Saturday, January 20, 2007

one foot in the grave
get back in shape and experience the Outdoors



When you have something precious, the only way to go is to take good care of it.

Many say that they can no longer participate in such activities such as hiking—they are ‘too old’. They adopt the ‘can’t do—give up’ mindset and jump up on the ‘it’s part of growing old’ bandwagon. They then live the last twenty or thirty years of their life with one foot in the grave. Ever notice that these people are the one’s not doing much to help themselves? The older we get the more important exercise is. There are a couple things some of us have learned over the years. One is that if we are dealing with something that has moving parts and we do not take care of it—it starts to break down. The other thing is that if we start to work on it—it begins to work better—be it an old car or one’s body. There are all kinds of little things we can do to keep active. Many of them do not seem to make much of a difference but taken all together, they can really tone up our body—the home of our soul while here on earth. Many feel that they are so out of shape that it is hopeless. I almost felt this way after my transplant. After six weeks in a hospital bed, tethered there with a Hickman line down into my heart, every muscle in my body atrophied. But stop and think. Maybe the physical body is not the major problem. Maybe one first has to strengthen one’s mind and spirit (and I’m not taking about religion or a supreme being here). One’s head is what’s going to get the physical body off its butt and make the commitment. One needs to develop self-respect and discipline.

Simple observation and common sense will tell one that the mere fact that one is growing old is not the key factor. The key factor is disuse. All too many stop being active by the time they are forty. One’s tendons, ligaments, muscles, and bones all become weaker with disuse. Often one then packs thirty pounds or more of excess weight onto this weakened structure and, of course, there are going to be aches and pains, stiffness, weakness, shortness of breath, trouble sleeping, and what have you. It’s a given. One has the responsibility to take care of their own health—to take care of what has been given to you.

Some finally realize that this is no way to live and start doing something about it. It might be best to initially loose the excess weight and start walking. Just begin to eat with a semblance of restraint and get down to a healthy weight. Then start building some strength, flexibility, and endurance. MANY just as old and older than yourself have done this. I have a friend who stopped smoking when in her fifties, started to lose weight and exercise in her sixties, is now in her eighties, and can still go out for a 6 mile hike all above 6,000’. She also believes that if one does not learn something new from time to time—one might as well be dead. She’s learned to use a computer, a GPS, and has a decent handle on Spanish. Makes a stellar role model.

It’s important to realize that active living is more important the older we get. For inspiration, talk to people who have taken back some control of their health. If there are not any in your crowd, go to a running race and talk with entrants in the sixty, seventy, and eighty year old classes. Or visit one of the senior games (http://www.nsga.com/DesktopDefault.aspx) or transplant games (www.transplantgames.com) to see what can be accomplished if one works at it. It will definitely take a number of months or in my case, a few years to get back in shape but one will have a much better quality of life for years to come. Others will then see that you truly appreciate what you have been given and accept the responsibility of taking care of it. One can also look at exercise as ‘giving thanks’. It helps me get out the door in the mornings since I’m not going out to ‘exercise’.

To exist in a functioning body is a magnificent gift and to keep reasonably fit honors the sacredness of that gift.

“I would hate myself if I ever got fat, stared at TV every night, and sat in a passive park by day.” Anne LaBastille in Woodswoman.

The ten most powerful two-letter words: If it is to be, it is up to me.

RVwest article ‘Following a Free Spirit’
FOR INDEX OF POSTINGS GO TO JULY 2006