Friday, July 10, 2009


Boot Camper Goes AWOL!


Doris D. Meneses

The Y Train Summer Boot Camp Session began on Saturday, June 27th however this recruit was AWOL. I had planned a trip to visit my family in Pennsylvania so I am missing in action but I did get permission for leave and will miss the first 4 sessions.

During leave, I am visiting my hometown of Tamaqua, Pennsylvania or Pa. (pronounced Pee-ay by residents). This place is not diet or Boot Camp friendly. I cannot drink the amount of water that I am used to due to the fact that the area is very rural and I would have no where to empty my bladder if I leave the house! In addition to the geographical problems, the food, exercise and the social life are fighting me all the way!

The first day I arrived, we were having a surprise 60th birthday for my brother. The party was held at one of the local fire companies. There are several fire companies in Tamaqua and the surrounding area and you have to understand that the fire companies have banquet rooms and bars in them. Yes, a bar with liquor and beer! The fire trucks are in the garage and the party is upstairs. One of my friends who visited with me last year asked if the firemen start drinking before or after the fire. These volunteer firemen are dedicated but they also know how to party! Maybe that is what the Miami-Dade County Fire Department need to give there firemen….an in-house bar! You may also visit the firehouse for mackerel breakfasts (I missed that one thank goodness), sauerkraut dinners or spaghetti dinners.

As I walked up to the food line at the party (4 long tables piled high with food), the foods I saw were incredible and there was one tiny tray of veggies. I tried to pick and choose as best I could but I could feel my thighs swelling with anticipation of the impending fat coming their way.

In Tamaqua and the surrounding towns, there are no chain restaurants such as Ruby Tuesdays, Longhorn, or the likes where you may be able to choose something healthy. Instead, we go to bar rooms that are in peoples’ homes that have a dining room in the back such as the White Swan, Frog Town, The Red Lion and Houran’s which serve good food but “diet” is not considered. Local foods such as pierogies, rhubarb pie, shoo fly pie, scrapple and halushki are just a few of the desired dishes that call me by my first name! When I come to Tamaqua, I am no longer known as Doris. Everyone in the town knows me as my family nickname which is Sissy. Those local foods are up front and personal and have now begun to call me by my nickname! I’ve been trying hard to resist temptation but the rhubarb pie was just too much! I fought it and told it to leave me alone but it kept saying, “Sissy, I know you want me!” Just like that it jumped up onto my plate and I was in a hypnotic state as the fork came into my mouth. Father forgive me for I have sinned!

I found out that just a few months ago, Tamaqua opened its first YMCA in a defunct shopping center so exercise is an option but my social schedule is keeping me away. I do get up in the morning and do sit-ups, a few push ups and stretches. I also walk the area. I stay with my brother and his wife in Brockton which is a little town near Tamaqua. The entire area is mountainous so anywhere you go, you are confronted with hills. Even in Tamaqua, you are constantly going up and down hills and steps built into the mountains that take you to another level of town. I was impressed with the fact that I was able to do the steps without stopping half way up, gasping for breath and calling for a hydraulic lift to get me down! Thank you Boot Camp!

Socially it is very difficult to be a Boot Camp recruit in Tamaqua. My friends’ and family gatherings center around food and drink. I met 30 classmates at a restaurant called Dimaggio’s in Tamaqua. Italian all the way! I managed to leave half of my dinner on the plate and felt good about that. In addition, I decided that I would be the designated driver at all events so that I would not gain calories from the bottle! I did try to save my calories for those foods that I do not get often such as the rhubarb pie. My sore muscles thankfully remind me of the pain I will endure if I over-indulge. Thank you Boot Camp!

All in all, I feel I am doing pretty well and I am very conscious of what I have been putting in my mouth. As I write this I am still in Pennsylvania headed to the Shady Maple in Amish country which is once again, a restaurant that features a huge buffet. Do you think I can get my egg white omelet there? “Father please protect my thighs and arms as I don’t think they stand a chance.”

Next Wednesday it is back to Boot Camp in Homestead. This summer session is adding a new torture device. It is called the pool! Look out Homestead! I don’t know if you are ready for this one but here comes a larger than life Esther Williams! Can I swim in sweat pants?

This Boot Camp recruit continues to attempt to unearth the real Doris Meneses who is entombed in this body.

I am a recruit in the YMCA Boot Camp and after being AWOL, I certainly need to be there!

Please look for the next article in this series to follow shortly.

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