Sunday, August 22, 2010

Good Heath

My husband needed a new belt. Since we have started swimming, about a month ago, he has noticed that his chest muscles have firmed up and his waist has slimmed down. When he swims his goal is always to swim at least a mile.

He was on his belt's last notch and he was complaining to me that he has to keep on pulling up his pants at work. So I went to J.C. Penny's and looked for a new belt in a smaller size. The store happened to have a belt sale on, buy one get a second at 50% off. It was fun trying to find something for my husband that was classical, and that was stylish. At the check out it occurred to me that my taste may not be my husband's taste, so I asked the salesman if a belt could be returned for an exchange after the sale ended. He promised me that they are very flexible, and that the sale price would be honored. But my worry seemed to be for nothing because my husband has become attached to the stylish belt, braided straps of narrow brown leather, and he wears it all the time. So I scored! Good little wife.

I too have had some benefits from swimming. Nothing so dramatic as my husband's change in overall form, but I noticed that my jeans are looser. This is a good development since I was on the verge of needing to trade up to a larger size. Now my belly no longer hangs over the top of the jeans and they can be worn in comfort. There is nothing more irritating than wearing tight jeans, even if the jean material has a little bit of stretch to it. I'm still not back to the low weight I managed to maintain for about a year, but I know that if I keep swimming I will continue to loose weight and more. My goal is still to be a size 10, and right now I'm a size 14. If I can drop two more pants sizes (woman's sizes are measured by twos) I think I will feel really happy with my looks. I remember when I was a size 4, but that was when I was in my twenties and I wasn't taking medication. Anti-psychotic medication increases my hunger, slows my metabolism, and in general, lowers my energy. I no longer care to be super skinny, just an average citizen is the favorite dream. Having a serious mental illness and living a life that is as close to normal is what I'm pushing for. I remember when I was last a size 10. I was thirty years old. Now I'm forty-two. I'm not going to age, and change size and shape without a fight. I haven't given up on myself.

I have complimented my husband several times on how good his trim and firm body looks in clothes. Poor man, the compliments went to his head. One afternoon last week he changed out of his work clothes and I noticed that when he came out of the bedroom he did not button his shirt the way he usually buttons it. He was so proud of his chest that he left a great deal of his shirt open, better to show off and expose his chest. My husband is 52 years old and he was obviously feeling like a young man. I held my tongue. We were only going swimming. Perhaps I thought the unbuttoned shirt was a one time aberration. But after swimming again, he had to change into his shirt and again, there was that low button left undone. His shirt gaped. After swimming the next thing on our to do list was to go to the grocery store and I'm afraid I wasn't comfortable with my husband's sexy new look. I said to him, "Remember when I tried on a bunch of dresses, paraded back and forth in front of you, and you said that some had skirts that were too short for my age? And so I learned that I should not wear dresses with short skirts. Well, unbuttoning your shirt that low is inappropriate for your age. Sorry to take away the fun, but I'm not comfortable with the look. Button up."

So we are a conservative couple. I do not wear skirts above my knee, and my husband does not leave too many buttons undone on his shirts. Perhaps there is dignity in this, perhaps there is only sadness in this. I like to think that we are both keeping the other realistic and in step with society's norms. Where one indulges in fantasy, the other is the voice of reason. What is perhaps most fortunate is that our sensibilities are similar. We could be the wacky, eccentric, outrageous couple that likes to draw attention to ourselves with immodest dress or hair - at least we would be a couple who has the same point of view. He could be a biker dude and I could be a biker chick, both saying to hell with growing old and to hell with convention. But I think we are careful with our eccentricities, not to push the envelope too far. I wear bold jewelry and he wears a cowboy hat. Our deviations from the norm are there, if you look closely, but they are nothing to get too excited about. We are people who try to be approachable and to illicit the least amount of awkwardness and fear in strangers. When we were young we both experimented with flamboyance. I was punk, shaving my head, and he had a feather earring and long hair flowing down his back. Amazingly, neither one of us ever got a tattoo. I think we are still both open to the idea of getting a tattoo. Problem is we don't have the extra money to get a magnificent tattoo. It simply isn't high on our list of priorities. Right now our big expense and big extravagance is the swimming membership. It dips into our savings, our budget doesn't have room for it. But instinctively, we both feel swimming is essential to keeping healthy. And good health is similar to feeling wealthy.

I confess to a competitive streak. When we go swimming, we both are very pleased with ourselves when persons arrive in the pool, swim, and then leave, all within the time that we are still swimming. What this simply means is our workout is harder than their workout! It is a little conceit. But we both feel smug in outdoing the other guy. Last time I swam I swam for 50 minutes. My husband swims faster than me, his strokes are more powerful, so he naturally swam more laps than me. He counts his laps, and often, my laps too. I prefer to swim and let my mind wander. I know that I'm doing my best, so it doesn't matter to me how many laps I swim, all that matters is the time I put in. I shoot for 40 minutes of continuous laps. I always give myself the option of stopping after that amount of time.

The pool has an outdoor hot tub. It is an incredible luxury after a swim (when you are almost too tired to walk and feeling shaky on your legs) to get into the empty hot tub and have a random conversation. Last Friday we talked about the history and politics of Africa. While my husband isn't a news junkie, somehow he manages to keep a pulse on what happens in world events. And he has lived almost ten years longer than me, so events that I was too young to know about were part of his growing up. Traditionally Friday night is date night, and it seems that the date which my husband and I favor is going swimming, conversation in the hot tub, and then burritos at Taco Bell. It all sounds so innocent and wholesome, and it is. Our bodies glow with a deep relaxation that comes after exercise. Then, instead of cooking dinner, we eat out. But we don't have much money so we can't go to a nice restaurant. I think dinner cost about $6.50 last Friday. A plain bean burrito for me (nothing really unhealthy about it), a supreme meat burrito with extra sour cream for my husband (he eats more for taste than for nutrition) and one large diet soda that we share between the two of us. While we drove to the pool I looked out the window of the car and saw all the people gathered at bars and fancy restaurants or at the movie theater. Friday night comes and you know that somehow you want to celebrate. One of the reasons we like going to the pool Friday night is that it is practically empty. This says to me that somehow we are marching to the sound of a different drummer.

We are both extraordinarily content with our marriage.

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