Peter Pan finally did for me what 30 years of affirmations, failed attempts, and personal trainers could not. Peter Pan got me on a regular exercise program.
Now in my 11th straight week, I exercise in front of witnesses an average of eight times weekly. I usually look forward to the gym, but even when I don’t, I go anyway. A friend tells me I’ve accidentally developed a habit.
“Fairy dust?” those of you who know me might ask.
I wish! But if it were fairy dust, I’d be flying loop-de-loops over Dallas instead of driving to Presby’s Finley Ewing Cardiovascular & Fitness Center for water aerobics.
The real story is more mundane, but no less miraculous in my case. My friend David invited me to see Peter Pan at Fair Park. It turned out to be the same Peter Pan performed on TV by Mary Martin in the 1955 when I, along with a millions of other children, believed a dying Tinker Bell back to blank-and-white life.
In this case, however, Cathy Rigby played Peter Pan. She loop-de-looped above the stage; she ran and leaped around Neverland; she sat, she squatted, she knelt and then she arose supple as a young boy, not like the 60-year old woman she is.
I watched this acrobatic performance with the rapt awe of a seven-year-old, but this time I marveled that Peter could get up off the floor without assistance.
While I recognized that Cathy Rigby is an Olympian, which I am not, I suddenly realized she developed her abilities not through magic, but through discipline and hard work. With this realization, a paradigm shift occurred in me: the word discipline transformed from anathema to possibility. My proprioceptors once primed for resistance now attract possibility instead. This changes everything
Readers of my blogs know that procrastination is my hallmark, that I prefer reading, planning, and writing about a project to doing it. Most of you are still waiting (or have given up) on the post marking the end of My Year of Frugality last April. I’m now inspired to get to that post, but let’s stay on topic.
The Steps from Paradigm Shift to Practice
1. Question my assumption that age vs. physical ability is an inverse ratio. What if it were a direct ratio instead? (For the mathematically impaired, that means what if I could get in better shape as I age.)
2. Discover water aerobics, an exercise I enjoy.
3. Find older female role models who embrace physical well-being. My yoga instructor and two of my water aerobics instructors are in their 60s. My beautiful, flexible Pilates teacher is 85.
4. The most important step: Approach exercise as my new job. This approach eliminates my previous excuses of distance and inconvenient times. Before retirement, I didn’t miss work because it was too far to drive or because the hours were inconvenient.
5. Set a goal of exercising five days a week minimum, often more than once a day and keep an exercise tracker.
6. Go. Like a job, I won’t miss a day unless I’m sick. If I don’t feel like going, I go anyway. On those days, when I arrive at the gym, I thank my evil twin (read lazy-sloth-self) for allowing my good-self to get me there. I always invite evil twin to join us in the fun.
I’d like to say I notice a huge difference in how I look. I don’t yet, but I’m stronger and have more stamina. I’m nowhere near the svelte size of Ethel, the 85-year-old Pilates teacher.
Not to worry. I have twenty years to get there.