Strong is the new skinny

March 3, 2014

thumb_COLOURBOX8067113“I play basketball,” a trainer in the gym told me.  “I ran cross country in middle school, but now, I play basketball.”

“They run cross country in MIDDLE school?” I asked, eyeing her tight little 20-something body that has about 10 percent body fat (I asked).  That didn’t happen in MY junior high.

Ok, so let’s get serious.  THIS is my sport:

th-2Reclining position, cushy pillows, great book.

Woman+Reading+Alexander+DeinekaThis is how I most enjoy the outdoors: A book, a great cup of something hot, a table by the window.

th-3I love a good sofa, a dressing gown and a thick book. I excel at this position.

red+velvet+cake+ballsAnd yes, I can eat bon bons with the best of them. Olympic caliber. Even better, I love to make them. Or anything else. Love the kitchen.

kill-itWhich is why I find myself listening to various fitness trainers tell me, “Kill it!” and let them hand me two 25 lb. free weights to carry as I do walking lunges.  Because when all your favorite things to do are called “sedentary” and you are on the downhill side of life, you don’t want to slip and fall on your ass.

Yes, I’ve been at the gym for the past six months. It started because I knew our trip to India would be strenuous and I had set fitness aside for way too long.  But when India went well, thanks to the efforts of a good trainer, I didn’t want to stop. It felt good to be strong and flexible.  So I didn’t. I kept going and even doubled my efforts in the new year, hitting the gym hard, almost daily and working with my trainer 4-5 times a week on cardio and strength training.  It is a serious investment of both time and money. Not to mention effort.

You’re probably thinking that this is my goal:

hennerAnd maybe it is: to recline naked on the bed with a book while someone paints me, and to actually have a waistline like that.  Maybe.

But it’s not what motivates me.  Here’s what motivates me:

th-4That’s right. Getting stronger.  And I can tell that I am by the things I can now do in the gym. Weights that were too heavy a few months ago I lift now with ease. The length of time I can hold a plank has significantly increased.  The number of minutes I can do a stairmaster without needing an ambulance–VERY notable, compared to December.  Sure, I like being able to shop in my closet for clothes that haven’t fit in a while. I love that.   But what I love more is when a new trainer says “You’re strong. I have a 20-year-old who can’t bench press that.”

I love the feeling of accomplishment. Of achieving strength.

Now look. I’ve never been skinny.  Nor am I one to obsess about my weight like some of my friends. Maybe I should obsess more, but as my (skinny) sister-in-love said the other day, “I never look at a scale because it’s destructive. I can tell by my clothes when I need to cut back.”  Of course, in my case, I just buy new clothes. Or that was the me of the past.

I’ve never been a jock, either. My siblings are fitness-oriented, like my father was.  Me? I took after my mother, who was a world-class lounger. Oh, I do love to lounge.  I always like to say “I’m the intellectual in a family of athletes” and to an extent, it’s true.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t get stronger. Fitter. And I am.

It’s not the aesthetics for me as much as it is noting my progress and accomplishment. My strength.  And that’s what keeps me going to the gym.

abf8821bf45b9c1ff90f8667369de1d8

Here’s what’s important to take away from this post:

Obsessing about weight adds needless stress to your life. Stop it.
Lounging on the sofa with a book and bon bons has its place, but so does fitness.
Some kind of working out is an important health care activity for any woman on the downhill side of 50.
Establishing the habit makes “motivation” less necessary. Because your progress becomes your reward.

 

So there you have it.  If you want to know more, email me. If you want to share your own fitness story in the comments below, I’d love to hear it.

38 comments on “Strong is the new skinny
  1. PatU says:

    I LOVE lifting weights and have been doing so since 1979. Combined with roller blading along the canal, my fitness regimen gave me muscle and endurance. I started slacking off when I began to play golf about 11 years ago, but I still work out HARD 3 times a week. I love to skate, but my husband made me give it up…too dangerous. Now I cycle and fight traffic instead. I could be thinner, but at least my triceps don’t flap!

    • admin says:

      I bow to those triceps, I do. A woman of a certain age whose arms don’t continue to wave goodbye after her hands have stopped, well, it’s a good thing.

  2. Jennifer Steck says:

    You continue to inspire me, Carol. I’ll be on my treadmill in fifteen minutes so I can start the day strong. I see it as paying my admission to a great day. I’ve worked with a trainer before and it was a wonderful experience. I’m a triceps flapper right now but hope to remedy that problems.

  3. I needed to read this today! I have been really neglecting my gym membership and I miss it. I love looking at strength as the goal. Thanks!!

  4. Roz Warren says:

    What a fun post! Love the way you use graphics. I’m bookish myself, but I do read on the treadmill. Sometimes.

    • admin says:

      Thanks, Roz! I can’t concentrate on a book during cardio. I wish I could. So–Come visit often, there’s a new post every day!

  5. Haralee says:

    Go Carol, Annihilate it! Art, as you showed is inspired by the pose. Only if gravity did not strike and we could remain like the paintings!

    • admin says:

      I’d steal that great line, “Annihilate it!” but my trainer’s English is a 2nd language. I wonder if he’d get it. LOL. Well, since gravity DOES strike and it’s hard to remain like the painting, I’m good with being so strong I could kick the crap out of someone. Not that I would.

  6. Pat says:

    Not only is strong the new skinny, lifting weights is also the best ways to keep our bones healthy as we age. So kill it, Carol, kill it and then get right back to that good book.

  7. Diane says:

    I’ve always had some sort of fitness routine. (Although I loved the pictures of your favourite routines!) But I’ve sure found that the things I could do are not not the things I CAN do as I get older. Running has turned to biking and swimming. But it sure feels good! After I’m done . . .

    • admin says:

      Oh, isn’t that the truth–AFTER is such a good feeling. But morning always comes (so far, anyway) and we’re back to BEFORE!

  8. Lisa Froman says:

    I like lifting weights too. But man, I’ve been working on my triceps for years and I am losing this battle. LOL.

    • admin says:

      Try increasing weight to the max you can do and work to muscle exhaustion. I find High Intensity training like that gets more results. Fewer reps, more weight.

  9. Karen says:

    I think you’ve nailed it here, Carol. Fitness isn’t about the size of your spandex–it’s about the strength of your body. It’s an internal thing, and when you’ve got it, you know it.

  10. I whole-heartedly endorse this post. It really hosts me that fitness had become so tied to size; I agree with your sister in love that it is destructive. Fitness is about health and vitality. Healthy, vital people do look better, but most importantly they feel better. And they live longer too. Great post. I loved the art too.

    • admin says:

      😉 Feeling better is so right–I have boundless energy anyway, for some reason, but now I have even more.

  11. Okay. Now I have to hit the gym. Thanks.

  12. Estelle says:

    Carol,
    I don’t obsess about my weight but definitely feel better when I’m on the slimmer side. I think there is less pressure on my body. But I also combine it with working out, so I totally get the need to feel stronger.
    Estelle

  13. Mary J. Hayes says:

    Thanks Carol…Ive spent too much time lounging around…I did start a gym membership…Now i know why?…To get stronger…I’ll leave the reading to a particular time..by scheduling time and limiting how much i do it…I really needed this, today

  14. Susan Adcox says:

    It makes me crazy that women who go to the gym are assumed to be after a better-looking body. I’m after a better-performing body. And, yes, travel can be a great motivator. I’m hoping to hike the Cinque Terre in May.

  15. I’m with you, books and bon bons are more my style 🙂 Before I hit 50, I could do all those things without worrying about gaining weight, but now in my post 50’s I sort of have to start doing some exercise. SIgh. And I know you’re right, I’ll ultimately feel better, but those books and bonbons are beckoning…..

  16. Boomer Tuber says:

    I exercise regularly because I love it. Exercise is addictive so stick with it, it gets better. You might like a video I did about body image thoughts https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vPRtBpOcf8

    I agree it’s about strength and how you feel and less about body image, but the body image stuff is hard to overcome I find.

  17. Kathy says:

    Right now I am just getting back into an exercise routine. Do I like exercise..not so much but do like how I feel after. I like that it affords me the ability to stay healthy and keep up with my 4 year old granddaughter.
    My favorite excise is running. It helps me clear my head after a busy day and get going early on Saturday or Sunday
    Great post

    • admin says:

      Running isn’t wise for me at this stage except I will do it on a treadmill. I see how it clears the hed, though.

  18. You know I love this & being healthy & fit as I age but it is just every day life for me now.. There is balance in life so a little of it all works… & yes, a bit more to keep us where we want to be at our older ages.. 😉

  19. Zachary says:

    Great article. I loved the writing style – humor, light-hearted but serious with a good goal. Found you from bloggers community on G+. Keep it up! 🙂

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