One of the things I want to do before I turn 40 is get in shape -- an amorphous goal. I have a friend who does Ironman triathlons, and I will never be in shape by his standards. I feel shy about writing this post because maybe I will not be in shape by your standards either. In hopes that it might be encouraging to someone else who is old and saggy and out of shape, I am posting it anyway. I can't do anything about the old and saggy, but I can get less out of shape. This is a post about my four markers for relative in-shape-ness.
I started jogging after my arrhythmia was diagnosed and treated, spurred by DoctorMama's series of posts. Per her advice, I was going really slowly. It meant that I could keep going for half an hour or more, which I had never been able to do before, but it also meant that I was only covering 2.5 miles in those 30 minutes. I have been an off-and-on runner -- I kept having trouble with knees and ankles, and I have these kids who need someone to watch them if I am going to run. When I first hit the treadmill in April of this year, after almost a year off, it was a struggle for me to run a mile and a half at my painfully slow pace. Sunday I ran 5 km in 32 minutes. My (dinky, slightly embarrassing but still hard-for-me) goal is to run 5 km in 30 minutes. According to this calculator, that would put me just barely above average for 40-year-old women running a 5K. Let's hear it for the 51st percentile!
All those months of pregnancy have taken a toll on my abs. Did you know that each pregnancy redistributes body fat from a woman's hips and thighs to her belly? That's probably why when I called Land's End last year for help picking a swimsuit, they told me my waist and hip measurements were three sizes apart. Swimsuits stretch, so I went with the smaller size. Pants are another story. In an effort to rebuild my abs and buy pants from the non-mutant rack, I am using a Denise Austin Pilates book (averting my eyes from the "Denise-ology" sections, which have awesome insights like "Positive attitude is so super! You should practice smiling really wide!" -- too cheerleader-y for me, prompting me to scowl JUST BECAUSE I'm supposed to smile). At the moment I am doing a three-week program from the book with the goal of actually doing The Teaser instead of my version thereof, The Cockroach That Got Knocked On Its Back And Is Struggling to Right Itself. (Hey! Maybe I will write an exercise book of my own for 40-year-old mothers of large families. It will have scaled-down versions of well-known Pilates exercises, like The Fifteen instead of The Hundred, along with my celebrated Cockroach Etc. and perhaps The Woeful Inverted Turtle Doing A Helpless Rage-Filled Backstroke. I will package it with my famous diet plan and be a zillionaire.)
Once in college I told Elwood that I had the upper body strength of an abalone. "Abalones," he pointed out oh-so-helpfully, "don't have upper bodies." (That was the point, Elwood.) I got tired of having the upper body strength of an abalone. (And, honestly? the underarm flab MUST GO.) On the days when I don't do Scowling Pilates I am doing the hundred push-ups plan. It is actually kind of fun. I started at zero, my friends. I could do ONE push-up. Today I did 55. It felt good. (Note to anyone else starting from zero: the plan as written was too hard for me at first. I did knee push-ups every other day until I got un-abalonified enough to do the regular program. I aimed for at least 2-3 times as many knee push-ups as the program called for, since knee push-ups are supposed to be about half the load of real push-ups. It worked for me.)
I am also keeping a wary eye on the scale. I decided to focus on fitness over poundage for right now, but I am going to spend the next three weeks doing my vegetable project thing and see where the number on the scale winds up. Lower would be nice.
The summer I turned 25 my mother sent me a cute sundress that I still like a lot. When I tried it on a month ago I could still zip it up, but it sure doesn't fit me like it did when I was 25. I guess my shorthand goal is that I want to wear that dress when my husband and I go out for my 40th birthday.