Princess: The skinny on exercise at 40
“I’m so tired of working out all the time,” my friend Amy complained to me the other day. “I just feel so much pressure to be fit, but I’m exhausted, and I’m sick of being so sore.”
Amy is probably one of my thinnest friends. She’s got the gift of good genetics — tall and thin with long legs. Even days after her first baby was born, her belly was still smaller than my own stomach, which seems to pooch out no matter how thin I get. It’s so bad that people often mistake me for being pregnant, a scenario that does not get easier with practice.
Anyhoo, the point is that Amy is one of these people who can pull off belly-bearing workout wear (athletic bra only; no tank top necessary) and can flit around town in her Lululemon tennis skirt (those super-short ones with the pleats that all the skinny bitches were wearing last summer) and look totally fabulous. So if she is feeling the pressure, then where does that leave the rest of us?
I guess I’ve always known the standard for fitness in Aspen is crazy out of control, what with the people who invented uphill races. I mean, what the hell were you thinking? I can see downhill, but uphill? I can even see uphill to get to downhill, but just uphill and that’s it? That’s crazy talk.
I totally get those driven types who have this obsessive-compulsive need to push themselves just to see what they are capable of (hello, have you met my dad?). You know what I’m talking about — those guys who have drawers full of Lycra and yellow-tinted wrap glasses that make them look like bugs, guys with skin so taut it looks like it was stretched tight across their faces and clipped behind their ears. I even know girls who get up at 6 a.m. (like, when it’s still dark out) to skin up Aspen Mountain before work, as if they can actually stay awake through the whole day after all that. Unbelievable!
But then there’s the whole contingency of people who work out because they want to look good. I’m so totally one of those people. If I had Amy’s genetics, I wouldn’t work out at all. I would live on pretzels and beer and walk around in skimpy clothes all the livelong day and maybe even get some writing done.
So if Amy is feeling the pressure, what does that say about me?
As it is, between yoga and cardio, half my day is shot. Yoga is a two-hour ordeal on account of the time it takes to wrestle off your sweat-drenched clothes and manage to put yourself together enough to be able to go out in public. And cardio takes at least an hour, depending on what and where and how long it takes me to haul my ass up a mountain or down a trail. I’m scary slow. I’m a slow runner and a slow hiker and a slow walker. In junior high they called me “Pokey” because I was always late for class, wandering the hallways after the bell rang with my mouth flapped open, still half asleep.
Just the other day I was hiking up Arbaney-Kittle, and some woman with gray hair who appeared to be in her 50s jogged right by me. Yes, that’s right. Jogged. Up a trail so steep that just walking up it makes me feel like I’m going to have a heart attack. How exactly does one jog up that thing? I don’t get it.
Then some guy who was carrying his 8-year-old in an external-frame pack passed me. And then, a woman who was dressed in Ugg boots and a full-length jacket crept up behind me. I kept spinning my head around as she encroached upon me. She was walking a little white dog, talking on her cellphone and not even breathing hard.
There was no way in hell I was going to let this lady pass me, so I picked up my pace. I was practically sprinting up the mountain, hyperventilating and drooling on myself because I couldn’t afford to slow down — not for one second — to wipe the snot from my nose with the back of my sleeve.
At one point I looked back and the woman had this funny perplexed expression on her face, like she was wondering why I was acting like someone was chasing me.
Not only have I not gotten any faster for all my efforts but I haven’t gotten any thinner, either. But still, I keep trying. I write it down on my calendar every day, what I did for a workout, but to no avail. I’m like a gerbil on a wheel, not going anywhere.
It seems like since I’ve hit my 40s (a shock I still haven’t managed to get over), my weight has gone up by 10 pounds and just stayed there, no matter what I do.
“Your body hates you!” my mom exclaimed when I complained to her about how I’d been working out every day and dieting and had not lost a single pound. That’s better than the last time I complained to her about my weight and she’d said, “Just imagine how fat you’d be if you didn’t work out.”
So it’s a little shocking when my friend who has the ideal body feels the same pressure I do. I wonder what she sees when she looks in the mirror, because it can’t possibly be what I see. For just a moment I think maybe that’s my problem, too. Maybe I’m skinny and hot and I don’t even know it! As soon as I start to believe that, someone stops me and says, “How far along are you?”
I guess I can’t win. When it comes to staying in shape in your 40s, it’s an uphill battle.
The Princess is rushing to finish her column so she can make it to Marlon’s class. Email your love to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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