Not wanting to “brag” about the state of my own good health and lack of complaints, I found myself listening to people talk about the decaying state of their health for hours and hours and hours.
The thought that kept running through my mind was, “But what are you doing to change it?”
The answer always seemed to be prescription drugs, additional testing, and medical procedures that consumed vacation days and surplus income.
Occasionally the conversation would shift a bit to talking about hobbies or interests. I’d perk up and share hiking stories and tales of overnight backpacking adventures.
The common response was, “You’re lucky you can do things like that.”
The truth is, I’m not lucky. I’m determined.
When I started hiking, it wasn’t easy. It was one of the hardest things I’d ever done. But it was amazing to experience the challenge, and feel the inner pride of doing what I’d always wanted to do!
Hiking is an activity I plan to do well into my retirement years. In fact, my retirement experience may be based around long distance hiking opportunities.
But it wasn’t luck that allowed me to start hiking mountains.
It was action.
It started by dragging my de-conditioned butt off the couch and stepping out the kitchen door and walking down the driveway to the road. It started by walking from one telephone pole on the street to the next.
Embarrassed, ashamed, and blaming myself for my lack of poor physical condition and lack of self control regarding sweets and treats, I would turn around and amble back to my driveway, back through the kitchen door, and I would drop onto the couch, catch my breath, and wait for my legs to stop shaking.
But I kept walking…
From one telephone pole to the next. And then on to the next.
One day I reached the “point-of-no-return,” that position along the 1/4-mile neighborhood loop, that meant it was shorter to keep walking forward, than turn around and walk back.
That was a sweet day!
It was a major milestone for me.
It was a turning point for taking care of myself in a more healthy way.
That was the point when I knew that I could walk on a consistent basis. I knew that I could add distance. I knew that I could walk my way healthier.
But people don’t seem to want to hear that THEY have to take action to make changes in their lives. They want the quick fix, the medical miracles, that allow them live with their less-than-healthy habits.
They stay firmly rooted in daily routines that support the sedentary, medically profitable, state that keeps them from experiencing even the simplest of dreams.
One friend loves her grandson soooo much. Yet she isn’t able to sit on the floor to play with him. She’s afraid she won’t be able to get back up without help.
Another friend talks about traveling when she retires. She wants to climb the Eiffel Tower and walk along the West Bank in Paris. She wants to visit Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Canyon. Yet she sits at her desk every day, filling out forms, and answering the phone. She sits when she gets home from work because she’s too tired to move.
When I gently suggested they start a simple walking program, each came up with a dozen reasons why they could not: no time; it hurts to walk; it isn’t safe in my neighborhood; too ashamed; people might laugh.
All excuses that could be overcome if they wanted to overcome them. But they don’t. They aren’t ready. Yet.
It breaks my heart hearing their struggles and knowing that dreams will go unrealized because they can’t see that they have created the life they are living.
They don’t see that the life they are living is the life they can expect to live when they retire UNLESS they make changes.
They think it’s too late.
But it isn’t.
It wasn’t for me. It isn’t for them. It isn’t for you.
If you didn’t start changing your habits 20 years ago, today is the next best day to start doing so.
Yes, it takes time.
Yes, it takes effort.
Yes, it will be uncomfortable.
But if you are already uncomfortable due to physical aches and pains; side effects of medication and treatment; and the financial burden of less-than-optimal health…
What if you temporarily swapped one form of discomfort for another? What if you started changing your habits, every so slowly, so as to not totally disrupt your life? What if you saw that small changes lead to bigger changes lead to healthier results?
That’s the lesson I have learned and that’s what I teach my friends and students.
I teach them to look at these changes as an exciting adventure.
They are a chance to let your imagination run free with the possibilities of how your life will feel physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually when you start making small changes to your daily patterns.
It really is an exciting time for you!
Allow yourself to surrender to the journey. Release control of how your life is, and allow it to become something richer, happier, and healthier.