Fit by Forty

Fit by FortyMy adorable (and at times, annoyingly motivated) husband made the pronouncement a few weeks ago that he has a major life goal in mind.  Drum roll, please – I know you’re all waiting with baited breath on this one.  His goal is to be in the best shape of his life on his 40th birthday.  Yep, you read that right.  I heard it right.  That’s the plan.  My first reaction to this announcement was to plaster a look of mild interest and pleasant smile on my face while deciding how honestly to react.  My inner dialogue went a little something like this:  Seriously?  Why on Earth is that the goal?  Why can’t we have a goal that involves travel or experiencing exotic culture (still waiting on my trip to Greece, hon) or shopping?  Or perhaps travel while shopping and experiencing new culture?  That would cover all the bases. And be way more fun.  I hear Italy has fabulous shopping….and architecture…..and wine.

After staring at him for an awkward amount of time, I believe my reply ended up somewhere in the vicinity of “well, have fun with that”.  Then, the guilt kicked in.  I mean, really.  Is fitness really that bad of a goal?  He could have had a 40th birthday goal that involves a Harley or (even more) expensive fishing gear or a myriad of other mid-life crises.  And let’s face it, I might as well join in.  If not, I’ll just feel worse about myself when he’s all fit and fabulous and I’m not, since we turn 40 within three weeks of each other (he’s older, just so we’re clear).  So, I told him I’d join him on this quest for fitness nirvana.  Here we go – we have 16-17 months to achieve this dream (and now you all know how old I am – if that’s not authenticity for you, I don’t know what is).  Heaven help me.

Let me clarify the situation for you, just so you know where this project is starting and (likely) heading.  Gregg is already in shape.  He was a fitness trainer in college and is one of the more outdoors-loving, active, physical men in the real world (you know, that doesn’t get paid to do this or have unlimited funds to play or work out all day).  He is incredibly athletic and loves anything that challenges him physically.  Oh, and his metabolism is ridiculous.  He has a history as a cross-country runner as well.  Needless to say, his starting point is a little higher than mine, as (I am sure) are his expectations.  He is driven to do this, and has begun working out at an intensity I can never hope to match.  I refuse to subject myself to sessions of activity with him because, any time I do, I can’t walk for the next three days.

You see where I’m headed with this?

My primary form of exercise in life has been dance.  I played volleyball in high school and ran track, but never anything over 400 meters.  I played on club teams in college (for fun) and have a pretty active lifestyle, but given the choice, a workout likely won’t make my top ten list.  Plus, I’ve had three kids. So any time I have to jump or run or perform high impact activities more than 30 minutes after a potty break, I have a whole new list of issues.  And I really like wine and bread.

And yet, I have given my word.  To my husband, my other half, my soul mate.  Which means I am stuck.

Since this is his idea, he gets to drive the train on it.  And what a train we are on.  We have pulled out all the stops – nutrition, calorie reduction, improved quality of food and water, exercise…..even our sleep patterns are up for review.  For the first time in my life, I agreed to a system cleanse (there’s an experience for you) and am consistently taking vitamins.  We are drinking more water and have given up sodas.  We are ingesting wheat grass and avoiding coffee and tea.  I am shopping at the farmer’s market (which is so cool – I love these local farmers and the amazing produce/pasta/honey/eggs/treasures they sell).  Our energy is up and our weight is starting to go down.

Lest you think all is roses (or that I am lying or delusional), let me share with you some doses of reality…

1.  Exercise – Even without my hubby’s endeavors, I do attempt to motivate myself in this area at intervals.  So, about twice a year, I sign up to run (and I use that word lightly) a 5K, just so I scare myself into at least a semblance of training.  I hate to run.  I’ve never gotten the whole runner’s high thing.  Those endorphins don’t exist in my body.  Yet, all the fitness articles point this out as the fastest and most effective way for women in my age bracket to lose belly fat, so less often than I should, I pull on my running shoes and sports bra and drag myself out to attempt this feat.  The other night was one such time of exercise.  Oh, dear Heavens.  I am so grateful no one was out and about to witness this fiasco, although I am sure most of you could hear my breathing in your respective houses.  The sounds coming out of me were indescribable, truly….and I can generally find a way to describe anything.  At certain points I was cursing, at others I was praying.  I did manage to maintain enough decorum not to do the two together.  My prayer went a bit like this: “Dear God….I know I made a pledge to my husband to do this with him, and I should not renege on it, given that whole trust and obey thing in the wedding vows.  So I’ll make you a deal.  I promise not to give up on this, if you promise it won’t kill me.  Thanks….Amen”. Not the most profound of prayers – I’m sure God saw past it, given how oxygen-deprived I was.  And then I came over a hill and upon a family of deer.  As I chugged closer, I noticed something peculiar…..they didn’t move at all.  Not a hair.  They weren’t startled.  They weren’t afraid.  Nothing.  I mean, I know they heard me coming a mile away, given the volume of my panting.  You’d think they would be at least a little concerned.  Nope.  In fact, one of them looked at the other and made this huffing sound that, I know this sounds crazy, I know was laughter.  Yes, my friends, deer can laugh.  I have witnessed it.  After their chuckle, they went back to grazing, totally dismissing me.  Apparently, I looked close enough to death not to even remotely resemble a threat.  Nice.

2.  Weight – We won’t dwell too long on this one.  Suffice it to say, the goal is to lose it.  Gregg thinks it’s his place to help with weigh-ins.  I disagree.  Guess who’s gonna win that one?  I busted him this morning trying to maneuver me onto the scale during a good morning hug.  I am never sleepy enough to fall for that one.  I think we’re clear now.

3.  Food – As I mentioned previously, we are cleaning up and scaling down that area.  It is causing me to be a more creative and accountable shopper and chef, but that’s not a bad thing.  I am in mourning for the bread and dessert sacrifices, but am resigned to this change.  The decrease in processed food and bleached flour and sugar is good for all of us.

4.  Wine – In a moment of profound wisdom, Gregg took this one off the table and never mentions it at all.  Good man.  Some battles are not worth the cost.

Lifestyle changes are never easy.  Getting into shape, be it physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, financial, or whatever area you are working to improve is always a challenge. It’s more successful when done with a partner or team because we need each other for encouragement and accountability.  You can bet on days when I want to throw in the towel or kill my husband during this undertaking, I’ll be sending S.O.S calls out to the Girls to get me over the hump.  And they will.  They’ll laugh and cajole and encourage and sympathize while commiserating on how men always have it easier and get faster results than us when it comes to these things….which he does, given his metabolism and lack of hormones, but if I’m honest, also due to the afore-mentioned intensity-of-purpose issue.  It’s all good.  This isn’t a contest.  We’re doing it together.
And I have a month longer than he does to work on things.

Solidarity, sisters.  It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

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