There are a lot of the things that are the absolute pits about getting old. Bunions. Wrinkles. Achy muscles. Bunions. Flab. Did I mention bunions? I could go on. And I often do. But while working out recently, I started thinking about one of the benefits. Namely, being smart enough to know when it's ok to choose function over form.
Teenagers are clueless on this concept. They'll do things like scoff at the suggestion of an umbrella as they head to school in a rainstorm. I want to ask if they really think looking like a drowned rat at school all day will be cool. But I don't push it. I did the same thing.
But not anymore. Now I do whatever is best for me. Sometimes that means trying to look my best. But sometimes, well, other things are more important.
Like my latest workout routine. About three months ago I had bunion surgery. (I don't think there's a sentence in the world that could make someone sound older than that.) After two months the doctor gave me permission to put on a tennis shoe and exercise. That was great news, since the pounds have been piling on since the surgery. Problem is, every time I tried to do it, my foot swelled up like a marshmellow in a microwave. I tried ellipticals, stationary bikes, rowing machines; they all had the same result. Even water aerobics did it. Swimming would have worked, except I hate getting my face in the water (irritates my sinuses). Besides, I don't want to have to wash my hair every single day.
Then I touched on the perfect solution. Water running! An online calorie calendar (which couldn't be wrong), says that it burns 600 calories an hour. As much as an eliptical machine!
So, here's how it goes: If I get there first thing in the morning, the pool is filled with a bunch of
people training for a triatholon. These are lean, lythe youngsters wearing speedos. I'm wearing a suit with little skirt that is intended to hide my (ahum) generous curves. As these swimmers are slipping on caps, I put the equivalent of an inner-tube around my waist (to keep me bouyant so my hair doesn't get wet.)
They snap on goggles, and I get to the best part--my wings. These are hard plastic devices that fit with velcro onto the wrists and ankles, to add resistance (My mother has shrunk about a foot in her lifetime, and I'm only starting at 5'4", so my bones really need the resistance.) These wings have two large triangles that stick out about six inches on either side, and here's the most exciting part, they are bright red and yellow. When I get them strapped on, I suddenly become WONDER GRANNY! With an innertube! And a skirt! Oh yes, it is a beautiful sight.
Once properly attired, I get myself into the pool (not nearly as gracefully as my triatholon counterparts), and I break into a run. Sort of. If you've ever seen the Six Million Dollar Man, that is just what it looks like. If you haven't seen the show, the premise is that this guy can run really, really fast. But I suspect when they speeded the tape up to demonstrate this it had an undesired comic effect. So instead, they slowed it down...really...slow...whenever......he.........r.u...n....s. To compensate, they play this boinging music that is supposed to trick the viewer into thinking he's actually going really fast. So in my mind I play that music while I'm running.....in.....slow....motion. Right alongside the others who are streaming sleekly through the water.
There are trainers at the pool, who walk along the side giving tips to the swimmers, checking their watches, and jotting notes in notebooks. They steal glances at me, politely looking away when I notice. The swimmers themselves are very polite as well. When they get to the end of a lane and stop to rest, they watch me like they would an elephant seal that has joined their ranks.
When I was in my twenties, I would have skipped exercise all together (I didn't really need it anyway). When I was in my thirties, I would have put up with swollen feet. I admit that I haven't yet reached the point that I don't feel a tab bit embarrassed when I do things like this, but I suspect I'll even lose that by the time I hit my fifties. For now, I just hold my head high when I climb out of that pool and waddle with my wings between my ankles on to the restroom. Because it's what's best for me.
I suspect there's a swimmer's blog out there about a strange lady who runs in slow motion in the pool while dressed in a superhero costume. If you come across it, will you send me the link?