In a little less than two weeks, I’ll be turning 39. I am not especially freaked out about hitting the last year of my 30s — other than a kind of general WTF? that it’s gotten here so soon — but even though I’m not all that worked up over my looming birthday, it is making me rather… contemplative.
One thing this introspection has yielded so far is the realization that, if I don’t make some changes, I’ll be turning 40 in the worst shape of my life — and this really bugs me. I’ve been lucky enough to have coasted my entire life as far as fitness is concerned; to say that I have terrible eating habits and worse exercise skills would not be overstating the situation. I’ve always been naturally thin without working out and, until living through a year or so of an undiagnosed thyroid condition, I could eat whatever I wanted without gaining weight. Not so much anymore, however. Meds have gotten my energy level back to normal, but I don’t seem to be recovering my ability to consume without consequences.
This, of course, leaves me with two choices: cut back the calories or start exercising. The former seems like a choice full of farewells: goodbye cake, bye-bye beer, sayonara pasta; the latter, however, would actually bring good things I would welcome, like a healthier heart and stronger bones. So, easy decision… except for one problem.
I don’t know how to exercise.
No, I’m not kidding. The closest I’ve ever gotten to belonging to a gym was a summer of aerobics classes at the YMCA in… oh, 1990, I think, and my only takeaway was a burning hatred for the song “Cherish” by Madonna. I don’t run. I have a bike I can’t ride because I never learned to shift and I’m terrified of all the cars on the roads. I was on the swim team in middle school, but have barely put on a swimsuit since. Other than the on-again, off-again yoga classes I’ve taken since I moved to DC, I have had no regular fitness routine in my life. Ever.
I’ve always said I hate exercising, but I don’t really think that’s true — I hate the idea of exercising, and having never been much of an athlete at all, I kind of have a complex that it’s all just beyond me.* And so, I need help. If you were starting from scratch with physical fitness at the age of 39, what would you do? I’m pretty sure I’m going to go back to yoga, but beyond that, what? Join a gym? Get a trainer? Take up running? Hit the pool? Some combination? My birthday present to myself is going to be whatever stuff (gym membership, running shoes, etc.) that I need to make this happen, but I need some getting started — and staying motivated — advice.
So, dear blog readers… You have 10 days to make recommendations to help me spend year 39 getting in shape. Have at it.
* Realistically, some of it is. I do have a mild case of sciatica, so anything that’s particularly hard on the lower back is right out.