“See, didn't I tell you working out is much better early in the morning,” Sharon said laboring to catch her breath.
Zoe nodded agreement. “Much easier in the morning, before my bones start to ache.” She tugged at her aqua stretch tights securing them along her waist.
“I don't see what the big deal is,” Julia said. “I don't like going to the gym no matter what time it is.” She pulled her towel from around her neck and tossed it into the laundry bin in the women's locker room.
“Oh, come on. You ol' stick-in-the-mud. We're getting up there in age you know,” Sharon said.
“Up there?” Julia asked.
Sharon's eyes widened. “Yes, my dear. Up and over the hill. We're heading down the other side. You better get used to it.”
“Aging happens but growing old is optional,” Julia said. “And I don't feel old.”
“You may not feel old, but just look in that mirror,” Zoe said.
The three women crowded together and squeezed their image into the long mirror on the locker room wall.
“See how the girls are sliding down toward the waistline?” Sharon asked.
Zoe stood up straight, pulled her shoulders back and then tugged on the straps of her sports bra.
Sharon raised her eyebrows. “See those thighs inching down around the knees?”
“Hmm, it is scary,” Julia said. She lifted her arms and extended them outward from her waist. “When did my arms grow those wings?” she asked.
Zoe leaned in closer to the mirror and examined her face. “And all those extra chins,” she said shaking the wattle at her neck.
Sharon stood with hands on her ample hips. “Do you think the Good Fairy is going to make our flab go away?” she asked.
“No. I crossed her off my list when I was seven,” Zoe said.
“Seven? What'd the Good Fairy ever do to you?” Sharon asked.
“She promised me a thousand dollars for my last tooth and she didn't deliver,” Zoe said.
“What are you talking about—a thousand dollars? What kid ever got a thousand dollars for one little old tooth?” Sharon asked.
Zoe pouted her lips. “Probably one of Bill Gates' kids,” she said.
“You're ridiculous,” Julia said.
“Here's the deal ladies,” Sharon said. “We can't fight Mother Nature. We have to eat less and move more. It's the only thing that's going to get us slimmed down and wrinkle free.”
“Sounds too ambitious to me,” Julia said.
“I don't think that will work,” Zoe said. “I think we're beyond all help and hope at this point. We'd be better off starting a Novena to St. Jude.”
“St. Jude?” Julia asked.
“Yes, St. Jude is the patron saint of hopeless cases and those in despair.”
“Well, prayer and the laws of physics aside,” Julia said. “We drag and sag in all the wrong places.”
“That's why it's much better to get our workout over and done early in the morning.” Sharon turned from side to side looking at herself in the mirror. “Besides, I feel much better about myself when we work out at 10:00 AM.”
“What's wrong with 8:00 AM?” Zoe asked.
“No, I never want to come that early,” Sharon said.
“Why's that?" Zoe asked.
“Who wants to be surrounded by all those young mothers?” Sharon asked.
Zoe shook her head. “They look younger every year,” she said.
“They're here trying to lose the baby fat from their last pregnancy,” Sharon said.
Zoe looked at her profile in the mirror. “Even with their baby fat, they're not as flabby as we are.”
“So true. I still haven't lost the 30 pounds I gained when my youngest was born and he's 37 now,” Julia said.
Sharon raised her eyebrows. “Not to hurt your feelings, but 37 years of pasta hasn't helped anything either,” she said.
“Well, what's so great about working out at 10:00 AM?” Julia asked.
“First, all of those young women—with their baby fat—are gone. Second, 10:00 AM is when all those old geezers come in for their physical therapy,” Sharon said.
“Old geezers?” Zoe asked. “I hate to tell you but some of those old geezers are younger than us.”
“Please, they couldn't be!” Julia said.
“See that's what I mean, compared to them we look good. We're not using a wheelchair, a walker, or a cane. We're not dragging a leg. We look good, I'm tellin' you,” Sharon said.
“So by comparison, we look better than we are at 10:00 AM?” Zoe asked.
“Exactly,” Sharon said. “That's why I don't want to workout late in the day either.”
“Why is that?” Julia asked.
“Because all those young, skinny, career gals, who don't need exercise come here to get it,” Sharon said.
“You are so right. They should be home taking care of their children or doing housework or something,” Julia said and ran a brush through her tangled hair. “They shouldn't be out here wasting time and money on things they don't need.”
“Not to mention trying to make us look bad,” Zoe said.
“Another reason to come at 10:00 AM is that we're done by 11:00,” Sharon said.
“Eleven? Maybe you're done by 11:00 but I'm done by 10:15, Julia said. “I just hang around and wait for the two of you.”
“By the time we change clothes and fix our hair it's almost noon,” Sharon said.
Julia looked at the clock on the wall. “Speaking of noon, where are we going for lunch today?”
* * *
“How was your workout with the girls?” Arthur asked and kissed his wife, Sharon, on the cheek.
She took her tote bag to the laundry room and pulled out her towel and workout clothes. She dropped them into the washing machine.
Arthur stood in the doorway watching her.
“Great! I was on that treadmill for at least 30 minutes.” She idly rubbed her right knee. “I tried those resistance machines you told me about. They were okay, but I feel an ache coming on in my left shoulder.”
Arthur, tall and lean, his white hair neatly combed, smiled indulgently. “Likely some muscles you haven't used in a while.”
She looked at him. “Not sure this fitness routine is good for me. Things are starting to hurt I didn't know I had.” She walked to the kitchen and Arthur followed her.
“You just need to stick with it and after a while, you'll be surprised at how great you'll look and feel,” he assured her. “Have you had lunch?” he asked.
“I did but I can make something for you. I'll have a small bite just to keep you company.”
“That would be good,” Arthur said. They both moved to the kitchen and Arthur sat at the table.
Sharon looked in the pantry. “How about a nice warm bowl of mac and cheese?” she asked.
“Not exactly health food, but I guess I can cheat once in a while,” Arthur said. “Where did you gals go to eat?”
Zoe suggested Piggy Pork's BBQ? She had a coupon we could share. It's all-you-can-eat on Waddle-Waddle Wednesday.”
“So how was the BBQ?” he asked.
“We decided not to go there.” She waved her hand in the air. “It was way too far off our healthy eating plan.”
“Good for you! It had to be hard to resist,” he said. “Where did you go?”
“I thought we should have something a little healthier,” Sharon said. “Sally's Silk Smoothies had a pick-two special going on. You can have a salad and half sandwich.”
“That sounds better,” Arthur said.
“That's what Julia said and it was only another two dollars to add a bowl of their cheddar cheese soup with bacon.”
He frowned. “Is that what you had to eat?”
“That and their smoothie of the week—Creamy Orange Frost. It's delicious and made from the juice of freshly squeezed oranges mixed with real vanilla bean ice cream. I figured it had to be healthy for us. You know, with all those natural ingredients.” She spooned the mac and cheese into two bowls and set them on the table.
Arthur resisted the urge to comment.
Sharon dipped her fork into her bowl and began to stir the mac and cheese. “We felt we deserved a treat after all that exercise.”
“Indeed,” Arthur said.
“Sally's was just around the corner from the gym. I thought it would be good if we walked—burn up some of the calories before we even got there,” Sharon said.
“Ah, now that was a good idea,” Arthur said.
“Zoe wasn't too sure and she made a good point.” Sharon sprinkled salt on her food and offered the shaker to Arthur but he waved it away. Sharon continued, “We didn't look too good—our makeup was a bit runny, our hair a little frizzy.” She leaned toward Arthur and lowered her voice. “We didn't smell too good either.”
Arthur raised his eyebrows. “Wouldn't want to offend anyone.”
“We agreed walking wasn't such a good idea after all and besides we had a good workout. We figured we had enough exercise for one day,” Sharon said.
“Humm,” Arthur said. “Well, keep up the good work.”
Sharon, with her fork in mid-air, said, “I don't understand why people complain about diet and exercise, when they know it's vital to good health—and so easy to do. If I can do it anyone can do it.”
Arthur looked at her and tapped his fork on the edge of his bowl. “You've definitely come up with a fitness plan anyone can follow.”
# # #
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Fit for Life
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Fit for Life
Copyright by Valerie Allen 2018
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or events, is entirely coincidental.
Printed in the United States of America. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the author.
Short Stories by Valerie Allen
A Good Thing on a Bad Day
A License to Practice
A Marriage of Convenience
A Mother's Love
A Tooth for a Tooth
Fire Engine Red
Fit for Life
Home for the Holidays
I Remember Momma
Just Be Cos
Ladies in Waiting
Love is in the Air
Mother Knows Best
No Goin' Home
Split Second Timing
Thank You, Mr. Jackson
The Garden of Love
The Lonely Life of Amanda Miller
The Penalty Box
Words of Wisdom