Last week, due to a good friend being in considerable need, my usual routine got derailed. It was no big deal; I’m self-employed, child free and although life is full, and generally fast-paced, when it comes to time-management, I can be more flexible than most.
So instead of toiling at my desk, writing and editing for several hours a day, I was outside in the glorious autumn sunshine, walking two beautiful and achingly grateful dogs for my friend, so that she could focus on more pressing issues. As someone who adores dogs and appreciates nature’s myriad gifts, I won’t pretend I didn’t enjoy it. Rodney, my own doddery old pooch struggles to get round the block these days, so striding out – wind in hair – was a joy.
So it’s fair to say that writing and editing took a hit. But the thing that slipped completely from my agenda was going to the gym. By now, you might be thinking – so what? Surely taking a few brisk walks a day is better than pounding a treadmill, or performing any number of lunges, squats and crunches? Well, yes – and no. Better for the soul; hell yeah. But better for the abs and the old carcass, generally? Not so much.
When I turned 40, someone gave me a card that said, ‘after 40 – it’s all about maintenance’; as someone who has notched up more significant birthdays since then, I can vouch for that! For me personally, going to the gym forms an important cornerstone of maintaining wellness. Sorry for using the ‘icky buzzword du jour, but keeping well is what it’s about; remaining spry, strong and supple. Vanity also plays a major role – even older women are judged on their appearance – but keeping everything in the right place and for longer can be a full time job in itself. And when I say judged – we are damned if we do, damned if we don’t.
If a woman looks after herself and has the temerity to look great for her age, she’s deemed vain and obsessive and is accused of ‘having work done’; if she dares to let nature takes its course, dispensing with the hair dye, exercise routine, and the dark arts of cosmetic enhancement – she’s ‘let herself go’.
You can’t win. So why try? Just do what makes you happy. For me, that means keeping it all together for as long as possible.