Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

I did that this morning, by the way. I woke up and smelled the coffee and realized it was going to be another Covid-free day. Two of our granddaughters who live 2000 miles apart came down with Covid. One is a mother with three kids three and under. Her symptoms were mild and didn’t require hospitalization, but she continues to deal with fatigue and, at this point, she still can’t taste the difference between horseradish and mayonnaise.

So Covid is still lurking out there. It has taken so much from everyone this past year, including almost everything normal or joyful. Usually at this time of year, when I send my readers a newsletter with my holiday greetings, it includes a notice for an upcoming paperback. Not this time. Because of the pandemic, pub dates got put off. Last year’s Ali hardback, Credible Threat, won’t be out in paperback until next May. Last year’s scheduled Joanna book, Missing and Endangered, has been moved to February 16, 2021, and the next Ali hardback, Unfinished Business, is now due out on June 1.

One thing that has stayed the same has been hearing from fans. A week or so ago, I heard from a reader who said, “Please keep writing. As far as I’m concerned, you’re an essential worker.” And so I have been doing just that—writing. For the first time in a career that spans almost forty years, I have two completed books waiting to be published and as well as a 10% down payment on the next Beau book, Nothing to Lose. So I’m still working and have been, not only writing books but also writing my weekly blogs. Each week when I sit own to write the blog I try to find a little bit of hope and cheer to pass along, and I’m doing the same thing today.

Although this won’t be published until Christmas Day, it’s really a New Year’s greeting, because if I want anything for Christmas this year it’s a happier next year.

That being said, I’ve never been any good at making New Year’s resolutions because I never carry through. I start out with good intentions which fade away in short order. One Christmas when I was about twelve, I was given one of those five-year locking diaries. I waited until New Year’s Day to make the first entry. I didn’t continue past week two. For one thing, in a little book designed to last five years, each entry was no more than six or seven lines long. These days that might be fine for Twitter, but it wasn’t enough for me. As my husband, Bill, says, “With you there are no short stories.” A diary entry that was only a paragraph long just didn’t work for me.

So today I’m going to talk about a resolution that had nothing to do with New Years. Five and a half years ago, during our annual physicals, our then-physician took us to task and told us that, if we didn’t lose weight and start exercising, we were done. He predicted that if we didn’t use it, we would definitely lose it. The way we were going, he warned was that, within two years, Bill would be using an electric cart. We started walking the next day.

In my natural state, I walk less than 2000 steps a day. To begin with, getting our “Ten” seemed like an impossible task. I’d wake up in the morning and think, “OMG. I have to walk 10,000 steps today!” At that point, when I weighed in at 265 pounds, getting those steps was almost overwhelming, especially since I had to sit down a rest every 700 steps or so. But walking around in summer sunlight, and seeing the shadow of my very wide hips told me why I was doing this—why we were doing this.

We didn’t just walk. We hired a personal trainer, one who specializes in “old people.” He does a 30 minute workout with us three times a week. The workouts consist of “Sit and Grow Fit” style exercises, and they’ve been very helpful—especially after Bill’s back surgery and my frozen shoulder episode. Since Dan, our trainer, is our age, which is to say older than dirt, we’ve been Skyping our workouts for months now.

We also changed our style of eating—from three meals a day to two. As retirees, we eat a late breakfast and an early dinner. We eat pretty much whatever we want, but with far more attention to portion control. I lost 65 pounds. This morning, weighing in at 202, I’ve kept off 63 of those 65 pounds. Instead of wearing size-26 pants, I’m wearing size16 along with one ancient and very faded pair of size-14.

I use the Pedometer ++ app on my iPhone to keep track of my steps. I like that one because it gives me a running total every day. We do not have a tread-mill. In good weather we walk outside, either in the garden or on the driveway. At our ages flat surfaces are preferred. In bad weather, we walk inside. I have a two hundred-step lap mapped out in the house, and I count the laps with my fingers until each stint adds up to a thousand. I usually walk 10,000 steps or more a day. Bill, who is older than I am and with some underlying health issues, generally walks 4000, and he’s still not stuck in an electric cart.

This fall, as I watched the grand total on my step-counter gradually move up, my goal was to hit 10,000,000 steps by the end of the year. I made that grade this past Saturday. That amounts to almost 5000 miles. (Actually 4750, but who’s counting?). All done one step at a time. All done wearing out several pairs of Skechers without ever once visiting a free-standing gym or wearing a single article of spandex clothing.

So this is my New Year’s “Use it or lose” it message to you. I’m not an athlete by any means. In fact, I used to tell my doctor that my major form of exercise was “jumping to conclusions.” But five and a half years and ten million steps down the road, I’m still walking.

Covid took away a planned cruise and family birthday celebrations along with Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it didn’t take away my steps. You don’t have to walk 10,000, but walk some. Just doubling your number from where you are now will help. You don’t have to have an iPhone. Count off a 200-step route inside your house and then keep track with fingers and hash marks on a piece of paper. Work up gradually as your endurance improves, but here’s the real secret—TELL SOMEONE!

That’s what I did. The week I started walking, I wrote about it in that week’s blog. Unlike that long ago diary which disappeared without a trace, I figured my blog readers would keep me honest. Over time I’ve apprised them of my progress, and I’ve heard back from fans who decided to join me in this self-care journey. Now I’m including my newsletter readers in that circle as well.

As I said, I’m no athlete. In fact, my fellow students from Greenway School and Bisbee High School would tell you I was the least athletic kid in the bunch. And yet, at age seventy-one and half, I started walking and made it work.

My readers may regard me as an essential worker, but the same holds true for them. Readers are essential, too. As my mother, Evie, often said, “God helps those who help themselves.” So get off your butts, stop making excuses, and walk! And when you have to sit down and rest after 500 steps or so before you can continue, just remember The Little Engine that Could. “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can,” is what that little blue engine told himself as he pulled the train loaded with “dolls and toys and good things to eat” over the mountain to Yon.

If he could do it, and if I can do it, YOU CAN, TOO. And if you don’t have anyone else to tell that you’ve started walking, by all means, tell me. I’ll be happy to be part of your cheering section.

Now get moving, and Happy New Year. As that famous Canadian philosopher Red Green always says, “Keep your stick on the ice. We’re all in this together.”

36 thoughts on “Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

  1. Merry Christmas Judy , Bill and family. Thanks for reminding us to get up and move. Essential workers, I agree from a readers point of view that you and other authors are essential. The books tou write and the stories you tell offer a much needed place to escape for awhile. I am also constantly reminding myself that I am also essential for some people. We tend to forget that we are a part of our family or community and we would/will be missed. I wish you a safe New Year. I hope the phrase, better times are coming is true.

  2. Great message!! I’ve been running (Mostly from the Sheriff:)HA! Have a wonderful day celebrating “The Reason For The Season”~ Your Bisbee Friend Always, Teddy

  3. Hi Judy,
    Merry Canadian Christmas and Happy, healthy 2021 to you and Bill.
    Thank you for the incentive, I will be 71 in 2 weeks and need this push to lose the 20 lbs I gained this year.
    Like you, I hate exercising and walking but will start to walk ..outside in the snow or in the house. I also have a WII FIT sport that I do exercises with..when I don,t procrastinate..lol…
    I love the quote from our own Red Green, unfortunately duct tape won,t hold the fat in when I dress….lol…
    Good luck, stay healthy, wishing better health for your granddaughters and all those with. COVID …may we all enjoy a healthier summer and Christmas 2021…

  4. Thank you, what a gift you are on this day (and every day). I am an elliptical gal. Gimme some good music and I am off on a “walk”.

    I remember the first time I was able to visit you. I was in Lake Havasu and when I mentioned that I was from San Diego you immediately said, “You must be the wldflwr!”. What a memory you have!

    Happy Christmas and New Year

  5. Thank you for such a positive message. One step at a time is all it takes.
    No lutefisk or lefse this year and the world is still turning. Let’s see what the new year brings.

  6. I wake some and enjoying hiking I the woods but I really enjoy riding my bicycle. This year for the first time I used an app to track miles and rode 1700 miles this year. I ride slow, mostly on paths, mostly alone. But i ride and live it. Sadly no weight loss but that’s okay.

    If you note my city you will see I live where the intoxicated 2nd grade teachers from Man Overboard are from?

  7. Congratulations on those step counts. As someone who also walks…although not as successfully as you do…it means a lot to follow your efforts. Thanks also for writing. You are indeed a very essential worker. During a recent stint caring for my dad while Mom was in the hospital, reading your books for the third or fifth time or so was truly the only thing that kept me going. My daughter made sure I had all the Alis, on my NOOK and I read the nights away. Now Dad is in the hospital with COVID and Mom is in a nursing home getting tested today. I am glad there are a lot more of your stories to reread. Merry Christmas to you and your family

  8. Merry Christmas to you! Unfortunately, both my parents got Covid this year. Fortunately, my mother had only mild symptoms and my dad never had any. Unfortunately, it caused them to miss seeing us for Thanksgiving. I look forward to reading your next book on my new kindle that my parents just gave me for Christmas. Either that or I will listen to it while I am out walking or running and getting my 10000 or more steps in.

  9. Okay – I’m 71-1/2 and 35 lbs over what I was 15 years ago. I bought a Fitbit last year expecting it to register 10,000 with me doing my usual walking to get house work and the necessary (and unnecessary) errands completed. That didn’t do it, but I didn’t blame my Fitbit.

    So now – not January 1 – but today – after reading your blog, I will map out a 200 step route in and out of my condo – and commit to 10,000 steps a day. And every time you mention steps in your blog I’ll check in as an accountable measure for staying on track.

    Hopefully, it will last all this year.

  10. As a septuagenarian Canadian, I approve of this message. So true, my mother was active into her late 90’s.

    And yes, you are an essential worker. Your books have gotten me through this COVID crisis. I look forward to more Beaumont.

    And I too have a great grandmother named Anderson. Never met her, but she had true grit from the stories the family in Ireland passed along.

  11. Good challenge! During the first 6 months of COVID I gained 10 pounds. The gym where I used to walk a couple of kilometres a few times a week is closed due to the pandemic, but there’s got to be somewhere in my house that I can count up to 200. Right now I run in place on my rebounder for 20 minutes a day, but whenever I put on my pants in the morning, I realize that it’s not enough to control my burgeoning belly. Of course my enjoyment of ice cream doesn’t help. Guess I’ll go downstairs and see if I can count to 200…

  12. I too have started walking due to Covid. My husband is working from home. To give him some peace and quiet I walk. I didn’t lose much weight but lost inches. Even had to donate my too big clothes. I love listening to stories and yours are my favorite. I decided I would start from the beginning with your Joana Brady series. As your fans say” you keep writing and we will keep reading/listening”.
    Merry Christmas

  13. Funny you should mention the 5 year diary. I had one from age 9 to 14. I guess we’re opposites as I liked the fact that I only had a few lines to write.

    Now that I’m 65, I enjoy looking back to see what I wrote, especially holidays, and how it kept changing over the 5 years. Even funnier is that at the end of the 5 years, I received a one year diary. That one never made it out of January. LOL.

    Now I keep a small notebook as my companion to my Eat Like A Bear journey. It’s KETO and Intermittent Fasting. Since 08/14/20 as of today, I’ve lost 50 lbs. Best Christmas present ever! No exercise required. Told you we were opposites.

    I am glad my favorite author is taking excellent care of herself and family during these challenging times. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  14. I wish your granddaughters a speedy recovery.
    I am so glad your Doctor got your attention and you and Bill have made wonderful progress. Congratulations.

    BTW There’s a difference between mayonnaise and horseradish?

    May the Blessings of the Season be on you, your family, and all your fans.

    Thanks for the uplifting post.

  15. Merry Christmas to you and Bill. I hope you have a nice day together and also that you get to have some virtual visits with family. This year has been such a struggle for e everyone and I pray 2021 will be much better. I am so thankful that I have always been a bookworm. Without reading it would have been an even worse year.
    I have never been one to make New Year’s resolutions. The majority of people never keep them anyhow. I used to say my resolution was to never make resolutions!
    Can’t wait for all your new books to come out. Eagerly awaiting them!
    Praying for your granddaughters and their families and that they recover completely from Covid. Also praying for anyone else who has contracted it. I sure hope we can get back to living normal lives soon. It would be disheartening if 2020 has become our “new normal.”
    Have a very Merry Christmas and a great New Year!

  16. Wishing you and Bill a very Merry Christmas and hoping that the New Year will be a lot better than this one! Thank you so much for all your books that can keep our minds in happier places!

  17. I have to say I’m so proud of you and your walking program . I have spoken of it to many . I’m also think your an essential worker without your books I’m not sure how this isolation would have worked out for me . Books can really take you into a new world and out of your old.
    Merry Christmas and thank you for urging you readers to mask up and try to follow the rules of safety for all of us. You have a lot of followers who are influenced by your views.
    Have a wonderful New Year stay healthy and safe … Jan

  18. Merry Christmas to you and your family! May you find peace and much joy in the year ahead. The gift of good health seems more precious and hard won the older we get.
    Thank you for always being a good teacher by setting a good example, not only for exercise, but self discipline and kindness too.
    Us faithful readers of your wonderful work are so lucky to have 2 books to look forward to in the next months!

  19. Congratulations on your weight loss
    I too dumped 80 pounds – but not by counting my steps, but by cutting way down on carbs
    Much easier
    Keep on,keeping on

  20. This is a wonderful and much appreciated post. Thank you for the strong nudge – well, maybe actually a push.

  21. Thank you for the inspiration! I have been exercising daily for 4 months-not always willingly-but I do it. Reading this blog helps me keep going!

  22. Love the Christmas/New Years blog, J.A. YOU ROCK! I also just put the date on my calendar for the new Ali book and so glad another J.P Beaumont is in the works. I’m on the #9 J.P. book for the second time of reading the series. After starting two books this week by other authors and not making it past 60 pgs ea, I’m so gratful that I have more JP books downloaded to look forward to. My book club is probably going to kick me out. I’ve not been able to finish more than 4 that have been picked and our book club is just over a year old. I still love the company of my good friends and co/book clubbers so if they don’t mine my non-complaince, I’ll continue to meet up with them (been zooming since last spring BTW) Happy New Year J.A. and hopeful we all have a better 2021!!

  23. I need to move more, but I had a miserable bout of Dengue Fever several years back that left me lightheaded and prone to serious dizziness due to the scorching high fever I had. On a good day, I do about 7000 steps. On a bad day, maybe 1500. But my resolution was to push myself. I may get a treadmill because if I hang on to the bars, I won’t fall and can walk longer.

  24. I applaud your effort to get healthy. I have been walking for years around my Oakland Ca. neighborhoods a rigid 4-5 miles daily. I too wear a pedometer and keep track of my steps. I try but don’t eat so healthy and try to maintain a 190# weight.
    I’m 76 y/o and attribute my somewhat acceptable health to keeping up a rigid effort to eat well and keep walking. Your doing great, stay healthy!

  25. Wishing you and Bill a Loving, peaceful and happy 2021. I can’t imagine a worse year than the one we are leaving behind in our rearview mirror. I’ll turn 72 years old on January 1st, and I needed your inspiring words today to get me to finalize a plan for and commit to healthy changes in my life. I just may drop into your blog, rather than just passively reading your newsletters for more visibility of my progress.
    Thank you for your past 40+ years of authoring the best books out there. I enjoy the characters you create and their stories.
    I’m wishing your granddaughters a full recovery from their Covid-19 illnesses.

  26. Thank you for the smile I have from reading the blog,keep up the good work both writing and your ‘real’ life. I pre ordered your next book and I can hardly wait.

  27. I have shared your blog with my Facebook friends. You have been one of my favorite authors for a long time and I look forward to your new books in 2021. I am 69 years old and have recumbent bike that I try to ride 20 minutes every day and use 3lb hand weights twice a week for 15+ minutes. If I did not do these activities, I feel out of shape. My husband has a Cubii that he uses 3-4 times a week. We do need to move to feel alive.

  28. I enjoyed reading your letter. Pat talks about you sometime when we are talking. Of course, good stuff. It is always good to hear about Bisbee.

    • Yesterday afternoon, Pat and I talked on the phone for a little over an hour and 7000 steps. Talking made the walking go much faster.

  29. Good morning, Judy and Bill. I am now on your Blog, as I really need some positivity this year, and reading your blog and the comments makes me feel as if I were there! Your comments about health really got to me. I am 5 foot 3 inches tall (and shrinking!) and weigh about 165…maybe more. I hadn’t checked lately. I do a walk with an online program, (when I think about it) but let myself get mired down this year. No senior citizen centers open, limited library, lots of zoom calls, Google Messenger and FaceTime…Still, it takes getting used to somehow. My whole family lives in Utah so we can do Xmas and Thanksgiving as long as we are socially distanced. I am a former Arizonian, having lived in Tucson for 10 years, so just hearing about Arizona is a treat!

  30. You made my day. I’m not on the computer every day, but today, Dec. 27, is my 70th birthday. Funny, I don’t feel any different than last birthday. But I have lost weight from 227 at age 60 to a svelt 165 today. I took your Evie’s advice and got off my duff and walked. I’m only 5’7 1/2″ so I should weight even less, but I’m walking with my sister-in-law to keep us both fit. She’s a young 63 come January 6.
    So, you gave us a positive reason to keep on keeping on.
    I lost most of the sight in one eye to a macular pucker back in 2001 along with my contract writing gig. I’ve always been a reader, but had quit. Then I picked up a novel from the late, great Mary Higgins Clark and started reading again. Must have inherited my love of mystery novels from my grandmother. When I finished all the Mary Higgins Clark novel, the librarian suggested you and C.J. Box. I’ve been so well entertained! Mostly I stick to the mystery novels and can’t wait until your new ones are out. Always something to look forward to!! Thank you.

    • Dear Virginia, happy birthday to both of you–late for you and early for your sister-in-law. Keep walking.

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