I found it interesting to realize that the amount of weight I’ve lost since beginning my diet in January now corresponds to a filled one of these five-gallon jobbers…

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…which translates to 43 pounds. Having once been employed to carry these where ever they needed to go, it’s a weight with which I’m definitely familiar. But the thought of no longer physically carrying that amount is something I haven’t been able to wrap my head around, in part because despite being able to dimensionally quantify it via the way my clothes fit (or no longer do) I haven’t been able to really recognize the reduction physically — until last night on the tennis court.

One of the reasons I backed away from tennis about a year ago is that regardless of how decent a player I was, my age and weight were co-conspirators against me taking it to the next level. No doubt I won more than my share of matches, but the simple fact was that I was older and fatter and thus not as quicknimble and that was demonstrated to me every time I ended up a discouraging step or two late getting to a passing shot that my younger and more fit self had previously been able to do.

Not that I was ever at all fast, but one of the beauties of tennis is that the relatively tight dimensions of its playing area offer bigger guys like me the illusion of zoom. Clock me running a 100-meter dash and I’d bet it would take me at least 13 or 14 thick-ankled and flat-footed seconds. But dang if back in the day I couldn’t deliver a burst that would move me from one side of a tennis court to the other and get stuff, much to many an opponent’s surprise.

Well, it looks like those days might be back or at least on their way. Last night after the drill session at the rooftop downtown YMCA courts during a pick-up doubles game with others from the class, I was firmly ensconced on the baseline to the left with my partner covering the center up at the net. In the middle of the point the ball comes crosscourt past my partner to the deep right. Instinctually I break for it only to surprise myself not only in getting to it so quickly but in then sending it back with a nice backhand low and down the line that the guy on the other side can’t handle. Point ours. Compliments follow.

It’s amazing what can be done without a five-gallon water bottle on your back. And waist. And thighs.