Shrinking From Exercise

Like almost every woman my age, I’ve been diagnosed with osteopenia.  I swear, all you have to do is crash into menopause and head to your doctor’s office, where you get dispatched to a bone-scanner.  The last woman who scanned me looked so morose she could have passed as a basset hound.

“Your bones are worse!” she moaned (moaned!).  She looked down at my record, which was filled with the usual half-true self-reports about how I exercised all the time, gobbled calcium tablets, drank milk, and rarely smoked or drank liquor, coffee or diet colas.  “You’ve been doing everything right,” she added, tragically.  “What else can you do?”

What else could I do?  I could leave her personal field of negative energy as quickly as possible, that’s what I could do.  It wasn’t her bones that were about to splinter and turn to fairy dust if somebody looked at them hard.

Jesus.  Save me from the land of the secretly smirking bearers of bad news.  I needed to get back out into the world fast, since I was obviously shrinking every second.

Next thing I knew, they’d be erasing my treasured height of 5’7″ from my driver’s license and I’d have to start passing myself off as petite.  Great.  I am not, and never planned to be, the petite type.  I’d probably have to adopt a new personality to match (i.e., perkier) and I’m too old to want to go out and grab a new personality.  Most days, it’s exhausting enough just to stay the same.  So, forget it.  (Also, I’d probably have to lose weight to keep my same body-mass index.  I’m also too old to lose weight.  I gave up the whole Body Beautiful idea decades ago; give me the Body So-So any day.)

But, anyway.  A few years passed and I’m still 5’7″ and virtually all my friends have joined me in the scan-shadowy world of osteopenia.  Sally Fields tells us how she uses Bovina, because it’s the only body she’ll ever have and she’s going to treat it right.

Even worse than Bovina and Sally Fields’ eternal shilling, we with thinning bones are condemned to lift weights.  I don’t care how much you pump it up with rock music and other people’s sweaty bodies in the background, this is still the most boring exercise invented since they came up with since the Stairmaster.

“No wonder you’re bored,” says my friend Janis.  “You do the same routine over and over.  You need a new routine.  That would keep me interested.”

No, it would not.  Besides, Janis lost all credibility with me when she got an award for being the person who showed up at our gym more than anybody else.  What kind of nut would show up more than once a day? I wondered, going to the link.  There was Janis’ face, staring back at me.  That kind of nut, I thought.

“It’s boring, no matter what,” I tell Janis, who continues to press weights about a million times a day and looks better than I do and probably doesn’t have osteopenia.

In my darker hours, it occurs to me it’s all a worldwide hoax concocted by bone-medicine people, bone scanners who resemble basset hounds, doctors, Sally Fields, Janis, and the evil minds who dreamed up all this exercise equipment that looks like a medieval torture chamber.  “Let’s play a joke on menopausal women,” they cackle.  “Let’s tell them their bones are thinning and they have to use our lousy machines so they won’t shrink.  Let’s call it — osteopenia.”

The scanners, the fist-sized calcium, the Boniva, the machines, the personal coaches, the unflagging boredom of three sets of 10 reps apiece.  Some days, I think, I’d rather be short.

(Copyright 2007 by Ruth Pennebaker)

1 comment… add one

Leave a Comment