Mid-Life Crisis: Done

To be honest, there’s not much going on around here lately. We study Polish, we play with the kitties, we go out to eat more often than we should, we study some more Polish.

OK, I am not actually studying Polish all that much. But I have other indoor projects to keep me busy, like knitting huge afghans while watching crime shows on TV, pretend-shopping for fixer-upper houses online, and tracking down random Scots who may or may not have been my ancestors in colonial North Carolina.

Thank God for hobbies. They keep me sane throughout all the many “transitional” periods of my life during which I would otherwise be climbing the walls.

But we did buy a new car! Our first new-new car in 15 years. And it’s ORANGE. A Subaru Cross-Trek. I have been driving a stick-shift 2000 Honda CR-V forever. It’s a great little car (and apparently immortal) but this thing is a space ship by comparison. It has power everything! A Bluetooth stereo! And heated seats. OMG, this is my mid-life crisis car, right here. I don’t need anything else. Done!

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I have also been exercising quite a bit. Partly because I don’t have all that much else to do, and partly because the gym is two blocks away. But I have found a groove that is working very well for me, here, at the middle of my life.

I have several friends who are way into exercise classes, and I say, more power to them. But, except for yoga, I don’t really enjoy classes very much. One reason: I have tricky knees (hereditary) and there are very few exercise classes that don’t involve a lot of bouncing up and down on them (ouch!)

However, when you get right down to it, I just don’t enjoy being yelled at by fitness instructors. Never have, and never will.

It may be partly an introvert thing: I don’t draw energy from yelled at or surrounded by other people. I don’t honestly care very much if other people are exercising. Except for when I am walking/hiking, it doesn’t add anything to the experience for me. It just seems like an unnecessary complication.

I also wonder if there may be a little bit of a need, in a society with so many food/weight issues, to “punish” ourselves publicly with exercises that are not absolutely necessary for fitness and seemed designed to inflict pain, more than anything else. But that’s a whole other subject!

Here’s what I do like: music! I have a Slacker subscription and have put together the most random personal workout mix ever. Pop, rock, punk, funk. I started with three decades of everything I could think of that I liked, then I set the station to Maximum Discovery so that a lot of new stuff would pop up. The resulting station is highly motivating and fun to hear new artists that I never would have known about otherwise. I’m really enjoying messing around with this. Plus a few podcasts.

So, with my headphones on, I’ve been alternating walking, gym workouts, and yoga. Mostly I walk on my own or with my husband, but I also walk with a group of friends whenever we can organize it. The minimum is three miles in any case, tracked with MapMyWalk.

The only rule I have for myself is that I have to do some form of exercise every single day. Other than that, it’s whatever works with my schedule, the weather, and my energy level at the time. I’ve been hypothyroid for years, so I have learned that sometimes you just have to roll with a random low-energy day. It happens.

At the gym, I mix up the exercises a lot. I always start with three miles on the elliptical, then do free weights or a variety of machines. It’s a huge gym, so I am always finding new things to try. I watch what other people are doing, or I just read the instructions on the machine itself. I increase the weights gradually, focusing on the number of repetitions rather than the maximum I can lift—though after a decade of weight lifting, I can lift quite a bit if I try. I like knowing that.

I should note that years ago, when I first started working out, I had several sessions with a personal trainer. I do think that’s a good idea, so you learn how to use the equipment properly without hurting yourself. But otherwise, it’s not rocket science, especially if (presumably) as a female, you are not looking to bulk up so much as to build muscle and bone strength. I have never injured myself beyond some mild post-workout muscle aches when I am lifting weights at my own pace. I am not into pain!

And yoga. No yelling instructors there. I took classes for a year in Vienna, and learned a lot about how my body works. I now subscribe to the YogaGlo Roku channel for workouts and do at least a few stretches every single day. I am lucky to be naturally pretty flexible, but yoga will hopefully keep me that way. I am going to look for another class when we get to Warsaw. I probably have at least one more house and yard to renovate so I need to be able to move! 🙂

See, people in my family don’t slow down much. Some folks start complaining about being old as soon as they get a gray hair. Middle age is just an excuse to become even more sedentary. But none of my relatives has any idea how old they are. My mother (whose age I will not mention, but you can do the math) is currently renovating her attic. Herself. My dad has turned his little urban yard into a farm, complete with a barn. He grows so much food that my parents can hardly keep up with the freezing and canning. This is what retirement looks like when you are a Bembry.

I would prefer to be actually accomplishing something, as they are. I’d like to feel that “good tired” I am so familiar with, after spending a morning landscaping or painting. I miss my projects, and sometimes I do feel kind of like a hamster on a wheel at the gym. But, right now, in this sterile apartment in Clarendon, the gym is what I have, so I use it.

It’s not “extreme” or “boot camp,” but it works. I am not skinny, but I’m not fat either. I enjoy my food and while I don’t overdo the sweets, I don’t count calories. I don’t generally have any aches or pains. I have great blood pressure and cholesterol. I am feeling some signs of “the change” but that’s inevitable and I suspect it would be more difficult without all the exercise.

If this is what forty-eight feels like, then I am good with it. It’s not that different from twenty-eight, really. I can’t believe my mother became a grandmother at this age. But then she does say it was quite a surprise to her as well!

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