Reflections Of An Almost Fifty Year-Old Woman

Posted by

I get so nervous taking group fitness classes. I took 2 today. First was @equinox Ab Lab, which was high intensity and had me gasping for breath. The other was yoga, where my balance was so bad I TIPPED OVER in a low lunge. As much as I benefit from the structure of classes, I hate being the one person in class that lags behind or has to stop and rest here and there. Is it my weight? (175) My weak lungs I've had since birth? My age? (50 next year) My flat feet? I really want to do Outdoor Boot Camp but I'm afraid I'll get embarrassed. Side note: I realize in the grand scheme of things I'm very blessed and privileged and this is nothing. I'm just in my head feeling less than right now. #gym #fitness #fear #thinking #yoga #squats #advice #confidence #workout #inspirationalquotes #privilege #weightloss #feminist #body #mind #strength #fit

A post shared by ATWYSingle (@atwysingle) on

I walked into Equinox on Sunday to see a crowd gathered in the lobby. While riding the elevator with the gym’s manager, I asked her why there was a group of members hanging out on the first floor. She said they were preparing for Equinox’s Outdoor Boot Camp.

“It’s all body-resistant exercises. I think you’d really like it,” she said.

She’d be right there. I much prefer body-resistant work-outs over sets/reps with weights. But here’s what scares me: I don’t want to be that person in the group that lags behind. Other than the yoga classes – where women in their sixties and seventies kick my ass in terms of flexibility and balance –  I am always a) the oldest in the room and b) the heaviest in the room. It doesn’t help matters that the studios all have floor to ceiling mirrors.

There are times when I catch myself in Warrior 2 and see how thick I am. It’s not the same reflection I see when I walk around naked at home. (Which I do often, in case you’re wondering.)  The woman in the studio mirror is fuller around the middle with no waist.  The woman in the shitty mirror in my apartment has more curve to her. It’s very difficult not to get in my head in those moments during class.

I tried Ab Lab on Monday. This is a thirty-minute high-intensity ab workout. (Duh, obviously.)  The positive? I made it through the class. The bad? I was the only one in the room who needed to take breaks.

After the class the instructor came up to me and said, “You did great.”

“It’s my weight,” I said, my eyes cast downward. “It slows me down.”

“It has nothing to do with your weight. You’re not breathing,. You’re holding your breath. You have to remember to breath.”

I’m not quite sure what the hell that means, but it made me feel a tiny bit better.

I’m turning fifty next year. My plan is to finish this draft of my book by end of year, shop it to agents, and then get a book deal by end of next year.  While accomplishing that goal, I want to whip my body into the best shape I am capable of achieving. I want to go into my fiftieth year having completed two very daunting tasks, not just to prove to myself that I can but to defy the stereotypes society holds about women “of a certain age.”

People look at me or my photos and say I don’t look my age, but I do. This is what forty-eight looks like. I am by no means an anomaly. I look around that yoga studio every week and see women ten to twenty years my senior twisting and contorting themselves into shapes I only can dream of making with my body.  The only reason people never guess my age or act so shocked when I reveal it (besides politeness) is that they stop paying attention to us and therefore do not have an accurate frame of reference. We’re written off as no longer being valuable and vibrant. I want to turn fifty, do a book tour and press, and use that platform to show society that it doesn’t end at thirty-five or forty or fifty. On the contrary; it’s just beginning.

I’ve written before about the song “Why Georgia” by John Mayer and how the lyrics resonate with me.  If you don’t know the song, it’s about a guy in his early twenties coasting down a highway back to his apartment. On the drive there, he contemplates whether or not the choices he’s made are the right ones and if they’ll take him where he wants to go in life. Whenever I listen to it I get wistful for a time some twenty-five years ago when it was all ahead of me.  I wish I possessed the self-awareness at twenty-two to wonder if I was on the right path. Now – at forty-eight – the direction I want my life to take is crystal clear, but it took decades of stumbling around for me to get here. Realizing that makes me regret the dawdling.

Why didn’t I got to therapy sooner?

Why did it take me so long to go on medication?

Why wasn’t I more proactive?

My song could be called “Why Manhattan.” Instead of suffering from a “quarter-life crisis” I’m in the midst of an honest-to-goodness and genu-wine mid-life crisis. But that’s the operative word: mid-life. 

‘Cause I wonder sometimes
About the outcome
Of a still verdictless life

While sitting in bed early one morning drinking my coffee and listening to this song, a thought struck me. The verdict isn’t in until it’s over. Only then can someone assess what we contributed to this world. At any given time we can do something to change that verdict, be it at age twenty-five or eighty-five. There will always be that stretch of road in front of us. Yes, some will have a longer ride than others, but there are still exits to take and turns to make. That’s the beauty of growing older, I think. There’s less uncertainty. You’ve taken all the wrong turns already.  You’ve left all the stuff holding you back in the rear-view mirror. As long as you know your destination, all you have to do is choose the route you want to take and drive.

Thoughts?

 

Advertisements

20 comments

  1. I get the same thing all the time, also, “You don’t look your age.” I’m flattered, and am polite. But I also agree that “it seems” that when a woman turns 40, she becomes invisible. By the time she’s 50, it’s assumed that she’s a Mummy. Because I’ve asked men to use condoms, they AUTOMATICALLY have assumed that when I say I’m 53, that I’m too old to have children. It’s like it’s assumed that from 40 onwards, you dry up, have no interest in sex, and are viewed by MANY as invisible. When I say 53, I can not only feel, but can see the interest level drain, even from men my age. This myth that 40 is the new 20 ONLY works for celebrities. Women who work 9 to 5, raise families, and don’t spend much money enhancing their bodies beyond make up and hair, is ONLY a myth. A celebrity woman dating a 20 year old at 40 something is Tres Chic. A non celebrity woman, is talked about, made fun of, and still to this day, slut shamed be men and women who feel that she should “know her place”. I understand that there is nothing that I can do to change a general perception. So, I live the best that I can to my fulfillment. There will always be detractors, however, I suggest that we try really hard not to let those who box us in do so. Live and Love …

    Like

    1. Idk. I dont think it works for celebrities either. When Demi married Ashton she got the universal eye roll. And frankly when Ashton or the many other male 30-something celebs turn up with an 18 year old girlfriend, most of us dont applaud. We just nod knowing these are fairly shallow people more conserned with image than substance.

      Like

  2. Go to the outdoor bootcamp! Bonus: no mirrors. But the thing is, you know as well as anyone that fitness doesn’t just happen. You have to work at it to get better. So yes, you’re going to be lagging behind at things. Maybe everything. Someone has to be last. Unless the class is full of assholes, who cares if you’re the one that’s last? If you’re doing 3 laps and they’re doing 5 in the same amount of time. I’ve been there, done that, and at the end of the workout I still felt great every time. I’m in my 30’s, and some of my fellow outdoor bootcampers were in their 50’s and 60’s. They were way ahead of me. And there was one overweight guy in his 50’s at least who was often slower than me…and then one day he wasn’t. He committed, he got better. And he started to be ahead of me too. (Note: you should stick with it more than I did haha). And one day you won’t be last. Maybe after 6 months a new person will join and THEY will be last. Or someone (like me) won’t be sticking with it and you will be, and you’ll be ahead of them. But that’s not the point.

    Like

  3. No amount of working out is going to get you to optimum fitness without considering the part that diet plays. People should consider living mainly on whole, plant based foods and cutting out meat, eggs, dairy, sugar, oil, and refined foods. I did this four years ago and my health (and thickness level) improved immensely.

    Like

    1. Uh…..this is not really practical for most people. The amount of shopping, prep work, and cleaning involved in this diet is intense. It also prohibits any kind of spontaneity in your social life. I get really rage-y when I see people glibly suggesting a RADICAL diet change as if it were “just stop drinking cola!” Subsisting on fruit, nuts, and vegetables, which is what this is, is very, very difficult.

      Like

  4. Abs are made in the kitchen. I’ve been told that so many times since I started working out 9 years ago. And I started by walking. Last year when I took my first HIIT class I barfed. The cause was lactic acid build up my body was not use to how fast it needed to dispel it. The class was on only 30 mins but did it ever kick my ass bad. But I never gave up and have not missed a week. I actually take up to 4 HIIT classes now because I am so addicted to it. I’ve actually seen a difference in my body from a year ago. My only vice is I can’t give up my food… hence the saying abs are cooked in the kitchen. Don’t give up try to minimize the dialogue that’s negative you have to start somewhere you have to keep practicing. And those ladies that you say nail those poses in yoga. They have probably been practicing for YEARS. And any yogi will tell you this as well… no one will ever judge you because we all started at the same point… of zero. Keep it up! Keep up your strong work! Keep trying to find what will work for you. You will get there. xoxo

    Like

    1. Just the fact that you want to go 🙂 Go!
      Put on some of that favorite/cute stuff you bought from Fabletics, and go 🙂

      Quick fyi…before (when I was able/not sick) I would try new things but look them up on the Internet first to know what to expect, or I’d ask the Instructor. Google something about breathing properly during yoga or bootcamp. I’m sure there is bunch of good information out there.

      Have fun 🙂

      Like

    2. Isn’t that the damn truth about the importance of eating right for the abs! I love to bake, but I never actually get to really eat any of it because I’m 35 and life is cruel. Couldn’t agree more that the people she’s comparing herself to may very well have been at it forever! I’d add that when I’ve taken a class, I could care less what anyone else is doing and am way more focused on how badly I would like to pack it in and have some kettle chips than judging anyone else!

      Like

  5. For all you 50 year old women out there, don’t think for a moment that you can’t turn heads. Now those heads may belong to 60 year old men, but trust me, you are still being noticed and coveted. Yes, men still like it If you maintain a nice shape, have thin legs, and a nice posterior, but stop think ing you have to look like a 25 year old. Trust me, a flattering hair do, healthy complexion, pep in your step and a warm smile will carry the day. O.K., maybe not for a 35 year old alpha male, but someone 7 plus years older than you? Yeah, you still do it for that guy.

    Like

  6. Moxie
    Go for it, in all respects. At 56, I know exactly what you’re saying. I’m told all the time that I look younger, am in pretty good shape, very strong and wiry, dress well, get out there, am perhaps the best person I’ve ever been yet still I am once again alone. However, same aged men in far worst shape find partners. Go figure. I am going to start yoga this summer; doubtless I will fall on my brown a$$ more than once but it’s all good.

    Like

  7. You’re spot on about the mirrors. I usually find it pretty discouraging to catch sight of myself in the mirrors at the gym, even though I normally have a reasonable self-image. I don’t know why gyms insist on fitting their rooms with floor-to-ceiling mirrors. I get that maybe some people want to see themselves as motivation and that it opens up the rooms a bit, but surely they realize that a lot of people find them discouraging.

    Like

  8. I have to say, I took my first for-real yoga class today (as opposed to some kind of hybrid class that throws in a couple yoga moves) and I felt the exact same way you did. The teacher was good and did modified poses and all that, even told me I did a good job. Something about yoga kinda messes with my head because it *looks* like it should be easy and calming and not strenuous.

    Like

  9. Women feeling unattractive or invisible at 40 is really an American thing. I live in Canada and I’m not lacking attention from men and I’m in my 40s. I’ve dated men my age and men 14 years younger than me, I haven’t started dating older yet because I feel like I still have options. When I come down to NYC I get lots of attention I also think that’s because a lot of American women are out of shape, when do I think that when American men see an attractive women they notice her even if she is 40, a women’s age isn’t always written on her face. European men don’t care about age either if the woman looks good.

    Like

  10. Women feeling unattractive or invisible at 40 is really an American thing. I live in Canada and I’m not lacking attention from men and I’m in my 40s. I’ve dated men my age and men 14 years younger than me, I haven’t started dating older yet because I feel like I still have options. When I come down to NYC I get lots of attention I also think that’s because a lot of American women are out of shape, w I think that when American men see an attractive women they notice her even if she is 40, a women’s age isn’t always written on her face. European men don’t care about age either if the woman looks good.

    Like

  11. Women feeling unattractive or invisible at 40 is really an American thing. I live in Canada and I’m not lacking attention from men and I’m in my 40s. I’ve dated men my age and men 14 years younger than me, I haven’t started dating older yet because I feel like I still have options. When I come down to NYC I get lots of attention, I also think that’s because a lot of American women are out of shape, I think that when American men see an attractive women they notice her even if she is 40, a women’s age isn’t always written on her face. European men don’t care about age either if the woman looks good.

    Like

  12. Women feeling unattractive or invisible at 40 is really an American thing, that’s because there is so much obsession with youth. I live in Canada and I’m not lacking attention from men and I’m in my 40s. I’ve dated men my age and men 14 years younger than me, I haven’t started dating older yet because I feel like I still have options. When I come down to NYC I get lots of attention, I also think that’s because a lot of American women are out of shape, I think that when American men see an attractive women they notice her even if she is 40, a women’s age isn’t always written on her face. European men don’t care about age either if the woman looks good.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s