The last few weeks were literally a nonstop eat-a-thon. The devouring of cookies, pies, pasta, and everything I could possibly make involving mass quantities of cheese may just be the culprit of my holiday weight gain. Everything looked so good. As I told my Facebook friends: I need to learn how to decorate kale, broccoli and tofu to look more like Christmas cookies next year!
We are about to embark on a new year, a new decade, and I, for one, am ready. I reintroduced myself to wicked Mr. Treadmill and his merry band of brothers, the Frightening Free Weights. There are bones and muscles that are screaming, “NO!” But I really have to rethink my sedentary position and get moving again.
Years ago, I used video tapes of Jane Fonda, Callen Pickney and Richard Simmons. As I sweat to the oldies with Richard and contorted myself into a pretzel with Callen and Jane in my 30s, I was in the best shape of my life. Now that my age and my waistline have (almost) doubled, I fear my movements may be slower and getting up off of the floor will take a little coaxing for a helping hand from Grandpa. Grunting not only is a natural reflex, it helps with the uplift. Yet, I will forge on!
Exercise is probably my least favorite pastime. Not being a very patient person, I expect to weigh myself first, then treadmill second for 30 minutes at a walking pace and return to the scale immediately, anticipating a four- to five-pound loss. I’m not sure that holding my breath, standing on one foot like a flamingo and removing every stitch of clothing helps at all — but there I stand, in hopes my scale has some sympathy for my valiant efforts. I get a thumbs-up and “good for you” from Grandpa, which helps, but I’d rather have the scale be kinder.
The combination of proper diet and exercise is crucial to weight loss, and I wrestle with what is more important: looking and feeling healthier, or pizza. Such a dilemma, but I accept moderation is key. So, how much is a moderate amount of pizza anyway?
The diet experts are so darned confusing. Low carbs, less fat, light on the cholesterol, minimal sugar, reduced salt and on and on. Sounds to me they’re saying that if it tastes good, spit it out. Oh, my kingdom for an ice cream cake.
I get the moderation thing. Am I the only one that does a calorie count in my head of everything that I’ve eaten that day? It’s an approximation, but they add up fast.
So, what is the answer for the new Roaring 20s? The answer, I suppose, is whatever works best for you, along with the guidance and nod from your primary care doctor. The older we get, the more our bodies need a little insulation and protective chunk (I hate the word “fat”). Our bones are thinning, and if we fall, there better be a little meat between us and the pavement. A happy medium of not too heavy and being too thin is key for seniors. Healthy diets of protein, vegetables and fruits along with daily movement of any kind should be everyone’s regiment.
Chair exercises are available online or at most senior living facilities and can build upper body strength. Walking, dancing and swimming are all good things to do without pounding on bones or joints. Light (one- to two-pound) weights for arms help build muscle and take the pressure off of those bones. Start small, and do a few repetitions at first to get used to it, and then build up slowly to three reps of eight in each arm. It will amaze you after a while to see little muscles where the “dangling skin” used to be, or at least sharing the space! Try to work out with a buddy. It’s safer and helps pass the time.
Denying the simple pleasures in life, like sweets, or an occasional bowl of pasta, is easily remedied by making portions smaller, taking a break after eating some and finishing only what you need to satisfy your hunger or craving for that particular food. A few dark chocolate covered almonds (a favorite) instead of a bowlful, or some low-carb ice cream sets my heart all atwitter after dinner. The evil chocolate covered pretzels that my daughter sends us for Christmas each year are awesome, but we are grateful she only sends them once a year!
I will never again be that 30-year-old dancing around the bedroom to “On Broadway” with Richard and his back up dancers, but hopefully I will continue to fit into my jeans and take walks with Grandpa for many years to come.
From our family to you and yours, we wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous new year with the emphasis on HEALTHY!
Marla Luckhardt is a Brentwood resident who works with several local senior care and advocacy groups. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.