You know you are in trouble when your "fat" clothes don't fit you anymore. Perhaps it's because it's too hot outside so I'm spending more time indoors. Perhaps it's because I'm getting older and my metabolism has begun slowing down. Perhaps it's stress, or perhaps it's just that I need to lay off the late-night snacks. Whatever the reason (or excuse), I seem to be growing. Now, I thought women stopped growing when they hit about age 18. What doctors don't tell you is that, yes you can keep growing, just in the opposite direction!

Unhappy with the way I look, I decided - quite on the spur of the moment - it was past time to do something about it!

My son, who has a sudden desire to join the Marines, has been on a self-imposed stiff exercise regimen as of late. So, I asked if he would join his mommy out for a nice walk. After all, you have to start somewhere.

I anticipated a leisurely stroll with my son, thinking we could talk about his upcoming senior year and his plans for the future.

Instead, I got my very own drill sergeant! He insisted we walk - yes, walk - to the high school's walking trail, complete the walking trail and then return home. That sounded a bit excessive to a woman who had envisioned just a few trips around the block. This proposed "walk" would be a total of three miles.

After a small debate, I relented because after all, you have to start somewhere.

Off we went. As we crossed Main Street in Alice, I anticipated cutting behind the bank building and heading to the track from the front of the high school. My drill sergeant had other plans. His route - to stay on the three-mile trek - was to go to Sain Drive and head east behind the high school to the walking trail. Huh? Seriously? Just who is the parent here? But, you have to start somewhere, so once again I relented.

Well, we eventually made it there, though at a much slower pace than the drill sergeant anticipated. He then proceeded to order me to jog the trail.

Now, I used to be in tip-top shape. I ran nearly every day, but it's been quite a while since I've coasted out of third-gear. But, you have to start somewhere.

Slowly, but not so surely, my legs began picking up speed from the slow walk I had begun at my home. "This isn't so bad," I thought.

But, with each passing step my opinion began to change.

My body kind of went into shock, that's the best way I can describe it. And, as my feet pounded out a cacophony of beats on the pavement, I could have sworn I could hear an echo from them repeating, "Lord help me. Lord help me. Lord help me" over and over and over until I finally realized - that's neither an echo nor the beat of my heart.

Nope, that was me begging for help!

At this point I started reasoning with myself. It's a good start just to jog some and then walk some and then jog some. So, I stopped jogging and resumed my walk. Then, after a bit I began jogging again, and of course I once again began reasoning out the situation. "Well Nicole," I thought to myself, "you have technically already jogged some, and you still have to find the strength to get home, so walking is fine."

That decided, I walked the last half of the trail only to reach the end of it to find my drill sergeant sprawled out on a bench looking bored. You see, he had finished quite some time before me. He jumped up and wanted to return home immediately, but I needed some time to catch my breath. As we later began the stretch home, I sincerely had my doubts of making it. Never before I had seen such a long stretch of road as I did once I turned the corner at Sain Drive onto Stadium. It seemed it would be an eternity before I would get home. The walk home was pretty much a blur of panting, pain and utter exhaustion - all of which my drill sergeant found amusing.

As I reached the end of my "leisurely stroll," I kept wishing someone would drive by and give me a lift, but that didn't happen. After getting home, I settled in for a rest and a tall glass of water just as my mom arrived.

"Woman," I said to her. "You couldn't have driven in just five minutes earlier so you could have picked me up and saved me from my self-inflicted misery?"

Nope. That would have made it too easy, because after all, you have to start somewhere.

Nicole Perez is the General Manager for the Nueces County Record Star. Readers may contact her at (361) 664-6588.