A Challenging Way to Love Yourself and Others: A Valentine’s Tribute

The Italian Mama recently wisely advised me to take the best care of myself as I can in my 40’s because in the 50’s and onward, it’s terribly difficult to retain your fitness and muscle mass in particular. The more you invest in your physical health in your 40’s (and before!), the stronger and healthier you will be.

I’ve never been a good exerciser. I loathe it. I can’t stand the gym. I feel like a hamster in a cage there. I do walk every day for fitness, but the Italian Mama challenges me to even more. Why aren’t I using my fancy indoor bike? Why aren’t I lifting the hand weights? Why can’t I add in some push-ups and planks? “Build your muscles!” she says with that Italian Mama insistence. I thought about weakly objecting with how healthy I am with all my plant-based eating, how much weight I’ve lost, and how wonderful I am generally. But no. I do not speak.

When the Italian Mama speaks, one must listen. 

She knows things. She’s been there. And she will save you.

I start slow. First, I announce my plan to my family. Then, I tell the Italian Mama. She celebrates.

I start easy. I bike at low resistance for only 10 minutes–just enough to make me long for a nap and a chocolate bar. I then stretch and regain my breath and heartbeat. I then do the unimaginable: I lift my arm weights. I perform a little routine for my shoulders and arms. And then? I attempt a whopping 4 push-ups before I collapse and call out for pizza (this really happened).

But it’s love. It’s a love routine for myself and for others. I think about caring for my health and physical fitness as a way to bless my family in my coming years.

And I’d like to thank the Italian Mama who loves us all enough to tell us exactly what we’re doing wrong sometimes and what to change in order to thrive later. She’s right about everything. Her advice: build your muscles now. . . for later.

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