Whenever someone learns that I lost more than forty-five pounds at age fifty-four, one of the first questions they ask is, “Do you exercise a lot every day?”
The truth is, you cannot exercise away a bad diet. I do not go to the gym or take classes or do any particular routine on a regular basis. I do move with purpose throughout the day. Sitting at my desk for more than an hour is a rarity. Going for a long brisk walk when the weather is agreeable, is by far my favorite exercise. More importantly, I incorporate lots of stair climbing, fast walking and stretching into all of my waking hours.
For example, while washing dishes (I have a washer but rarely use it), I stand on one foot while doing side leg extensions with the other because I want to remain mindful of balance and posture. This often repeated habit also builds core strength. Flexibility, balance, and strength can diminish with age and less activity. While sitting at my desk, I often extend and slowly lift one leg at a time, engaging the muscles of my core and thighs to do so. These are slow, controlled movements.
You will never see me circling the lot, in search of the space closest to the building. I park far away from the door and walk briskly to the building. While I am in the store, I stride past all the processed, boxed, bagged and canned foods. That is perhaps the most important “exercise” of all. We often enjoy a date night or evening at a restaurant with friends. These are not occasions to treat myself with every decadent dish on the menu. I often order a salad with a side of steamed vegetables, skip the bread and share a few bites of a dessert with Mr. Mickey. I eat smaller portions and drink lots of water every day. My daily diet includes many fresh vegetables and leafy greens (just wash them, slice them and arrange them on a plate, no recipe required.) Fresh fruit, grains, nuts, and seeds are breakfast.
I do not “save” trips. If something needs to go upstairs, I take the steps two at a time and put that something where it belongs. I clean my house, often and with gusto. My kitchen gets mopped daily. The bathrooms get cleaned daily. The rugs get vacuumed three or more times each week. The wood floors get dust mopped three or more times a week. Sitting in front of the TV has never been something I could do for more than a few minutes, so I don’t even have cable. I haven’t turned on my TV in a year.
The reason I gained so much weight several times in my life, was that I did not understand the power of nutrition and regular vigorous movement throughout my day. I was tricked into believing that aging meant gaining weight and having lots of aches and pains (even in my forties!). My physical and psychological health were negatively affected by eating the wrong things and too much of them. I also moved through my days like a slug. I had no energy and rarely slept for more than three or four hours, so I was always tired. I weighed more than two hundred pounds in my early forties, so I understand first hand when women tell me how difficult it is for them to make positive changes. Start slow. Go for a walk, even if it is in your home. Walk or dance around your apartment for ten minutes. Tomorrow, aim for fifteen minutes. Do not drink a soda today. Eat a raw vegetable and a piece of fruit today. Drink a full glass of water. Right this minute is always an excellent time to start taking care of you.
On this date night we each had one glass of wine and we shared an appetizer sized vegetarian pizza. The long jacket and coated jeans are old from Chico’s. The black top is by Covered Perfectly. I didn’t wear a necklace or scarf because there was enough going on with shoes. They are old by French Connection. What you see me wearing here on the blog, may be offered for sale on my shopping site here tomorrow.