I am here to tell you that I am not the picture of super active, high energy, boomer or retiree. In fact, I am in awe of fellow bloggers and retirees who climb mountains, run marathons, bike race and the like. That is not me. In truth, that was NEVER me, even when I was younger, thinner and more active.
Other than jogging in combat boots on pavement during my military career (which ruined my knee for life) I have never been a physical person. I've ridden a bike more than the average person-but that was casually, around town. I walked a great deal-because I lived in Europe and places where things were in walking distance and/or I was walking as a tourist. I never even played a sport in school.
When I decided to lose weight, I learned a great deal about facts and myths of fitness, weight issues and what constitutes healthy eating. I also learned about all the generalities out there about what people think. Even when I weighed less, my experience was that doctors answers to many ills were "eat less and exercise". I had a knee that was damaged by a fall, and that was still one doctor's answer to my woes. What's worse, I learned along the way that most doctors have no nutritional training and almost no sports physiology training. Unfortunately, I also learned that most of those physical trainers at fitness centers also have no training in dealing with less than perfect bodies. Not knowing any better, I allowed one gal to have me doing knee presses-the result of which was my being almost unable to walk for months and screams from my orthopod that could be heard in the next state.
Eventually, I found a doctor who sent me to a nutritionist. Add that to the fact that I have a daughter with a degree in holistic health specializing in nutrition and some sensible exercise guidance from (of all people) a physiotherapist and I was back on track. The end result-I am no expert on high energy lifestyle. I have though, managed to learn through trial and error about healthy living for the rest of us...............or at least for myself.
One thing I learned early on is that health is more important than weight, or fitness per se. I repeat that to myself all the time. I don't care about losing weight, I care about becoming more healthy. If weight loss occurs, that is super de dooper, but I am looking to become a healthy person. Society obsesses too much over weight and I did not want to become that person. I will never be 125 lbs or climb a mountain. I wanted to be a healthier me, not someone else.
Misconceptions about weight (and what is healthy) are everywhere. Being overweight is not necessarily being obese. Heavy people can be healthy and fit. Thinner does not always mean healthier. And people who don't have issues with their weight have absolutely no concept in general of what those of us who are just a little overweight deal with. Large women can be sexy....TMI I know, but I could go on. As a overweight person I never had cholesterol or high blood pressure issues until I was sixty, and I regularly walked the whole of the Washington Mall from one end to the other and back.
I learned that you can't be overwhelmed by the exercise thing. You NEED thirty minutes moderate aerobic exercise every week, and researchers now know that you can divide that into ten minute increments and still have benefits. I tend to walk thirty minutes five days or on occasion jump into the pool. If you exercise even more intensely (say, play tennis or "exercise walk") you may need less. This doesn't have to be at a gym, it can be walking around your neighborhood, driving to the store, pushing your lawn mower. If you only have time, walk fifteen minutes twice a day. Don't let the neighbor who jogs five miles after work make you feel like an underachiever. If you do that, my experience says you'll end up doing nothing.
Common wisdom aside, little things DO matter in eating or exercise. When I was recovering from my injury but not leaving the house, I would make it a game to be less than efficient around the house, spending ten minutes carrying things from room to room to put away, just to get more movement. Something is aways better than nothing
An old friend once told me that if I continued to exercise at the local fitness center, I would become addicted. My answer to that is still no, not a chance. There are many days I have to force myself to walk. Still, I do feel better when I walk, so in a sense it is part of my routine.
For me, it was not just about the aerobic benefits. Walking was not enough. Especially as we age, we need to build strength and healthy bones. This was the hardest part for me. I finally found an online routine that allowed me to do this one sitting, with bands. I still don't follow through with this twice a week. It's an ongoing challenge......
Common wisdom says to exercise with a friend. I actually found that I prefer to walk alone. This seems to be the time when I am most creative with my mental calculator at work. For me, I don't want to have to talk with someone-even though I leave semi alone, this has become my me time, I guess.
When it came to food, I simply decided I would eat more healthily and see what happened. For me, this meant eating a large salad before dinner and lunch, and increasing my fruits and veggies to more than five. I also lowered fat except for butter (low fat cream cheese, sour cream, cheese and salad dressing). I also tried to give up on "fake" food, which meant I cut way down on soda (my cold caffeine). It also meant though that I still eat real sugar, because I don't eat artificial things.
I continue to strive to be more healthy-I include exercise on a daily basis and eat healthy foods, while still enjoying gourmet food and my baking addiction. My numbers have gone down, my stamina has increased and my retirement life is full. Along the way I lost a great deal of weight (seventy pounds), no weight, and then some weight here and there. The end result is that I am a healthier, if not thin, me. That's what it's all about, after all.