Last weekend I visited my mum. She had just turned 69 and we wanted to celebrate. She looks brilliant. Glowing face, happy smile, softly coloured hair highlighting the healthy tan she gets from her regular time in the garden. Yet, she also told me something that scared the heck out of me.
She told me that the other day she fell – and could not get up on her own. Not because she was hurt or in pain. She just didn’t have the strength to pull herself up.
She has put on quite a bit of weight since retiring a few years back while at the same time moving less, given that her former job was very leg-work intensive. And before I knew it my mum, who had always been lean throughout pretty much all of her own life and mine, had turned overweight.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not concerned with her looks. I’m concerned with her happiness and her quality of life. What she told me scared the heck out of me.
How many good years in decent physical form does she have ahead of her?
And how many do I?
Seeing her in that new light I had, of course, also asked myself what those genes we share held in place for me in just about 25 years time? And how much of it was up to me, and how much was already set?
I spent the whole weekend half-consciously eyeing people walking by as we sat in restaurants drinking our coffee or having diner. 70 percent of the grown-ups, if not more, had at least a disproportionate belly size. Me included. And quite an impressive number was seriously overweight, some seriously obese.
I’ve always been skinny for as long as I can remember, no matter what I ate. (Don’t hate me for it. I have other problems). Yet during corona, for the first time in my life, I actually put on weight. I managed to lose pretty much all of it back since through some lifestyle changes, but my proportions have not changed back accordingly. Though my overall weight is back to normal, my belly is not. Part of it stubbornly stays as it is.
As I was having breakfast and lunch and dinner throughout the weekend I neglected a few guidelines I have recently established for meals. I strive to hit at least around 80 percent of Dr. Greger’s daily dozen every day. It’s pretty easy to hit, if you make an effort. And very easy to miss when you don’t.
This weekend I didn’t do either, make an effort or hit. I didn’t even bother to open the app to register my meagre points.
The point, of course, is not to hit a score, but to challenge myself to make good health decisions every single day, every single meal, knowing that they will add up to good health over time. This weekend, though, I became acutely aware of how concrete and tangible the trajectory is that we prepare for ourselves every single day, with a decision as minor as eating a piece of cake instead of fruit.
I don’t advocate for a joyless health regimen. In fact, I’m rather lenient with myself on a lot of days. But this week’s realization that my mum’s age and diet and lack of exercise had added up to her not being able to get up on her own again made me worry. I don’t want that for her. It scares me, more than it seems to scare her for now. And I don’t want that for myself down the line either.
So I ponder the choice points I have today. When it comes to dinner. When it comes to exercise. Because these are all choice points. Quite a few actually, every single day. Every single meal. Every single time I decide to move. Or don’t.
I think I’m gonna go for a walk now.
Photo (c) Pixabay.com/GDJ