I remember overhearing an exchange between my dear friend, Bebe, and her balding husband, George, who has outlived her by nearly a decade now. He was teasing her about losing weight, something she had struggled with since she was a child, but she suspected he was really asking her to stop smoking, which was dangerous territory.
Many of her friends who had themselves quit tried, to no avail. I, a nonsmoker, never brought it up. Her mother, who herself outlived her by a few years, had all but given up on her, but not without trying. Bebe always had a witty answer to their pleas, and this, I recall, is how she dealt with her husband’s that day. She glared naughtily at him, hardening her smoker’s lips to stop a smile before uttering her fighting words—how I remember so well—“Hey, I don’t ask you to grow hair!”
Physical changes, whether we can help it or not, happen to all of us, with age. The first one to notice would have to be our spouses. A husband who notices his sexy wife letting herself go feels entitled to call her attention, in the interest not only of romance, but indirectly, and more importantly, of her health. A wife, too, might feel let down by a husband’s reckless indulgence in certain food or drinks with nary a concern for quality of life in old age, if not altogether, leaving her a widow to face life alone.
My husband, a writer, chooses the most effective words and actions as carefully as his timing. He’s lucky I laugh faster than I take offense. Perhaps 10 pounds off my ideal weight is hardly worth a fight. Whether husbands admit it, say so, or not, most would prefer if their wives didn’t stray too far from their premarital weight, or they might feel some kind of breach of promise.
Incentive and inspiration
Vergel says men, as they grow older, require even more incentive and inspiration for romance, so I’m certainly doing something about unsightly flab. But his main concern is really my health. He knows I’m generally healthy until I become overweight. My blood sugar and cholesterol counts seem to go up and down with weight.
Putting on weight comes naturally with age and, I suspect, one’s DNA. Who’s to know whether a slim young bride will blossom or balloon in matronhood? Look at her mother, suitors of daughters are advised, that’s where she’s headed sooner or later. It’s becoming true, at least, in my case.
But there’s hope. There are fat-burning pills prescribed by medical experts with impressive credentials on the Internet, “guaranteed to do the job or money back.” The pills are a combination, in delicate proportions, of natural but rare herbs found in some remote parts. I don’t see myself going there yet, despite the lure of tremendous discounts offered on first order.
I tried dieting and, again, it’s only effective when combined with exercise. I went on the treadmill, which is utterly boring and has been proven dangerous for unathletic and aging knees. Many friends, with their own treadmills in their bedrooms, have, in fact, had to stop, indeed because of knee problems. Ironically, my lack of dedication and commitment has once again spared me, the way people who don’t go near the water are less likely to drown. Meanwhile, I walk all around Greenbelt with my husband, but I feel I need to do more.
I bumped into classmate Linda, who reiterated an invitation for me to join aqua-aerobic exercises at Annabel’s house three times a week. Waking up at 7 a.m is hard enough, but getting to Urdaneta Village before 8 a.m. seemed impossible since my driver doesn’t come in until 9. Annabel arranged for the instructor to pass for me after picking up Nida from nearby Residences. And so, we’re on!
Jackie Kennedy shades
Three times a week, I’m up at 7, fetched by 7:30 and in the water by 8, with Jackie Kennedy shades and a wide beach hat, wearing my two-piece rash-guard suit, my face, neck and hands slathered with SPF 50 sunblock. It took a year for me to join the class. How I wish I hadn’t waited so long.
I’ve finally found the perfect one-hour workout, with dear friends who were once upon a time in the same sinking boat. I’ve heard all their miracles—no more cane for Nida, no more stem cells for Linda’s shoulder and knee. Both get out of the water after 45 minutes, leaving Enya, Annabel and me to stay the full hour.
Last Tuesday an Australian couple, Simon and Sharon, were back to join us. They have so much interesting information to share at breakfast.
That’s the best part—the guiltless breakfast after, courtesy of hotel and restaurant owners Annabel and Tom and with the permission of our instructor, Meya, who herself joins us. Meya encourages us, in fact, to have a full and hearty meal in the morning, so that there’s the rest of the day to burn it. It is best consumed an hour after exercise while our metabolism is still fast.
For some it may be Pilates, others swear by yoga. I’m a social being who loves good company and hates to sweat. I’m no swimmer, but I love being neck-deep in water without fear of drowning or breaking anything, surrounded by like-shaped familiar company, and having animated conversation over a reward of a full breakfast afterward. It’s the healthiest and most invigorating way to start the day. I want to look and feel good for myself, and my husband, not to forget, through our doddering years until the “fat lady sings.”
And that won’t be me.