As he hiked Cardiff Hill, Courier-Post columnist Danny Henley found a way to distract himself.

A few years ago I undertook a diet. By the time I officially stopped dieting I’d hit my target goal of dropping 50 pounds.

Among the things that my “new” body required was almost an entirely new wardrobe. Pants I used to wear would literally drop off me, which is pretty neat to have happen, provided you’re in the privacy of your bedroom and not out in a public venue.

Like many people who have lost a significant amount of weight, I vowed I’d never wear my larger clothes again. Some of the items I gave away. Others were packed into a “big boy” bag and relegated to a dark spot in the back of the closet.

Unfortunately, some promises are harder to keep than others. For me, my vow to keep the weight I’d lost from returning has proven a challenge. And while I’m not back to the point I was when I started my diet a few years ago, I’m to the point where I’m ready to take action.

For me, the secret to successful weight loss is twofold: Eat less and exercise more.

The exercise aspect of my diet has taken the form of walking more and reacquainting myself with the weight set I have in my basement, the weight bench portion of which had become a table for a pile of empty boxes.

Most of my walking will be done in my neighborhood, where hills on North Levering and Bird Street present formidable challenges to the under-exercised. However, I have ventured into other areas. Over Easter weekend, my son, Caleb, and I did a significant amount of trail walking in Riverview Park. On Monday of last week, after dropping my wife, Nancy, off at work on North Main, I parked the car and soon found myself standing at the base of the steps which lead to the Mark Twain Memorial Lighthouse.

“You can do this,” a voice from within assured me. “You’ve done it before and that was in deep snow.”

With those words of encouragement still rattling around in my cerebellum, I began to ascend the steps.

While I’ve never been a long-distance runner, I know a key to those athletes’ ability to ignore sore feet, throbbing knees, aching thighs, painful hips, a “stitch” in the side and even the desire to stop and spew, is their ability to put mind over matter.

Some do it by simply switching to “autopilot.” Others go to their “happy place.” Mental music assists many runners.

As my legs increasingly felt like Jell-O with feet, I found myself playing a distraction game by asking questions.

“I wonder how many steps there are to the lighthouse? I bet there’s at least 1,000.”

According to the Parks & Recreation Department’s website, there are “just” 244 steps.

“I wonder why the Parks Department doesn’t list the number of steps at the foot of Cardiff Hill? Would it encourage the ill-prepared to attempt the climb without the assistance of Sherpas and oxygen bottles?”

“Why did I bother showering this morning?”

“If they had ‘slow traffic keep right’ signs, at my pace would that mean I’d have to leave the concrete steps and walk in the dirt?”

“If I had a heart attack now, how long would it take for anyone to find my body?”

As I met a gentleman powering his way down the steps, he remarked, “Good for the heart!”

“Provided it keeps beating,” I wheezed.

That led to another internal inquiry: “Why wasn’t I wittier?”

As I finished my second lap, I again met the stair-climbing gentleman.

“How many trips for you?” I inquired.

“I’ll do a minimum of five,” he replied, hardly panting.


That prompted another internal question.

“Can you come up with one good reason for attempting a third lap?”

When no answer was offered by the mental voice that earlier had been so outspoken, I staggered to my car and went home.