Grace

I woke up grouchy one morning, still tired. I pondered skipping my morning aerobics. Commitment! I told myself, then dressed and headed to my workout room. That was my first mistake.

I do an online aerobics routine on the British Institute of Health website. I turned on my computer, clicked on Chrome browser, waited…and what came up was “no internet service.” I restarted, went to Chrome again, got the same message. On my third try, the same thing happened so obviously it was not a temporary fluke. I was going to have to call my internet service provider technical help number, and spend a long time on hold then a long time doing the troubleshooting steps, but it would have to wait. I was barely awake. I couldn’t face computer troubleshooting without a shower and a cup of coffee.

I decided I would get my exercise in with a brisk walk. My neighborhood provides a good aerobic workout as there are some pretty steep uphill stretches. But when I looked out the window, I saw it was raining heavily. No walk today, I thought.

At a loss, I went into the kitchen and popped a Keurig pod into my coffee maker. Then I remembered I had a chocolate hazelnut croissant from Starbucks with my weekend treats in the freezer. Even though it wasn’t the weekend yet, I took it out and thawed it. I knew it contained 400 calories and 50 percent of my daily saturated fat allowance. I went for it anyway. I would double my aerobics routine when my computer was back up. 

I added Italian sweet cream to my coffee and sat down at the table. Savoring the chocolate hazelnut decadence and sipping my coffee, I started to feel pretty great. What had started as a growing list of frustrating problems had turned into the perfect morning.


Grace: the freely given, unmerited favor of God.  

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Memories of Premarital Tennis

I have fond memories of playing tennis with my husband before we were married. I have not-so-fond memories of playing tennis after we got married. Marriage changes everything, even tennis.

I’ve talked with girlfriends who play tennis, or used to play tennis, and they’ve had similar experiences after getting married. Who knows why things change like this? Let’s not even go there.  They just do.

Frank and I met in a tennis club for singles. Frank was very chivalrous when we were dating, and that extended to tennis. He was much better than me, rated Men’s-A tournament level in our club. I was a Women’s-C. We only played together informally, with friends. Back then Frank was unconcerned about whether we won or lost. We just had fun.

Then we got married, and things changed. After we lost a match he would say things like “You need to work on your serve” or “You need to practice your volley” or “You’ve got a weak slam.” We’d go out during the week and he’d feed me volleys to return as slams, or coach me on my serve, or feed me fast and corner balls to return. We drilled and drilled. He wanted to win his doubles matches.

With the pressure on, tennis became just one more stress on top of my busy life as a working mother. Eventually I quit playing. Frank practiced some weekday evenings and played every Sunday. I alternated between hiking and going to movies on Sunday. On movie days I went to a little theatre that was next to a coffee shop, and after the movie I’d treat myself to a guilty pleasure—espresso and a luscious gelato. In solitary splendor, I enjoyed myself immensely.  

Then Frank broke his metatarsal bone running down a tennis ball, when he was 65. It was quite painful and he wore a big knee-high boot for two months and did physical therapy for a long time after that. He never went back to tennis. He felt the foot was a weak link and susceptible to re-injury at his age. He gave his huge bag of beat-up practice balls to a friend who has a lovable Yorkshire terrier named Maggie.

Now Frank and I go to the movies nearly every Sunday. We both enjoy them. No one competes, no one loses, no one screws up. We laugh and we cry. We have animated, enjoyable discussions of the film afterwards over a nice dinner. We both win. So far the score is Love-Love. Actually, Love-Love-Love. Maggie adores her tennis balls.

Following My Aerobic Bliss

We all know regular exercise is important. Ideally we should work out daily. It’s a real challenge to fit it into our hectic schedules, but there is a way! And it’s even more important now during the holidays, when our schedules are crazier than usual and at the same time our calorie intake is way up.

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Why drive to the gym, when you’ve got everything you need at home?

The solution’s simple. To begin with, forget the gym and jogging. Many gym fans like having people around to chat and share exercise notes with, and they are motivated by other people. But a lot
of time is wasted in driving there, waiting in long lines for equipment to become available, chatting, and people (not me) sneakily looking around for nice butts. The gym also costs a lot of money.  Jogging is good exercise, aside from knee injury from high impact, but it requires special scheduling, especially in winter when it gets dark early. Jogging in dark or deserted conditions is not recommended. That’s the woman/mother in me talking. Also, during winter you have to schedule around bad weather.

I now have an embarrassing confession to make. A big reason why jogging and going to the gym don’t appeal to me is because I’m mildly compulsive about being presentable when I’m out and about among people. I like to be showered, with my hair fixed, my clothes coordinated, and a little makeup on. Call it silly, but it is what it is. When I jog or go to the gym in the morning, which is my fave time for exercise, I have to fix myself up before and again after. I waste precious time!   

My perfect solution is a 45-minute aerobic walking session to a DVD in my living room, right after breakfast. I love Leslie Sansone. Her DVDs rock. She’s high energy and funny. It’s primarily aerobic exercise, but also includes some strengthening and toning with light weights. After my cereal and the first, life-giving cup of coffee, I just throw on my color-clashing, smelly, worn-out grubbies with holes in them and put on my cheap tacky walking shoes. My hair is uncombed, my face unwashed, my teeth aren’t even brushed. I am completely gross. But I only need to make myself presentable once all day, after I finish my routine. 

Other benefits include not getting rained on, not freezing, and not having to worry about off-leash dogs outside. And I don’t waste time driving to a gym, or pay a lot of money for dues every month. I’m comfortable in the privacy of my home. I always felt I was being sized up at the gym. A lot of people were surreptitiously peeking and judging everyone else’s physique while they lifted weights and ran the treadmill. I’m pretty sure mine was found wanting, nine times out of ten. I don’t have a nice butt. I’m still working on it.

Don’t get me wrong. I love getting outside and walking. I try to walk every afternoon or early evening. Right before I go I read a page from Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh’s book “How to Walk,” which helps make this time a peaceful meditation, calming and soothing. But for cardiovascular health and strengthening, I do my vigorous at-home aerobic walking. I stay fit while I enjoy Leslie, and all those nice, attractive smiling people who walk along with her in the studio, and the fact that they can’t see me—the real me.