The Fat Content of a Fifty-Two Year Old Woman and other News

It's corny, but in 2011 I 'heart' ME!

I know. Why do I need to spend money on a health club membership when all I really need to do is strap on a pair of sneakers and head for the great outdoors?  Except that really isn’t my thing.  I enjoy nature’s wondrous beauty standing still, not riding a bike over the Santa Cruz Mountains.  Instead, I crave stats.  I need to know calorie counts, miles tread, a hill’s gradient.  I need an elliptical.  And so, today, I returned to the place I forgot I loved.  The gym.  I confess.  I was nervous. I knew my fitness assessment was not going to go well.  And here’s the bad news:  thirty-two percent of me is fat.

But there’s good news, too.  My fitness level tests in the ‘good’ range for a woman my age.  Barely.  In other words, I can hit my maximum heart rate and still carry on a conversation, but I can only do two and half push-ups.  My flexibility is good (it better be) but I have postural imbalances that need to be corrected.

What went wrong?  Simple – like many of us, I stopped paying attention. I stopped packing healthy lunches and began grazing at the local Whole Foods.  And just because the food is from Whole Foods doesn’t mean it’s wholesome.  The hot bar has plenty of empty, fatty calories to choose from.  And I convinced myself yoga was enough.

And how can I fix it?  Easy. Mindfulness. Now where have I heard that word before…

I believe in Yoga.  I know it has helped my bone density, kept me as flexible as women half my age and helped me to manage stress levels.  But the style of yoga I love and the one that contributes most to my physical and mental health does not, unfortunately, contribute to cardiovascular health.  To do that, statistics vary, but most suggest thirty minutes of vigorous exercise five days per week.  In other words – I need to balance my Yin and Yang.  I need to regain some equilibrium.

I’m going to let you in on a secret.  I have a silly wish.  I’ve always wanted a lean, muscular body that shouts HEALTH.  It’s not about narcissism – it’s about how being fit makes me feel.  Which is fantastic.  Unstoppable. Confident.  Once – for a few years – I managed to maintain a decent enough fitness level to run 10-K’s on a regular basis. And to have been there and lost it is incredibly frustrating – especially since being physically fit is one of the best feelings in the world.

So I think I’m on the verge of doing something a bit crazy.  The trainer who conducted my fitness assessment today was good.  And I know enough about the body to know who’s good and who isn’t.  I want him to be my personal trainer.  How can I afford it?  I’ll cancel Comcast.  Or something.  I’ll figure it out.

The thing is, I’m tired of talking myself out of life.  Saying ‘no’ to the things I want because as long as bad things happen in the world I don’t deserve good things in mine.

Today the hosts of this blog, WordPress, suggested we write about our personal highlight of 2010. But how can I compare witnessing a Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony, or seeing my mother for the first time in twenty-eight years to joining a gym?  Yet making this commitment to myself – basically admitting that I am worth the effort – will impact my life more.  After all, I’ve heard it said you can’t love another until you love yourself.  Maybe it’s finally time for me to embrace that idea.

And now I have to ask.  What are you saying ‘no’ to? What’s your silly wish?

Day One

A tape measure.

Image via Wikipedia

1 January 2011

I slept in until 7:30 this morning, climbed out of bed and while the kettle boiled for tea practiced 5 Golden Seed.  As the tea brewed I stepped on the scale, took note and stepped off.  I found the tape measure hiding under some old bottles of nail varnish and wrapped it around my chest, then my waist and finally, my hips.  I took a deep breath and recognized the truth:  I need more exercise.  But to be honest, the only thing convincing me to get off my bottom and into the gym is the very fact that the last thing I want to do is get off my bottom and into a gym.

It all began with the first manuscript about the Women Airforce Service Pilot (still languishing in a drawer awaiting re-writes, by the way).  I sacrificed trips to the gym for writing time.  Why trudge all the way over to the local Y when I can just throw on my trainers and jog around the block? Turns out that didn’t work out so well for me.

(By the way, I’m deliberately not divulging my weight and measurements.  This isn’t a debate about body image, it’s about health.  Let’s just say it’s not as bad as I thought it was going to be, but it’s bad enough.)

I was full of excuses and I lost the goal of entering mid-life in peak condition around the same time I found Facebook.  Besides, I teach nine yoga classes a week.  Isn’t that enough exercise?

Sorry.  No.  It’s not enough exercise.  Yoga will keep me flexible.  It will keep my joints mobile.  But cardiovascular?  No.  My style of yoga won’t touch it.

And so, just last week, knowing my day of reckoning would arrive with the New Year, I dragged my sorry, flabby body to my local Jewish Community Center and signed up.  Tomorrow I meet with a personal trainer to find out how dire my situation is and next week I have an hour introduction to the Pilate’s Reformer.  In between, I’ll reacquaint myself to the elliptical and maybe check out the class schedule.  Didn’t I used to love Spinning?

Listen – I know this isn’t going to be easy. I know it’s going to hurt.  And I have concerns – how will I do it all?  How will I juggle classes, private clients, writing AND find time for thirty minutes of cardiovascular exercise five days a week?

I’ll keep you posted…

Of course, the diet needs a major overhaul as well…