It is time to feel the burn - even though I don’t feel like it

Things have got to change.

In the late summer warmth I found myself standing in the kitchen, wearing only bra and knickers in front of the open fridge door, eating a slice of Emmenthal straight from the packet. What happened to the cultured woman who always dressed for dinner and always used a fish knife, even with supper from the chippie?

Well, she must have lived next door because I’ve never been like that. But I have noticed I’m starting to let things slip... and I don’t mean my boobs... they’re doing it all by themselves. No, the thing is, I am not the house-proud woman of yore. Once upon a time the skirting boards gleamed, you could eat your tea off the carpet (if you were allowed to walk on it at all) and I brooked no clutter. I wasn’t exactly a Stepford wife – I like to think my husband prefers a woman who disagrees with him and who doesn’t put on make-up to greet him at the front door with a kiss when he gets home from work.

There are a catalogue of other things I don’t do but it is probably best not to remind him how far short of the perfect wife I am. If he ever does consider going on to one of those online dating sites for married people, I suspect he will be looking for a woman who bakes cookies and is keen to hear him reading aloud from the newspaper. GSOH.

But seriously, I need to get in shape. I’ve read that it gets more difficult as you get older. I’m 58 and haven’t even started.


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I definitely need to acquire some muscle tone. I was doing my annual hoover under the sofas at the weekend and found I couldn’t actually move the furniture. I pushed, arms outstretched, body at a 45-degree angle and nothing happened. I pulled, nothing – except a twinge in my shoulder. I shoved with my hip and managed to get a bit of swivel... I think it was in my spine.

My husband came to the rescue and single-handedly pushed it out of the way. Gosh, he’s so strong... and I am so feeble. The obvious thing to do is join a gym. But the thought of being in a room with other sweaty bodies, especially young, toned sweaty bodies is not appealing. Why would I want to be seen in full flab in public?

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Hey, look at me on the rowing machine, can you see my bingo wings swaying back and forth and the cellulite on my thighs bobbling like bubble wrap round a jelly? And don’t miss my acrobatic tummy - lean back, flat tummy; lean forward, four tummies...

Swimming is all right as long as no one else is in the pool. I am so short sighted I have been known to accost strange men in the shallow end thinking they’re my husband. I nearly had to marry a couple of them.

So how am I to get stronger and fitter without joining an organisation? It has to be something I can do in the evening, after work, for up to (but not exceeding) 20 minutes. I seem to recall there are household chores you can combine with exercise so, as it were, killing two birds with one stone although, personally, I’d rather this one bird lost two stone.

Vacuuming can be quite aerobic. I have a new cleaner and, on full suck it is completely welded to the carpet. A few minutes wrestling with it will probably warm up those lax muscles although it wouldn’t be a good idea to attempt liposuction, not unless you want to turn yourself inside out.

Baked beans: Lifting a can with each hand will get those biceps, triceps and twitching. Apparently.

Folding towels: not so useful.

Whipping cream for a pavlova: good, as long as you don’t then eat the pavlova.

Going up and down stairs: fine unless you hear a creaking noise. Check whether it’s the staircase or your knees.

In my case, it’s the knees. I have just been to see the knee man at the hospital and I rolled up my trouser legs to show him the offending joint (left) and its neighbour (right) for comparison.

“Are they smiling at you?” I asked.

“Knees are supposed to be dimpled,” he said, diplomatically.

So I am scheduling low impact exercise with my lower limbs. Legs up on the coffee table; watch University Challenge; legs down from the coffee table; make a cup of tea; legs up on the coffee table, discover it’s Andre Rieu yet again on Sky Arts 2.

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