My mom started running in when she was in her 30’s, and became a fitness phenom before it was cool, especially for women. There was no Target, let alone an affordable fitness department, so in winter she would don her sweats with cotton tights underneath with an old stocking cap, a scarf and jacket and get out to run, no excuses, ever. She ran in freezing cold and blazing heat, wind, rain and ice. She ate “clean” long before it was even a thing, and pumped iron in the garage. I thought she was nuts at the time, but she left an impression. Her steadfast example went unheeded through my youth, but in my 20’s when I decided to get into a healthier lifestyle, I found I already knew what to do, I had to look no further than example she had set.
There were no gimmicks or secrets to her fitness routine. She never fell for a fad diet or nutrition drink. She just looked at her circumstances and added a huge heap of common sense, which is free for all to use.
- Eat real food, heavy on the fruits and veggies.
- Skip the artificial junk. Yes, it goes with #1, but it doesn’t go without saying. If it comes in a package, less is more.
- Portion size matters, don’t get carried away.
- Sit down and savor your food, you’ll be more satisfied with less.
- Pass on the alcohol. Maybe wine has benefits, but it has sugar too, save it for special occasions.
- Treats are treats. A little goes a long way.
- Play, it keeps you young.
- You won’t melt. Go outdoors in crummy weather.
- It’s okay to get dirty. People are washable.
- Heavy work is for women too, you get great muscle definition shoveling snow, push mowing the lawn and raking.
- Get outside your comfort zone. When my mom first started running my sisters giggled as she struggled to make it a quarter mile. When she finished first a 5k, then a 10k, and eventually a 25k, they could only cheer.
- Movement helps what ails you, especially when paired with fresh air.
- It’s supposed to be hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
It’s been almost 40 years since something clicked in her head and my mom decided to get fit, and she’s never looked back. When I see her playing tag with her grandkids and great-grandkids at the playground and swimming with them at the lake, my heart swells with gratitude for the health and strength she has maintained well into her 70’s. Not only has it served her well, she pays her health forward to her children and grandchildren and even her grandchildren’s children. She has passed down to us all a legacy of health and well-being that I am proud to carry on, and can only hope serves me as well as it has her.