Updated: Oct 2, 2020
At 60 years of age, my fitness journey continues. You don't have to be 60... or beyond...you are just challenged to be fit...mind, body, soul, and spirit!
Lately, I have been asked the same question numerous times. The question has therefore prompted me to share the journey, my journey, my fitness journey. Getting here has indeed been a life-long journey. Staying here is the challenge!
I have been working out for as long as I can remember. I think it was around 23 years old when I really got focused. You know, it is amazing, the things that stick in your head as a young person. If I were to answer the question, why did I start, I do not think it was any one thing. Nor do I think it was one of those, “I woke up one morning and was struck by some great thought!” If I had to pinpoint, I would say, it was a series of things. I recall being so heartbroken as a child by the loss of beloved family members. The void that their absence left in my life was huge. As I grew older, I learned that some of those deaths were due to lifestyle, preventable lifestyles. My paternal grandmother lived with us and she was confined to a wheelchair. When I got old enough, I was allowed to wheel her out into the driveway where we would talk, she would crochet, and on occasion I would convince her to play kickball with me. She would use her foot to kick the ball and I would run around the imaginary basis. I always wondered what it would be like to go for a walk with my grandmother. As I was preparing for marriage, I recall being told (not going to call any names because I cannot remember who said it, LoL). Something to the effect that “he likes you just the way you are, it took a size 6 to get him, it will take a size 6 to keep him.” I processed that as “take care of yourself and don’t let yourself go.” We all process things differently, and in turn, those things can manifest into habits, and behaviors. For me, it was recognizing the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
As my faith grew over the years, I recall the first time I read and understood the scripture I Corinthians 6:19-20 “Do you know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirt, who is in you,, whom you have received from God? You are not your own. You were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.” When I first read that I thought, I certainly do not want God to give me an eviction notice because I have not taken care of the temple, He has given me.
Later years I was stricken with a herniated disc in my neck. Flat on my back in pain for almost 6 weeks, stress! Some life experiences will really cause you to make some major changes. These were just a few.
My fitness journey began with martial arts in college. That is actually where I met my husband. Yep! A college campus Taekwondo class. I initially took the class for self-defense reasons. There were some semesters where I had evening classes across campus. Back in the day, yeah, back in the day, we did not have the campus shuttle to transport us back and forth, we walked! The class was a great workout and took me through my college years.
After marriage, it was the gym. I was a military spouse by then and had access to the base gym along with the fitness classes that were offered on base. We were a pretty active family. Of course, being married to a soldier, meant the 5am PT runs. Not that I ever joined those company and battalion runs but again, fitness was all around. I found myself in a very physically active environment. Lots of walking around the base. Duty assignments overseas meant some public transportation but usually there was a lot of walking involved both on and off base.
My physical activity continued throughout both pregnancies, modified of course. I think I did moderate exercises up until my 7th month, or so. As soon, as I was physically able, I would start back, slowly, after each pregnancy. Over the years the exercise has varied from martial arts to step aerobics classes (I am dating myself, but you all already know that, LoL), water aerobics to personal training. Yes, I was a fitness instructor for a while and personal trainer for a while as well. I figured since I was working out so much, I might as well earn a few dollars in the field.
I do not begin to suggest you become a fitness instructor or personal trainer unless that is your desire. However, what I do suggest is the power and importance of a healthy body can positively impact your life, especially in later years.
Age, at least for me, does have a way of creeping in and reminding you, that “it” is there. My recovery takes longer, and I sometimes have to modify what I do but I keep pressing forward.
There are so many options and opportunities available for any level of fitness. Even if you are just starting out, you can get in the game at a level that is comfortable for you. If you have never exercised before and desire to start, I offer these suggestions:
· First and foremost, consult your doctor prior to engaging in any physical activity
· Walking, at a comfortable pace, is always a good place to start. Even if it is only up and down your driveway. If that is where you need to start, do so and celebrate the fact that you did it. Do it consistently until you can graduate to walking up and down the street.
· Water exercise is a great low impact way to stay in shape. Great cardio and strengthening too! There are different levels of water exercise. Low impact in shallow water or just walking back and forth across the pool is a start for those who are new to the activity. For the more experienced and those who can swim, try more challenging exercises in deeper water. A life jacket is suggested for all water exercises! Use your discretion.
· Free weights or the variety of machines work well depending on your goals. Again, comfort level is key. Challenge is key for strengthening.
· There are all types of classes from Yoga, to Pilates, to circuit, chair exercises, etc. From beginner to advance, find the level that suits you.
The key to it all is also consistency. As you can see, I have been at it for years. There is no limit on when or how you start, just start, and keep going. The key is to infuse some level of physical activity into your daily life.
Diet did you say? Ok, yes, I knew that was coming. I have tried a few things. There is a theory out there that eating according to your blood type has positive results. I tried it, did not really see any difference but some have gotten results. Food combining, meaning eating protein and vegetables or starches and vegetables. The idea is that proteins and starches are more challenging to digest together. Combining them with a vegetable as opposed to each other can be effective. Did see some results from this. Did the vegetarian route for a while. Great results. There is a difference, at least for me. Water! Water! Water! I am not going to go there on Alkaline vs, Distilled, vs Spring, vs…. all others. I just know water has great benefits.
Now I have my vices, so I am not perfect when it comes to the diet. I just try and. engage in them moderately. That does not always work because that gallon of ice cream will not stop calling my name until it is empty! LOL!
My prayer is to be able to inspire each of you to live a healthier lifestyle. It does not require you to be a health nut! Make moderate changes. Maybe change one habit a week. For example, this week I will eat ice cream only 2 days a week instead of 5. Next week, I will do the same. Perhaps the week after I will reduce it to only 1 day a week. Gradual changes. Maybe eventually, just a spoonful. I doubt it. LoL.
All of this requires patience which is increasingly difficult in the microwave society that we live in. We want results by the end of the week. If you are looking for lifelong changes, they come with commitment and discipline. It is ok if you get distracted and miss a step or two. Regroup and get back on the train of good health and fitness. Remember, we have been entrusted with this temple that has been God-given. Let us not wind up with an eviction notice because we have not taken care of ourselves. It can be challenging during stressful times, such as sheltering in place during a pandemic. I find myself challenged as well. However, we must keep our eyes fixed on the bigger picture. The bigger picture is being healthy and strong in order to be there for our family and friends. The bigger picture is being healthy and strong in order to be able to fulfill our purpose, our God-given purpose. How will you start your journey? Write the vision and then begin to make it a reality. Before you know it, you will be healthy, strong, vibrant, and living an active lifestyle that will bring you utmost joy! Best wishes to you!
I hope this helps somebody. Until next time…embrace the journey.