Recently I’ve been really busy. I’ve also been dealing with a lot of stress, both from work and from a difficult break-up. Being a night owl by nature, and teaching late classes at work, my sleep schedule has become nearly nocturnal. I haven’t exactly been getting any exercise living in a city with no gyms and away from any decent running trails. Still, what happened yesterday shocked me.

While I was at work getting ready for my late class, I felt a general discomfort around my left shoulder and chest. I didn’t think much of it, and I went in and taught my class. By the time I finished my chest was aching quite a bit, and my left arm felt cold and tingly, as if it had fallen asleep. I was pretty resistant to the idea that it could be some kind of heart problem, but the symptoms were too threatening. I had to go into the emergency room and make sure it wasn’t angina or even a heart attack.

As I left work, my boss said, “I guess that’s what happens when you eat too much KFC.” On my way to the hospital, I kept thinking about my diet and health in general. In college, I was a cross-country runner. I used to run 70-110 miles a week. Even 3 years ago, before I came to Taiwan, I could do a 15-18 mile long run without any serious pain. Is it possible to build up enough fatty deposits to cause angina in only 3 years? Isn’t 27 way to young to have this kind of problem, even if you are getting really chubby like I am?

By the time I got to the hospital, my arm was really bugging me and I was getting pretty worried. First they checked my blood pressure- 165/97. Not too good. Then I got a blood test and an EKG. I had to wait 90 minutes. At the end, I got my report. My heart was fine. My blood test came out fine. The checked my blood pressure again, and it was 132/74. My pulse was 64. All in all, I have a lower risk profile for heart problems than the average guy my age… but I still have to lose some weight.

So what was wrong? Why does my arm hurt? It was just a strained muscle. Still, just the fact that I felt like it was within the realm of possibility I was having heart problems means that I should get in shape. Now the question is, is it worth it to risk my life riding a scooter on a winding 2 lane highway to get to the only gym within a half hour commute of where I live? Or would it be better to risk the packs of stray dogs and crazy motorists and try to start jogging around where I live?