a warm and welcome place to share words and thoughts

Archive for the ‘exercise’ Category

Accepting my body, with grace

I knew this day was approaching, the day when I finally had to face the truth. The truth being that I am so very uncomfortable trying to pour my 53 year old body into my cute little denim shorts. Oh, there was a time when it was acceptable to “jump out of an airplane” to fit into my jeans, and then do a series of squats to be able to breathe – but I was young and single and did not possess such a high percentage of body fat. No, it was time – time to fold them up, find a plastic bag to carry them in, and head to Goodwill where hopefully some cute young girl in her 20’s will love them like I did. And look much better in them to boot.

But how could this have happened? And it is such a slow, insidious process, this accumulation of fat in such imaginative places – knees, back, arms (lovingly called “Grandma arms”, even when one is not a Grandma) and of course the ever popular midsection bulges that we so preciously call “love handles”. I thought I had it all under control! Since moving to Portland I have started eating much healthier. I cut out soft drinks and only drink water, and I haven’t eaten ground beef for what must be years now, sticking to mostly fish or chicken. And with the great farmers markets here, my intake of fresh fruits and vegetables has increased considerably. And talk about exercise – I sold my car, for crying out loud! That means I walk just about everywhere, only taking public transportation if absolutely necessary. So what gives?

The answer is due to three important factors – I am a woman, in my 50’s, and in the throes of menopause. That is the exact combination needed to slow one’s metabolism to a grinding halt. Yes, maybe I could become a vegan, like so many Portlanders are. But I will not give up my dairy products, in lieu of some kind of fake milk or cheese – my Midwestern roots will not hear of it! As it is I feel like my caloric intake some days is only in the triple digits, low enough to keep the weight off, one would think. And I refuse to become a prisoner to some overly exhausting exercise routine, all in the name of fashion.

No, I am happy and healthy and damn it, I think I look pretty good! So what if I have some extra rolls of fat in places that it wasn’t 30 years ago? I want to be able to dress fun and feel good about my appearance, but I am in a new era in my life, one where I don’t want to be one of those women that can’t glide gracefully into the aging process. We place too much emphasis in our society on appearance, especially for women. I have decided to place my emphasis now on how I feel; glowing with health and radiating joy.

Advertisements

A morning walk

I try to get out and walk every day, which is usually sometime after lunch. In the mornings I have my routine of prayer and meditation, followed by coffee or tea while I journal or read something spiritually uplifting. This little routine I have can sometimes go on for three to four hours, so there goes the morning most days! But I do find it a lovely way to start my day. The other morning though, something in me whispered, “Let’s go for a walk, before the day becomes warm and full of people.” So at 7 a.m. (gasp!) I was up and out of bed, and headed up the steep climb to Washington Park, which is the home of the International Rose Test Garden here in Portland. What a wonderful treat it turned out to be, as I cleared the morning cobwebs from my head and took in the beauty of a place that is so deliciously close to my home, available to me at any time. And the writer in me found inspiration in a few words I journaled about my experience, how it just felt so good – and the words come out in a poem.

It Felt So Good

 

At the top of the hill I stopped

And looked out over the city draped in haze

Sitting on the soft green grass I rested

In a meditative pose

I opened to all the earth’s gentle energies

It felt so good!

Walking through the playground I stopped

To sit on the swing

Slowly moving, to and fro

I gathered my strength and flew above the earth

Gliding through the cool morning air

It felt so good!

Meandering onward I came to the singing fountain

I stopped to sit on the stony edge

And listen to the lovely melodies

Of the water chime as it played on metal

Tantalizing my sense of sound

It felt so good!

I walked along until I spied the splash of colors

Roses in full bloom, roses in the fullness of being

I noticed the brilliant shades and hues

I breathed in the familiar fragrance

I brushed the soft silk of a petal against my skin

It felt so good!

I turned to go home

Along the shaded dirt path

My body swinging with the rhythm of life

My heart open wide like the roses

My soul singing like the fountain

And it felt so good

Not as in shape as I thought I was

Shortly after I moved to Portland I realized I really didn’t need a car here, and so off it went, back to Minnesota; the daughter of a friend of mine desperately needed a car at the time, and she was more than happy to buy my very reliable Honda Civic. That left me using public transportation, which is abundant here, or else walking my way around town. After a few months of walking so much, I noticed my clothes fitting a little better (not so snug), and I could walk the four flights up to my apartment without feeling as if I needed oxygen. So when the new meet-up group I found recently posted an evening walk in my neighborhood, I signed up, even though the distance was listed as six miles. Piece of cake I thought – I walk that and more on a day of exploring or running errands or sometimes both. What I didn’t take into account was the uphill direction we would be going on our route, exploring Washington Park and the very hilly Southwest area of Portland. How bad could it be? Pretty bad, as I soon found that my leg muscles were really as weak as noodles. But then I had a second wind – yes, I thought, I just had to get into my stride and I’ll be just fine as we said goodbye to two members who (very wisely and I should have joined them) decided to stop halfway and take the train back to our starting point. Not me though, no I was going to finish this walk if it killed me. And as we started to climb and climb our way through Washington Park, I thought at one point that I could very well die this way – a heart attack would have been a sweet release at that point as my poor heart and lungs worked overtime to keep me going. I started lagging far behind the others, but a very nice and concerned couple took me under their wing, walking a bit slower so they could keep an eye on me. My thoughts of a pleasant and scenic evening walk were shattered with every step I took now; my mantra becoming “one more step” instead of enjoying the beauty of the park. But finally, just when I felt like I could lay down and die, we reached the summit of Council Crest. And I have to say, the pain was worth the gain – we were treated to a spectacular view of the city lights from what felt like a heavenly vantage point – my ears actually started to pop on the walk down. As we began the big sigh of relief walk downhill, I found myself muttering, “Are we there yet?” like an impatient child. All I wanted to do was get home and stop walking! And I finally made it home, where I shoved aside my obsessive neatness tendencies and threw my clothes on the floor, appreciating the comfort of my bed like never before.

Tag Cloud