Once I was and now I am..

Lauren Tamaki

To be an athlete...or not to be
If I were to tell you I am a crazed fitness junkie who jumps out of bed, throws on the running gear and pounds the city streets every morning..I would be lying. I can think of nothing worse.

Mr. H laughs at the thought, saying that I was never an athlete. I snicker at that remark for there are plenty of activities I enjoy but I will be honest and say I have never been a serious athlete, social athlete is more like it. But it has been years and my exercise routine in Vietnam has taken the shape of walking and visits to the gym...when I feel like it. Which is not often. It's really hot here. Did I mention I am good at making excuses too?

So, I decided to make the call a few weeks back to start up with a personal trainer...again. It has been a hit and miss proposition since moving to Vietnam but I think I finally found "the one".

I am fussy about trainers, in the same way I am about tour guides, dentists and a good masseuse. I know, crazy, but that's me.

In a personal trainer, I need a good listener, one who gets my strengths and weaknesses and most importantly one who won't let me find an easy way out. I am clever at that. I usually start by laughing, hysterically, which means "you have got to be kidding me, let's stop". 

My new trainer is Vietnamese and with that comes a reality check. I find that the Vietnamese are quick to call it and say it as they see it. I should qualify all this by saying, he is kind, sincere and genuine in wanting to put his all into helping me with my goals. I like him, a lot! I just have to learn to stop laughing.

When I started laughing today..he added ten more repetitions to my workout. Say what?

When I missed the mark on where he wanted me to bounce the medicine ball today (heavy and difficult, made me laugh) he did not count that try and made me do it again. I stopped laughing..immediately.

That which shall not be named...until now
He frequently mentions my "belly fat" which I have never actually said out loud nor has anyone else for that matter. But..true to his culture, he calls it as he sees it. I laugh every time he says it which results in more repetitions. I hope to one day say goodbye to a good portion of the "belly fat". I might have to laugh my way all the way through it but I shall persevere.

You must have been....
Every session there is something new for me to ponder. Today he asked how many children I have. I said four, told him the ages and he exclaimed that "you must have been a beautiful women when you were younger". He said it with an open smile and in all sincerity, thinking he gave me the highest compliment. I know some of you are gasping...HE SAID WHAT? But you know what, it's OK. I get it and if it was anyone else, I would have reacted differently.

Countess de Castiglione (1837-1899)

A gifted writer with an eye for style, Leslie Harris @ Gwen Moss Blog recently wrote about the art of aging, how to feel beautiful and relevant to matter what your age... part 1 and how to feel beautiful...part 2. I like Leslie's style of writing, she writes from the heart and on this subject, I totally get it.

"Aging can be a process of peeling away the layers 
to our deeper self, it takes us along a path 
that is continual lesson on letting go."

"But there are gifts that come with aging well. 
An intangible wisdom and that mysterious feeling 
of being comfortable in your own skin. "

by Beth Carver

I like to think I am comfortable in my own skin. Sometimes I have to convince myself but most times I just get on with it... EXCEPT...when it comes to having my photo taken. Always happy to be behind the camera but never in front. The only exception is for my mother-in-law who I swear has magic powers. Her camera appears out of nowhere and before I have a chance to wangle myself out of view, she has gone and snapped it. In fact, I think, if it were not for her, very few photos of me would exist. 

At the end of the day, at any age, I think the real beauty is in our smiles, yours and mine. Is there anything better than someone sharing a smile with you or bringing you to the heart of laughter? I love it...and will take it any way I can get it. Even if it means a few extra repetitions in the gym. For once I was and now I am...just me and I am OK with that.  :)


On that note, I want to thank you all for the many 
wonderful wedding wishes you sent our way. 
Absolutely, positively and stupendously appreciated!! 
You make me smile...always.

Sending you warm wishes 
for a wonderful weekend!!

Jeanne xx  :)

A must read...from Leslie


  1. From one sensitive Virgo to another...I have lots of comments on this one, but will save them to share over a glass of wine on a quiet summer night. Jayzus!! Inner and outer beauty - you never lost either along the way! And yes, because I nervously laugh over any exercise I have to do with another person in the room (making fun of myself before another gets the chance), I choose to walk, stretch or sweat in private. Sending you a big, self conscious smile.

    1. Looking forward to the glass of wine on a quiet summer night Lisa! xx

  2. I am a first time visitor and commentor - so glad I found your site, love the lead picture you used today. Last year whilst on holiday I was admiring my daughter in her new bikini and she honestly said, 'you must have looked like this once!' thinking that would make me feel better!

    1. Sarah...I burst out laughing when I read this, sounds so familiar. I wonder if I said something similar to my mother. :) Thanks so much for reading along and commenting!


  3. Jeanne not only have made me smile, but I've actually laughed out loud. I agree with almost everything you say. Next Monday I start with new personal trainer and not will help thinking of you.

  4. Wonderful post, and very inspirational.
    It may sooth some minds to know...Years ago I was a size 7 with less than an inch of fat hanging over my waistband. Concerned, I asked the doctor and he told me..."That's your body type. Some women have a protective layer of fat and others don't. "
    Thus, some of us are just more protected than others. :)

  5. DOES he have the REFORMER machine........I love that.Did PT for years............not for me as she never would let me repeat the same exercises!I wanted to see my improvement..........I have found what works for me and I have been HORRIFIED beyond belief that what came so easy years ago now I struggle with.Between that and the lines on my face and the aches...............I am beginning to sound like my MOTHER!!!But I am OKAY with it ALL...........off to read what YOU have so kindly recommended!XO

  6. Oh Jeanne. I saw your post title go through my feed and I was instantly smitten. I found myself nodding the whole way through except for the part about your Vietnamese trainer. I think I laughed out loud with his blunt (dare I say inappropriate) comment. Thank goodness for our sense of humor as we go through life. Yes, I can relate to so much here. Being selective about my trainer (I need lots of empathy ha) and the shyness in front of a camera. And I loved your line, " but most of the time I just get on with it." I think that might that might be the key to Life. ....Thank you so much for your kind words, I feel the same way about you and your lush writing. And on the topic of aging, it feels so good to know you "get" me!
    hugs from Huntington Beach,

  7. Hehehe. My Asian colleagues were the first to speak openly with me about my family background. At first I was startled, but grew to love the directness and was in the end liberated from many years of hemming and hawing.

    However, the dude's nuts, you're still beautiful. At a guess what he meant is that on the whole, young women ARE more beautiful than we older women (I don't mind admitting that), and that when you were young, you were among the most beautiful of them.

    We, however, are Beautiful. I don't miss my younger looks at all, even when I wish my lip wrinkles would mysteriously disappear. Fitness does help me feel good about my midlife appearance, I hope you'll enjoy your new core strength and some mad biceps:). It's all about what we expect of ourselves, and I find that if I look at myself and say, "Hey, not bad for 58," I feel like a supermodel:).

  8. age is just a thought + at least that is what I tell myself. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

  9. I love this post more than I can say, Jeanne, and it is very timely for me, as I've been thinking about fitness and aging and beauty and body image--all of the above and more, mostly tangled together and very messy in my mind--a lot lately. I have been working out six days a week since since mid-January (with a four-day lapse last week during the worst days of my cold when breathing felt like a workout). It has been a remarkable time for me. I needed to get fit again. I missed feeling strong. I'm beginning to remember what that felt like, and I'm LOVING it. I have loads and loads of body image issues, and I always have, whatever weight and/or fitness level I've been at. Something is shifting for me this year. I care far more now about strength and my own sense of how I feel inside my body rather than how other people perceive me. It's just liberating. Period.

    I also needed to add that I really get your trainer's bluntness! For years I worked as a tutor and editor for Asian (mostly Korean, Vietnamese, and Japanese) graduate students who were living and studying in America. I cannot count the number of times both men and women said very similar things to me--and I was still young at the time! I began to understand that it was a cultural difference after the first five or six times a client said something like, "Oh, you are wearing lilac today! I'm surprised. In Korea only beautiful women wear lilac!" On the other hand, I often found that my clients were also really blunt and generous with praise, too, which was lovely. :)

    Congratulations on finding the new trainer. You are beautiful in many, many ways! I hope you wear lilac. xo Gigi

  10. Jeanne, I don't often comment but I hope you know I ALWAYS read. This post, however, just hit home, as do the two you shared. Yes and yes and yes. I'm contemplating two hip replacements, and I'm humbled. Me?? The letting-go is a challenge but of course the suffering comes from clinging to what was, rather than opening to what is: this new, aging body, this new kind of beauty, this new reality. I'm more dedicated to my yoga practice than ever, more grateful for my friends, more inclined to smile at what IS than to regret what's over. Thank you for sharing with us, your grateful far-fling friends.

    1. I had a double replacements last year,.. Best thing I ever did! You shouldn't hesitate Katrina!

  11. My goodness, this is all so timely for me. I can relate! I love to take brisk walks, as near to daily as I am able. A couple months ago, I decided to add a body pump class to the mix and I love it. It is hard and not something I would have considered doing before and yet, I love how much stronger I feel. I still prefer the peace of walking alone and praying and/or sorting out my thoughts for the day. But, the strength training is good, too. I hope your personal trainer is a good fit. You are so wise, and your words resonated with me today. Thank you for sharing. Happy weekend!

  12. Bravo and best wishes on continuing to work with your trainer. I must say that I do not agree with what he seemed to say to you; you are a beautiful woman, outside and inside.
    Although I often exercise best with some external guidance, I prefer small group classes to a personal training session. For me, the intensity of one-on-one interaction is not optimal when I'm exercising. I like to go inside myself, which I cannot do under one-on-one direction. Pilates machine-and-mat classes with 4 participants, alternating with intense deep-water aerobics classes, are just about perfect for me. Do you use your home pool for exercise?
    I admire you for all the walking you do in Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon. Unless I am in the water, I find it very physically uncomfortable to be outside when I am in Southeast Asia, because of the high humidity. As the time you have been living in Viet Nam has increased, have you become better and better able to function in the humidity? Leslie in Oregon

  13. As always, your post really resonates with me! I read this yesterday after having stopped into a local gym to ask about personal training...you will be my inspiration to get moving again! I don't know if I would be motivated or offended by the bluntness of your trainer, but it seems to be a cultural thing. ;) have a lovely weekend!! xoxo

  14. Blessings dear Jeanne................I enjoy your blog postings so very much
    Love Jeanne

  15. Every age has its own level of comfort. To cross it to reach the next stage takes effort. Middle age and beyond is such a wonderful stage in life that we should prepare for it to enjoy it. It’s perhaps your good luck to have an honest trainer.

    Enjoy the work out Jeanne.And yes,"I think the real beauty is in our smiles."

  16. That quote by Leslie Harris - I totally get it. Sometimes I long for my teenage years and my early twenties but certain things used to feel so awkward back then and now I feel like I have suddenly found out who I am and situations that used to feel difficult are so much easier to get through.

  17. I concur wholeheartedly Jeanne!... Your trainer sounds delightful! Well done!

  18. Love that quote by C.S. Lewis. And I agree with you about a smile, as we age its our best feature for taking a good picture. Now that I have a baby granddaughter, the photos of me holding her are some of my favorites, because I am truly happy at that moment and not worried about how I look. Love this post, Jeanne. I can relate to every word you wrote!
    xx Sunday

  19. Jeanne, your honesty always makes me smile. I have never been an athlete either, my favorite form of exercise is walking and if you have a Fitbit I could be your walking partner. It is the "exercise" that gets my but out of the house when my husband is traveling for a week or two at a time and it is something that is like meditation, it gives me solace and the chance to take it all in as they say.

    I was looking at a photo the other day from 20 years ago, I was "my ideal" weight and I remember when it was taken thinking I looked fat. Today after a lot of hard work I am back at the same weight and it is funny because for all of the years I wasn't at that weight I was sure that if I was I would be so happy, content, etc, oddly enough when I looked in the mirror this morning I felt fat.

    Life is too short for anything but feeling healthy! As I age my priorities have changed so very much and I have to be honest exercise is the least of them unless it is doing something I love or doing it with someone I want to spend time with.

    I was aghast at your trainers comment but have had one or two of those myself that although I should have been insulted I "got it."

    Leslie is a wonderful woman and a beautiful blogger. Her directness, honesty and writing reminds me of you. The aging series is a great read for those who have yet to read it, as is the rest of her blog.

    Have a beautiful day Jeanne. You are a beautiful woman, inside and out not matter what size you are!!!!

  20. I loved reading this Jeanne. Good luck with your new trainer, on all levels! He sounds perfect. I imagine he thinks you are a very attracitve woman now, and therefore without a doubt would have been a beauty when you were younger. Enjoy your day and your next set of reps!!!

  21. I'd rather take medicine than have my picture taken.
    But you should never shy away from the camera lens, my friend.


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