Friday, September 16, 2011

Picture This: Getting Healthy

This is what my Skyler does all day now unless I bring out the leash for a walk.  I'm too tempted to join her.

I’m in horrible shape and it’s all my dog’s fault.  You see, she’s getting old.  She doesn’t get off the couch much and chase that ball or run down rabbits in the yard.  If we try to walk farther than around the block, her back leg (the one that had ACL surgery when she was at her athletic peak) starts to quiver and buckle.  And that is why I’m in horrible shape.

For over twenty-five years I counted on my dogs for getting up and moving.  I had dogs that were smarter than me and needed the stimulation of seeing something new every day.  They were not happy just sitting in the backyard waiting for something to happen.  They wanted to explore the world.  So we walked.  And I made primary criteria for any house we bought whether or not the sidewalks actually went someplace and whether sidewalks went in enough directions so we could have different sights and smells every day of the week.

We’d jump in the car and visit all the different parks to walk.  We’d hike trails amid fields of bluebells and late summer crops of butterfly weed.  We’d walk in the rain and slip along winter’s icy walks while everyone else was snug in front of a blazing fire.  I’d get up at 5 a.m. to walk before the summer sun baked their long, dark hair and tote a water bottle and portable water bowl to prevent heatstroke.  We’d walk unencumbered by cell phones or music players, each enjoying our quiet thoughts or often talking to each other.

And so, shall we say, I’ve gotten a bit out of shape now that I’m down to one arthritic dog.  And put on a bit of weight.  But plenty of women my age say “Hey, what can you expect?  I happens when you get older.”  But a friend I hadn’t seen all summer told me I looked like I had put on some weight.  Ouch.  Thanks for your honesty.  And I just found out my 80-something father-in-law is preparing for a trip hiking in the Himilayas or somesuch place.  Double ouch.

I took my dog, Skyler, to the doctor this week to see what to do to help her weakening leg.  In all of the years I’ve had her, her weight – and the weight of any of my dogs – never varied by more than three pounds.  Why was it so much easier to keep my dogs healthy than myself?  I would never feed them the junk I put in my body.  I would exercise them every single morning, no matter what else was on my agenda.

So today I pulled out my membership card to my gym and went.  And I pulled out Michael Pollan’s Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual to get my focus off of drive-thrus and back onto food.  It can’t be that hard.  Right?  The secret to a long life, as Pollan tells us, are these seven little words:  Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.

So I’m going to get healthy again.  And to do it I’m not looking to a celebrity diet in a magazine.  And I’m not buying one more late night infomercial exercise video.  And I’m not going to eat low-fat anything (no one got too fat from eating real yogurt).  Instead, I’m looking back at places I had hiked when I had all the energy in the world.  I think I’ll paste them all over my office while I think about where I’m going to hike next.  Enjoy the little picture show of what I could do before my dog let me get old and out of shape.

Getting high in Sedona, AZ (can you see that little blue dot in the middle?  That's me)
One of countless unnamed high points on the Isle of Skye, Scotland
(The fellow who took the picture had climbed with a baby in a carrier on his back)
The view is always spectacular from on high -- looking across to the Outer Hebrides
Paris at night from the belltower of Notre Dame Cathedral (387 steps up)
    From the top of the Roman theater in Lyon, France
Share with us in the comments box what you want to stay healthy enough to do.


Anonymous said...

Great pictures. You are lucky to get to travel so much. All of those places look worth getting in shape for. Good luck!

Michael Ann said...

I love walking. My dog really does help me get out and about, but I often walk by myself too. I love the fresh air and the time alone to think. You sound very motivated to get back in shape. Good for you!

thelmaz said...

How I've lost weight. Granted, I don't have much to lose but it wasn't coming off, so I spent $300 on a visit to a nutritionist and I have rarely deviated from the diet. I figure I have to earn back that money by buying less high calorie food.
Since it's too hot here to walk outside, I use a video from by Leslie Sansone and walk inside. So I'm fitter, but I ain;t climbin' any mountains.

Bella said...

Julie, I like how motivated you sound about getting back in shape! I also try to stay in shape by taking long walks with Roxy. She loves to go on walks! However, I'm a curvy girl and a long time ago, I embraced the fact that I'm never going to be thin. When you have an hourglass shape, it stays that way forever. So I'm okay if my hips stick out to here. It is what it is. Nevertheless, it's great to stay in shape to avoid high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, and so forth. Skyler is a sweetheart! Lovely photos, by the way! :)

Anonymous said...

The only place we have not been in all these pictures is the one taken in Arizona. I love the shot of the Eiffel Tower from Notre-Dame, it makes the climb well worth it, and the Isle of Skye is a little jewel. We rented a small thatched-roof cottage in 2003 and stayed for three weeks. It was wonderful. Keep up the good work.


Stacy S. Jensen said...

Julie, Our dogs certainly keep us going many days when we don't want to. Hubby and I hiked to the lookout on Harney Peak in Custer, SD last week while on a family vacation. I remain out of shape, but I'm working on getting back to a more comfortable size. I still have a few pounds to be pre-baby weight. I'm thinking since the baby is 16-months - the weight is more likely related to eating habits and not the baby. Best of luck for renewal to be healthy again. A friend blogger (Peggy Frezon) wrote a book about her journey with her dog. It's releasing this fall. It's called "Dieting with my Dog." It might provide some inspiration. Love all your pictures.

Laura@Catharsis said...

You have the most beautiful pictures. I have been thinking a lot about getting healthy as well. I just received some less than exhilarating news about my health, and my back has me immobile...again. I'm too young to have these issues. Good luck to you in this endeavor. Hopefully I'm right behind you.

Anonymous said...

I can't say I blame your dog - she has the right idea! But good for you starting to hike again. I have felt the same way - that you don't need some low-fat diet or fad. It's really all about exercise. So thanks, you've motivated me to get off this couch and work out.

Nadine Feldman said...

It's been years since I've had dogs -- between the travel we do and my hubby's allergies, it's just not a good idea right now. But I sure miss those walks and the joys of pets!

I have to stay in shape because our travels are so active! Since Houston is flat and we love mountains, I use my stairs for training. I also do cardio DVDs, walk, practice yoga, and have just added strength training to improve metabolism. It's harder than it used to be to keep the weight off!

Julie Farrar said...

Thanks all for the responses. After reading them, I guess I really have to commit, not do one of those half-hearted, good for two weeks kind of diets. I'm like you Nadine, we have active vacations and I'm not as able to keep up with my husband as I was a couple of years ago. Still haven't gotten to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Stacy, thanks for the book recommendation. Let me know when it comes out.

I went to the gym and did my yoga class. Tomorrow I guess marks the end of fast food french fries since I've made this very public declaration. Spinach is ready and waiting in my refrigerator.

And for any of you younger than I am, DON'T WAIT until you're my age to start working seriously at it. I'll keep you posted.

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