I've worked out before, but as other things come pressing in, it becomes less important how I look in my clothes. This time around is different. I started avoiding mirrors, or at least the reality I saw in them. I was busy, living my life, and did not have time to worry about all that. I'm in my fifties, in school, working, and letting things go.
When reality hit, it hit hard. It wasn't about looks or self-esteem. It was about health.
In July of 2015, I caught a weird virus that affected my nervous system and threw me into almost instant vertigo. Within two days all I could do was crawl and vomit. It was horrible, not a nightmare I would wish on anyone. As I began to heal, I had to walk with a walker for a while and do physical therapy to regain my balance. I was fortunate; except for a slight loss of hearing, I have recovered very well.
In November, we moved. It was exhausting! I kept pushing through the fatigue until I hit crash point. My husband wanted to drive part way to our new city at the end of our last day of packing and cleaning. I just looked at him, and I said, "I'm done. I can't drive tonight. I'm so done I can't even drive up to the office and turn our apartment keys in." Though he was disappointed, he took care of the keys, took me to dinner, and found us a hotel. We hadn't even left town!
Late November or early December, I tripped at the end of a driveway and fell. I got up and made my way to my car. I cried for a minute, talked myself into being brave, and drove home. I never even told the homeowner I fell. I just wanted to get home to my safe little place.
Within days I was at the doctor's office getting both my knee and wrist checked out. Neither were broken, fortunately, but both took plenty of time to heal. In fact, my knee is not healed yet, and may never be.
That fall was a wake-up call. I had to take it easy for a while, and going to visit and play with my grandchildren was physically difficult. Their parents don't drive, but we rented a car while we were there. Still, we took a train one day, and went shopping, and I was in awe over how trim and fit my daughter-in-law was, just from walking regularly--taking her children to school, getting to work, doing her grocery shopping--she looked great!
I don't expect to look like a 30-year-old. I don't expect to feel like one. But that fall told me something very important. It told me how much a little thing can affect my quality of life just because I'm so out of shape. When all the extra 75-100 pounds of me went down face first, that's a great deal of pressure on the parts I landed on. I mean, I thought I was doing okay from walking so much while in school, but the eating habits and lack of regular exercise after graduating all caught up to me as I lay there on the ground taking stock of whether I could even get up.
It's not just about my cholesterol and blood pressure, though they are high. It's not just about my thyroid and depression, or even balance or lack thereof. It's about the potential damage. When I fell down, there was nothing to stop me, and little muscle tone so I could catch myself and absorb the shock to my joints.It's about the total picture of my life. Health. Looks. How I feel about myself. Accident prevention. I don't know; I guess it was just the last straw.
I know I can't reverse aging. I can, hopefully, slow down its progress--or at the very least enjoy the process with less fear of health issues. It's about being able to fully be me. I don't know how to express how deeply it hit me this time, but it's a far deeper motivation that how I look. It's about doing yoga and riding a bike and swimming with the grandchildren. It's about being able to walk as much as needed at my son's wedding in September. It's about feeling good inside and out.