I make my home in Southern California and if you aren’t already aware, we are probably the beauty/fitness Mecca of the world. I live very near a beach community and believe me when I tell you, we are bombarded on every side with images of young, beautiful people trying to convince us that the fountain of youth can be ours if only we take the right supplements, drink the right potions, use the right hair color, join the right gym, slather on the right moisturizer, wear the right clothes, apply the right make-up and eat the right foods. Whew! ‘Sounds like a full-time job, right? Because it is.
Before you feel the urge to start defending any of these practices, let me assure you, I subscribe to a number of them. I try to eat right, I have a gym membership and I still throw a little paint on the barn once I’ve applied my moisturizer. So, don’t get your hackles up just yet. Although I no longer color my hair, I still pay regularly for a great cut, so, be assured, I’m not advocating lack of self-care and/or looking your best. I still aim for that bullseye.
What has changed for me in the last several years, is my motivation. For most of my life I did all of those things hoping to meet a standard that was mostly unattainable. Sadly, that didn’t keep me from chasing that rabbit. I’m pretty sure I have been on nearly every diet known to man. My hair has been every color in the rainbow. Heck, I even went pink three years ago, for a hot minute! I worked out hoping for firm thighs and the end of cellulite. That was never fully realized. But, when I retired prematurely a couple of years ago, largely for health reasons, the impetus for self-care changed.
A couple of visits to the ER and Urgent care revealed that my blood pressure and cholesterol were both crazy high and I was deemed “pre-diabetic.” Predictably, the docs wanted me to immediately go on medications to address my symptoms. Fortunately, I found a physician who agreed that I would first attempt to change those numbers by instituting new habits pertaining to diet and exercise. Overnight, my new goal was to be healthy! I wanted be able to live my life as long as possible without prescription drugs. I did so under a physician’s care and had I not had positive results, I would certainly have taken prescribed medications to address the issues at hand. I was very fortunate and for the time being, I still take no prescription medications. That said, I will continue to monitor my health and respond appropriately in the future should medication become necessary.
Today my weekly routine includes two to three low impact aerobics classes and usually at least one Zumba or other dance class that I enjoy. I also walk with a group of women one morning a week where we complete a 5K together, enjoying the ocean view while getting our heart rates up. The coffee meet up afterward is icing on the cake, without the calories. The husband and I walk our dogs together daily, too. I seriously guard my scheduled work out times and when I set aside time to do so, I aim to make it worth the time I’ve dedicated to it. I work hard. I’ve also vowed to consciously eat less meat, sugar and fatty foods while consuming more fruit, veggies and fiber. I’m not a huge fan of cooked veggies but I’ve learned to incorporate them into hot soups and eat more salads, less bread and fewer desserts. Diet sodas have been replaced with flavored mineral water and sweet treats are fewer and far between.
The results? I am no longer pre-diabetic. My blood pressure has dropped substantially as have my cholesterol counts. In the latter months of 2017 I shed 14 pounds with the help of a great APP’ called LOSE IT. (Find it in the APP store!) I am healthier than I’ve been in decades and I’m wearing an entire new wardrobe that’s been patiently waiting in my closet to fit me again and my husband is thrilled with my improved appearance. My Apple Watch was a great investment for me, reminding me ten minutes before every waking hour if I’ve been sedentary too long. It’s a gentle nudge that keeps me moving and shooting to “fill my rings” on the fitness application.
As new habits have become more routine, many of the lenses I once viewed life through have been adjusted. I no longer compare myself to others who may be younger or thinner or don’t have smile lines around their mouths and eyes. I now see those as marks of contentment. When greater health became the goal, my appearance changed for the better as an after product. I will never be a waif of a gal, nor will my waist ever compare with Scarlett O’Hara’s. Today, I am more than okay with that. I recognize there is more to life than how I look. Far more. I am abundantly aware that I have everything I need and many things I don’t. There’s a lot of icing on my cake. I am not wealthy by standards of our culture, but, I am rich. Filthy rich. (kudos to Francis Chan for making that crystal clear)
This life is such an adventure and I don’t want to miss any of it. I may fall off the wagon on occasion, but, like the main character in the animated feature, “Finding Dory,” I intend to keep swimming!
What are you waiting for? Jump in! The water’s fine.