When this trip was just a glimmer in the back of my eye in 2005, I thought it would be best to get back into shape. I'd be doing a lot of walking and a fair share of hiking -- often while carrying loads of luggage. So I began a modest exercise program.
The police department gym was sparse, but adequate considering it was free. I did mostly cardio training on an elliptical trainer for a few months, dropped a few pounds and increased my endurance. A good start. But then the city and I parted ways and my regimen suffered. My new job also involved sitting my butt at a desk (and sometimes driving), but there was no gym. I gained back most of what I'd lost and my endurance began dropping again.
(Left: Me on our elliptical trainer in an artistic iPhone shot by my four-year-old son. Look at how well he gives the appearance of motion! Not bad for someone who occasionally still needs help in the bathroom ...)
Flash forward two years until this summer. I reserved my Australia trip and immediately realized I'd need to get an exercise routine going again. I began increasing my walking at work and took hikes around the neighborhood, but knew it wouldn't make the amount of difference I wanted. Claire and I discussed getting a machine, then decided to make the jump (an official weigh-in at the doctors which showed I'd passed 240 pounds was my kicker). We settled on a ProForm Crosswalk Elliptical, which was on sale at Costco.
Well. No sooner did I assemble the elliptical then I went nuts on it. Five days a week, 30 minutes or more and at least 700 calories per workout. Fifty minutes and 1,000 calories burnt on some of my days off. Claire thinks I've lost about 15 pounds in two months (I think it's less, but I don't have a scale handy) and certainly don't get nearly as winded on my local walks.
The real test will come in about two weeks, when I trek the 10 kilometers around Uluru and -- most exhaustively -- hike to the top of the amazing Kings Canyon. That will be the real test of my new fitness and the culmination of my first exercise goal.
For the uninitiated, Kings Canyon is the stunning vista the group alights on near the end of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert -- which I just rewatched in preparation for my trip, along with Muriel's Wedding, Danny Deckchair and Picnic at Hanging Rock in a mini-Aussie cinema festival. It was great accent practice.