From a Soft-and-Squishy-almost-50 to a Bad-ass-Almost-Athlete

I’ve never been an athlete. And as my body began its descent toward the big 5-0, it had been rapidly, almost daily, showing new signs of its preparation for our golden years. I could mostly disguise this with clothing. Mostly. But as more of my softness began to roll over the tops of my pants like Pillsbury biscuits, and spill over the bra strap, it was getting harder to disguise. And I’m a part-time writer which allows for a lot of sitting and more mocking by my growing squishiness. (Writer-butt, we call it.)

So, I downloaded some apps: a yoga app and a 7-minute workout one to help combat it. But seven minutes is a long time and I’m a pretty lenient personal trainer, so I allowed myself a lot of breaks. And with no one watching, I could slack off on the planking and wall-sitting (who in the heck invented that?!). I took some shortcuts on the downward-dogging too. My softness was laughing at me because it knew it was staying … and it was growing.

I accepted it. I’m 49 and muscle atrophy is a reality and so was saying goodbye to my once-toned arms. My poochie-belly was my new buddy and I came to terms that the little guy would be my body’s regular resident. I was getting pretty good at finding flattering flowing shirts to house my growing buddy. I realized I’d never tuck in my shirt again. That’s what 50-year-olds do. It’ll be cool. I’ll rock the tent shirts.

But then, an invitation came out of nowhere that changed everything. While drinking beers at a neighborhood party over Labor Day weekend, a younger friend mentioned to me and my fellow soft writer friend, that she had signed up for a 6-week challenge at Burn Boot Camp in Wexford. Did we want to join her?  Had I been drink-free at the time, I would’ve said no way, but feeling full of beer-confidence, my writer friend and I accepted her invitation. We then downloaded the Burn Boot Camp app and PAID for the 6-week challenge – right there in the middle of the party. Oh yeah!  We are so cool!

But the next morning, I woke up and texted my writer friend: “What did we just do?” She responded, “We are crazy. But the writer-butt is real.”

There’s no way I would survive one week of this let alone SIX?  I couldn’t even do six MINUTES of my seven-minute workout app. I was a quitter when it came to exercise and diets, so I was sure a good excuse would come. Or, a good injury.

But we did it!  We survived the first class. There’s a nice bouncy floor that was gentle on my aging joints, fun props, and a class full of other bad-ass women of all ages.thumbnail-5

But then came the pain – horrible-all-over-kill-me-now pain. I couldn’t lift my arms to brush my hair. There was a deep, searing pain when standing, sitting, and even laughing hurt. I was suddenly aware of body parts I’d long forgotten about. Darn you, young-friend-at-neighborhood party and that menacing keg. What was I doing to myself?

But oddly, I didn’t want to quit. I wanted more! And every day, I looked forward to going.

And there were these encouraging trainers who circle the room during the classes. Like a toddler waiting for parental approval, I thrived when one would say, “good job.”  And really got a big surprise when one of them whispered in my ear, “You’re doing that one right.”(I require a lot of instruction so this was a big deal.) Sweet!

There was high-fiving, med ball slamming, pull ups, burpies (ugh), kettlebells and other bad-ass stuff. I got really excited the first time I bent over and sweat dripped off my nose – so bad-ass.

These encouraging trainers even met with each of us individually to give us simple tips for healthier eating habits. And I took their advice!  If I endured the kill-me-now pain, I wanted to see results.

And I did. Inches off the waist, an inch off the thighs, an inch off the butt. Who’s laughing now, squishy-softness? Huh? My fellow writer friend and I celebrated by tucking in our shirts! (Okay, it was just a half tuck. Baby steps.)

And then I felt something else growing – muscles – on parts of my arms I’d given up on. My calf muscles began to peek out a bit after years of hibernation. And yes, I flex my biceps daily in my bathroom mirror. (Probably shouldn’t share that, but I’m trying to make a point.)

But something else was happening. I noticed a mental strength that I’d hadn’t had before. I found myself challenging myself in weird ways: Come on, Lori, you can carry more grocery bags than that! Or… You can handle walking outside in the cold without a coat!  Go, badass! Tighten your core, girl!

I was enjoying the pain.

Okay, so maybe I should’ve kept that part to myself too, but it’s just another way to illustrate that this place is legit and I’m growing in ways I never thought I could. I thought watching my rolls grow was the only thing I could do at 49, but today, a fellow camper complimented me on my long jump form. Me, jumping? I thought I could never be athletic at all, especially right before I turned 50. But here we are.thumbnail-2

Oh, and the wall-sitting? I can now wall-sit for a full TWO minutes without a break! Take that, seven-minute workout app!

Sure, there’s still a lot of softness all over this body, but there’s a whole lot of strength under it. And it’s growing.

THANK YOU, BURN BOOT CAMP WEXFORD!

 Lori M. Jones is an award-winning author of women’s and children’s fiction and a freelance writer. Her website can be found at www.lorimjones.com