Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Whe you live with an older person

When you live with an older person, you see the aging process more completely. I have known my mother in law quite intimately for 18 years, but have learned all the ins and outs in the last almost 2 years since we joined households. And it isn't pretty.

So, my thoughts, way back in my youth was, "thin is where it's at". "If I were just thinner..." Well, you know what? My mother in law was thin all her life until she moved to the United States. And I mean t.h.i.n. And, while she lived in Europe, in a center city, she walked everywhere and stayed relatively in good condition, but since moving here, her health has deteriorated quite a bit and her weight has gone up.

The big thing that happened is that she stopped walking all the time. Most of the US is for driving only. You have to drive to the store, the mall, the library, etc. The most walking you get is in a parking lot and even then, people park as close as they can. And honestly, I can't blame anyone because parking lot walking is awful walking - boring, stinky and hot in summer.

Second, she's always had a sweet tooth and never had to watch her weight, so she doesn't know how or isn't willing to change her eating to control her weight, blood pressure, or her cholesterol and blood sugar. She has significant blood pressure issues, borderline  cholesterol issues and is beginning to have blood sugar issues all of those things could be better if she exercised and if she dropped 15-20 pounds.

Now, she will say, 'it's my birth certificate" and part of that is true. She's 76 years old and you would expect some health problems here and there and that things would be slowing down. But, I also see these older women at the gym and our neighbors around us and I see how different it can be.

We live on a cul de sac with 10 houses. There are two young families, there's us, then three families are  almost empty nester families and the rest are all retired or semi retired. Those four families that are retired are original owners from 1967 and they are still out golfing every day, taking care of their lawn, walking all over the place and are super, duper active  in their late 70s and early 80s. Our neighbor next to us has severe osteoporosis, but she's out there weeding, shoveling snow and raking and she's about to turn 90 if she hasn't already.

There's a lady I see at the gym. She' has to be 65 and man, I want to be her now, let alone when I get to her age. I look at that and I realize: It's not about being thin. It's about being active. Active is the key. When you are active, you stay trimmer, your mind stays sharper and you live a healthier life.

I could have dropped this weight without exercise. Exercise just makes it easier, but it's the exercise that has made me much healthier and will be what keeps me healthier. Now of course, the weight loss put a lot less strain on my body and just that added years to my life and quality to my life, but it's the exercise that took it up to really good quality of life.

And that part I have to keep if I want to be like our neighbors around us and not like my mother in law. I'm watching my mother in law deteriorate a bit more every year. She was obviously very bright as she's a medical doctor who then specialized in psychiatry and neurology and she was very good at what she did. Yet now she resists learning anything new and forgets all the new things she learns.

I see with each illness how much weaker she becomes and never quite fully recovers. I see how one medicine keeps needing to be added after another to keep her healthy. And what's even scarier, is that she led a pretty healthy life compared to almost any American I can compare her to. She always ate good quality food and was active until 15-20 years ago. She has lived her life much better than I have ever lived mine until very recently. What was I thinking??? How much denial was I in?

So, this isn't only a weight loss journey. This is changing my life around and keeping it turned around forever. I want to be one of those old ladies who is up and going until I drop. I know there are a lot of things I can't control for, but I can at least do my part.

And my part included getting to the gym at 8 pm last night after being home with a kid with flu all day and will mean getting to the gym tonight after another similar flu infested day.

Stats for 10/5/11:

Beginning weight: 255.6  Now: 181.6 (74 pounds lost)
Exercise total hours in 2011: 274
Total miles walked in 2011: 808/1000

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