Click to search the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library Skip Navigation

Reclaim Your Youthful Vitality (or at least lose ten pounds and dab on some blush!)


 windmill exercise., Digital ID 1660314, New York Public LibraryI do not consider myself a vain woman, having survived a sufficient passage of decades to have arrived at the wisdom to know that a person's interior is of paramount importance to his/her exterior. My rather corpulent, weary-countenanced physical being does not interfere with my primary aspirations in life: to become a published writer (what a wonderful feeling, I imagine, to issue a school theatre ticket discount slip for one of my plays or to place a hold on a book I've written!), continue to strive to be the best besotted aunt in history and function as an indentured servant to my dog and two cats), so I have not, hitherto, placed "weight loss" nor "self-beautification" at the top of my to-do-list.

Oh, when I was a jejune being and possessed no need for weight loss or make-up, I was well-versed in those subjects. But, I have since fairly well surrendered to the results of the ravages of time on my physical vessel. (And, some fashion designers do long for me to strut down a Paris runway whilst donning some of their respective outfits, albeit said outfits might do double-duty as circus tents!)

However, an incident occurred last week which managed to cause even me, a woman who would drive Richard Simmons into bankruptcy if I could amass a sufficient following of adherents to my total avoidance of anything remotely resembling exercise, to rethink my commitment to the sedentary, high-fat, sugar-laden, brimming with sodium daily culinary fare.

What was this cataclysmic event, the curious reader may ask? Well, I was walking (the unkind would uncharitably describe my gait as "wobbling," but that's their karma, not mine) down the street to work when a woman who I hadn't seen in over twenty years came rushing across the street to me, flailing her arms and yelling, "Hi, you might not remember me, but…"

Once the woman's face was sufficiently close for me to distinguish her facial features, I realized it was an old friend from high school, Katie. As I hastened to assure Katie that I did, indeed, recognize her, she gushed out, "Gee, you look terrific, Mrs. Richards! How's Muriel?"

I began to laugh until one glimpse at Katie's face informed me that she was a) serious and b) not being catty. I swallowed my pride and stated, with as much aplomb and dignity as I could muster under the circumstances, that I AM Muriel! Katie looked chagrined for a second, then burst out laughing, commenting on the "wicked sense of humor Muriel inherited from you and Mr. Richards."

Calling upon all of the good manners instilled in me as well as my legal education, I politely informed Katie again that I am Muriel and cited an antic (as supporting evidence of my assertion that I am Muriel) we engaged in in math class (the statute of limitations may have since long expired, but my sense of propriety precludes me from delving into detail concerning said antic) that no one else could be cognizant of.

Katie exhibited the good grace to blush and then stammered out what I imagine she regarded as an apology. "Sorry, Muriel, it's just that you looked, er, um, well, not too much like you used to. Not that there's anything wrong with your physical appearance! My cousin wears a size 18, and she looks great…"

I'll spare you the further details of Katie's feeble attempt at damage control, but suffice it to say that if Katie scrawls a note in her promised forthcoming Christmas card about "how wonderfully" I "carry" my "weight," said card will be in the recycling bin looooong before the arrival of Christmas!

Anyway, instead of burying my sense of umbrage in a pint of chocolate ice cream, I decided to embark on a new quest to recapture my youthful appearance. The branch where I work wasn't scheduled to open for an hour after my arrival time, and I was early anyway, so I took a deep breath (not an easy task for me), marshaled my forces and marched down the health section. I mumbled to myself, "I can do this!    How many patrons have I guided to these very shelves, based upon their respective requests?!?

If they can embark on a journey for health, so can I!" A sense of inchoate accomplishment swept over me as I bravely seized a book on basic aerobics, easy calisthenics and rudimentary weight lifting for women. Emboldened by my healthy selections, I continued down the aisle, selecting books containing recipes for low-fat, low-salt and low-sugar dishes. I stopped, rested against the book shelf (hey, I haven't lost any weight yet!) and in all likelihood bore a countenance radiating with bliss as I imagined myself actually fitting into that "little black dress" from my twenties, being interviewed by Oprah concerning my stunning weight loss success and being coerced to decide between modeling job offers…until my gaze drifted slightly to the right.  There was extremely serious temptation in the form of a pastry cookbook!  I thought to myself, "Courage, Muriel, courage!"

I glanced further to my right for renewed strength for my new healthy resolve, only to have my eyes fall upon a title for creams and sauces from around the world! I quickly (well, as quickly as my extra poundage will permit) ran down that aisle and mercifully noticed a book on cosmetics for the mature woman.

I seized the book with the same amount of gratitude, I imagine, a drowning entity seizes a life raft! Having performed as much exercise for the day as I deemed prudent, I proceeded to prepare for a typical day at the library. In my rather altruistic desire to spare anyone else who is doing battle with the weight loss demons the peril of being confronted with books loaded with oh-so-sweet temptations, please find enumerated below a listing of books that might prove helpful in said battle.    


Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

Comedy + tragedy = a great blog post!

Thank you for writing such an unusual, witty, and memorable post. Here's hoping that this is one of many steps you take on the road to publication!

Post new comment