Deposit photos

Ready for the gym? Whip that body back in shape? Yeah? Let's rethink this.

I live in mists. Two-and-a-half years ago I bought a house in the close-in thick woods of Eugene. In winter, it's living in dreamland. On some mornings the mist slides through the trees in such a way you expect a lovely woman to be attached to it, the mists the curling ends of her hem.

That is what I awoke to today. First day of the year, and that time when so many of us have decided once and for all to HURL our poor bodies into exercise.

Interestingly, this year, Gen Zers aren't having it, and good for them. The gen that is right behind those of us Boomers is far more fixated on their mental health.

Saga Supporter Leo Notenboom noted yesterday that he is still not happy with various parts of his person (join the club), so the bit about mental health taking precedence...well. Good point. So chicken or the egg: do we feel better when we lose weight, or do we feel better first and THEN lose weight?

I think it depends.

Here's the way I see it. All body work begins between the ears. We start each day from January 1 to December 31 with a clean slate. It's full of hours and minutes, each one of them an opportunity to make a kinder decision about our health and bodies.

For example, being kind enough to say no to a sloppy pizza or too much beer. Being kind enough to say yes to an early morning walk instead of being sucked into social media until noon.

Fitness is a kindness. It's not work. It's love. Period.

While yeah, being in constant recovery from surgery has changed my body in ways that I am definitely not having it, the opportunity to work with that is always there. And I do. For example, I am back up to 70 pushups using just one leg, I have weights scattered around the house so that I can do all kinds of upper body work, and my basement has the basics.

My left arm, after two shoulder surgeries and a hand surgery, which had turned into a Buffalo Chicken wing without the spice, is now hefting like it did before. It all comes back. But it's one day at a time, one small move at a time, all of those a kindness, not a beat-down.

This week I will sneak into the gym in the very early morning so that I can avoid the rush. I've mastered driving with the scooter and now it's a breeze. My surgeon set me loose and it's time. However, all of you know that exercise won't do as much for the bulge if the diet doesn't change.

So, in case you missed it, Leo and I agreed that this was a very sober and terribly meaningful ending to our exchange yesterday:

It's never about the donuts.

Of course, MY gym used to be an Office Depot. Attached to the west end is a donut shop. Try driving past that, right after a workout.

So I drive out the other side of the parking lot.

It is about the food, but let's (dinner)table that for this article. Here are a few bits and pieces that I wanted to share from the inevitable flood of exercise stuff that we will all see both online and at the stores in January.

First, I LOVE BEING RIGHT. Damnit I knew this. Some woman nearly tore my head off when I said precisely the same thing back in March 2020. I did get COVID in September, and while it was brutal for two days, I was stunned at how fast everything cleared up. I still popped positive for five days but felt just fine. This alone, now that there are more variants floating around, is reason to get active:

Greater exercise activity is tied to less severe COVID-19 outcomes, a study shows
A team of researchers’ study suggests that COVID-19 health leaders incorporate exercise into their mitigation strategies.

For those of us feeling sluggish, and my hand is up, the below is just one reason why I am very happy to finally be let off the hook to get back to the gym. I'm looking at you, NancyL.  I can see the difference in the arm or leg that is recovering: slack skin, more wrinkles, the muscles disappear. Then boy howdy, damned near as soon as I put that (leg-arm-hand) back to work, the muscles flesh out, the skin tightens and the wrinkles...well. They aren't as bad, but they don't disappear:

Here’s How Much Just 14 Days of Inactivity Can Cut Your Fitness Level
And perhaps even more importantly—how long it takes to get it back.

I love this very simple workout for those with less time. I can't do them until I have the use of my foot, which will take a while. Then natch, as soon as the foot is down my right hand goes down, which means that other exercises are off the table. I am hiring my trainer to give me workarounds until mid-summer, which is when I hope to see the end of various body parts in a cast:

This 5-Minute Total-Body Workout Feels So Good, You’ll Want to Do It Every Day |
This 5-minute total-body workout takes you through low-intensity body-weight moves that work multiple muscle groups at once. Plus, it’s gentle on your joints

This intriguing piece from the WSJ speaks to the value of urban wandering which is also deeply beneficial to the soul. I prefer nature, and eschew the cities, but not all of us have that choice. If you are in urban areas, this might be fun for you to consider as a way to incorporate exercise with education:

The Emotional Benefits of Wandering
The more you roam to unexpected urban places, the happier you are, researchers have found, especially for adolescents.

This isn't about battling the bulge. Nor is it about hurling ourselves into a new exercise plan. Penny Nelson is off this month to take a certification course in how to be a trainer- compare that to two or three years ago when- the idea of a gym???

We can and do change at any age. We just decide. We also fall off the track, dust off and get back on the track.

It's not about the donuts. It's about what we choose to do about the donuts.  The damned donuts will ALWAYS be available. All we gotta do is decide what we do today, what serves our higher selves. And if the donut wins, don't beat ourselves up. Dust off and get after it again.

One good change is to not hurl ourselves into anything. Well, except for Randy Roig and his wife's month in the Antarctic spring this month. I'd hurl myself at that in half a second (and break my butt on polar bear's nose).

January is the inevitable crucible upon which so many exhaust themselves and then return to their habits by Valentine's Day. Let's put that to rest. I am taking a restful day, although I do have to butt-schlep firewood from the garage.  I want to absorb the magic that surrounds me.

That surrounds us all.

Are you ready for some gentle, thoughtful, respectful changes instead of trying to wrangle our recalcitrant habits and bodies into some semblance of order? Me, too. That starts between the ears.

Oh, and one more thing, speaking of between the ears.

Here is another book that I recommend. I'm not far into it but like it a lot. Just ignore some of the dated material, in that the author notes that Mark Zuckerberg is 34. Let that slide and get busy getting excited about why it is so DAMNED good to be older, and to have so very many more resources at our command:

This is a perfect place to consider the coming months, a new decade for me, and be so full of wonder and gratitude that I get to greet a new day. I hope you are, too.

Photo by Eric Muhr on Unsplash

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