We are dedicated to growing older well. This is about growing older. It's about being healthy. It's about learning to do what we can to live our lives as well as we can. Doing our best with what we have. And learning to live what we have right here right now, this moment. It doesnot come from someone who's doing it well. Trust me I can tell you many who can point out my failings. But it does come from someone who has made lots of mistakes, reacted in lots of unproductive ways and will make future mistakes. Sometimes I'm not sure how much of what I will say and do comes from hope, and how much comes from knowing. But I have learned some things and I am learning much, much more more as I go. Sometimes I wish I could say it's easy, but it often is not. It's my life here and I suspect it may not be that much different at its heart than yours. This is about growing older. It's about being healthy. It's about learning to do what we can to live out our lives as well as we can. Doing our best with what we have. And learning to live what we have right here right now, this moment. It does not come from someone who's doing it well. Trust me I can tell you many who can point out my failings. But it does come from someone who has made lots of mistakes, reacted in lots of unproductive ways and will make future mistakes. But don't we all? Sometimes, well, OK, usually, I'm not sure how much of what I will say and do comes from hope, and how much comes from knowing. But I have learned some things and I am learning more as I go. Sometimes I wish I could say it's easy, but it often is not. It's my life here, it's our life and lives here, now. "It is what it is."
Let's listen to what we do? What do I mean? Well, maybe I'm not really sure exactly what I mean. Partly it is a reflection of the old saying, "Do what I say, not as I do".I think I'm saying, "Let's pay attention to what we do, not mainly what we say." It's really about, "Let's pay attention to now." As Lucille R. Porter says, "Without the disclaimers.
Two years ago, 2010, I weighed about 251 pounds. Blood pressure up some. Blood sugar up some. Had done badly on a glucose tolerance test. I had some of the usual aches and pains of 68. I started to ride a mountain bike and I started to lose weight by following a vegetarian diet that included milk and eggs. I had long wanted to ride a bicycle in the Trek Across Maine --180 miles over three days. After I had lost around 25 pounds, I watched the video, "Forks Over Knives", which advocated a low fat vegan diet with no eggs or dairy. I started eating that way. Great results started happening immediately. I became stronger. Training was much better. My endurance increased rapidly. I felt better than I had in many years. When I had a physical exam, the results came back "Lab Results: Normal Range." That hadn't happened in many years. The Trek would take place in June 2012. In the Fall of 2011 I had done a fair amount of off road trail riding. Over the winter I did a good amount of "Heavy Hands" walking--carrying a small (3 lb) weight in each hand. In the Spring I did some road riding, but not an awful lot. So there I was, 70 years old in Bethel Maine in a bit chilly weather, 68 pounds less than when I had started, ready to start the Trek and cross another item off my Bucket List. I was riding an old mountain bicycle with hard forks and regular mountain bike style knobby tires. Fortunately there was a lot of down hill at first. But the steep hills near the end were a real challenge. Those off road tires did not fare well. At least that's my excuse. Right after the rather late finish, I asked Wendy to take me to the local bike shop and get better tires. Second and third day on new tires went better, I have to say, you meet wonderful people at the back of the pack. One man, Richard Johnson, introduced himself to me. He said we looked to be about the same age---gulp, he was 80; I was "only 70". It was his third Trek.Yes, I was ill equipped bicycle wise, yes, I estimate I was passed at least 5,000 times and I only passed others about 10 times. But I completed the Trek, and I had a wonderful time. I remember it that way anyway. And, you can believe I will never go back to the old ways of eating. And I'm signed up for next year. In the lst photo I am headed toward the finish line. A wonderful feeling! I do not really have a street sign growing out of my helmet. The second photo is "The Team".
A lot has happened in the year following what I wrote above. I started running last Spring. I cut back on the bicycling and did a lot more trail running. I love running in the woods, mountains, and hills, but I do not like running on tar. I'm working on that. The two 5Ks I ran in, I was first, last, and only in the 70+ age category. So I received a gift certificate to Maine Running Company, a necktie, and a giant Whoopie pie--which I gave to someone else to eat. Don't worry, they were aware of the dangers.
I love running in the woods, mountains, and hills, but I do not like running on tar. I'm working on that. The two 5Ks I ran in, I was first, last, and only in the 70+ age category. So I received a gift certificate to Maine Running Company, a necktie, and a giant Whoopie pie--which I gave to someone else to eat. Don't worry, they were aware of the dangers.
Running has opened a wonderful world to me. I have long remembered a time in my teenage years. I was walking along an abandoned logging road. There was some small saplings grown back in, but not enough to bother. Lots of varied plants. A few dead small tree trunks. It was a beautiful day. I started running. I felt free. I felt as one. Joy in just being there. I felt I was part of the breezes. There followed a very long time that I did not run just for fun. When I ran, it always seemed to have goals, not so much joy.
As I started again the running was to lose weight and get in better condition. Very early on I started to enjoy it a little. One day as I was bicycling past the local ski slope I watched a young man and woman run up the main slope. They made it look easy. I decided to try it for myself. I made it very slowly less than 1/4 of the way up. But I was started. At first I stopped frequently. One day I tried to just slow up a little and get a little rest while still moving. That changed everything. When I realized I could keep moving, that is what I did. That was the real beginning. I was running for fun, not to achieve.>
I love running on trails. This is a wonderful place for that. There are beautiful places to run everywhere. I was discovering new things. I noticed how colors of the flowers became vivid. I became much better at seeing how the terrain changed and I started to fall less often. To some of you who know me and are reading this for the first time, yes, I have to admit I never told you I often fell during my trail runs early on.
It has been a time of changes. It may sound a bit mundane, but it effected me greatly when I learned that running gives quick feedback about dietary sins. If I have sinned by eating sweets I am reminded very soon into the run, when I feel as if I have....well, you know, sinned. If I have eaten crap, surprise!, I feel crappy. But, that can be a profound reminder that I become what I eat and an important incentive to ingest well. The urge to eat bad things soon mostly has left and what remains has little power. That is a reminder of how important it is to exercise when trying to lose weight.
With winter I have returned to the gym. About 5 years ago on a visit there I saw a group of students taking part in a High Ropes course. Each had a rope attached to the harness around their waists. Using another rope they were raised near the ceiling. When they pulled the pin that attached them to the tow rope, they swung as into a giant pendulum. I wondered whether I would have the courage to pull the pin. I had a chance to take the course myself this year. We try to do things like climb rope ladders and nets. We learn teamwork and we try fun challenges, always in complete safety. On some occasions we get to do that swing. It is wonderful fun and I have never had any hesitation about pulling the pin.>/p>
I am often about 50 years oldest there. Once it was only 30. Everyone does far better than I, but I'm getting better.
Most of the expenses in our medical care system come from the treatment of chronic illnesses like cancer, arthritis, diabetes---you know,what we think of as part of growing older. We think of them that way, but that doesn't mean it is true. Actually, it is not true. Most chronic illnesses are preventable and improvable. Forks Over Knives says that we followed a plant based diet we could reduce our medical costs as a nation to 20% of their present levels. That is not a misprint. They are not saying that we can reduce costs by 20%; they are saying we can reduce our costs to 1/5 of our present levels. You don't agree? Well, I too used to think that is a dumb thing to say, but, based on the results I have seen for myself, I believe it is completely true. Obesity, arthritis, diabetes, stroke risk, Alzheimers, erectile dysfunction, and even cancer can be stopped, ameliorated, or improved by actions we can each take for ourselves.