I met my husband for coffee after we went in two different directions for exercise this morning. I sat over black coffee, his was black, too, but with a side of heavily buttered bagel. I sighed. I love hating him for eating six meals a day with no apparent ill-effects. He maintains his weight and his health is excellent. Despite my current passion for exercise, it hasn’t always been that way and sometimes I just wish I didn’t “have to”. My most recent belief about the “gift” of struggling with my weight is that it helps me understand womens’ body issues, because I’ve been there, I am there, I am that. I can and do help others. But I discovered more today.
Only moments before I am at my Barre Strength class with sweat pouring down my back despite the coolness of the room. It is, by far, the hardest workout I do all week. I stand at the ballet barre and look in the mirror down the line of women. All are younger than me. I wonder why they are there. They all look fit and healthy and I decide they want to stay that way. As I allow the instructor to continue to torture me, my thoughts wander to why I’m there, which leads me to a surprising place… To keep my weight in check and look pretty darn good for my age.
Wow, how vain is that? Okay, yes, I’m vain. Then part two hits me. I see little old frail ladies who never had to worry about their weight. Like my mom. She always looked extraordinary. Able to wear the tiniest clothes with the tiniest waist, even after three babies. Her exercise consisted of “gardening” and hovering like a hummingbird, never actually sitting in her waking hours. Later in life she suffered heart problems and got quite frail.
As my husband munches away on his bagel, offering me a little bite with no butter, I tell him that I realize I am a closet couch potato. That if I had gotten my mom’s genes and didn’t have to exercise to keep the fat cells at bay, I would sit on the couch and read in my spare time. My exercise would consist of “gardening” and an occasional leisurely walk about the property. I surprise him with this confession. “No, not you. Really?” he asks. “Really!” I answer.
Forced to exercise by my vanity, I discover the greatest gifts of all. I get to hang out with amazing women who dare to put themselves on top of their “to-do” list. And more. I am strong, my bones are dense, my heart is healthy, my blood pressure is superb, I have great balance, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll keep the “frail old lady” in me at bay for a long, long time.