On Monday of this week I did an interview with Patricia Pauley for her radio show Get Active on station KKNW in Seattle. Anyone who may have known me back in the old days at Greenway Elementary School or later at Bisbee High School are probably rolling on the the floor laughing. Judy Busk Jance being interviewed about physical fitness? Are you kidding? Get out of here!
Regular readers of this blog may remember the entry I posted some time in May about our having had a “coming to God” appointment with our physician who shook is finger in my husband’s and my faces and told us “lose weight or else.” In my husband’s case, “or else” meant the possibility of ending up on a scooter. That counted as a death threat because, as Bill told me on the way home, he’d “rather die first.”And so we launched off on our walking routine, and it was no easy task. For one thing, neither of us had walked very far in years. I often said that my only form of exercise was “jumping to conclusions.” So changing 70 years of bad habits wasn’t … well … a walk in the park.
First a little background. I was usually the tallest kid in my class—the middle of the back row—in those old group shot school photos. That made me gangly and clumsy. My mother used to say that I was never in a school or Sunday school program of any kind without a scab on one or both knees. I wore glasses starting in second grade although I should have started earlier. I had a serious astigmatism. That meant I had no depth perception—another reason for all the scraped knees—and I never saw a ball coming until it literally hit me in the face. Recess was hell. PE was worse. The only sport I tried with any consistency but little skill was golf. I was sidelined from that last year with a debilitating case of bursitis.
All of which brings us back to May. When Bill and I first started walking, we did so in little spurts because we couldn’t last for longer spurts. A thousand steps mean stopping to catch our respective breaths. Walking made my still-ailing shoulder ache. And getting started walking each day was an agony for Bill’s bad back. The doctor had told us that walking would make his back feel better, but out of the doctor’s earshot we both rolled our eyes and said to each other, “I don’t think so.”
But walk we did. Bill walks 2.5 miles a day now and I usually walk five to seven. MILES!! A DAY!! And if it’s getting dark, I can go 4000 steps without having to take a break. I’ve been at this for months with the notable exception of the weeks I was on tour. For one thing, there was no time, and when there was time, there were generally no good places to walk. City sidewalks with speeding traffic next to me didn’t seem like safe places for walking when I could see the all skid marks where cars had jumped the curb. And then there were the cars that dove into cutout driveways without seeming to notice there was a pedestrian on the sidewalk. In addition, allow me to I admit straight out that I didn’t make 10,000 steps on Sunday when the SeaHawks lost. That day was only good for 4396. But I’ve walked with enough consistency since the middle of May that my daily average is 9982 steps or 5.26 miles. I’ve worn out two pairs of Skechers and am working on the third.
In the process I’ve lost 45 pounds. Bill has lost more than 50. That’s not all due to walking. Walking alone is not a magic elixir. A big part of the weight loss has to do with Bill’s cooking. He watches both the carbs and calories and tries to keep us right around 1500 calories a day. We’re not starving by any means. We eat two meals a day—a late breakfast and an early dinner. We do not have bread in the house. We do not have potatoes in the house. I’ve eaten more lettuce in the past five months than I’ve eaten in my whole life. (By the way, in the old days, Bisbee was the end of the line as far as produce was concerned. Lettuce from Pay and Tote was brown around the edges and limp in the middle before my mother ever got it home.) But the thing that’s important, is that learned to eat less. We eat smaller portions than we used to, and since it’s a balanced diet of carbs, protein, and veggies, it turns out we AREN’T hungry. And by the way, when we have wine, it’s included in the calorie count.
By July we were walking and eating right, but then we realized something else. Walking wasn’t the whole answer. I had thought that walking would magically make me stronger, but no matter how I tried, I couldn’t reach my impossible dream of getting off the pot without using the grab bar. The doctor, the same one who had given us the first lecture, gave us another one: “You need to join a gym.” We responded in heartfelt unison, “No way, José!! Period!!!”
If you think I have a problem with lettuce, wait until you hear about my phobia of Spandex. Besides, a few years ago, one of our friends, a contemporary, followed doctor’s orders (the same doctor, by the way) and joined a gym. He was assigned a buff, young Turk of a trainer who promptly saw to it that our friend left said gym on a permanent basis with a torn rotator cuff. End of story as it were.
Fortunately, the doctor took our NO GYM stance as the gospel and found us an in-home trainer. We wanted someone who was more our less our age and who understood the foibles of the aging human body. Enter Dan Kritsonis. He’s available for new clients, and he’s worth it! On the face of it, our twice weekly workout sessions with Dan seem relatively innocuous. It’s only afterwards that we realize we’re walking away on rubbery legs. He’s been helping us with balance issues. (We’re improving.) He’s given us exercises to strengthen our butts and our legs—and yes, getting off the pot without a grab bar is no longer an impossible dream. I can do it. He’s also teaching us useful aging skills. Getting older doesn’t mean I’m any less clumsy, and on several occasions in recent years I’ve had those unwelcome I’ve-fallen-and-can’t-get-up moments. This week we’ve been able to fix that. Ourselves. From the floor. (By the way, as far as Bella and Jojo are concerned, that is their very favorite exercise.
So yesterday I was on the air talking about getting fit, starting at age 70.5. I turn 71 next week on October 27. What I said on the air was that if Bill could do it at his age with his two fake knees and if I could do it at my age with a lifetime history of non-walking, other people could do it, too. However old you are, it’s not too late. A LITTLE exercise is better than NO exercise. Wait, did I just write that? I can barely believe it myself. This morning a friend told me that two of HIS friends had heard the Getting Active broadcast yesterday morning. Last night they went out and started walking. All I can say is, “Way to go!” And if my classmates from Greenway School are still laughing, it’s fine because I’m laughing, too.
Now I need finish my laps, marching at full speed around the top of the driveway. I’m at 5934 steps right now which means I need to do forty laps, give or take. At a good stiff pace my 10,000-step goal is within reach–only about half an hour away.
Time to go outside and get ‘er done!!