How does the saying go? I wish I weighed what I did when I first thought I was fat? Well – I wish I were as in shape as the first time I thought I was out of shape. But at 25, I had no clue what being out of shape meant.
But now I do, and I am partly putting the responsibility for it on my sedentary work writing, and sedentary Day Job, and partly on menopause.
Menopause happens for a reason. Women’s bodies stop preparing for pregnancy (thank goodness!). But with that, comes a loss of hormones. Our bodies gain weight in weird and unpredictable spurts even when we’re doing everything “right” in order to protect us while we go through this transition.
When you add stress to that situation, which includes everything from aging parents, adult children who will not leave home, death or divorce of a spouse/parent/child/other loved one, job issues, and so on, the normally sane woman can easily find herself munching on anything she can find in the middle of the night, as well as downing a bottle of wine. Or two. Depending on the circumstances and the
enablers loving family around her.
So here I am, post-total abdominal hysterectomy (August 2012), post-hormones (because they went up to $100 a month and nobody got time for that), post-emotional growth spurt last year…without the benefit of a gym membership – and here I am, once again. Staring at myself in the mirror, and thinking, oh hell. I am so out of shape. Not only that, but my balance is beginning to erode again. Sigh.
Is there vanity involved? Hell yes. I have great feet and great legs, and I’d like to look respectable in clothes that will show them off. Which means I need to get back into the gym and start walking on the treadmill (did you know that CARDIO exercise can help keep you mentally sharp? Go here to check it out). I would also like to be able to take walks with my husband without getting dizzy and having to hang onto him.
It also means that I need to get back to ballet. Simple barre exercises, stretching, balancing exercises, eventually the joy of moving a bit across a wooden floor, even if it’s in socks and yoga pants and a big, enveloping t-shirt.
My first day back to the Barre was on Friday evening. I was fine until I attempted grand plies. I have decided that at my age, I no longer need to do grand plies. I am hoping my right quadricep will forgive me soon, and we can continue this odyssey.
(And when I’m not at the gym, I’ll be doing yoga in my front room.)
So, yes. There’s vanity involved. But I also want to be healthy for as long as I possibly can. My father is 87; he has a bad shoulder and a bad ankle. His hands are twisted with arthritis, and he hurts every single day. But he’s walking, his mind is clear, and his arms are strong enough to give me hugs when I see him.
I want to be like my dad, only stronger. And without the pain. I think it’s a worthy goal.
It’s a slow journey. This month started out well – the first two weeks, I only took Monday off. The next two weeks were intermittent – sickness in the house. Nothing major for me except weariness and a determination to sleep as long as I could. Difficult when I need to get up and out the door by 6 in order to get my workout in (AND breakfast, AND shower/dress) before I had to leave for work.
Difficult, also, when I’m changing my eating habits. Trying to eat before seven at night (difficult when there are times I don’t get home until seven). Cutting out sugar (this was surprisingly easy – yes, even the alcohol, though I make allowances now and then). Cutting out dairy (not so easy) and wheat for a couple of weeks (this was interesting – I don’t miss it, but I realize now how much I reach for the pasta when I don’t know what else to make for dinner). Oh yeah, and getting at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
I’m hoping I’ll look like this again soon.
Christine, at the “new” house in 1985. Photo by Tom Ashworth
But I’m pretty sure I’ll never look like this again. (See second photo, below. I can’t get the formatting right, sigh…)
Christine Ashworth, publicity still, 1978 – Photo by Chet Cunningham
I loved this tutu, though for the life of me I can’t remember which ballet this was from…this photo is from a shoot that my dad did for me, with California Ballet Company costumes and backdrop. I was bound and determined to audition for companies across the country, and in New Haven, Connecticut, I got my chance. I like to think this is one of the photos that helped me get my audition.
So, this journey I’m on is a see-saw. Back and forth, back and forth. But I’m happy to say I’m sleeping better, feeling better when I wake in the morning, and I’m slowly losing the pounds. I’m determined to go out of this life (years and years from now, mind you) still standing on my own two feet, dressing myself, caring for myself and my family. Not dependent on anyone but those I love, and them only for love and laughter, friendship and squishy hugs.
How’s your journey going?
…two steps back…
My body isn’t happy with me. Oh, it doesn’t care that it’s 6:15 am and I’m headed to the gym; no, it’s more that I haven’t been to the gym (and more importantly, done the stretching or the ballet work) for three days so far.
Last week? 6 out of 7. This week? The 23rd, we went to San Diego for an early Christmas with my Dad. On the way home, we dropped by the Chocolate Bar in Carlsbad, and got hugs from Tameri Etherton and her fantastic hubby Dave (not to mention chocolate, and coffee drinks). Then, On Christmas Eve, there was a class from 5:30am to 6:30am. We’d gotten to the gym early. I wasn’t about to wait around for the room to be free. Plus the gym was closed on Christmas Day. Three days into the week and no ballet.
It took too long for my back to warm up this morning, another nasty side effect from not working out for three days. I spend thirty minutes on the treadmill instead of twenty, hoping to get everything even more warmed up than usual.
I finally go into the aerobics room and do my stretches. Ten minutes of stretching, then it’s time to get back on my feet. At my makeshift barre, I look in the mirror. Whether it’s the placement of my grey tee shirt or what, I catch my breath at my reflection, with only one thought on my mind.
WHY AM I SEEING MY MOTHER’S HIPS ON MY BODY? The very hips I used to be so dismissive of, so smug – my hips would never look like that. Ever. (Now I just want to bonk my head on a cement wall and curse genetics. Unfortunately, no cement wall handy.) I look again, and there they are. My Mother’s hips, somehow attached to my body.
Oh, the horror! I squinch my eyes and go about my workout, avoiding looking at anything in the mirror other than my white-socked feet. The workout ends up being brutally short, as I’m sweaty and panting after just tendus. Which is not a good thing. Mentally, I’m wailing. I’ve only been away for three days. THREE. DAYS.
Shit. This getting into shape via ballet workout is not going to be a) easy or b) fun or c) pleasant. But damn it. I’m committed. I know I’m not going to get where I was (who does?); but I’d like to get closer to her, in the photo below. Except the hair. I’ll be happy to skip the perm.
Christine Ashworth, circa 1981. Photo by Jackson/Kristoffersen & Associates, Los Angeles
So. What are you up to? Hope your Christmas was a merry one!