I have been told more times than not, “It’s so great that you exercise.”
And my answer has always been, “I couldn’t imagine not exercising; it is like a drug I need on a daily basis. It’s how I start my day; it grounds me.”
I’ve been getting “high” on exercise since I was a teenager, and when I get it, I feel balanced. My body and my mind demand this drug. Without it I am sleepy, cranky, jumpy, and impatient. If I don’t get my “fix,” I find it hard to listen, to sit, and to write. So that’s why I do it. I am proud to be a Boomer exercising junkie!
Perhaps in a former life, I lived in early B.C. Greece, surrounded by the athletes and training alongside them. I feel like I am with my people when I’m watching the Olympics. When the swimmers are racing, I like to imagine myself swimming in the next lane, racing back and forth, flip turning, heart pounding, speeding against the clock. When I watch girls’ gymnastics, I feel a dizzying shot of adrenaline race through me as they spring from jump to flip, and sometimes I even start levitating from the couch as they bounce across the mats, flying wingless from end to end.
I love watching the pros. They are in a class of their own, and despite their youth and exquisite bodies, they motivate me nonetheless. However, I have no delusions about being them. As I said, my love of sports is driven by my own survival instincts. The serotonin high I get from keeping my heart elevated for an hour or so, either from running or competing in an intense tennis match makes me feel, dare I say, Olympic.
So in this post-50 stage of life, I am clear that there will be no compromising. I find myself powering through pain in order to maintain the daily workouts. While my body may be screaming, my mind is keeping me going.
I have taken to talking to my uncooperative body parts. I am in a deep and intimate relationship with my big toe on my right foot. I talk to it on a regular basis, and pull it après workouts to unjam it. I often beg my sweet husband to give it a yank as well. I run a tennis ball under my foot when possible, because the pain is excruciating. It has even given me fashion constraints– when I try to fit this toe in the coolest of shoes, it simply won’t comply. But I won’t be defeated! I even have a special song I run to which helps me rise above the temporal pain. Peter Gabriel’s “Don’t Give Up” brings me beyond myself as I sing the refrain in my loudest voice.
This throbbing member is not part of someone’s Penthouse Magazine fantasy story, it is my time bomb that I try to disarm at the end of each day. I know I may lose this battle with my toe, but I’m good for the fight. I plot my exercise strategy, and I’ve given up the high heels for the flats – just don’t ask me to give up my exercise. I have made my own form of peace.