I’m often stopped by strangers who want to see the baby. And even when I’m busy, or not in a social mood (can you SEE I haven’t brushed my hair yet this morning lady!?) I DO try to stop and let them see.
It’s a pain-free way to elevate the mood of someone else. Benji IS supremely adorable. And he is almost always quite social, grinning back if anyone will give him even a little smile. Score one for the light.
Anyway, this particular ‘stop’ has stayed with me. It was an older lady, about mid fifties, grossly overweight and driving one of those little motorized shopping carts they have for people who don’t get around easily. Yes, I was at Walmart. No judging…
She said she had two kids too, 16 and 22. All grown up.
“Lucky you!” I said. (I never know what to say. I just open my mouth and stuff falls out.)
“And how old were you when you had him?” She asked me. I don’t get this question often, probably because it’s a little rude to ask someone their age?
“He’s six months, so, 30, ah, how old am I again?” (I really do kind of forget. I don’t keep track of my actual age except for the ones ending in 0.)
“I was 17 and 23 when I had my boys.” She said with a smile full of pride.
“Yikes”. I said. And my brain went…No, that wasn’t appropriate.
As usual my brain came a little late to the conversation party.
Meanwhile the other side of my brain, the weak, lily-livered, rarely engaged MATH side of my brain was doing the calculations and had come to the conclusion I was probably 37, turning 38 soon.
And THEN she said something that kind of rocked me to my core. She said she was 37.
We. Were. The. Same. Age. WE ARE THE SAME AGE.
My jaw dropped. My eyes went wide. I looked at her again. By now she had revved up her Walmart Cruiser and went in search of her elderly father who had wandered down the cereal aisle.
Our minds are the same age, our bodies clearly are not.
Gratitude rushed through me, then pity. It’s true genetics probably played a little bit of a role in my health but I’d say the split is 10% genetics, 90% a lifetime of healthy choices.
There are things I do everyday, small changes I’ve made to my everyday lifestyle that I’ve been doing for years that she probably doesn’t even know about.
Part of this is thanks to a mom who raised us with health in mind. (Thanks mom!) She always tried to exercise and eat right. When parents are healthy, the kids are much more likely to also engage in a healthy lifestyle.
Part of this is because of my epiphany at the age of 15, that I may not live forever. It was quite a shock to me to find out this body is, in fact, on loan. The choices I make now about what I put in my body, and how I move through the world, will affect this loaner-body both right now and later on.
I made it my mission to devour anything related to health. And I have.
Quickly, here is a list of the top ten things I do and have been doing for the last 25 years or so that set me on a different path than the ‘me’ I met at Walmart yesterday.
- Drink water instead of anything else, most of the time.
- Get your sleep. (I aim for 7 hours a night. Well, when I’m not taking care of a baby!)
- Dark chocolate is better than milk chocolate
- Stairs are better than elevators
- Grilled is always better than deep-fried
- Whole wheat is better than white
- Fat is ok
- Sugar is not - I follow the 80/20 rule. I try to choose the healthier option 8 out of 10 times.
- Exercise a few times a week. Something fun. Something that makes me move in ways I don’t move often. YMCA is fairly inexpensive AND they have free babysitting - up to 2 hours every day.
- Meat should be a seasoner, not a main course. I follow the 80/20 rule for this too. 80% of my plate is veggies and 20% the meat, most of the time.
I don’t diet. There is no food I’m not ‘allowed’ to have. I don’t take supplements. I DO take a prenatal vitamin while I’m nursing. I will continue to take a multivitamin when I’m done nursing.
Anyway, there are a million little things I incorporated into my lifestyle, one small change at a time, over the years, that have helped me stay healthy and happy. And it didn’t cost me a cent.
A focus on HEALTH over weight. Paying attention to how things I eat make me FEEL.
There you have it. It isn't sexy. It doesn’t cost me money. And that’s how I know I’m on the right path.
To sum up - EAT GOOD, FEEL GOOD. Also, as a side benefit, you LOOK GOOD. Healthy is the new sexy folks.