One year and one month ago, on my 59th birthday, I made a public declaration that I was taking my life and health back. I would exercise daily, eat well, lose weight, and take charge of lowering my blood pressure, sugar, and cholesterol.
I was going to ride my bicycle, walk three miles daily, bend myself into yoga positions, and maybe even do some old-fashioned sit-ups. That was my plan. I was determined to stick to my regimen. I expected that I would be lighter, healthier, and happier at the end of one year.
Then, of course, the Universe intervened and interrupted my well-thought-out life plan that I had made…the one that included only me…the one that put ME first…the one that I thought would be the very best for me. The Universe merely laughed at my plans and threw a few obstacles in my path.
My single-mom daughter took another job in another town in another state. At the time of my lifestyle change declaration, she and my (then two-year-old) granddaughter lived approximately three city-blocks away from me. I offered to go along with them to be the live-in nanny-cook-and laundress.
Within one month of my sincere vow to lose weight, lower my blood pressure, blah…blah…blah… I also moved to another town in another state. And I started another job, if you could call it that. I stayed with my energetic, curious, and talkative red-haired granddaughter every day…all day.
Therefore I was Grandma, Interrupted.
There was no time for bike riding. There was no opportunity to go to yoga classes. There was no way I could do pre-planned exercise routines. My plans changed by the minute, ruled by the needs and whims of a two-, then three-year-old little girl.
I did manage to get in a lot of exercise, every day, all day. Rolling in the grass, down a small incline in the backyard is exercise. Jumping across imaginary turtles in imaginary ponds is exercise. Marching, playing chase, and throwing balls to each other is exercise.
Some days we had foot races. My granddaughter started each race by saying “On yo mawk, get set, go! Wun Grandma, you have to wun. “
“I am running, Sugar Bear.”
“ Grandma, you just walking.”
Well, to me, it felt like I was running. By the way, she always won the races.
We walked in the park, we walked around the block, we walked in the “deep, dark forest” (the shady alleyway behind our house.) We splashed in puddles. We ate mulberries off the tree at the house at the corner. We used our shovels and dug up a garden space in the backyard and planted tomatoes, potatoes, squash, basil, zinnias, cosmos, and sunflowers.
We dug earthworms and she declared them her new friends. She carried them with her in a can to show the neighbors. We gathered rocks on our long walks and she presented them to Mr. Webb, who lived next door and kept a supply of Kit-Kat fun-size candy bars just for her.
In the meantime, my weight fluctuated. I didn’t care all that much because I now had people who enjoyed my cooking. I made pies and cakes and cookies and noodle casseroles. The little girl beside me cracked the eggs and helped me measure sugar. She tasted the raw dough and declared it good. We took turns stirring the batter.
I gained weight…I lost weight…and then gained it back and then lost it again. It was a cycle that depended on how many miles we walked in search of adventures and how many batches of cookies we made.
All the activity eventually paid off.
- I ended the year thirteen pounds lighter than I started.
- My blood pressure is now within normal range and the doctor told me I no longer needed medication.
- I feel better, stronger, lighter, motivated.
- My waist is smaller. My pants fit better. I am wearing jeans comfortably and I ditched all my pants with elastic waists.
- My arms are not quite biceps and triceps of steel, but they are decidedly less flabby.
My daughter moved again to another job, another town, another state and on to a relationship that she thinks is The One. She took my favorite exercise buddy with her.
I moved too… but not in the same direction.
Now I have all the time in the world to pursue exercise activities. Since my 60th birthday a month ago, I have established the routine that I thought I would follow a year ago.
Now I walk three miles each day, do my own version of yoga, and do some exercises from the Canadian Air Force that Helen Mirren claims keeps her in shape. Already I have lost a little more weight, a couple of inches around my soft waist, and I can feel my posture improving.
When I lie down in the floor now…readying myself for leg lifts…no one flops down on my belly and says “Get up, Grandma. Wet’s go see Mista Webb.” No one says “Wun, Grandma, wun!” I can do yoga in peace now. But I don’t really want to. I miss my coach, my buddy, my favorite baby. My frame is lighter, but my heart is heavier.
At the end of one year and one month, I can say that I am a little thinner, healthier, and more mobile and active than I was thirteen months ago. I had a wonderful year filled with activity, laughter, hugs, and good memories.
Although my plans were interrupted… I would not change this last year for anything in the world.
This is an update on Peggy’s year of healthier living starting last January:
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