Experts say fitness isn’t about diet or exercise. It is about health. Our goal should not be a number on the scale or a certain size jeans. We should seek a body and lifestyle that are healthy.

What experts don’t say out loud is that diet and exercise are synonyms for healthy. You can’t reach healthy without the “D” and “E” words. Life isn’t fair, and the bathroom scale doesn’t lie. I found this out the other day when I pulled my scale — my dusty scale — out from under the bathroom sink, climbed aboard and discovered that either the scale was broken or I no longer fit into my jeans. The correct answer was B.

So, it was with great remorse that I crawled — kicking and screaming — back onto the fitness bandwagon. I gleefully fell off it about a year ago. For the last 12 months, I’ve let things slide. It’s been a great ride, but now it’s time for me to get back to business — the business of health. And that, my friends, includes those two favorite four-letter words: diet and exercise.

In order to exercise, one must have the proper gear. I have gear; I just had a hard time remembering where I put it, since it hadn’t been used in over a year. I reached into the far corners of my closet and there — right next to a forgotten black leather miniskirt, pair of zebra-print Zubaz and a fanny pack — were my sweatpants. Like my scale, they were a little dusty and perhaps smelled a bit of mildew from sitting on the shelf for so many months. When I went to put them on, the elastic waist gave a weak crumbling sound as the fibers disintegrated beneath my fingers; it was a waistband that wouldn’t snap back into place ever again.

Lucky thing, too, because the pants had shrunk since the last time I wore them. They were much tighter along my backside, and I didn’t really need any elastic to hold them in place, anyway.

When I exercise, I try not to employ any real calisthenics or moves that actual athletes might attempt. My goal is to get the benefits of exercise without moving too quickly or breaking a sweat. My movement of choice involves walking, nothing more. This can be a taxing activity — aerobic, even. Especially if your walk includes inclines or hills. Mine does, so it is very vigorous — for a woman with broken elastic in her sweatpants.

The one good thing about exercise is that you only have to think about it once a day. The D-word — diet — is on your mind constantly. That is because eating is one of the most basic and simple pleasures of life. I don’t think I could live without eating.

When it comes to food, there are healthy choices and there is junk; hence the term, “junk food.” You know when you’ve chosen junk, because your mouth will be filled with something that tastes good. It may even be a little greasy, creamy or cheesy. In the world of healthy diets, words like “greasy,” “creamy” and “cheesy” all mean one thing: junk.

Fried, frittered, frosted, battered, buttered or breaded are all to be avoided (junk). Anything that crunches and is not a fruit or vegetable is junk. Cheese is not your friend.

Meat should be white, but without any sauce that is white. Most fish is OK, as long as it is broiled, boiled, broasted or baked.

Eat as much celery as you want. Chewing it burns more calories than it contains. You must not dip it in peanut butter or ranch sauce, though. Turns it into junk.

The whole diet thing certainly provides its challenges. Junk is rampant in my pantry, and you know what they say about too much junk in the trunk.

At this point, I have my fair share.

Health can be pretty daunting. Lots of things, like cheesecake and walking uphill, can get in the way of fitness. But I am determined. I crunch another stalk of naked celery and think about tomorrow. I will not let the inclines get the best of me. Thoughts of chocolate will be banished. I can do this. I will. My sweatpants may be broken, but I am not.

— Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.

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