Let’s call her Melissa.
She can’t be under sixty.  Ok, maybe she’s fifty-five only with wrinklier skin.  She’s very fair and has very short, blonde, spiky hair and the sparkliest blue-green eyes.
But her body!  Oh, makes me all jellybean jealous to think about it now. 

It shows like a forty, even thirty, year old woman which is what made me take side glances while I worked my forty-something year old body which, well, looks like a forty-something year old’s body.

I first noticed her doing very slow vertical crunches on a half ball, you know the one which you balance on if you want your core workout to be extra sadista?   She was on that and killing it.  Five seconds up…five seconds down while I did my circuit training of alternate free weights and ab work on the mat.  She made those crunches look easy but, man, I know that stuff is harrrd.  After working out in earnest for four months, I still couldn’t bring myself to a sit from a lying down position to do  crunches!  I still hold on to my thighs and pull up, thank you very much.  (Update: Now I can!  It is Month #5.) 

I was just returning my exercise ball back on the rack when I notice her behind me, waiting to return hers.
“Can I take that one from you?  Mine’s a little too hard and I can’t balance on it.”  she told me with a smile.  Her eyes were even brighter up close, like light was dancing inside them.
I was glad to hand it to her and I may have just found my opening.  I really wanted to ask her about her amazing abs, what magic routine she’s on and maybe get advice on how I can get some of that hard, flat belly.  We got to chatting for about five minutes.  Before I knew it, we were like old friends. I’ve asked her more questions than I intended and she shared so many tips I wanted to write them all down.  There were so many I couldn’t keep track!  By minute twelve, I notice Tim, my trainer.  He is walking towards us and shaking his head and with a mock stern look on his face says,
“Aren’t you ladies supposed to be doing something?”  
Busted.  Laughing, we got back to our individual workouts at our little corner of the our gym.
Here are some of the things I found out and made that 10+ minute break so worth it:
1)  Melissa has ran ten marathons.  She never ran in her younger years but started in 2008 and hasn’t stopped since.  She is actually 59. 
2)  She bought herself an exercise ball around the same time that she started running and sits on it while watching tv.  She has gotten so good at it that she can even sit crossed leg on that thing for long stretches.  Have you ever tried sitting on one of those?  The only time I found good use for a ball was when I was in labour and needed help opening up my cervix.  So my doula/midwife made me sit, stretch and when not in the grips of contraction hell, bounce on it.
3)  Melissa recommended The Running Room for my shin splints issue.  “It could be your shoes.” she said.  I’ve always hated running because it hurt my shins so much, not to mention I’d get stitches, those awful sharp pains in your tummy when running.  I learned it was from improper breathing or lack of it.  
4)  Melissa is on serious meds for a serious condition: Leukaemia
5)  She recommends running and…wait…wha…
Waaa-WHAT?   Say that again!?!?!  Did anyone just mention a seriously debilitating disease?
YES.  The 59 year old woman whose body looks 30, does excruciatingly slow half-ball crunches like it was blowing bubbles and is fit as a perfect fiddle has leukaemia.  She’s had it for eight years now.  Which is what started her on this path.
It’s always something, isn’t it?  Mid-life, when it’s no longer about looks and our ego’s bidding, when it’s about finding real balance and energy, we get to work.  The Work calls and calls sweetly and deeply and intently and unapologetically.

Back to Melissa.

She was so infectious in her passion for fitness and running that, the very next day, I found myself in Walmart buying my very first Bally Total Fitness pro exercise ball with the three pound weights.  In hot pink! 🙂 I’m sitting and doing core exercises on it as I write these words.  Then, as if that wasn’t infection enough,  I found myself in The Running Room over at Highway 40 and Steeles within forty eight hours of us meeting.  I found the right shoes, with the help of Andrea and I’m wearing my very light and comfy Mizunos Wave Nexus 7  and am seriously considering joining a running clinic next month!  For somebody who once swore to never ever run because of shin pain and bouncy boobies (wrong bra, woman!) this is a mini miracle.

More about that in the next coming posts.  Ah.  The power of a passion shared.   
The fuel behind why I keep working….writing…singing.

Sharing is Caring,


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