My husband and I know of an older man who is in his 70’s who seemed so much younger because he has a lot of energy and is very active—he would go on mountain hikes that were several miles long, and he would go whitewater rafting and canoeing. His advice was to live life now while you still can and keep doing what you love.
I wanted to have that kind of energy and strength, but I had to make some changes in my life. I couldn’t keep eating like a “teenager”—I had to take care of my body.
I heard that as we get older it’s natural to gain weight, but how much is “natural”? When my children were younger I weighed 107 pounds—I remember this because when I tried to give blood the person said that I had to be at least 110 pounds. They gave my children cookies and sent me on my way.
My heaviest, non-pregnant weight was 148 pounds (it could have been higher than that, but that’s what I remember from the doctor’s office). The sad thing was that I didn’t even realize that I had gained this weight— in my mind, it just “seemed to happen.”
I remember eating quarter-pound hot dogs, quarter-pound burgers, milk shakes, and large cinnamon rolls (I was eating as much or even more than my husband) then telling myself that I’d work it off—who was I kidding? I hadn’t exercised in several years! That was my way of feeling less guilty for having no self-control.
One day I noticed that my clothes were starting to get tight. Then I noticed that I was slowly transitioning into larger blouses and pants. I would tell myself, “Clothing sometimes runs small.” Why would I fool myself like that? I didn’t like what I had become. I didn’t even like looking at myself in the mirror. I was an “out of control” glutton.
That’s when I “woke up.” I couldn’t keep going down this path—I had to do something. Not only did I not like how I looked, but I found out that it was affecting my health—my cholesterol and blood pressure were up.
So I started to “run” (it was more like light jogging and walking, but it was a start). Even though I wanted to exercise there were weeks when I did no activity. I felt pathetic—I felt like a “loser” and I wanted to “give up” and “give in”—just eat whatever and do nothing about it because it was just too hard to exercise.
It wasn’t until I started to Tweet about my progress that I was able to stick with exercising. It felt like there was some kind of accountability. After a “run,” I would Tweet my time, the distance, and some encouraging Scripture. I tried to do this at least twice a week.
I increased my time on the treadmill, and I added an extra day to my week—I was working out three times a week, 30 minutes each time. I went from light jogging/fast walking, to light jogging only, then to running. That was about 2 years ago.
The progress is slow—sometimes I only have one day a week to exercise and I find myself eating lots of cake during special occasions. Sometimes I would gain a pound or two, then there were weeks or months when I “plateaued”—no changes in weight, but I kept going. I try to think of certain foods as “poison” for my body and this has helped me to avoid some of them.
I long to be that “skinny” young mother that I was, but even if I never get there at least I am helping my body to recover from the damages I inflicted.
Change is possible— you just have to want it more than the other thing. I loved all the wrong foods, but I really want to be healthy so I can be around a little longer for my children and grandchildren.
I picture myself at my granddaughters’ wedding and seeing my great-grandchildren. I want this to happen in “real life.” I know there are no “guarantees” in life—God can take me anytime He wants and I can’t do anything to stop Him, but I shouldn’t shorten my life by being a glutton with no self-control.
I think this might be an issue for others too and that’s why the Bible has so many passages about “self-control.” One that seems applicable to my situation is Proverbs 25:27-28, “It’s not good to eat too much honey… A person without self-control is like a city with broken-down walls” (NLT). I don’t want to have “broken-down walls” anymore!