A lot of folks will be hitting the gym this week, bursting with new resolve and brand new workout gear. But I'm already there. Determined to beat them to it, I started a new health regime in October, I could have waited until January, but it seemed a little cliche, not to mention, crowded. Not wanting to flaunt my flabby body in front of the masses, I figured that the end of October leading up to the holidays would be the slow time at the local spa/gym/wellness and what-have-you center.
Before we left city-living and started moving to all the rural outposts of my husband's career, I was a regular at the gym. I lifted weights, did curls and presses and pounced around in my teal and turquoise spandex. However workout places were few and far between back then in the wilds of western Illinois and central Iowa. I guess I could have gone to the Leisure Centre or the "swimming baths", while in England, but that seemed a waste of precious ex-pat time. Now every small town strip mall sports a Curves or something similar.
Anyway, I told myself, gardening was great exercise. And it is, but it can be irregular and erratic, and downright hard on your body. I have the aches and pains to prove it.
By the time we had moved back to a good-sized city, and there was the hope of some type of permanence, I took to the garden with a vengeance. Yes, I would make sure the kids were fed and clothed, but the garden became my refuge, laboratory, pantry and gym for the next 10 years. There were days when I overdid it beyond overdoing it, not seeking much outside help. On those days I hobbled into the house, muddied and sometimes bloodied by my passion; sore muscles and creaky bones screaming in agony. I guessed I was just getting older.
Fast forward another five years and here I am in middle-age, menopause and Minnesota. Trying to conjure up a pale resemblance to my former garden, my body rebels and refuses to cooperate. It's nice to hire help, but somehow feels like cheating, mostly myself from the fresh air and satisfaction of self-reliance.
So the fitness trainer (a Ph.D in health and wellness) asked me about my goals. I said, "I need to get stronger and fitter, so I can keep gardening. Just tell me what to do and I'll do it." I used to find it funny that people had to work out at a gym when they could just be shoveling compost. But now you can find me three days a week pressing the pounds and walking the walk. I always make sure to get the treadmill with the best view, looking out over the frozen wetlands. I can't garden right now, but I can contemplate the cattails and birch trees while watching for bunny tracks in the new-fallen snow.