Jungle Gym

Now that I have my 54th birthday firmly under my belt I have decided to attempt the impossible. I have embarked on a “get in shape and maybe lose a couple pounds” plan. Unheard of at my age? Maybe, but I’m determined to defy my hormonal destiny and give it all I got. I’m not woefully out of shape or overweight but I have been noticing a few extra lumps and bumps lately..not to mention these odd, wing-like appendages that have appeared under both my arms. I figure it’s now or never and according to the doomsday predictions from these “helpful” online forums for us 50-somethings I’ve got precious little time to lose.

Taking a good, hard look at my diet  I realize that I’m doing pretty well in that respect. We grow a lot of our own fruit and veggies which, face it, does make them taste better knowing you’ve got sweat equity invested in them.  And seeing as fast food or chain restaurants are nowhere to be found…and don’t even think about ordering out for a pizza…I also cook most of our meals from scratch. So by all accounts, and to use the diet phrase du jour, I’m eating “clean” pretty much all the time. Except when it comes to baking. My cooking skills have betrayed my waistline in that I can bake some delicious stuff. Oh, I can use the handy sugar, fat, white flour substitutions all day long but when it comes right down to it…a sea salt brownie is still a sea salt brownie (sooo good!). Thus my baking skills are on holiday for the time being much to the disappointment of my husband (Him: Why do I have to suffer when you decide all of a sudden to get healthy? Me: I haven’t had chocolate or bread in three days, do you really want to go down this road?). In the end he’s decided to be very supportive (or scared into it?).

Aside from abstaining from the heavenly baked goods, I do need to ramp up my exercise routine. While I live a relatively active life here in the jungle apparently my housekeeping routine and the fact that I use a fitness ball as a desk chair just doesn’t cut it anymore. My yoga sun salutations and daily meditation, while a very good addition to any routine, is in desperate  need of some augmentation. In light of the fact that there is no 24 Hour fitness club within decent driving distance  (I think Texas would be the closest spot), I have to improvise.

There was a time when a girlfriend and I would drive 45 minutes each way to an adjacent community once or twice a week for a Zumba class taught in an outdoor, beachside bar/discoteque. It was fun for a while, stray dogs wondering in and out, occasional power outages, and dodging puddles on the floor from a rain-soaked leaky roof. We’d stop afterwards at a small restaurant that served one of the only frosty, blended mocha drinks in the entire Zona Sur. Topped with real whipped cream and icy cold after a hot, humid workout…it was heaven. Unfortunately it completely defeated our purpose at the time. That coupled with the start of the rainy season made the drive there and back a bit too treacherous. The class was fun but not worth risking life and limb having to cross a swollen river.

So now I hike. Every morning at the crack of dawn, (okay more like 6:30…ish) I get up, rain or shine, put on my muddy, damp hiking shoes, plug my earpods into my waterproof iPod (Yes. If you’re thinking of visiting this beautiful country and wonder if your stuff will get wet, the answer is always yes.) and head out on my hike. Thirty minutes to an hour, just me, my tunes, my dog, and oddly enough a beautiful Blue Morpho butterfly that likes to float drunkenly along with us on our path flashing its brilliant blue wings.

Freshly shedded snakeskin on the front lawn…unsettling.

The cons? It’s hot and humid…basically I start sweating just by brushing my teeth before I’m even out the door. I have to watch out for snakes as they do like to stretch out across the path now and then. And sometimes I get stuck behind a group of cattle or some very large and intimidating oxen that my dog thinks nothing of charging and trying to bite on the hooves. This does not sit well with them and I quickly retreat for fear of being gored…but the dog considers himself my hero and demands praise and attention for having saved me from these beasts.

The pros? I’m hiking in the rain forrest! The jungle has become my gym. The air smells heavenly, when it rains it’s refreshing and soothing, and the early hour is best for seeing monkeys, toucans, parrots and sloths. The rocky, uneven and sometimes muddy path gives me a great balance workout and the natural inclines and declines give me the intervals that are all the rage in fitness these days. If my stomach starts to growl I can pick a perfectly ripe mango and bite into its sweet flesh. I picture myself looking like this when I do it, but I probably look more like this.

No worries.  I have one last hill and that’s up the driveway and onto my patio where my husband has made fresh coffee. I head over to pick a banana off the stalk of about 100 that are rapidly ripening. My endorphins are pumping and I happily settle down to a cup of coffee and think to myself… “What the hell am I going to do with 100 ripe bananas??”


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5 Responses

  1. Cathy says:

    Love it!

  2. Beth says:

    LOVE your blog story, and the photos to go with it! The mango one cracked me up- my tonic for today, thank you! Some day I’ll come down with Cathy to visit!

    • bethgensler says:

      Thanks for joining me on this wild ride. Would love it if you could join Cathy next time. BTW did she tell you all about her last visit? What a week that was.

  3. Nina says:

    Wonderful post. I can definitely relate. You capture life in the jingle so well!!

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