Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fat, Fifty, and Unfit

Have you ever had this happen to you? You’re bopping along through your life, doing all the day-to-day busy tasks, working at your job, having a little fun here and there, and bam! You turn 50. Or 40 or 60 or some other such birthday ending in “0” that closes the book on an entire decade of your life. Well, it happened to me on August 12. Although it felt like a sneak attack of old age, it wasn’t entirely out of the blue. I’d been ticking off pages of the calendar for the past 49 years, 364 days. It might not have surprised me but it did get my attention and cause me to stop and think about my life up until now, what I’ve done, and what I want to do.

When I think back, I can almost outline my life by decades. My 20s were spent getting married, establishing a home, having a child. My 30s were given over to my career. I went to college and worked hard to get a better job. My 40s were spent seeing a bit of the world. I went to Maine, California, Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, several Caribbean Islands, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. There are still a lot of places I’d like to go but I’m becoming a homebody as I get older.

Maybe you’re a long-range planner that has a 5 or 10 year plan for your life. I’m not. But this week, a series of events has led me to believe I need to get with a program. First, I got bronchitis for the second time in 2 months. When I asked my doctor why I keep getting sick, he questioned whether I eat healthy, exercise, and wash my hands often. 1 out of 3 (hand washing) is not good odds. Also, while I was at the doctor’s office, they weighed me. I already felt awful and saw no need to make things worse, but they insisted. I can’t believe how many pounds I’ve put on this past year. Unlike my age, I won’t reveal my weight but I will say I asked for a recount. On top of frequent sickness and unhealthy weight, my blood pressure was border line. Fat, fifty, and unfit is no way to live.

I’ve been listening in my car to Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, advocating the use of healthy, locally grown foods. She isn’t a vegetarian, but the meals described in the book are very heavy on the vegetable and fruit portion of the food pyramid with a healthy amount of whole grains thrown in. I’ve long thought locally grown foods are better for us on many levels: taste, nutrition, safety, economy, and community. But I’ve never really focused on eating the way I know I need to eat. Lately, my breakfast has been a pack of nabs grabbed on the way out the door, eaten in the car while listening to a book on healthy eating. And exercise is something I’ve done in fits and starts but never made a regular part of my life.

This year, for the first time, I’ve made a birthday resolution. I’m going to start eating the way I know I should and add some exercise into my daily routine, even if it’s only 10 minutes of walking. My 50s are going to be the decade I get healthier before I fall completely apart. In the process, I’m going to try to do it in a way that’s healthy for the planet. I’m going to eat all the veggies my husband Tim grows and buy others from the farmer’s markets in the county. I’m going to quit eating artificial and white sugar and instead use honey from Tim’s bees to sweeten foods.

For my birthday present to me, I ordered a flock of Welsh Harlequin ducks. We’ll soon be gathering fresh duck eggs and will occasionally have organic, free range duck for dinner. In the next few months, I’m going to incorporate small changes in my daily routine to make myself healthier. I’ll be blogging about my progress and my duck flock. I’ll share tips on fresh locally grown and prepared foods, good places to walk, exercise classes in the county, and anything that generally furthers my goal of getting healthy while doing my part to keep the planet healthy.

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