Kickin’ Granny Out Of Her Chair

My Cross Trainer, Zelda. I bought her second hand five years ago and she’s saved me a fortune in fitness membership fees. I spend time with her when the weather is too hot, too cold, raining heavily or snowing. I have no excuses if I can’t get to the gym.

I’ve been noticing an increase in my aches and pains as summer has progressed.  One reason might be that I move less in the summertime.  I can’t stand the heat and humidity and have much less energy during July and August, when I typically spend more time sitting around and complaining about the weather, than I do moving.  My favorite place to be is outdoors, but the hottest months find me inside my air-conditioned home.  And though I’m grateful to have it, I feel guilty using it because it uses too many natural resources. I always feel much better physically and emotionally in the great outdoors, than I do when I spend my time in an artificially cooled environment, but when it’s really hot, I need it.

Another reason for my sore shoulders, creaky back and stiff hips might be that I’m getting older.  I’ll be seventy in November.  I hear from other aging people, including a few health care providers, that aches and pains are just a sign of  old age.  “Get used to it,” they  tell me. “It’s the way it’s going to be from now on.”  Others, who are older and more active than I am, tell me, “The more you move, the better you feel.”

I personally believe in the “the more, the better” theory, as in, “Use it or lose it.”  I  know that I can work through many of my aches and pains by walking, swimming or using my cross trainer on a regular basis.  And I know that if I spend too much time sitting around, I feel stiffer and in more pain.

I’ve also been told by my massage therapist and my Pilates teacher that my pain could be connected to old trauma that I’m working through as I write my memoir. They both know I’ve been struggling through some aspects of the writing and if I tell them I’m in pain, they’ll ask me what I’m writing about. Nine times out of ten, it is usually something terribly dark. When I’m working through those difficult passages my back and hip pain does seem to get worse.  I push through it, however, hoping that once I’ve finished the writing, I’ll be feeling much better.  In the meantime, I’m taking breaks from writing every hour or so to stretch the tension out of my body. It really helps.

I very much dislike the image that often appears in my head when I put the words, grandmother and aging together.  In the picture, I see an old white-haired lady, sitting in a rocking chair, on her front porch, watching the rest of the world go by.  That is not what I want for myself so I’m going to do my very best to make my last days anything but that.

I’m kickin’ myself out of my chair.  There will be no rocker for me.  There will be more stretching, which I’ve let go a bit over the summer because I wasn’t losing my “winter belly” fast enough.  I spent way too much time worried about my image in the mirror, rather than paying attention to what my body was trying to tell me.  All those times she yelling, “Stretch,” I wasn’t listening.

To make sure that all is well, I’ve recently had my yearly physical, a mammogram, a bone scan and had my teeth cleaned.  No cavities!  I met with my Oncologist last week and she once again declared that I am cancer free. I had my eyes checked as well and they are fine.  My glasses need only a tiny tweak, so I’ll  keep using the old ones till I can’t see anymore.  I’m happy and feeling great emotionally. Getting my story down on paper has been healing for me and sometimes I wish I’d been ready to do it a long time ago.

To stay as healthy as I can, my plan is to continue my exercise routine, but ramp it up a bit.  Gentle Yoga twice a week. Pilates once a week.  In between I walk what I call the “Big Hill” as often as I can and use my cross trainer, when the weather is too hot or nasty. I’ve just gotten myself a membership at one of the city’s pools and hope to add a swim session at least twice a week.  I’ll try one of their water aerobics classes to start.

I think I’ve lost most of my winter belly, now that fall is on it’s way, but intend to be more mindful about the amount food I’m ingesting.  And it’s time to think about foods that don’t make me feel so good. I very much enjoy a mostly plant-based diet, have recently cut out most of the dairy I was consuming and have now decided to go gluten-free.

I just finished reading, Wheat Belly, by William Davis, MD, and found it mind-blowing. We need to get used to the idea that over time, through hybridizing, we’ve come up with a new kind of wheat that is not good for us.  It may be more drought resistant and produce more grain per acre, but our bodies are telling many of us that they don’t like it.  Several people I know who have stopped consuming wheat have told me that their aches and pains are gone. Many also claim an almost instant loss in weight, which sounds great.  Two days ago I jumped off the cliff. I haven’t had gluten in three days and I’m feeling terrific.  My energy levels have been good and my back pain is  gone … at least for the moment.  I’m convinced I need to leave wheat behind.

Sugar has always been my worst enemy, but I seem to have it under control at the moment.  If I need to sweeten something I’ll use a natural product like raw honey or maple syrup. They’re still sugar, but at least they aren’t highly processed. I do not like stevia, which for some does the trick. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to give sugar up entirely, but at this moment I seem to be handling using less well.

I do not consider that I am on a diet.  I simply know that leaving some foods off the table and out of my belly, makes me feel a lot better.  I am overweight and losing some of that fat stored around my belly would be a good thing.

My biggest inspiration is my daughter, Lisa, who through diet change and exercise, has lost a huge amount of weight and recently finished her first Triathlon. She’s now an assistant running coach at her daughter’s (Zoe) school. And she will be leading The Wild Woman’s Wellness Tribe, next spring. Click here for more information.

My other inspiration is a woman I heard about while visiting Yellowstone National Park one winter. In her mid-eighties, she went snowshoeing every winter morning, as she had most of her life.  One morning she didn’t return.  Her family found her out on the trail, laying in the snow, with a smile on her face.  She died moving and engaged in something that she’d enjoyed doing all of her life.  That sounds like a pretty good way to go if you ask me!

I’ll likely slip and slide along the way, cheating from time to time. I’m in no way perfect and when I walk by Ben and Jerry’s, I may just have to stop by occasionally for one of my favorite treats:  Peanut Butter-Banana Frozen Greek Yogurt.  It can’t hurt once in a while, as long as I keep moderation in mind.

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