Two years ago, on the eve of my 50th. birthday, my brother took me out to a lovely dinner. I was a year into my diagnosis of fibromyalgia, and had just learned that I needed corneal transplants in both eyes – as I sat in this beautiful restaurant, surrounded by beautiful people (everyone in San Francisco is beautiful – every day and everywhere), I really felt pretty awful and sorry for myself. I mentioned this to my brother, and, bless his ever loving heart, rather than console me and feed my self pity he said: “Well…do something about it. Work out – it will make you feel so much better. ”
So, when I got back to New Jersey I began looking into gyms – motivated in no small part by the fact that every time I talked to my brother (twice a week) he’d ask about it. I made lots of excuses – too far, not enough flexibility in terms of hours, smelly….anything to keep from signing up and committing to any one place. A year passed, and my brother stopped asking. Whenever I mentioned my aches and pains, there would be a long pause and I knew (even though he was all the way on the other coast) what he was thinking: Well, do something about it.
In January, when the winter’s cold began to really take a toll and just about every day was a “bad day,” I pulled myself together enough to make it to a local gym. A very energetic and peppy young lady took one look at my “work out clothes” (some schmatta I’d found at the bottom of the closet) and worn out sneakers and kindly suggested that I wear something else next time. I looked at all the other ladies present, took note of their color-coordinated work out gear, and decided she was right. At any rate, I took part in a trial session with these fashionable workout enthusiasts, and was soon completely outclassed. Ten minutes into a hyper-energetic routine, I slunk out quietly…so much for that!
Come June, I found myself talking to my daughter about fibromyalgia and exercise – she began by rhapsodizing (literally) about the joys of pilates and yoga, but soon came around to taking up her uncle’s line of argument: Well, do something about it. A new gym just for women had opened up in my town, so I paid a visit. This is what I found:
Surely I would be able to find my “workout self” in this lovely place, I thought. There were plenty of women my age walking around with exercise schmattas and no one seemed to mind mine, so I signed on with a trainer for several weeks of one on one sessions. We got off to a rocky start – I was hopelessly un-coordinated (who would have guessed that I was a fierce and fearsome field hockey player in my school girl days?!) and it was somehow difficult to remember the various routines and how to use the equipment – which, quite frankly, intimidated me. But each week brought its own progress and by today, the last day of our sessions, I was able to complete the entire routine on my own.
So, I guess I learned that it’s never too late to start exercising and taking care of oneself – no matter what the physical challenges. My little brother was so right (as he usually is) doing something about it really has made a difference. Before I left the gym today, I signed up for a 6-month series of small group classes…I may even trade in my work out schmatta for something color coordinated!