Monday, 2 March 2009

Fairy Feet At 40ish

It’s been a nice, indulgent few months of feasting. The festive season is over and yet, the eating goes on. It’s a losing battle, with a kitchen and pantry still stocked with leftover Chinese New Year goodies that cannot be thrown out (so wasteful!), and the extra kilos have settled in comfortably around the waistline.

Alarm bells! Guilt sets in, even as the skirts and trouser bands tighten. Time to dust off my running shoes and hit the track again.

Except for that festive hiatus, it isn’t as if I’ve been completely idle. I HAVE been exercising: maybe a little less some days, but I’ve never quite let up. For the secret really is not to stop completely once you’ve taken the first step, as starting again from square one is the hardest thing to do for us couch potatoes.

A relative newbie when it comes to exercise, I started late, at the age of 36. Even as a teenager I was never very active, and so, more than three decades worth of inertia was pretty tough to overcome. I remembered someone saying that it’s best to do something you like, or can conceivably do repeatedly, so, with no grand ambitions, I began walking. Every day for about 40 minutes, I set out for a pleasant stroll around the neighbourhood. After some time, I picked up pace when I realised I could, and a month later, I bought a pair of wrist weights, strapped them on and took them for walkies too.

Results! Within two months, the underarm hang (which face it, we are ALL afflicted with) was dramatically reduced and there was even the suggestion of biceps. My feet picked up speed, from slow run to brisk jog. Further and further I ran: First, I managed 2 kilometers, then another, and another, until I finally reached the 10-km mark at the end of 18 months. By then, I had added some crunches (three sets of 20), push-ups (two sets of 10), leg lifts and free weights in the living room at the end of my regular run, and soon I had abs! At the end of two years, I was taking part in races. Not bad for a late starter on the cusp of 40.

The beauty of running, at a later age, is you’re always a winner. When I overtake younger runners, it’s a boost to the ego. And if they speed past me – well, I’m nearly old enough to be their mother anyway, so I’m just glad to be pounding the track and feeling this good. How can you lose?

Admittedly, it’s been a bit of a challenge getting back my rhythm after the past few calorific months. The runs I used to religiously take every other day has trickled down to once a week; there is a whisper of a bulge underneath the waistband; the underarm hang threatens to return with a vengeance. Like it or not, I’ve decided to “JUST DO IT…Again.” Post-40, babe, maintenance counts. And it only gets harder the longer you put it off.

So here I am once again, trundling down the running track, visualizing the trim, healthy self I want to return to, wearing the one-size-smaller outfits waiting patiently for me in my wardrobe. Picking up where I left off isn’t that bad – thankfully, the endurance and stamina I built up is still there. Yay.

It’s hard, couch potatoes, but it can be done. Just take that first step and see where your running shoes take you before the year is out.

-By ew


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