We Thought It Couldn’t Be Done (especially when you love to eat as much as we do)
Seven months and three weeks ago today we started to walk, and walk, and walk, and walk—and only missed four days since then, two due to illness, two due to snow.
It was a conspiracy of doctors that finally got me going, and Susan. In the past year and a half, having a variety of maladies—none at all serious, just old man maintenance (sorry Ruth)—at the end of each visit, they all said the same thing. You could lose a little weight. Not a big deal, they didn’t use a club, they all knew, after so many years, that I had heard it all before, so maybe just a little hint to get me going. I always shrugged and smiled, and said to them and to myself, sure thing, never believing I would.
Until seven months and three weeks ago, when Susan once again reminded me how, when we got married, there was this seventeen-year difference in our age, and how she wasn’t about to have me go first. And then there was the nonstop nagging of body parts that were always acting up. Nothing serious, as I said, but damn annoying: afib, peripheral neuropathy, sleep apnea, recurring back pains—in short, life, with Susan having her share as well. I never bring any of this up in conversation, except with Susan, as she has her own challenges, ones we share without boring each other to death, although that sometimes happens.
And so, even with excellent health care, and good meds, we persisted, but in a way, not adding joy to our lives–until seven months and three weeks ago. I’m betting a bazillion people have read the tons of advice in articles about the benefits of walking. After being so acutely aware, you’d think we would have started years ago. But it always seemed like such a little thing—half hour a day, to start. One of Susan’s best friends, on a visit last year, reminded us—it’s only a half hour, and believe it or not, that has become our mantra.
Once we started, we decided on a few other things: like eating healthier, an even more challenging scenario for two people who love to eat. Looking back at our lives overseas, we could trace a lot of our ups and downs with food, to the places we lived. When there wasn’t much to do in Saudi, we walked around our compound, again and again and again. Next up Germany: bread pork beer bread pork beer bread pork beer bread pork beer.
And when we first moved home, the flood gates, or should I say, the gates to the bakeries drew us in, as did the gargantuan servings at restaurants everywhere we went. In Norway you could count twelve different kinds of cereal on the cereal shelf, few with sugar added. Back home, at a Safeway store, we counted 256 different brands of cereal. At my first trip to the doctor, surprise surprise—sleep apnea, irregular heartbeat, and some other minor health skirmishes, all to do with weight gain. And now, all starting to get much better, with the walking.
Not to mention our dedication to almost eliminating sugar, processed foods, much smaller portions of everything, more fruit, and next to no red meat. It ain’t brain surgery, and IT AIN’T BEEN EASY, but we do indulge every once in a while. But the benefits, between the two of us, in addition to losing a total of over 50 lbs., have been astounding.
- I can walk up and down stairs without using a handrail and without losing my breath
- I can keep up with Susan, a most embarrassing thing in the past few years, as she is nine inches shorter than me
- I can stand for a very long time without sitting, as my legs are beginning to feel like tree trunks.
- All of my movements are more precise, powerful, and vigorous.
- None of my pants fit anymore, and even my fat boy pants, the ones with a draw string, take a full five minute to cinch up.
- This might be a small thing, but I can now step off a curb without having to turn and place my foot flat on the street. My legs are now strong enough.
- . . .and on and on, Susan having her own list as well.
And all this without machines, which I hate, no extreme exercises or exercise routines or diets, and only Zumba for Susan two or three times a week. Not condemning in any way any program that works for people, I am just too lazy to conform to any of them. The walking routine has become so much an automatic part of our life, we don’t even question it. When one of us says, at least once a week, “I don’t want to go today, “we are already lacing up our great new walking shoes as we head out. We have walked in every kind of rotten weather Portland throws at us, except those days when we couldn’t even stand up on the ice.
And most importantly for us: we do it together, because if we didn’t, we
wouldn’t do it. It can be done, not necessarily with fad exercise regimens and diets, but with will power—something that has always been in short supply for me. I have never appreciated how hard it is for people to lose weight until I made a concerted effort—IT IS DAMN HARD!!!!!! And it didn’t start out as a weight loss program for us. Our concern was for a much healthier lifestyle, fewer trips to the doctor(s), and somehow, miraculously, outlasting Susan. Weight loss has been a fringe benefit, one that many think should not be a goal in itself. That might be true, but so far, we love it.