Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I surrender.

I  toss in the towel, send up the white flag, bow my head in defeat. Pick the cliche you like the best, but I give up.

The layer of blubber that resides over my navel laughs and points at me every time I enter my gym, snickering as I do sit ups until the room starts to spin. I do so many sits up of various kinds (and there are many) that I can't stand up until I put my head between my legs for a few minutes. And the belly fat just hangs on, thrilled that I'm adding some hard muscle underneath its resting place, which only takes up more room in my clothes. Instead of my pant size going down, a logical assumption as I sweat at the gym four or five days a week, the waistbands are getting tighter. All that work mastering the stair machine only made it worse. I have a nice, firm butt and a muscled abdomen with a layer of feisty fat over it.

I Googled "Why can't I lose my belly fat?" this morning and found out that my sit ups are making things worse. It seems that I need to do some hard aerobic work. It even mentioned the age factor....that there isn't one. Darn. I dug out the class schedule for my gym, which was, of course, buried under a mound of paperwork on my desk.

So, I'm not giving in. I'm only giving up my resistance to organized exercise classes, the kind where everyone dances or cycles or steps together at designated times each week. I can choose from cycling, which I tried a month or so ago, and it taught me how not to fall off a bike that is nailed to the floor. Or I can try to the Zumba dance classes where everyone salsas to the beat and looks like they should have fruit on their heads a la Carmen Miranda. I've looked through the door at that one and they do seem to sweat a lot. (But no one has their head between their legs.) A new one is TRX where folks end up hanging from the ceiling on straps, doing push ups and other fun activities with the blood rushing to their heads. Not sure about that one. At all.

All of this goes against my personality as someone who makes her own way in everything from relationships to career to.......well, exercise. But, I'm nothing if not stubborn, and have committed to myself to try something different for a month. I'll work my body until sweat drips in my eyes, if I have to.

I will prevail. Or at least learn how to salsa.

A fat stomach never breeds fine thoughts.
St. Jerome

Thursday, April 21, 2011

HOT CHICK, you said?

It’s been a long time since I’ve been called a HOT CHICK.

And why would it matter to me, anyway? Aren’t I past all that?

Well, no. It seems not. I heard through a friend that those words were used by a stranger to describe me a few days ago when I had occasion to be in their workplace. My spirit was lifted for several hours. Well, maybe a little longer than that, if I’m being honest.

And to make it even better, the person who knows me told this stranger that the HOT CHICK is over 60, which didn’t seem to matter to either of them. I was still a HOT CHICK.  

Which wasn’t the case a few years ago. My gym membership card had a thick layer of dust on the plastic cover, if I could find it at all.  My closet had a dual personality, too. The larger sizes were in the front where the good light was, while the smaller ones cowered in the dark in the back. It was like two women lived in my house. And the smaller one didn’t appear to be coming back.

Full length mirrors had become my enemy. The pressure of my life pulled the corners of my mouth down into a perpetual grimace. I had weight everywhere, body and soul. No hot chick lived in my house, that’s for sure.

Then I attended a party one evening, a wonderful gathering with friends. One of them had a camera. Not only were photos taken, they were posted on Facebook. I truly didn’t recognize myself. How does that happen, our bodies taking one fork in the road, while our minds refuse to follow?

I had my butt kicked by a picture. It was that simple 

And today, I’m a HOT CHICK.  Forgive me as I gloat a bit.

 If you want to look young and thin, hang around old fat people.
Jim Eason

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Slumdog seniors....

I went to a birthday party the other night. Actually, it was three birthday celebrations rolled into one. As we age, we have to multi-task more, not less, as you younger folks might think. The theory is, I guess, that there is less time left to us so we'd better make the most of it. Or something like that.

The party was for three men who are all within 5 or 6 years of each other, hovering in their low to mid-60s. We gathered at someone's home, BYOB in hand, and enough cash to contribute to a couple of pizzas. We also don't like to cook or do dishes once our kids are grown. Let them sweat in kitchens for their families. We're done. It explains the predominance of grey hair in restaurants between 4 and 6 PM. Also, Wheel of Fortune comes on at 7.

Naturally, the conversation  meandered around the topic of age for a while. The usual jokes about increased forgetfulness (how many times can I lose my keys in a 24 hour span, anyway?) and stereotypical topics for "seniors," meaning us instead of high schoolers. I have found, by the way, that men are no less coy about their age than are women, just louder and more obscure in their smokescreens of deflection. Add up the years for men and then start subtracting levels of testosterone, I guess. The next step is to pull out all the little blue pill jokes, the ones that all OTHER guys have to use, never the teller of the joke. And WHY do the advertisements show a couple sitting in two different bathtubs, holding hands across the divide? No wonder they're having trouble connecting. Get in the same tub, folks, that might help! Sheesh.....

A woman will at least tell you flat out she isn't going to reveal her age, if it's important to her. In my case, I made the decision at age 61 that my hands were going to give me away anyway, so I might as well put it out there. I think I'm young in other ways, and I want women to see and hear what to expect as we head into our personal sunsets. Not that it's the same for everyone, but that's the point: Younger women need honesty from those of us who are a bit ahead of them on this path. We need to give each other as much information as possible, instead of ducking the digits on our personal calendars.

Oh, yes, how the rest of the conversation went at the birthday party the other night (see, I forgot what we were talking about). As we sat around the party pool watching the plastic shark with sunglasses ride the current, the topic quckly turned to filing for social security. Should you file as soon as you can or wait? If you wait, will it still be there at all? Will you? What to do, what to do.

Retire? Stop working? Do we even have such a choice any more? Medical care. The VA-style of care vs. private pay?  This hospital or that one?

Somehow outhouses came up. Don't ask me how that happened. I truly don't know.  Most people reading this right now have never seen an outhouse, much less used one. Portapotties are the closest thing matching an outhouse today, but they are CHOICES in most cases. Not so with the outhouses OUR grandparents used, and maybe a few of us depending on how far we grew up from an interstate highway. It was the outhouse or.....well, we don't want to take that thought any farther.

There was continued discussion about one hole houses or two (WHY would anyone want a two seater outhouse??), how often they were moved, the types of "toilet paper" that was used, and practical jokes with these quaint facilities, of course. (And, yes, Slumdog Millionaire did come up.)  How does one "lock" an outhouse door? Did you have to paint the thing?

There were one or two others topics dicsussed that I won't even mention here. I wish they hadn't been mentioned then, either. Let's just say that we did not discuss the state of the nation or its budget, Japan and nuclear power plants, green cars, or anything else remotely topical, not even "paper or plastic." I'm amazed to recall that the weather never even came up, usually the number one thing on seniors' lists of critical information. I'd have even settled for that instead of the outhouses. As a result, I drank one too many beers to deaden the pain and then couldn't sleep later.

We did play a simple dice game, using quarters as booty, and I won both games. Couple that with this column, I don't think I'll have to worry about being invited back. Darn.....

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Tug of war.....

     Her voice was plaintive, worry dripping from her tone like sap oozing from a slow tap. This friend of mine, one I've known for over 15 years, is about 10 years younger than me. We've stayed in touch as she moved from our neighborhood to another across the river, and then on to Idaho and back. I'm the rooted one, remaining in one place now for over 20 years, the military brat finally at home.

     But the other day she was thinking there must be something physically wrong with her. "I just want to come home and enjoy my house after work. I don't want to go out. What's wrong with me?" she wondered aloud as we talked on the phone.

     I remember those feelings. I've already gone through my 50s, the decade that pulls from both sides, so I can fill her in and assure her that she is in a totally recognizable place. On one side, our 40s were a time of excitement, as we finally came into our own. Lots of activity as our kids grew up and left and our income had worked its way up a bit so we actually have some discretionary income. On the other side lie the 60s, a time of sheer relaxation outside of work commitments.  I have become more introspective, pondering where I have been and what remains for me as I am half way through my 62nd year. Life no longer marches; it meanders.

     That tug from the 40s side of the timeline still has her in its grip, but the opposite magnetic pull as she approaches 60 is becoming equally strong, the one that lets it hair down and doesn't feel like it has to impress anyone with constant movement. She wants to come home to her beloved dogs, pour a glass of wine, and sink into her easy chair and be......easy. Quiet. Still. Much like I savor the freedom to do absolutely nothing if I choose. I don't allow anyone else's expectations of what my life should be like to cajole me into anything. Oh, that I had learned it much sooner.

     I assured her this tug of war with the competing years on either side is natural. The relief in her voice was palpable, I could hear it.

     So, I hope she breathed a sigh of relief, and then sipped a glass of wine as she watched the sunset paint in watercolor across the sky. I know I did.

     Change always comes bearing gifts.  ~Price Pritchett

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Life ain't no country song.....

I went through a period in my life when I believed country music songs, especially the ones twanging on about love. Lost love, found love, misplaced love, angry love, miraculous love, love that makes you want to rip your clothes off and ......well, whatever. I felt so left out. At one point, I would have even settled for lost love since you've got to have it first before you misplace it.

The surprising part of all this is that I did all this yearning not very long ago in the scheme of my life. I guess I was so busy working myself to death during the time my daughter was growing up that my dreams were filled with exhausted sleep instead of all those lyrics in love songs. I remember having nightmares about all my teeth falling out because any dental care in my house was going to my daughter's braces. I certainly wasn't dreaming about dancing half-naked in the sand with a tall, muscled man offering me a glass of champagne and a lifetime of being taken care of. Sigh......

But I went through a few years in my 40s and early 50s when I asked, Where the heck is that beach, anyway? If I could only find it, all would be well, right? Well, I won't go into details about how that image was finally laid to rest, but suffice it to say that I dug a huge hole when I was slapped silly back into reality and I buried the darn thing.

I guess the lesson here is that we each take our own paths through life. There isn't a one size fits all template about where, and when, love fits. All I know is that when my eyes start to glaze over these days, I turn the radio off.

 To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone.
Reba McEntire