“All you do is laugh, eat, and lose weight.”
So said my lovely bride one morning after stepping off the scale and not enjoying the numbers she was seeing. Logic dictates that a spouse’s weight gain is directly attributable to the actions of the other. Twas I after all who forced her to bake that recent lasagna. And the scones from the day earlier.
Her point about the weight loss is true, though. For the last couple of years I am an embodiment of The Incredible Shrinking Man. I hear regularly now about how my gluteus maximus region can no longer be located on a map. The part about my eating, however, is also true. I eat healthy portions at all meals; it just never sticks to my bones. In the eight years since I retired, I’ve gone from a size 34 waist to a 30.
This all came to a head last week when I visited our clinic for my annual physical. Our doctor since moving here in 2017 retired last year, and we’ve been assigned to a new one in the same practice. Gorgeous decided that she wanted to sit in on the appointment. She had questions. Apparently an agenda too.
When the topic of my appetite and weight came up, the doctor said that she felt that my overall body mass index is in a healthy range for my size, weight, etc. She explained that any weight loss is due to a reduction of muscle mass, which is quite common in older adults (clinically referred to as sarcopenia). We were told that muscle mass decreases approximately 3–8% per decade after the age of 30, and this rate of decline is even higher after the age of 60 (I am 62). She suggested that one way to regain a bit of that mass is to include some weight training in my gym routine.
At this Gorgeous shot me a look. I am not a fan of weights. In fact, I detest weight training. My idea of weight training is carrying the grocery bags up to our condo from the car. Back in high school, I was always being lectured to by my track and field coach for skipping out on the required visits to the weight room at the end of each practice. In my mind, I didn’t need upper body strength to jump quickly over hurdles. It was my legs doing all of that work.
Of course, my track hero at the time, Edwin Moses, clearly wasn’t agreeing with me.
“All of your other vitals look good,” the doctor said. “Just keep eating the right things, but try working on increasing that muscle mass if you can.”
Gorgeous said nothing on the way home. She didn’t need to because her swaggering expression said everything.
For the last several years, we’ve engaged in a bit of a cold war on the values of our respective gym routines. While aerobics are a major part of each of our workouts, it’s after that point where we go our separate ways until we meet again at the exit to go home. She will head right to the weight machines, while I go to the floor mat area and work on my core stretching routine. Strengthening my core muscles has provided me relief in so many different areas, including my sleeping comfort. I keep telling Gorgeous that she needs to do the same, while she parrots back her own weight training benefits right back at me. Until now, it’s been a bit of a stalemate.
The very next day we visited the gym, and after our aerobic workouts I agreed to take my medicine and have her show me her own weight routines. This has always been the part of the gym that I walk by “tsk-tsking” to myself as I glance over at her sparring with either the lat pulldown or the seated overhead press. Now I was having to tackle the very instruments I’d successfully avoided all of my life.
And one of us was enjoying it all a little too much.
I admit to some exaggeration here, dear reader. I have sampled the weight machines a bit over the years. Similar to when I “sample” the roasted butternut squash with kale at Thanksgiving. My brief forays into gym weight areas have been like visiting a foreign land where the language and customs are mostly unknown. I’ve sauntered in, completed a rep or two on the leg press, and then beat feet back to those safe environs that neither strain my muscles nor my pride.
I’ve now been to the gym twice now since that doctor visit, and both times I’ve included weights in my workout. Like using any new muscle in a different way for the first time, I’m experiencing a bit of soreness in both my arms. It’s somewhat depressing when even 10 or 15 pound weights will do that. Just to show I’m nobody’s fool, I’ve made sure to put the setting back to 60 or 70 pounds before wiping down and walking away. It’ll be our little secret. One swallow doesn’t make a summer.
I’m determined to keep it up and continue if for no other reason that I refuse to be the butt of any further mocking of my ever-shrinking body, so to speak. But it doesn’t mean I have to like it.
Until next time…