It started like this: I was at the gym, mounting a stationary bike (Geez, get your mind out of the gutter, please), when I noticed an older woman finishing up a sweaty workout on the elliptical beside me.
I’d seen her before, actually more than a few times, but we’d never spoken to one another. I’m still not completely sure about the etiquette of talking to folks who are plugged into their headphones. I mean, I’ve generally got the volume turned up to “brain damage” when I’ve got my headphones on, so I’m hesitant to strike up a conversation with others when they have them on.
However, the timing was just right today. She was just finishing up at the same time I was getting started, and we caught each other’s eye.
“No fair,” I smiled. “I wanna be done with my workout, too.”
I was just being friendly, but what transpired over the next few minutes simply took my breath away and forced me rethink this whole weight-loss journey, made me see it in a shiny bright new light.
Sounds pretty dramatic, huh?
Let me explain.
She told me how she had just done four miles on the elliptical.
Four miles. Pretty impressive, huh?
Well, truthfully, that didn’t impress me much either. I’ve almost done four miles plenty of times, after all.
Then she told me she runs four miles on the elliptical six days every week.
Six days. Every week.
Waitaminute. I just remembered the “impressive” part: she’s 72 years old (and truthfully, looked to be no older than late 50’s).
Impressive, huh? Oh wait, did I tell you that she’s had four rounds of chemotherapy and over 40 radiation treatments in the last ten years? The nurses at the clinic she goes to told her that she was the fittest person they’d ever had come through there… at any age.
“I don’t want to be one of those weak little sisters that walks around with her gown on backwards,” she told me. I still don’t know exactly what that means, but we talked for another few minutes before she made her way out of the gym and left me to my pedaling.
Some days my workouts seem incredibly long and tiresome, but not so much today. I was thinking about the strength and determination that it takes to be the healthiest individual at the cancer clinic. I was ruminating on what it’s going to feel like to be fit and healthy in my 70’s, sporting energy and muscles a man half my age would covet. I was thinking about how maybe my fear of being old isn't justified after all... not in the least little bit.
Time flies when you’re feeling inspired.