Mrs. Gray Iron Fitness
by Patty Reyes Franklin
Patty Reyes Franklin, 10/6/06
I was born in 1949. As I write this today (10/7/06), I'm 57 years old. Other vital statistics include brown eyes, gray hair, 5'8" tall, post-menopausal, and a size 6 or 8 dress, depending on the manufacturer. I've had two children and I'm a grandmother.
Usually this information shouldn't be of interest to anyone but my husband and me. But because we maintain a fitness web site and teach exercise classes, people are curious. You know what I mean. Does she walk the talk?
Logan and I met 14 years ago when I was much heavier. He was a fitness buff, and I got interested. Eleven years ago I joined a health club. At first, my workouts were sporadic. I felt better and I'm sure there were health benefits, but my shape and body fat percentage stayed about the same as it had been.
One day I stumbled across an article in Modern Maturity about a couple my age who transformed themselves from paunchy to super fit. They had followed Bill Phillips' Body-for-LIFE program. I bought the book, devoured it, and entered the Body-for-LIFE Transformation Challenge. That was in the summer of 2000.
Previously, a 14 had been the smallest dress size I'd ever gotten into. And there were times when I'd balloon up and get really fat. Then a size 14 would seem “small” to me. I'd pretty much accepted that I was just meant to be heavy.
Though I'm not petite, I was wrong about being sentenced to carry around all that extra body fat. Today I'm in the best shape of my life. Logan says that Mike Meyers in Wayne's World would say, "She's a Babe!"
Was it easy? No. If it were, nobody would be fat. Unhealthy food choices surround us, and we're cajoled from all directions to eat them. In general, America is a fat nation, and it's getting worse. On average, young kids today are fatter and in worse shape than preceding generations ever were. I'm a school teacher, and I can bear witness. It's a serious problem.
When you make big lifestyle changes like I did, some friends want to see you succeed. But let's be honest here. Some people, even family members, can be less than encouraging. Remember, although you are rejecting unhealthy habits, they are habits that unfortunately have become accepted as normal. You are challenging the status quo.
On top of that, many people figure that after reaching fifty, you ought to "act your age" and accept ever expanding belt sizes. I'm a realist. Of course age gradually takes it toll. But overeating and eating the wrong foods, coupled with a sedentary lifestyle, greatly accelerate the rate of decline.
We all have different body shapes that are genetically determined, but carrying around excess body fat and being physically unfit is a choice we make. Don't blame your genes. Sure, some of us have to work at it harder than others. But a healthy lifestyle is an option for each of us.
So is it worth it? Well, first of all, my body is far from perfect. But after lugging around all that unnecessary fat all those years, nothing — and I mean nothing — compares to getting into a size 6. And if my husband thinks I'm a "Babe" ... well, trust me, that isn't hard to take, either. But the greatest benefits of all are boundless energy and good health.