Back to the Gym, but When? by
(319 Stories)

Prompted By Resolutions

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Tuscany, 2011

Does everyone want to lose weight in the new year? My resolution began after seeing photos of myself from our first trip to Italy in 2011. I had never been so heavy. I looked puffy and not like myself. I didn’t want to turn 60 on December 10, 2012 looking like that. I had never been overweight and was aggravated with myself. I decided that I would (for the first time ever) work with a trainer at our gym on the Vineyard beginning in June of 2012 and I did. She set down a workout program for me, as well as discussing my diet and eating habits.

59th birthday

I was very disciplined. Not only did I go to the gym five days a week (two of those days I took my regular Pilates class. The other days, I did the routine that Griffin set down; a half hour of aerobics work, then working on machines for strength and toning. I also gave up bread, other sorts of carbs, desserts and watched other sugar intake. The pounds came off. By my 60th birthday I saw a big improvement. I had lost about 14 pounds (in all, over the year, I would lose about 18 pounds).

60th birthday

I was pleased with the shape I was in. But it demanded constant discipline. I was good about the eating for years. I delighted in my gym routine until I became injured. Some of the classes were intense, perhaps not meant for a 60 year old body (and taught by a 30-something instructor). In 2017, I wound up with tendinitis and a sprain of my left hip flexor, a sprain in my groin and bulging discs in my lower back resulting in sciatica down my left leg. I got great physical therapy, but it kept me out of the gym for some time. I even had a series of spinal injections to calm the bulging discs.

I also had increasing arthritis in my right toes and had several toe surgeries over the past seven years. The foot is now rather unstable. All this means time away from the gym and the less I exercise, the more I eat (counter-intuitive, I know, but there you are). The 2020 election spectacle also sent my M&M habit into overdrive. I can’t even keep them in the house any longer.

Here are before and after photos, from 2011 and 2016, taken at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice, to illustrate the point.

Venice, 2011

Venice, 2016









You take my point. I don’t want to go back. I was OK during the lockdown. I’ve written about exercising at home during lockdown, first on my own, then finding my beloved Josie and PJ on Zoom and keeping up with them, which was terrific.


March, 2020; the beginning of lockdown

But eating as strictly as I did for years became difficult to maintain. The pounds crept back on. With all the injuries, I couldn’t work quite as hard as before and, to be fair, there is nothing like a live class class for motivation, much as I enjoyed the Zoom classes (and even streaming some at convenient times). I looked forward to getting back to my home gym in Oct, 2021.

However, this happened in late June, 2021:

My weight and fitness were already shot, as far as I was concerned. Now I had sprained my ankle (or so I thought) and was really hobbled. I found my old air cast (I’ve sprained it twice before) and went to Pilates class with the air cast on. But it didn’t heal. Being on the Vineyard limits doctor availability (not to mention that I was tending to Dan after his terrible accident, 6 days after mine). I finally saw a doctor in mid-September who did an X-ray, said there was nothing broken, I could go back to my gym when I came home in Oct, just don’t do Barre class.

I wore a compression sleeve, was SO happy to take a rigorous class a few days a week, but my eating still wasn’t good (too many sweets). Dan said he had never seen me so excited as I was when I signed up for my first Pilates fusion class on October 4 with Melissa, with whom I normally take Barre. She’s a great teacher. I did get a great, tough workout (the fusion part means there is weight work and standing work, as well as some mat Pilates work). But the joy was short-lived.

I finally got an MRI on Oct 13 and a broken bone at the crux of my ankle and foot was revealed. I started PT on Oct 25. He told me to stay off the foot as much as possible. So all exercise except for mat Pilates (which is mostly on my back) is out of the question.

A week before Thanksgiving, I rolled the ankle again. That put me in a bigger brace all the time. My weight is stable, but not going down. I can’t wait until the time when I can exercise again, as I’d like to, when I am pain free and can really get back to the gym. I am 11 pounds up from where I was in 2012. I would settle for losing 5 pounds at this point. I know I need to do better with the eating again and have started, but exercise is the key.

Back to the gym…

Profile photo of Betsy Pfau Betsy Pfau
Retired from software sales long ago, two grown children. Theater major in college. Singer still, arts lover, involved in art museums locally (Greater Boston area). Originally from Detroit area.

Characterizations: been there, moving, right on!, well written


  1. John Shutkin says:

    As my own RetroFlash this week makes clear, Betsy, I, too, have made weight losing resolutions recently. But for me this year, it has been only about self-deiscipline; I’ve not had to face the physical obstacles you’ve faced this year. And, after seeing so many beautiful pictures that you’ve shared with us, that photo of your poor foot was quite the shocker. So here’s hoping for a healthy 2022 — in every way — for you. I’m sure you’ll meet your goals!

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Thank you John. Physical setbacks have been daunting this year. I thought I had the key to the lockdown and was really looking forward to getting back to my gym, but this foot/ankle injury has me flummoxed. But determination does go a long way!

  2. You’re motivated Betsy so I have every confidence you’d do it!
    And you’ve inspired me to (try at least) to give up the bread!
    Happy and healthy 2022!

  3. Regular exercise has been at the top of my list (whether written or in my head) for as long as I can remember. It’s also my #1 resolution to break every year. So hats off to you for ALL the exercise you’ve done over the years, and best of luck losing those pesky five pounds!

    Wishing you and yours the best of everything in 2022, Betsy…you got a head start with a brand new grandchild, my (belated) congratulations!

  4. Suzy says:

    Wow, that’s quite a story, Betsy! Sorry to hear about all your setbacks. Hope the foot and ankle get healed and you can go back to the gym. Dealing with feet problems myself, I can empathize. Let’s drink a toast to better foot health for both of us in 2022!

  5. Marian says:

    I feel your frustration and pain, Betsy, having lived for 15 years with an autoimmune condition that renders my muscles defective and impairs their exercise recovery. Mild exercise helps, and I did great through the first year of the pandemic, until the vaccines that protect us all caused flareups in my disease. At this point I am still recovering from the effects of the booster and am limited to a 20-minute walk–no yoga, weights, anything else. Due to the passage of time, I now have hip arthritis to boot. That said, I feel extremely lucky that my weight remains stable. The problem is that I have shrunk an inch and a half without a reduction in weight. Ah, well, time to get back to some self acceptance!

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      That is a tough place to be, Mare. The booster is important, but caused you harm. I could join you in the self acceptance department. Also not one of my strengths. I should add that to my list of resolutions.

  6. Laurie Levy says:

    That picture of your foot, Betsy — wow, just wow. As we age, maintaining an exercise routine is harder due to other ailments that derail our routines. I think you look beautiful even if you are not at your ideal weight. Hope your journey home is/was uneventful. Becoming a grandparent is wonderful. Congrats again.

  7. Khati Hendry says:

    You have really been through the mill, Betsy! But you are nothing if not determined. Having someone to guide you in an exercise plan certainly can make all the difference, and sometimes just going for function wins the day. Safe and healthy NY to all.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Thanks,Khati. I joked with my wonderful Vineyard physical therapist a few years ago that he had worked on every part of my body. He looked puzzled until I enumerated them. Sad but true! Having a good leader is definitely inspiring for exercise. I look forward to the day when I can get back to it. Meanwhile, happy new year to all!

  8. daiseaday says:

    Betsy, I wasn’t aware of all of this. I can’t even believe that is your foot in the photo. I must do better to keep up. When my arthritis hit me at age 50, is when I really had a difficult time excercizing. That, along with thyroid and type2 really let my weight get out of control..
    I hope you can fully recover to stay active.

  9. As always, your pictures serve as a great enhancement to this saga. You were very stoic about your ankle injury. It seems you were misdiagnosed! I’m guessing everyone on this site is struggling with weight issues. Covid has not helped, despite our collective resolve. Carry on!

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