Everyone knows it takes a village to raise a child. Growing older requires a village… of doctors. In the last few weeks I’ve had appointments with my dentist, hygienist, optometrist, periodontist, internist, dermatologist, retina specialist, and my colorectal surgeon.
Today I saw the surgeon about a hernia repair I’ve needed for at least twenty years. Don’t make any rude jokes because it’s not like that, but I love my colorectal surgeon. He’s performed three colonoscopies and removed a cancerous lesion that he found in the first one. I told him it was high time he got a chance to explore another side of me. Yeah. That’s exactly what I said.
I may have also mentioned something about having lost fifty pounds since my last visit to his office. He asked me how I did it, and was surprised when my answer was diet and exercise. Then he put a hand on each shoulder and looked me in the eye. “Do you have any idea how many people do what you’ve done?”
“Practically none. I can count on both hands the patients your age I’ve seen who have lost any weight at all and kept it off for two years.”
I tried to defend y’all. Really. I did. I told him that a lot of people my age had issues that prevented them from getting the exercise they needed. He said that was a load of crap. With very few exceptions, can’t is just an excuse for won’t.
His words, y’all. Not mine. So don’t go getting all pissed at the messenger.
He also said I’ve added a good five years to my life. And it’s not just him. The reports from each of my many recent doctor visits have all been the best I’ve received in years. Skin problems I’ve had for decades have cleared up. My blood chemistry is great. The pain I’ve had in my ankles, knees, hips, and elbows is long gone, replaced by muscle soreness from my weight-lifting regimen.
Results didn’t come over night. For me, moving from couch potato to running a 5K took more like three years than the nine weeks required for the app. Two years later I joined the gym. Slow and steady wins the race. If you can’t remember the last time you did any physical activity, you’re going to have to take it slow. We’re not in our thirties anymore. Or forties. But being fifty-something and older isn’t the end of the world, either.
Weeks from my 55th birthday I feel great, look good, and feel better about myself than maybe ever before–all side benefits of taking care of myself and changing the way I live. The journey hasn’t been easy, and most of the time I haven’t gotten the results I wanted or expected. But I kept trying only because I really didn’t have any other options. Everything I’d ever done had landed me where I was. Time had come to do something different.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m far from perfect. I skip workouts and classes at the gym more than I should, and eat crap food because I’m too lazy to go to the trouble to get something better for me. Messing up is normal. Taking a break from the routine now and then is fine, too. Giving up and quitting is not an option.
I don’t have children or grandkids. Y’all are all I got, and I don’t want to lose you. So promise me… No, promise yourself that from this day forward, you’re going to make taking care of you a priority. Get up and do something. If you walk, try to walk a little farther tomorrow, and keep pushing yourself to do more than you could the day before.
Replace “can’t” with “sure as hell can” and watch how your life changes. It worked for me, and I know it can work for you.