Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Confessions of an (Almost) Reformed Couch Potato

I've always been a couch potato: overweight, inactive, awkward, and lazy. I was never athletic; I never participated in any sports in high school or college. I've certainly been prodded by parents, doctors, and friends to get moving, but I've seldom done so. The inactivity brought on by my fairly recent knee replacement surgery only made things worse.

Now I find that this retirement paradise where I live is serious about fitness. Not that anyone forces anyone into any activity, but there's always a list of exercise classes and activities, from beginning to advanced, on the schedule.

Thanks to my visiting niece, who prodded me gently, I began to attend a beginning excercise class three times a week. Guess what? I've stayed with it. I also try to visit the fitness room to use the exercise bike, recumbent cross trainer, even the treadmill, twice a week or so. For the first time in my long life, I seem to be sticking to an exercise routine. Will wonders never cease?

I once owned a treadmill. Along with the recumbent exercise bike that replaced it, it served as a good rack for clothes and as a dustcatcher. I seldom bothered to use either. So what's the difference? For one thing, I have a "now or never" feeling. If I don't get into shape now, when will I? Time may be running out.

Then there's peer pressure. We have a skilled, kind leader who understands elders. It's comforting to see fellow residents obviously older and less fit than I (along with others more fit) exercising together. I'll never be the star of the class, but I can generally keep up. It's annoying and embarrassing to have one arm I can't raise over my head and legs that give out occasionally, but I'm used to those problems, and nobody comments.

The Clare is serious about all this. I had to give permission to contact my doctor (she'll be overjoyed to hear that I'm getting out of my recliner to exercise) and sign an agreement not to hold the staff responsible for injury or death. Actually, I'm more likely to die at the dinner table than on the exercise equipment, so signing was not a problem.

Now, I hope I can keep this up. It's easy to make excuses when I feel tired or sore, but in reality, exercise usually peps me up. Now if I can stop using food to cure depression, my body may have a chance. I guess it's better late than never to give up my couch potato status, but it may be a struggle.

Copyright 2009 by Marlys Marshall Styne


Pat's Place said...

Congratulations! I belong to a gym and go 5 mornings a week BECAUSE if I miss more than two or three days one of the "regulars" will call or e-mail me to ask where I am. Peer pressure gets me out of bed every morning and then I get to do the exercise bit, visit with others, go down to the excellent spa-type dressing room and shower and dress in luxury using as many towels as I want! It gets me there most days! Your class may do the same for you!

Anonymous said...

Good for you, Marlys! Ironically, Jon and I reached the point of starting exercise about a month ago. We go to a fitness center of the University; it's near us, and most users are in our age bracket and older. I, too, felt like it's now or never, as my weight has climbed steadily and my joints ached. I have a new hip, too. Maybe I should say, Good for us all! -- Pat M. (Ann Arbor)

Anonymous said...

A doctor once said this to me: "Exercise is your only variable as you age. If you want to stay healthy, do it."

Lydia said...

Wow, is this ever an incentive for me, Marlys. Granted, I don't have access to the goodies you have there at The Clare, but I've been SO lazy, not even doing my yoga, and there's no excuse for it! I'll be exercising along with you.

One Woman's Journey said...

I am proud of you. Please keep it up. My lifestyle different. I have always walked, gardened and did floor exercises. Raised 4 children and just never sat down.
We share the same age and I continue with the same routine. I guess I will wear out. At present I am building a small retirement home in my country hometown. Maybe I can enjoy a few years before a retirement facility like yours.