Skinny Daily Post


I trained hard in the late summer, early fall, for a road race. Ran just about every day. Kept up with Pilates classes too. I was completely focused on training my body to do more, go farther. Then I got a little ill. And a lot busy. And I haven’t been making classes, running, walking, or even really stretching, something I always do, each night.

This winding down has gone on for almost a month. Working hard, writing feverishly, thinking a lot about exercise without actually engaging in it. I’ve done a little yoga, but not enough to make progress, just enough to keep my body from locking up completely.

Finally last week, my friend and I joined a new gym, one close to the office, where we can duck out for lunch or between client meetings, where the equipment is plentiful, the showers warm, the towels thick.

I hopped on the elliptical machine.

The last time I hopped on an elliptical machine, I was running 8-10 miles at a go. The machine struck me as completely ineffective, kind of cute, but a little bit of a waste of time. That was only six weeks ago.

Last week, with the machine set at its lowest resistance, I stayed on for a half an hour, alright, but I struggled, was bathed in sweat, everything burning from my waist down. I waddled like a duck to the weight room, where I had to drop 15 lbs. per dumbbell for my curls, 10 for triceps curls.

Well. Dang.

It turns out you have to use it or lose it.

My weight, understand, hasn’t increased appreciably. Three or four lbs. A bit high. After just a week back at the gym, it dropped right back into place.

But I’m weak like a kitten. And I don’t like that.

I’m glad for the wakeup call of my weak performance. While it’s a great thing to give your body a break now and then from your exercise routine, a really helpful thing to switch types of exercise, classes, machines, tapes, tools, taking too long of a break brings on atrophy. Getting in shape is just not something you check off your to do list. You can’t call it a day.

Saturday afternoon my mom and I walked through the cold, cold last-gold-leaved forest to salute Lake Michigan. We walked straight up a pretty steep hill that used to knock me over 100 lbs. ago. Mom is a tad over 70 years old, and trying to adjust to the idea that she’ll winter here instead of Florida this year. So, bearing her 10-lb. Michigan winter-resisting heavy weather coat on her back, she hiked that hill with me.

That’s what I want. I want to be as tough and strong as she is when I’m 70-something. When I’m 90-something. At 110.

I have the genes for it, but I have to fight nature a bit. After we turn 20 we start losing muscle. As much as a half a pound of muscle per year. We counteract that with strength work, with weight-bearing exercise. My mom does. Pool aerobics and walking, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, hitting the weight room in their retirement apartment complex.

I just have to keep up with my mom. Taking a month off from exercise is simply not going to get me there. Okay. I climbed back on my horsey. Finally. With the encouragement, prodding, and poking of several readers. Thanks for that, folks. What I need more than anything is a goal to get me going. And climbing the hill outside my house on my 70th birthday is a pretty good one. I’m going to start training for that.

How about your long-range exercise goals? What would you like to be able to do when you’re 70, if you aren’t already? When you’re 90? And what do you have to do to get there from here?

Write it down.

AFPA on beating atrophy with aerobics and weight training
National Space Biomedical Research Institute Studies Atrophy

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