My dad’s last few years of his life were pretty unpleasant for him, healthwise. Things had deteriorated to the point where he was pretty much housebound and in a lot of discomfort most of the time. Now, my dad was not exactly a health conscious kind of guy; he smoked until his 60s, he enjoyed his beer a bit too much and he never met a pork chop he didn’t’ like. Really, considering how appallingly he looked after himself, it’s a bit of a miracle it took 75 years to catch up to him. But catch up with him it did. He had heart problems and some crippling arthritis, and believe me, both of those made life very difficult for him.
I realize that there are not insurance policies when it comes to one’s health. You can take all the vitamins you want and run marathons regularly, but there’s a certain amount of chance that you really just can’t avoid. (Look at Lynda McCartney….the woman grew her own organic vegetables for goodness sake, and she still died from breast cancer. I mean, if she can’t avoid it, who can? Why not throw your hands up and have the cheeseburger? With bacon?)
But clearly, there’s a few things you do have some control over, and I am willing to concede that diet and exercise are two of them; nobody’s life is better when they are carrying an extra 50 pounds on them. I hate to admit it, because I am very predisposed to eating cheesecake for breakfast and staying in bed and reading all day. The worst part of my day is spent at the gym.
After my dad died, I figured I have likely another 30 years on this earth, and I could spend them like him, or like my mum, who is 81, walks without aid, is sharp as a tack and doesn’t even take naps.
So, I went back to Weight Watchers and I called the gym to book a personal trainer for a few sessions. Before this, technically, I went to the gym two or three times a week, but I think to say I “worked out” would be generous…..I watched tv while I strolled on the treadmill and halfheartedly flung the machines around on the lowest weight settings, but that’s about it. Better than nothing, but only a tiny bit better than nothing.
Weight Watchers and I are old friends, we stay in touch and occasionally have a coffee and catch up, but we haven’t had much of a real conversation in the last few years. I decided to go back to the meetings, and you know, actually do what they told me to to do. Its amazing what can happen when you start paying attention to what you are putting in your mouth. A revelation, I know.
I went to the gym and had a guy named Travis (why are all personal trainers named Travis? Or Britney?) give me some guidance and firm but gentle encouragement (“Yes, you have to do this every time. No, I’m not kidding. Yes, three times a week. No, I’m not kidding about that either. Listen, nobody’s making you do this. Here’s a Kleenex, please stop crying.”) Travis gave me some concrete goals to work towards and made me come back to him every so often to see how I was doing. And as someone who places far too much value on other people’s opinions, I have to say, this really worked for me. ( I cannot tell you how much I loathe the usual approach to “motivation” that the fitness industry usually employs. When someone, anyone, but especially someone dressed in spandex yells “FASTER” at me so close that I can feel their kale-breath on my neck, my inclination is to lie down in the fetal position and pretend to be dead until they go away. It’s the same think I would do if approached by a grizzly bear, FYI.)
And guess what? The clothes fit a bit better. My knees don't hurt anymore. I sleep better. I have more energy at work. All the things they told me would happen if I lost 20 pounds.
I still don’t love the gym, and I really do want that third piece of pizza, but its also clear to me that there is a bigger payoff here, and I can choose it or not. (And as Big Liver Girl says, life is all about choices.)
But, every now and again, I still get to lay in bed eating cheesecake. I am, after all, my father’s daughter.