Wednesday, February 4, 2009
Oh, the follies of youth: A time when so many of us think that aging and its inherent physical afflictions will never touch us -- or, if we do acknowledge its eventuality, we manage to fool ourselves into thinking that getting older is something that happens a long way down the line.
Well, let me tell you something. It happens practically overnight.
In my younger years, I was one of those who could pretty much eat and drink whatever she liked and still maintain a very svelte figure. Exercise? During the 80s when Jane Fonda-style aerobics were in vogue, I gave that a go a few times, but it was more about wearing those adorable leg warmers, shimmery Lycra leotards and headbands (ha!) than about actually sweating (God forbid!).
Reaching back even further into my childhood, I suppose I was a normal, active kid. I was always riding a bicycle or dribbling a basketball or running around the neighborhood with the other naughty kids on my block. I was never much for participating in team sports, although I did briefly play on a girls' softball team. I stood in the outfield and prayed without ceasing for the person at bat to hit that ball anywhere but towards me. I didn't like playing the game, but I desperately wanted to fit in with the other girls on the field. I was also one of those kids who brought notes from home, as an avoidance technique when the P.E. teacher had us running laps around the backstops during recess. Yeah, you remember the type -- "But I can't run! My asthma is acting up again!"
Fast forward to my 30s (well, that didn't take long! I told you -- it sneaks up and bites you right in the big ol' butt), when I found myself weighing much more than I ever thought I would. Years of engaging in junk food orgies really takes its toll. As a New Year resolution, I joined a gym and began walking, both on the treadmill and outdoors. Combined with a restricted and highly regimented diet, I quickly began to lose weight and was thrilled at the way I felt so very in control of my body. I began walking in 5K events, and one morning when I showed up to participate in our annual Cowtown 10K, I arrived at the starting line late. Instead of entering with the group of walkers where I belonged, I inadvertently fell into line among a group of hardcore Marines who were running the route, and in order to avoid being completely trampled to death, I ran too. Amazingly, I loved how it felt to run, and thus began a lengthy love affair with the sport of running that endured until my knees finally called it quits. During this time, I also took up hiking, and my strong legs took me to some spectacularly beautiful, remote locations, as Dad and I made numerous father/daughter treks to the backcountry regions of the southwest.
Somewhere along the way, I met Rocky, who was a personal trainer at the time of our meeting. Under his tutelage, I went from being a skinny, stringy runner to a muscled and sculpted athlete (at least as much of an athlete as I've ever been), and I reveled in having a taut, toned, able body.
What is it they say about how falling in love makes people happy ... and fat? Folks, it really happens! Rocky and I both grew lazy and hedonistic when it came to food and drink, and the pounds quickly crept back up. And up. And up.
While I didn't quite hit my highest weight, I came very close, and after my gallbladder surgery last year, I decided that enough was enough. This weight simply had to come off, and most importantly, I had to keep it off. That is still my goal, and my daily focus is to eat nutritious foods (I am predominantly vegan, although I must confess that cheese is my bitch; or maybe I'm actually cheese's bitch ... at any rate, I'm still hooked) and exercise as many days during the week as I possibly can. Within the past year, I've dropped around 25 pounds, and while I am happy to have achieved that success, I'd still really like to shed about 10 more. And the last 5 or 10 can be so stubborn!
So ... I write these words to remind myself of where I've been in my relationship to diet and exercise, and how I have been able to reach my goals when I set them concretely and pursued them diligently. I'll endeavor to keep up these healthy habits that I've once again revisited, and maintain a vision of my body in peak performance as a reminder of what I want to achieve. I'll also try my level-headed best not to judge myself too harshly. I'll be 47 years old this year, and will never look exactly as I did in my 30s. While that's sometimes a rather bitter pill to swallow, I'm going to try my damnedest to make peace with that fact.
I'm just going to be the best me that I can be now. And that's a worthy goal. Right?