After nearly 34 years together, I was proud and happy to consider what to give my wife for her 60th birthday.

I have learned over the years that life is very precious, and celebrating such a milestone birthday is a present in and of itself.

I started to ponder some of the benefits of being together for 34 years, such as having celebrated birthdays when she was getting her doctorate, in her hospital training days, and as our family grew from the two of us to three and then to four.

It is hard to imagine that, as of her birthday on May 12, I have slept each night with my wife in five different decades.

How lucky.

But what to get her for her 60th birthday?

We are not the kind of couple who gives special gifts on these occasions. Most of the time they become weekends during which we pretend we are retired and do whatever we want. It is great fun and practice for when we do retire.

But I'd inadvertently been working on a very special gift for Debbie for the past seven years. It is a gift that gives her more peace of mind, more covers at night and more space on the plane when we fly.

This gift makes it easier to move me about in case I have surgery or an accident. It promises more fun in the yard as we do our seasonal cleanup and less anxiety when we prepare for our medical checkups.

I gave her what I was never able to even imagine I could give her. For her 60th birthday, Debbie got a husband who is in the best shape of his life. I'd been working on this goal for my own 60th birthday last April. Now it has turned out to be a gift for Debbie as well.

As we age, working to be in the best shape for the new extended life expectancy is certainly worth the peace of mind that comes with it.

The thought of recovering from an injury or illness is much more manageable now without the extra 44 pounds that I shed in my journey to become fit. Yardwork is actually fun and just another part of outdoor exercising. I don't bulge into part of her seat on the plane, and my body doesn't take as much blanket to cover it.

We now view annual checkups with optimism at the prospect of finding out how much better we're doing. Most importantly, I've found that exercise is a great stress reliever, so we are now both stressed out much less often.

All in all, Debbie appreciates the benefits of me putting in the time to work toward a Men's Health magazine body, with the guidance for the past year of personal trainer Sam Kappel.

At any age, it is the gift that keeps on giving.

Enjoy the journey,


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