Keeping those legs toned is great practice for peeing without having to sit on those nasty public toilet seats.

Let’s get things straight. I walk twice daily. With the shoes guaranteed to firm my abs, legs and butt and improve my dowager’s hump posture. I also dance like there’s no one watching (when the spirit moves me). That’s the good news for my overall fitness level.

Here’s the not-so-good-news:

  1. I walk with Scrappy, who’s compelled to stop every few inches to sniff and pee on anything taller than one inch. This is to say my heart rate never makes it past “comatose,” unless he sees a cat–or cat-like figurine. In that case, I might be yanked off-balance and shocked into an exhilarating heart palpitation or two.
  2. If the weather is too hot, too cold, too rainy, too windy, too sunny, or too snowy, I tend to take short walks. By “short,” I mean the minute Scrappy poops, I drag him back home with promises of a treat to discourage his “stop and sniff” routine. I’m still trying to beat my personal best time of 6 minutes, 36 seconds—but haven’t been able to do so without carrying Scrappy, which would be way too much work. Let’s face it, I’ve aged into the land of Wimpdom.
  3. I spend more time sitting on my sofa than Norm on “Cheers” spent sitting on his bar stool. The reason? You’re reading it. Or you read it in your comments section on your blog.

So many blog posts, so little time...

In an effort to keep my actual 54-year-old body looking like my imagined 54-year-old body, I joined a gym. Today, “gyms” are called “Wellness Centers” because attending a place where wellness just centers around you seems so much more pleasant than gyrating around on gym equipment until something you really care about or need fall offs or poops out.

When I said to keep going until you feel the burn, I didn't it mean literally...

My Wellness Center has it all: a toxically-chlorinated pool, a cavernous gymnasium, a rat-race room (with all manner of equipment with spinning and moving parts on which you are supposed to spin and move), two torture-chamber rooms with machines designed either to work specific muscle groups or to extract state secrets from you, and two private exercise rooms with walls of mirrors meant to free you from any false illusion you hold about yourself and your grace or dignity.

Don't confuse me with the truth!

Believing that trained instruction was the way to begin my exercise regimen (given my dizziness and fatigue issues), I decided to try some structured classes. I choose Qi Gong and Light Muscle. Light Muscle wasn’t for me. The only muscle that really got worked out to any degree was the jaw. I’m not into gossip. Especially about people I didn’t know. Qi Gong was a smashing success. After I learned the sequence of flowing moves and stopped looking like a robot with circuitry problems, I gained significant health benefits from this gentle Eastern Martial Arts exercise. I also tried Pilates. It was impossible challenging, but eventually I gained “core” strength.

A Qi Gong routine is supposed to flow gracefully. Getting the full benefit took me a while.

Our wonderful instructor (the only one in our area) left and so did Qi Gong class. Practice at home? Yeah. And I meditated every day, not just on Tuesdays when I go to that class… I stopped going to the gym Wellness Center altogether for a while.

I recently noticed myself getting soft in my mid-section. This simply won’t do. So I signed up for Yoga and Pilates. When I do things, I tend to do them with gusto. Until I the next day. And the next.

After my reintroduction to Pilates, my abdominals and thighs didn’t want to get up with the rest of me. I stretched and moaned, hoping my neighbor wasn’t home. She might have thought I was having fun of the naughty variety. Several Ibuprofen later, I moved with the smooth gait of Festus on Gunsmoke.

He had to make nice with that mule so he could get around quickly...when the mule felt like moving, of course.

Phil really wanted to try Yoga and so did I. We did. Vinyasa Yoga the way this teacher did it wasn’t all that hard, but I had to keep looking up at her during the poses to see what to do. All that looking took its toll on my neck. The next day I felt like I was rear-ended by a Vinyasa Yoga truck. I had a serious case of Downward Dog whiplash. For three days I downed Ibuprofen like they were cashews (you can never stop at just one). If any of you watch pharmaceutical stocks, you may have noticed a spike the value of market shares for any company making OTC pain killers over the last week or so.

That should be enough to make me feel healthy.

I’m a Baby Boomer. I’m not the only one trying to retain the final vestiges of my youth dignity health. And I’m not the only one with a few aches and pains to remind me of my improving health status. There are 81.5 million people 45-64 in the U.S. and another 42.3 million 65+ (just shy of 40% of the population) according to the 2000 U.S. Census. How many of them are trying to get or stay in shape? 10%? 5%? 1%? That’s a lot of OTC pain killers and Wellness Center memberships.

The trend is clear, People.

I’m no financial adviser, but if you get any cash for the holidays, you might consider investing in pharmaceuticals … or Wellness Centers.

Oh well, my yoga class awaits.

Someday I'll be this flexible and my butt will be this round and cute. I already have the chin hair.