Last week one of the blog comments came from someone who said that reading my blog is like reading my autobiography in weekly installments. And it’s true. Being able to write the blogs gives my readers a window on my life behind the words. I think a lot of people assume that writers live lives of quiet contemplation far removed from the joys and vicissitudes of everyday life.

During the time I’ve been writing these weekly pieces Bill and I have been living our lives. We lost a son-in-law to cancer. This year Bill and I both lost siblings to flu-related health issues. (Message: Get your flu shots.) We’ve celebrated the birth of our first great grandchild along with graduations, gymnastic tournament wins, and bowling tournament wins—and defeats, too. There have been weddings and divorces. We’ve lost a pet and found her again, thanks to the magic of the Internet. We lost pets who crossed the Rainbow Bridge and my readers have grieved with us.

I’ve also shared some of our ongoing health issues because, at times, there’s just no easy way to grow old gracefully. (My father always claimed that eating honey would do it, but he also told me that coffee would stunt my growth. It turns out neither one of those things is true.)

In April almost three years ago now, Bill and I went to see our personal physician who told us if we didn’t start exercising, we were done for, and that Bill’s next stop would be in a wheel chair. At the time Bill weighed 290 pounds and I weighed 265. His shirt size was 3X and my pant size was 26. Yes, the doctor allowed, we both needed to lose weight, but we were probably too old to make that happen.

We went home and put our shoulders to the wheel. We both started walking, aiming for 10,000 steps a day. In order to keep myself honest, I reported all of this information in my blog. I figured if I fell off the wagon, my readers would provide the necessary kicks in the butt. We also hired a personal trainer.

We changed our way of eating, dropping from three meals a day to two. Breakfast is generally two eggs, a single piece of Dave’s Killer Bread toast with butter and honey (out of deference to my father), along with a glass of milk, and coffee. (By the way, this week my grandson had a health discussion where addictions to drugs, opioids, alcohol, and coffee were all discussed as though they were all on the same plane. (Had I not been too busy drinking my third cup of the coffee of the day, I would have flown to the school on my broom and given that woman a piece of my mind!) Occasionally we splurge on a bowl of Snoqualmie Falls oatmeal, barely cooked so it’s still chewy. Or else we have a hunk of salmon and creamed cheese also with toast and milk. I think the toast and milk give us enough carbs that we don’t feel carb-deprived and we don’t feel hungry, either.

Dinner time is now right around five. Eating early is better for us. My consumption of Tums is almost non-existent. (That was an addiction!) And our meals are simple—street tacos; a single steak divided three ways plus a vegetable and/or a salad. I’ve eaten more salads in the past three years than I’ve eaten in my whole life. But it’s paid off. We’ve lost weight and kept it off. At this morning’s weigh-in, Bill was 228 and I was 195. He’s lost 60 pounds and I’ve lost 70. His size 18 shirts now fasten easily around the neck, and I’m wearing size 16 pants. (Sweet sixteens, as I like to think of them.)

But it hasn’t been easy. And you may have noticed that I stopped talking about steps. When my shoulder was messed up for three months late this summer, I mostly stopped walking because the shoulder was so bad that even walking hurt. At the time, Bill’s long history with back pain was getting progressively worse. We kept working out with the trainer as much as possible, but we were both pretty pitiful. When it hurt too much to raise my coffee cup!!! I knew I was in big trouble.

Then a miracle happened. On the day of Bill’s back surgery, my shoulder was marginally better. The day after, it was almost one hundred percent. Six weeks later, I have full range of motion, and Bill is almost completely pain free. I can do 20 sits to stands in a row without being worn out. And finally, I told myself it was time to get off my butt and start walking. I noticed I had lost a lot of stamina, but I’m back walking. At age 74 plus, I figure walking three miles a day is good enough. That boils down to about 7000 steps. (Steps taken putting up Christmas decorations or cooking in the kitchen give you lots of steps but very little distance.) So I shoot for both 7000 steps and three miles rather than one or the other.

That’s what I’m doing for my physical health. For my mental health, I’ve taken a news break. The vitriol on both sides is too much, and so, I’ve #Walkedaway from news broadcasts and news sites on the Internet. I used to read two newspapers a day, morning and evening. I don’t do that anymore. I used to watch both the local news as well as the national news. Nope, I don’t do either of those anymore, either. The fact that the sun is out today on this very chilly December morning came as a complete surprise to me. I didn’t know about it until I opened my eyes and the sun was shining.

So why am I writing this blog today? It’s December. At the moment most of the commercials on TV seem to be focused on people buying new cars for Christmas. The only person I ever knew who really did that, was my late father-in-law, Herman Janc, who, in 1960, bought Mary Grandma a brand new bright red Camaro to replace her 1956 Bel Air. He hid it around the block, and she went out looking for it in her house coat. That Camaro was the first and last brand new car Mary Grandma ever had.

As soon as the pre-Christmas commercials go away, we’ll be deluged with the Jenny Craig/Weight Watchers hullapalooza as everyone is required to look on New Year’s Day as the only time of the year when we should all turn over a new leaf. In my experience, those New Year’s Resolution type of life changes seldom make it as far as February 1. You can change your life any day of the year. My news diet happened sometime this past November, and I’’m finding I’m missing all the bombast less and less every day.

So if you want to make changes, change one thing today. If you’re a non-walker, start walking. If you don’t have a Fitbit, count out a hundred step route and walk that ten times. Work up gradually. I’ve found that 2500 steps equal a mile. And if you haven’t been walking at all, a thousand steps is a good start. If you find yourself screaming at newscasters, simply look away. Give yourself a break. Switch over to the Hallmark Channel or go binge on a season or two of Star Trek Voyager. Or even, dare I say it, read a book!

I know from comments and e-mails that some of you took heart from what we were doing and started your own walking/weight loss programs. I hope my fall from grace in the steps department didn’t derail your own efforts, and that’s why I’m writing this today. I wanted to let everybody know that I’m back—back walking and back writing. The copy edited manuscript for next April’s The A List went to New York on Monday of this week.

Now it’s time to turn my hand to Beaumont # 24, Sins of the Fathers. That book has a name now—a name, a probable pub date, and, for all I know, a cover—so I’d better get with the program.

See you next week.