Thursday, January 07, 2010


January 2010 marks the ten-year anniversary of Tom’s and my decision to turn things around.

Enough was enough. We were a mess.

Tom’s problems were internal: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, borderline diabetes. My problems were more musculoskeletal: inflamed nerves in my neck, back pain, knee pain.

In the summer of 1999, we took a trip to Washington State with another couple. For some reason, we regularly handed them our camera and cheerfully said, “Take a picture of us . . . “

. . . standing on this mountaintop,

. . . in front of this sign with our Hot Tamales,

. . . along this ridge.

When the pictures were developed after the trip was over, we were sobered by what we saw. Who were those two dumpy people and what were they doing in our pictures?

It took a few months for us to work up the courage and resolve to do something about it. Like every other year, we would start “after New Years.”

But this time we did. In January 2000, at the ripe old ages of 51 and 55, Tom and I decided to live differently. Mind you, this was a decision by two non-spontaneous people who break out into a cold sweat when they decide to switch laundry detergents. Two people whose ruts were so deep, whose bad habits were so deeply ingrained, that it would take major earth-moving equipment to dig them out. People for whom change was painful . . .

The first time we went for a walk in 1999, we walked to an intersection about four blocks from our house. “I can’t go any farther,” I whined to Tom, “because I don’t think I’ll be able to walk back home again if I do.” So my first walk was eight blocks long.

We started cooking and eating differently. We became “those people” who split a meal at a restaurant. And we started walking . . . one mile, two miles, three miles, four . . . five, eight, ten.

So in the summer of 2000, we felt better about handing someone a camera and saying, “Take a picture of us in front of this marina . . . "

Over the next ten years, we looked for ways to incorporate walking into everything we did. We planned vacations around hikes that we would take along the way or when we arrived at our destination. We started to seek out activities that we wouldn’t have been able to do that summer of 1999—snorkeling and walking on volcanic rock in Hawaii, hiking through Sitka National Park in Alaska, exploring state parks, biking on the trails. We took three cruises and each time, we knew exactly how many laps around the promenade deck on the ship equaled one mile.

It’s not a fair comparison to put up a picture of us now in the year 2010, ten years after we turned over a new leaf. We’re ten years older, 61 and 65, and we look it. We have wrinkles and sags in places we never knew could wrinkle and sag. Our new lifestyle isn’t magic and certainly didn’t improve our looks or stop the ravages of time.

But inside, we’re different people than the couple who traveled to Washington State in 1999, fueled by Hot Tamales and McDonald's cheeseburgers.

It is absolutely, positively the best gift we ever gave ourselves.

Which reminds me—I have to (need to, want to) go and walk my 2-to-4 miles for today. (After looking at those pictures from 1999, I have a sudden urge to go four.)

Happy New Year! And happy ten-year anniversary to us!


bd said...

You are an inspiration:-)

2to4aday said...

bd: Naw--as you can tell from my post-Christmas post, we are about as far from perfect as two flawed geezers can get. We struggle and struggle, but we keep at it. Every day is a new day to start over if we messed up the day before.

Anonymous said...

Step 2 of the new lifestyle program is getting rid of dad's sunglasses from the 'before' pictures; has that happened yet?

Elaine said...

Love it! And happy anniversary! Your arteries are happy, too.

2to4aday said...

PHX: You'll be happy to know that those aviator sunglasses have also been relegated to the "before" pile, and Tom has a very cool pair of Oakleys--that he forgets at home whenever we go somewhere.

And yes, Elaine, our arteries are certainly MUCH happier now than they were in 1999!

j9 said...

Mom, I don't even recognize you from those pictures! I think my favorite story is when you and I flew on a 7 hour flight to Anchorage, AK, and you were so tiny in your airplane seat. We did so much walking and moving around. After a long hike and up a small mountain, we were looking out at the beauty of Alaska and Shannon turned to you and said, "Mom, think two years ago you wouldn't have been able to see this." I think about that moment all the time and how much you inspire me. God works in funny ways, but you and Dad gave our WHOLE FAMILY a gift with getting healthy. Life would have been very different these days, don't you think?

2to4aday said...

j9: Absolutely, positively, definitely better this way!