Friday, February 10, 2017

One full month into the new year, and it’s time for a status report. How are all of those very ambitious changes you pledged to make? By now, you should be able to tell what’s going to work, and what was just a whim.

Over the years, I’ve tried many things to become healthier. My role model in this effort was my mother. Pictures of my beautiful mom when my sister and I were small reflect the added weight of having one baby right after the other. After many efforts failed, she finally crossed state lines to consult with a doctor who prescribed some rather controversial weight loss medicine. She did lose weight quickly. I remember that she would often hoist a heavy sewing machine to remind herself of the burden she had removed from her life. I do remember, though that she had a problem with her hair thinning rather drastically, even requiring her to wear a hair-piece for awhile. Could this have been caused by those diet pills?

My own adventures in dieting were memorable as well. Though I never tackled the hot dog and boiled egg diet (just typing that makes my stomach churn), I did spend several weeks on a strict regimen. This one had been recommended by the famous Mayo Clinic, and involved a surplus of protein and fat, followed by an acidic drink to cut through and move the calories. Each day was supposed to begin with three eggs and four slices of bacon. The other two meals were heavy on meats, and vegetables, in any color but white. No potatoes, no rice, no bread, no milk products. The kicker- each meal was followed by either half a grapefruit, or a full glass of grapefruit juice. I remember this plan brought some good results, but the lack of variety and the bacon and egg overkill got old very quickly.

Nowadays, there are many choices when it comes to a diet plan. One very popular program has you paying for education and suggestions on the right foods to eat, along with a weekly weigh-in and encouragement session. It has worked for millions of people. Another brings pre-packaged meals directly to your door. If you eat only the foods you have purchased from them all day every day, you are guaranteed to lose weight. I see one problem with both of these. Me. I know me well enough to see that I would become restless with the strict routine, and the financial investment would begin to be a burden, especially if I wasn’t seeing the results I expected.

Of course, the food we eat is only part of the equation. The other big life-style change is adding exercise to our daily schedule. In our Ouachita area hometown, we have a shiny new gym where the bowling alley used to be. With its wonderful new machines and attractive prices, many of our neighbors have taken advantage of the opportunity to shape up and feel better. The parking lot is still packed most evenings, and it looks like many resolutions are still alive and well.

One of the healthiest times in my recent past was when I rose very early on two or three week-days, put on my exercise outfit and packed my makeup and work clothes for the trip to Little Rock. Once at the gym, I joined several other early risers for a very energetic hour of dance moves to a Latin beat: Zumba. I was amazed at how good it felt to be on my feet and moving. Hopefully, the other participants were able to ignore the rather chunky old lady flopping around in the back row, and I didn’t give any of them a traumatic start to their day. Then, I would shower and dress in their very nice facility, and get to work with time to spare.

Alas, a job change made trips to that gym impractical, and then, I developed arthritis in my knee. The physical therapist and the doctor agreed, no more gyrations. The best exercise was a stationary bicycle. The following Christmas, Santa Claus helped out, and my daily workout can now be accomplished just a few steps away from my bedroom.

My goal in all of this is two-fold. First, I am trying to keep my “numbers” good. Each year, when I go for my annual physical, my blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure numbers are within the limits my doctor expects. The only “bad” number is the actual weight. There is still work to do.

Secondly, I want to be able to continue to move well enough to enjoy life. Last summer, I was able to keep up with my grands fairly well for three Disney days. However, on our recent cruise, I had to make sure to consider health and stamina when we selected excursions in the port cities. Maybe next time, I could participate in some of the mildly physical ones, like horseback riding or snorkeling without trying to find a local crane operator to assist in getting me up and down. Yes, more work to do.

To enjoy life, you must remove some of the stress. Whatever is weighing you down, whether it is physical or emotional, take some measures to make a change. Your solution will not be the same as mine, or anyone else’s. Do what works for you. The dog days of winter will soon give way to a beautiful Ouachita spring, and you want to be ready! Take care, and we’ll catch up again soon.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

2017- Uncharted Waters

When we were younger, the arrival of a new year was all about the celebration. When I was still in high school, our local movie theater sponsored an American Graffiti marathon on New Year’s Eve. That was also the year of a huge ice storm in my Southeast Kansas hometown. So, after watching the inspiration for the Happy Days TV series four or five times, we ventured out into the icy streets. My boyfriend’s mom had some treats prepared at his house, and instead of asking our parents to drive on the glassy pavement, we decided to walk (slide) the several blocks from the main drag. Another friend showed up with bottle rockets, which whizzed down the empty streets for what seemed like miles. An exciting, explosive celebration for sure!
          After a move to Arkansas, and finding the right man to marry, the New Year’s celebrations continued. When our kids were small, we took advantage of willing grandparents for overnight visits, and tried out some area restaurants for some special nights out. Then, as the youngsters got older, we challenged them to stay up until the ball dropped, and consumed lots of frozen pizza and cheese dip at home.
          When our nest began to empty, hubby and I ventured across the country for a visit with some friends who had moved to the East Coast. Arriving at the airport just before midnight, we welcomed the new year in a Waffle House between Baltimore and Washington. On that same trip, we enjoyed a brunch cruise on the Potomac. Great scenery, and memories to last a lifetime.
          Somewhere along the way, the turning of the calendar page became less about the party, and more about what the new year might bring. We looked back on varying levels of our kids’ education, and forward to what it would take to finish. Significant others came into the family, and talk of weddings and then grandbabies filled up our calendars and our New Year’s Eve brains. New countdowns emerged, as we realized that long-scheduled retirement benefits might actually be within reach, and we plotted the last day of our long-held jobs, and what might happen afterwards.
          Dick Clark, the poster child for the Peter Pan dream of never growing old, did exactly that, and after a last display of bravery, gave his seat in Times Square over to Ryan Secrest.  The world would never be the same.
          So, this year, along with the rest of the “last gasp” Baby Boomers, our ages will begin with the numeral six. A strange place to be. Just yesterday, we were putting on our new P.F. Flyers and zooming up and down on our Christmas bicycles with their banana seats and butterfly handlebars.  These days, we spend much more time in our recliners, saving our strength for the nine to five routines that we just can’t let go of yet.
          Once again, we are too busy looking forward to spend much time glancing back. For a few days in the first month of the year, we will be cruising in the warm Caribbean sun while most of you are shivering in the Ouachita winter weather. Before too long, we plan to return to Florida to meet our sixth grandbaby. There will most likely be a week devoted to Granny Camp, when we gather as many of the kids as possible for some wonderful chaos. The oldest grandson is now a musician, so we hope to be in the audience for some of his concerts and competitions. These coming events promise to be ten times more exciting than any one night celebration.
          From past experience, we know that there will be some surprises, some setbacks along the way. But, rather than dreading these things, we can take them in stride. There is very little that life can throw our way that can’t be handled with a little extra prayer.

          This year, I hope you find happiness in your own life, as you continue to enjoy my rambling thoughts. If you are so inclined, drop me a line in care of Ouachita Life. It helps a writer to know that someone is out there reading and reacting. There is no way to know what the voyage into 2017 will bring, but won’t it be fun to embark together!