I lost my abs, if I ever had any, around 1974.  Ballooning to hold my first, second, and third child, the abdomen I’d once tortured with high school gym class sit-ups was stretched and pooched into a biosphere of Mommyhood. 

The muscles sprawled and relaxed all around the area, like delinquent dropouts on a smoke break.

 Now, at 65 years old, I’ve decided to search the area of my midsection for any signs of muscle tone that may still lurk beneath the inches of padded insulation I’ve grown there. 

I am an archeologist; and the site I’m visiting is beneath Pillsbury Doughboy Land.  

Why?  I’m not sure.  I guess I’ve reached a point in my life where I realize that the body I’ve disregarded and abused for decades is kind of important to my future.  Suddenly, I understand that being fit is the key to staying alive. 

Wish I’d thought of it sooner.

 It’s not like I want to become young again.  As if that could happen.  And I am not on a crusade to become Betty Bo-Flex.  All I want to do is to be able to look down and see the nail polish on my toes without having the view blocked by a hillock of spongy, wiggly flesh along my midsection.

Impossible, you say?  I almost agree.  But there has to be some kind of muscle structure somewhere between my chest and my thighs; it holds my stomach inside, and when I cough there is a slight constriction of skin…for just a second.

The health club I joined has many contraptions of torture.  I asked a trainer which ones were good for “abs strengthening”.  He choked down a chuckle (she thinks she has abs in there?!) and gave me the tour.  

Nothing is more humiliating than to lie atop a padded bench, fold one’s arms mummy-like across the chest, prop one’s feet in a constricting/bracing position beneath metal bars, and attempt to lift the top half of one’s body from said padded bench.  

After the initial failure, I spent a second or two pretending to be resting. Those watching must have assumed I was lying there dead. I took deep breaths and tried again.  My neck muscles lifted my sweaty head, and my shoulders lurched forward. 

But my abdomen remained firmly affixed to its final resting place.  It wobbled a bit when I groaned and grunted and squinted at it with my bulging eyeballs.  But I’d seen that a million times. It was the familiar “shook like a bowlful of jelly” Santa action all jolly grandmas know.

Here I was, risking spinal misalignment and a possible carotid aneurysm, straining and jerking my body from its favorite position (at rest).  I finally had to face facts. My chiropractor was clearly the only person who would benefit from my efforts. 

Rolling off the bench was the only way I could see to dismount without taxing my skeletal system any further.  

There is good news. My legs are getting stronger.  I can treadmill three miles as well as the next old woman.  I can even sit and cycle, if the tension on the pedals is set only slightly above “coast.”

But when I hop atop these exercise machines, I will be packing a “Pickanick Basket” stomach that has permanently swallowed the abdominal muscles that used to hold me tight.    

Strong legs, to carry all of me, may be the best strategy at this point in my life. I can just keep rolling off flat surfaces.

• • •

Contact Robin at robinwrites@yahoo.com


Robin grew up in Franklin County, Missouri, with four brothers and a family of pets named after the characters on the Andy Griffith show. She is mom to three children and grandma to three. She’s been married twice. The second is the better one.

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