Over the past three days or so, I’ve gained a better understanding of why women of my age (the specifics of which is an irrelevant detail) lose track of their gym passes and the will to fight the good fight on personal fitness.
I’m nowhere near quitting. I’ve done this for too long and believe that exercise tones a lot more than my body. It smooths out the rough spots in my emotions; it gives me spiritual muscle for Life’s considerable challenges. It gains me “thinking time,” enhancing my sense of perspective. It makes me smile more and wrinkle less.
But wow. I get it. This past week as I scrambled between back-to-back soccer games, track meets, practices for the aforementioned and “odds and ends” that included guitar lessons and daily school transportation, work-out time kept sidling a couple of steps beyond my grasp. Forget the grocery (I did). Forget the laundry (wish I could but soccer socks require hazmat removal if not laundered within three days). Forget taxes (yeah, right), a social life (sigh) and recreational reading (sigh again). It’s a crazy, but oh-so-normal life. I know this.
It hit me last spring that my children’s athletic activities could adversely affect my own. At this point in life (still looking for a number on this, aren’t you?) I’d prefer any “Before” soccer season and “After” soccer season snapshots of myself to be a close match. The goal is to pause on “Before” for as long as humanly possible. And that requires maintaining the fitness routines that have carried me thus far (All right already! I’m 45!!)…
Twice this week, I’ve wheeled into the Westerville Rec Center parking lot having carved out a precious window of work-out time only to get a “please rescue me now” phone call from one of the kids. One time I actually made it into the building. “A” for effort, but “F” for application. Once back through the revolving door I sprinted to my truck, figuring that every bit of cardio counts and aiming hard for even a “D-.”
My surgically-enhanced ankle has eliminated some of my previous fitness flexibility. I used to run anywhere on any surface. In a pinch, monkey bars still work fine for pull-ups and chin-ups. Cardio cross-training and running on more cushioned trails, however, takes extra effort and planning.
Yesterday was the true test. After transporting Zach from high school to his guitar lesson, driving on to complete an earlier aborted grocery mission, and then retrieving Zach to be the “at home” adult when Matt got off the bus, I flew down the road to run the steps at Alum Creek Dam (people are somewhat startled when I abbreviate that to “the dam steps”). I got twelve flights in before Hannah texted me that track had finished early. So I called my neighbor to say that I’d swing over to pick up our girls and began computing my remaining available minutes… If the boys were ready to go to their dad’s and if Zach had stashed the groceries away, if Hannah could gather what she needed at home in ten minutes or less, if traffic wasn’t too terrible… I might be able to fit in a real work-out at the Rec Center before closing time.
All the “ifs” ran green this time. Zach drove as I caught up on the kids’ days and verified the schedule for the next. We made it to their dad’s in twenty-five minutes. Five more minutes for unloading, kisses and hugs and I was on my way.
Totally exhausted (I’m 45, remember?), I recognized that this was the point at which it would be oh-so-easy to drive on home. It was late and I was hungry, but I also had this elusive “window” that might not be there tomorrow…
It’s a battle to be sure. Circumstances are rarely weighted in favor of my fitness goals. But I believe in both the process and the results with no apologies. It makes my life better. So if you spot me hanging from monkey bars during a soccer practice, maybe you’ll understand…