Husband becomes a fitness role model

"Be careful what for you wish for, because you just might get it."

That phrase applies to what's happening with me — and my husband. Over the years, I've talked often and enthusiastically (there are other ways he may describe it — "obsessively" comes to mind) about the importance of making better, more informed, choices about what foods we eat and how much exercise we get.

In the process, dessert has disappeared from our menus (other than those special occasions, and those too-sweet portions are always small.) Potatoes are gone. Red meat is rare (not rare in the sense of red and juicy "¦ never that, but only an infrequent indulgence). We read labels, eat a lot of veggies and take fast-paced walks several times a week. And so it goes.

I thought I would "step it up" (at least that's the phrase I think I used on his birthday card) by getting the two of us a membership in a local health club. It's been a cold and rainy winter and walking was sometimes icy, treacherous. It made sense to me to have indoor exercise options. Little did I realize the idea, my "gift of health" (did I actually put that on the card too?), would be so well-received. This is where I get to the "be careful what you ask for" part.

I knew things were changing when I found Speedo swimming trunks in the laundry. There was a lot more laundry too — and it was kind of damp and perspirey.

Our dinner table conversations started to involve the length of a swim or how much weight had been bench-pressed that day. The renewal for the health club membership came in the mail and my spouse paid it without any discussion, other than asking, "Don't you think you should start going there occasionally?" Ouch.

A book on "Stretching for Fifty+" came in the mail, too. That same day I observed him doing leg squats — in the kitchen. Now, don't get me wrong, I love this new 65+ body that's emerging and I'm incredibly proud of his focus and self-discipline. I'm also a little intimidated.

If I can get past this (and I will) and focus on what's really happening, I think it's a lesson in the power of behavioral modeling. Any time you observe someone you admire (especially an age peer) exhibiting behaviors you'd like to emulate, you integrate that in some small way. And slowly over time it becomes a part of your thinking — and ultimately it may become part of your actions.

There's another way to approach this. My husband and I traveled in Europe this past year. In London one of the big drugstores (Boots) has an advertising campaign referred to as "Change One Thing" (, which touts making just one small "healthier change" in your life. It's not at all intimidating.

We always have choices. As for me and my hubby, we're off to "the club." I'll start with some simple stretching and see where it leads me. After all, if I do this well I can rationalize having too-sweet desserts more often.

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