Health and fitness are my life now at age 59. Most normal human beings would label me "certifiable" or a "fanatic," since I work out with my husband at the crack of dawn every day. And I mean every day. That includes Christmas Day and vacations. When we travel, the adequacy of the workout room determines our choice of hotel. It wasn't always this way.
While many people are active through high school and then slack off, true to form, I followed the opposite path. My all-girls New York City Catholic high school had no gym, so every Friday we changed into our non-descript black leotards and took our smelly feet to the auditorium for yoga. The hippie teacher schooled us in meditation as well, but the nuns never caught on or they surely would have eliminated that pagan practice.
My next foray into regular exercise consisted of an ill-conceived bicycling trip to Quebec City and its surroundings one summer when I was home from Penn State. This was entirely my mother's idea. We prepared for the foolhardy adventure by riding our recently-purchased, bottom-of-the-line bikes around the Central Park Reservoir for a total of three or four Saturdays. When we headed out, neither of us had ever changed a tire nor ridden a bicycle with all our worldly belongings in carefully balanced saddlebags over the rear tire. Her harebrained plan called for our two-wheelers to be our sole means of transportation, with overnight respites in cheap roadside motels. The trip began inauspiciously when I managed to get a flat just outside the Quebec airport terminal. Then, much to my mom's consternation, a few days into this two-week escapade, I came down with a fever, undoubtedly brought on by my her insistence that we peddle non-stop during a two-day driving rainstorm. And that wasn't even the worst part. Once on the road, I realized that my Mom rode so slowly she challenged the laws of physics to keep her bicycle upright. So, I spent most of the trip hanging out by the side of the road, killing time, waiting for her to catch up. The end result: I was cured of exercise for several years to come.
It wasn't until my second year in law school that I contracted the fitness bug. It happened one day when I was camping out at my boyfriend's apartment and decided I was tired of killing time in the mornings while he ran around the Polo Fields in Golden Gate Park and returned invigorated, with a smile on his face. So, I agreed to give it a try. At first I could barely complete the 3/4- mile circuit. But, I was hooked, not because I fell in love with running or burned up the track with lightning speed, but because I discovered it was the perfect stress antidote. My habitual running is what got me through law school and the California Bar exam without a nervous breakdown. Once in law practice, exercise-as-stress-relief saved me from killing my nasty boss and ending up in the slammer.
Through the years, my exercise regimen has changed from running, to cycling, and now to spin classes, workout machines, and lifting. In deference to my advanced years, I no longer do killer workouts, like the now-fashionable CrossFit, or daredevil sports. As I enter my seventh decade, I've become wary of any new twinge I feel while working out, as I know that even the slightest injury will take months to heal. So, I go with the flow, change it up as my body ages, and just keep moving. It requires effort, and there are certainly days when sleeping in is all too tempting, but it's all about consistency. I know I'm not getting out of this life alive, but I'd like to feel good until that night when I die peacefully in my sleep.