Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

I love this picture, above. This woman’s curves are simply gorgeous. She’s strong, powerful, athletic.

So am I. Any more than this woman’s body came to her as a genetic gift without any effort on her part, mine didn’t either. She’s determined. That’s why she looks like that. So am I. That’s why I sport beauty queen proportions and sleek muscles even as I begin the slow slide towards 70. Because I’m determined.

In about thirty minutes I head to the gym to start my morning routine. It’s the time of year when the hopeful hoards arrive, crowding us lifers out of the way in their efforts to huff and puff their way to superb results in a week.

Well, that’s what the ads promise, right? Washboard abs in only six days?

If you honestly believe you’re going to get a body like this in six days after decades of trading bicep work for beer curls, you deserve a two by four up the side of the head, folks. You have no clue, unless you’re a serious body builder, what kind of work this takes not only to achieve, but to maintain. Some won the genetic lottery. Most of the rest of us, we gotta put in the time.

You have to be determined.

In a few weeks I celebrate my 66th birthday by hopping a flight to Indonesia for a month. That will put a dent in my workout program but I’m taking bands with me. There’s a lot you can do on the deck of a three-masted sailing ship if you’re determined. That’s the operative word.


Here’s the definition: having reached a decision : firmly resolved

We get whatever we are determined to do, whatever we are determined to create for ourselves, even if we may not be cognizant of that decision.

For example, many years ago I was determined to do this to myself. And did:

Even at this point I saw myself as fat. This is what anorexia does, and how it kills. But yet, this was what I was determined to do. By the way this isn’t me, it’s another soul who is determined to starve herself to death. These days I look much more like the woman in the blue pants above.

I don’t know if this anorexic woman made it. I suffered a heart attack and lost all my teeth in that battle. Four decades, that war. Effing evil. Every single moment of it.

Determined. Yep. I was determined to self-destruct. Almost did.

Then nine years ago this month I determined differently. I chose life. Not only did I choose life I chose an exceptionally extraordinary one. I think that after teetering on the edge of self-induced death, that gave me a brand new perspective on life, and what’s available. I count myself fortunate indeed.

Others go a different route entirely. On one hand, a part of us really wants that fit body. Yet given the conditions that we create in our lives, this is more like it:

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Our bodies telegraph our determination. Whatever we’re determined to allow to happen, make happen, or avoid doing, we look like whatever we consistently do (or don’t do). Our habits, as it were.

Years ago, the stunningly beautiful San Diego-based bodybuilder who set me on the lifelong path of really developing my muscles pointed out that we are about 85% of what we eat, the rest is exercise, to sculpt, build and develop our bodies.

Each of us is given a very specific body type, which can vary widely. Those people who are featured(and thoroughly airbrushed) in fitness mags work out for a living. You’d better believe they’re determined, they get paid well to look like gods. The rest of us? Look. We have kids, careers, concerns, all of which skew us sideways from what we say we want.

That brings me back to this morning.

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When I walk into the gym, there will be a few of us regulars, and we will smile that wry smile that marks us as lifers. We’re the ones in the gym on Valentine’s Day. Easter Sunday. Thanksgiving morning. Yep.

No matter how we’re built, we’re there.

On Wednesday morning I saw a regular on the treadmill. Hispanic woman in her late fifties. She’s round as an egg, short, with no waist. And damn she’s strong. She has no issue with what her genetics handed her. That’s why she has my undying respect. She doesn’t sweat what she can’t change. But she is determined to build the best body she can.

By the way, I just found out that Rosario is 74. She looks in her fifties, but was delighted to tell me otherwise.

You and I can let public opinion, airbrushed models and our own body image anxieties determine our quality of life. For many that’s a month at the gym, fuck it, give up, back to the smorgasbord. For others, it’s bigorexia (the addiction to ever larger muscles) or anorexia or bulimia or pick-your-insanity.

Or, you can, like my Medium peep John Griswold, put yourself back in the gym, (or pool, or whatever) work with what you have at the age you are, be happy to be alive (trust me, I AM) grateful to be able to sling a weight around or walk the neighborhood and be determined to have the best life you can given what you have.

You can desire any body you like. What’s possible is to have a superb version of the body you have, without being defeated that you don’t look like those folks in Muscle & Fitness or Oxygen.

Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash

One’s impossible for most of us. The other is well within range. Me? I love having good strong muscular legs, a cardiovascular engine that can take me up massive mountains, arms that can pull me up a rock face, and endurance that goes forever. I love filling out a nice set of tights. My face? Look. Shit. I’m 66. Get over it already. But I am determined to be superbly healthy, vibrant, and in the middle of those Class V rapids called an Epic Life.

What are you determined to have? The right choice will rocket you well past the typical March dropoff date for most New Year’s fitness resolutions. We’ll be seeing you at the gym, smiling at the rest of us lifers, with a powerful, strong body- the one you have, the best version of yourself.

At any age, any size.

See you there.