Edward Pratt: Worse shape than almost everyone else

There was a time in my life when I could run for miles, yes miles, without stopping. I was young, fit and could show off.

At times, I would run just for the sake of running. I was no Forrest Gump, but I loved to run. As I got older, married and lazy, running faded away.

I feel like running again because it’s the healthy thing to do. Of course I won’t be doing three miles at a time. Just running from here to way over yonder will be enough.

On Friday I was dealt a backhanded blow that has actually inspired me to get back into jogging.

It was my final day as part of a health study conducted at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center. For my part, I had to continue doing whatever I was doing before the study began. At the time I was eating healthy and hoping it would result in a weight loss.

I started in January at a heart-stopping, almost literally, 253 pounds. For that to be considered a healthy weight, I should be about 6 feet 8 inches tall. I’m a foot shorter. But, as they say in the Baptist church, the good news is that I am now down to 233 pounds. Let the church say “Amen.”

My last task in the study was an endurance test — my second one. I was hooked up to hoses, a nose clip, a blood-pressure monitor and some plastic lines leading from my chest to a machine, while I ran on a treadmill.

Melissa Lupo, 105 pounds and 4 feet 10 inches, conducted the test. I don’t know her official title, but “nice” and “funny” would be pretty good.

I hit the treadmill. After about two minutes, she took my blood pressure and asked how was I doing and if I wanted to continue. I mean, Please … Let’s go.

This went on at two-minute intervals. I would give a thumbs-up and the treadmill would be raised. Melissa also had a sign with phrases like “brisk walk” and “labored.” I would point to the one that best fit how I felt.

Around 10 minutes, I pointed to “labored” because there was no sign for “near death.”.

Melissa asked if I could go on? For some unexplained reason (ego) I gave a thumbs up. She smiled a smile of encouragement. The treadmill was raised and 17 seconds later I gave the thumbs down meaning, “Stop this thing, PLEASE!!!”

Now comes the part I thought I was going to be happy about.

Melissa gave me some scientific name for the test and the comparison of my numbers. The bottom-line is my results were tested against men in my age group.

Based on the numbers, she said, “When you took the test the first time, if you had been in a race with 100 men your age, you would not have beaten any of them.”

What? Lord, I should have been in this test a lot sooner. Who were these guys?

So, now after losing weight, shaving off my mustache and buying fancy sneakers with green neon colors on them, there is no doubt my new numbers were better.

With a smile, Melissa said that based on the numbers “if you were in a race with those same 100 men, you would beat ONE of them!”

It was joke, right? Come on. But, alas, it was not a joke. “But you are making improvement. You just have to keep it up,” said Melissa, who just happened to mention she runs the Corporate Cup race. I wondered where she finishes.

I was pretty bummed for a minute. But, I’m happy to be losing weight and getting in better shape.

Now I have to wonder, who is that one poor sap (even fictitional) that is in worse shape than I am?

Edward Pratt is a former Advocate editor. He is assistant to the chancellor for media relations at Southern University. His email address is epratt1972@yahoo.com.