Middle age comes with a soundtrack.
As in “oomph!” every time you sit down, or stand up.
As in “umph” for each step up the stairs.
Or “ow” when the knee, or the arthritic finger, or the kink in the neck flares up.
Sophie cat, up there, makes middle-aged meowing sounds, too, when she plops down on the rug, or heaves herself up on the bed, making it by a claw. Meee-OOOWW!
There was an episode of Frasier where Martin was niggling Frasier about becoming middle-aged, asking “can you get out of a chair without saying, “oomph?” I’ve searched for a gif of it, but can’t find one. I think it was in an episode called, “Fortysomething.” Ha! Forty! I guess in the ’90s, forty was considered middle aged. But I’m all, “hey, sixty is the new forty! – or thirty five, even! Right? Right???” Cha, I wish.
Lately I’ve added, “aaaaaahhhhhuuuugh” or “ooohwaah” when I bend down (from the waist, to spare the knees – at least I’m still pretty “stretched out” from my younger dancing days) to pick something up.
“Umph” and “oomph” and “aaaaauuuuugh” as accompaniment to my every movement have become almost involuntary. They help me get through the motions of the day. A little vocal punctuation to help me get up the stairs, out of the chair, follow through on the yard work and the gardening tasks.
But recently I signed up for our local park district fitness center, where sound effects are, um, sort of…not-so-much.
I have begun a six-month fitness plan, intended to get me (us, because my daughter needs to move, too) moving through the winter (winter is coming). While I love a brisk walk through autumn woods, or on a snowy bright winter day, the stark truth is that walking, by itself, will not prevent the creeping return of pounds lost only when I was on my feet all day, lifting and pulling heavy things working in warehouses I don’t work in anymore.
So heigh-ho, heigh-ho, off to the gym we’ll go, where after 10 minutes “warming up” on the treadmill, 10 minutes on the rowing machine (imagining a lovely row down the Cherwell in Oxford, where long ago I’d watch the college rowing teams drill) and a few reps with tiny barbels, I’ll push and pull a cart weighted with 270 pounds, with wheels set to the highest level of resistance, back and forth down half the indoor track as many times as I can (ok, twice down and back) while my daughter semi-reluctantly plays with the heavy ropes.
So far, so good.
Except for the risk that I’ll add sound effects to the proceedings.
Fortunately, many other users of the facility employ earbuds. There are a few ladies of a certain age, like me, walking briskly around the indoor track, or using weight machines set at age-appropriate levels. There are several white-haired gentlemen working to preserve such mobility and physical strength as they may have remaining, and a smattering of younger, mid-career men maniacally testing their endurance on stair machines, treadmills or ellipticals, pursuing conquest, dominance, mastery – or something. We stay out of their way.
All in all, though, this is a pretty laid-back facility. We seem to have discovered the times of day when it isn’t crowded. Nevertheless, having realized that when in motion I’m in danger of making “oomphing” noises, I have imposed a few gym-inspired middle-aged-woman rules, to wit:
- Arrive in make-up and lipstick. It doesn’t matter if you’ll sweat it off or shower it off later; what matters is that the other users believe you look like a hag only AFTER a vigorous workout. (Good for you! Way to go for the burn, lady!)
- Wear BLACK fitness pants, bootcut if you can find them, and a not-too-tight-but-not-too-loose t-shirt in a flattering color, v-necked, because it makes you look a little taller and you’ve been putting that Oil of Olay night cream on your décolleté too, haven’t you, and damn that looks pretty good for a woman of your age, but go for elbow length sleeves, if you can find them, because you’re trying to get rid of your wings, not flap them in public. EEEEEWWW.
- NEVER shower at the facility. In the name of all that is holy, do that at home.
- Restrict sounds to millennial-style yoga-breathing – inhale! Exhale as you push! (Wait a minute, that sounds like childbirth….)
- SMILE, though your legs are aching (you know the tune), Smile, though your abs are shaking, smile, while you push the machine for your tush… Etc.
I’m supposed to get the verdict, or at least some insight, into the source of the ache in my bones from the rheumatologist on Friday. I want to believe I can’t bend the ring finger of my left hand because Mike isn’t letting go, or is peeved that I took off my wedding ring, but from what the doc said on the initial exam, it could be anything from calcium deposits to something systemic and vaguely terrifying involving my liver or pancreas.
I’ll keep you posted.
Until then, I remain, your grunting, oophing, umphing, trying to keep smiling while sweating,