back against the couch, watching the rather disappointing Bionic Woman simply because it was on. I usually sit on my couch, but it’s that time of the year when my cat immediately jumps into any warm spot formerly occupied by my tush if I dare get up to refill my soda, and I’m too wimpy to kick him out. It’s also that time of year when it’s dark when I wake up and dark when I come home. And it was also that time of the month when my hormones check themselves into the looney bin. Whatever it was, I stared at the television set without actually watching it and thought, “I could just never exercise again, right? That’s totally an option.” Some days I just want to sit on the floor eating warm oatmeal and forget I own a treadmill.

The next day I was standing in the kitchen, my back to the stove, washing dishes and watching the news on the portable TV simply because it was on. Brian Williams said good night, Wheel of Fortune came on and the announcer congratulated them on 25 years of shows. My mother used to watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! every night after work (and probably still does). Every. Night. And while I love my mom and encourage her efforts to keep her mind active solving word puzzles and answering questions about the gross national product of Argentina, I never want to watch someone buy a vowel ever again. I’ve witnessed enough vowel sales to equal the gross national product of Argentina. How must Pat Sajak and Vanna White feel, coming out there every night for 25 years, watching contestants miss easy puzzles and ask for letters that are already on the board? I bet there are nights when they sit in their dressing rooms and want to forget they ever signed their contracts.

But I’m sure Pat Sajak and Vanna White are well compensated for their time, and my body is well compensated for all the time I’ve spent running on my hamster wheel. Pat and Vanna go out there every night even when they don’t want to and they do it with a smile. I may not be contractually bound to appear on my treadmill five nights a week, but it’s good for me, and I get paid in other ways, so I guess I will exercise again. There are some nights I’m sure Pat and Vanna love their jobs, when they give away cars and cruises to people who literally jump for joy over their good fortune. And there are nights when I feel so good knowing I can run two miles without feeling all that tired that I would jump for joy if I wouldn’t trip and smack my nose on the control panel. I can do that for 25 years. I’ll probably be doing it much longer.

But you could not pay me enough to watch another episode of Wheel of Fortune.

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Jill • December 3, 2007 at 8:30 am

*my body is well compensated for all the time I’ve spent*

Awesome. I love that. Such a great way to think about exercise. As a new runner, I sometimes wonder why I do what I do, and things like this help me wrap my brain around it. Great post!


Liz in Ohio • December 3, 2007 at 8:35 am

I’m feelin’ ya on the exercise thing PQ. It’s hard to get it goin’ some days…but the payoff is HUGE!!!

BTW, I’d like to buy an E please…I’d like to solve the puzzle…Is it exercise?

As you and others here have seen, exercise is just a piece of the puzzle for weight loss.

Keep up the good work!


Lurker • December 3, 2007 at 11:13 am

You are an existentialist hero, suffering the despair of life in the “hamster wheel” but also recognizing your freedom and power to change. You are Sisyphus! And you are happy!

Seriously, did you realize you were channeling Sartre and Camus in this post??? Brilliant.


Melanie • December 3, 2007 at 1:13 pm

You’ve found an interesting way to think about exercise and the benefits it has. It is a lot of time and effort to be sure, but the reward is hopefully a longer, happier life. It reminds me of the saying “Nothing worth having never comes easy.” I can’t stand Wheel of Fortune either, but I feel really smart when I get a tough question right on Jeopardy!


Laura • December 3, 2007 at 2:38 pm

Nice post, PQ. I’m not feeling the exercise thing either. So this is a good reminder of why I need to be out there.


Jill • December 3, 2007 at 2:51 pm

BTW, I forgot to mention, around my house we call it “Wheel of Torture”.


Jenny • December 3, 2007 at 3:48 pm

Because I’m old and all, I remember when Wheel of Fortune first started… back then they would spend their winnings are really crappy stuff – “I’ll take the porcelain Dalmation for $250.00 Pat” was one of my favorites. As soon as they stopped the purchasing of bad items, I stopped watching. I didn’t realize it was still on until just recently.

You are sweet to stay in one place for your cat. My leg fell asleep the other day with my dog on mine.


kyle • December 3, 2007 at 5:07 pm

My aunt was going to be on Wheel of Fortune. You have to go through like a thousand cuts to make it and she did. But her work wouldn’t let her have the time off.

I was like 12 when this happened and I seriously thought she was the smartest person alive because of making it that far. I was pretty convinced that she might be a direct descendant of Einstein.

PQ – That’s terrible! She should have quit her job and gone on to win thousands of dollars and a new car!


Mia • December 3, 2007 at 5:28 pm

This time of year–and the weather–make a big difference. Come January it’ll be easier. :) I have noticed that my blog doesn’t get nearly as many hits during the holidays! (Of course that could be because of my crappy writing!) Hang in there. You’re doing a GREAT job!


K • December 3, 2007 at 5:28 pm

I think the British equivalent of WoF must be Countdown, which is watched by a lot of grandparents, and also students with nothing better to do in the middle of the afternoon.

You could also not pay me to watch that; my heart belongs to University Challenge.

As for the exercising: if you’d told me a few years ago that I’d be annoyed at not being able to go running… I wouldn’t have believed you. But there are still days when I don’t want to.


Amy • December 3, 2007 at 5:42 pm

I agree with Jenny. I miss the little oval of the person choosing junk, HAVING to buy that dog with the remaining money!

Strangely enough, WoF was on the TV at the gym the other night. Lacking cable, I do turn it on in the background at home now and then.

Note: I DID fall while running on the treadmill once. Ouch!!


Queen Bee • December 3, 2007 at 6:48 pm

Ugh. I hate the hampster wheel. There’s GOT to be a better way…


Charity • December 3, 2007 at 7:19 pm

You don’t like Bionic? We’re watching our DVR of it right now. I think it’s improving. The dialogue is REALLY taking off.

Oh, and good post. Rock on with your treadmilling!


Lauren • December 3, 2007 at 7:20 pm

the first paragraph totally made me laugh , and the rest of it was inspiring. I’ve had a tough time getting motivated to exercise with my knee problems. How do you deal with the mentalness of it all when you lose 5 pounds, then have a bad few days, but after you get back on the wagon, the 5 lbs are back, with one or two friends. How do you get past that mentally and keep moving on?

PQ – I’m at a point right now where gaining back 5 pounds really isn’t that much of a bummer. 180 is my “Danger! Danger!” line, and as long as I’m below that I don’t really care if I lose or gain. That’s the biggest thing stopping me from getting to goal right now. Sorry that doesn’t really help you.


KateG • December 4, 2007 at 8:45 am

Great post! I thought about it last night while I was on the hamster wheel… it was way too windy here in the mid-atlantic to do my usual after work outdoor workout. So it was the dreaded treadmill (I just get bored easily).


Amanda • December 4, 2007 at 2:28 pm

I’m the same way about my cat. Heaven forbid she be uncomfortable or inconvenienced in any way, so I’ll just find a spot around her!!


budicca • December 5, 2007 at 4:21 am

How must Pat and Vanna feel? Hopefully dang lucky to have such a cushy job! I do believe game shows are taped back to back on one day. Contestants on shows that come back the “next day” when they win, just change their clothes for the next taping. I think they can tape a month’s worth of shows in five days or less, then have the next several weeks off, and the hosts get paid more than most of us ever will.


Amy • December 5, 2007 at 8:20 pm

Hey, at least you said if you decided to forsake exercise (which, who HASN’T thought that, really) that you would curl up with… oatmeal? That’s quite healthy for being bad. I would curl up with Ben and Jerry’s… potatoes in their many varied and preferably fried forms… mac and cheese… but not oatmeal. That’s got to count for something. ;-)

PQ – Well, I eat A LOT of it. If I eat about 5 packets of the instant stuff I get a nice carbohydrate buzz going on. It would probably be easier to just get drunk. I might try that next time instead :)


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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