Just about everyone at my stage of life, late 40s, has aspirations associated with physical fitness, health and wellbeing. When I was younger, exercise was relatively easy. Going for regular runs and generally being more active in recreational pursuits was just part of life.
Stereotypically, when I hit 30 a lost it. With young kids I stopped doing sporty stuff with my mates. I had always eaten pretty much whatever I wanted without obvious consequences … then I started getting podgy. I was watching home video one day where I was mucking around with the kids on the floor; I saw my protruding gut and thought ‘Oh crap!’. Blah, blah, typical story. So I resurrected my fitness and began swimming, and other stuff and being more careful about food. But in the meantime a subtle shift started to happen.
Again typically, mid 30s to mid 40s my mind acted as if I was still 20 something, but my body started breaking down. To put it bluntly, I kept injuring myself. And then more recently my second encounter with melanoma brings home the reality that whatever fantasy might be going on in my head, I am not immune to aging.
So these days, exercise is actually a survival instinct, rather than recreation. Not that good general fitness will necessarily fend off the cancer, but my strong will to keep living life to the full is great incentive to stay in OK shape. I say OK shape, because I have also made peace with the what I can realistically achieve in multidimensional life.
For the last few years my practice has been to exercise three times a week. Problem was that if for some reason I missed one, then two a week didn’t seem enough to ward off the sluggard in me. And during winter, if the man-flu hits then it can eat a few weeks before you realise it.
So at the start of 2012 I set myself a simple goal; exercise 5 days a week. But I had to make some changes to make it possible. Firstly, rather than an early (work) meeting knocking out the routine, I made the commitment to get up at rude o’clock if necessary to make sure the heart got started.
Secondly, what worked for me was figuring out how I could minimise the faffing around at the beginning and end … all valuable time. So I decided to compromise – when our local YMCA closed for a major (2 year) refurb, rather than join somewhere else I bought a decent exercise bike for cardio and a few dumbbells. If push-ups and sit-ups are good enough for Tom Hafey, then they’re probably OK for me. So two mornings on the floor in the lounge (Johanna gives me a hard time about the background puffs and groans that accompany her getting ready for school – but she’ll get over it), two on the bike on the back deck and then a swim on Sundays. Apart from a couple of weeks when lurgy has slowed me down, I’ve managed 5/7 every week this year.
For some people that might not be big ‘do’, but I’m feeling pretty chuffed.