Picture the scene: I’m heading out of my house this morning, carrying a tall glass of Earl Grey tea, my lunch, my purse slash briefcase, a large book—and I’ve got a dog leash in my hand, with a good-sized dog trotting happily at the end of it.
My home has a deck with about eight steps down to the ground. As I’m traversing the stairs this morning, idly thinking about sherpas because of all of the stuff I was carrying, I miss my footing, and fall.
The tea was a total loss, although amazingly, the glass I had it in remained intact. Likewise the book went flying, landing unharmed. I kept a tight hold on the leash, a good thing because this is a dog that likes to take off then not come when you call her, and it’s my deadline day. I have no time to chase dogs through the neighborhood today.
What happened was I missed the second to the last step, then landed on the last step—very, very briefly—before galumphing full steam ahead, hanging desperately onto all of my crap and really hoping the dog didn’t get away from me, hurtling headlong toward my car, which stopped my forward momentum, with me still on my feet, breathing hard, slightly freaked out, but unhurt.
So what does any of this have to do with losing weight, or being healthy?
Here’s another little story.
About 10 years or so ago, I was walking through Albuquerque near the University of New Mexico with my mom, my sister and my kids. My mom and my sister were here visiting from out of state and we were doing some turistiando, as we say in New Mexico. We were walking through a parking lot near an alley, when I tried to step down onto a thin concrete rail—and missed. I went down like a ton of bricks, falling a couple of feet to the parking lot, and scraping my leg badly. A couple of guys from the alley nearby ran over to see if I was okay. I looked up to a sea of faces looking down at me with frightened eyes. I had a giant bruise on my shin for weeks and even years later I still have a scar. My sister said something about how I had started out the walk young but instantly turned into our grandma when I hit the ground. Gotta love a sister.
That experience stayed with me, in the way that “oh crap I’m getting older” experiences do. I was about 40 at the time and had never worried about stepping down onto a space wider than my foot. I mean it never even crossed my mind to worry about it, but then suddenly I was on the ground and it was a new part of my reality that I had to be more careful or I might break a hip, as the family joke soon became.
I don’t mind getting older. I’m more secure and happy in myself at age 50 than at any previous time in my life. I love my white hairs and my crow’s feet don’t bother me, but I want to be able to step down without falling.
What happened this morning was fantastic.
Okay, I will be a little sore, and I feel some wrenched muscles here and there. But it was fantastic because I didn’t fall, and I didn’t hurt myself. And I think the reason for both of those things is because I’m in better shape at 50 than I was at 40. I’m stronger. My reflexes are better. My body is more ready to what I want it to do in just about every way.
All of that was a great lesson for me this morning. If I’m honest, I’ll tell you that I’ve been having a hard time keeping up with my exercise program, although I’ve continued to do a decent job of eating good, healthy food.
It’s easy for me to get discouraged and feel like my efforts have all been for nothing.
But here I am sitting at my desk, unharmed after what easily could have been a serious injury or even a fatal fall.
So this morning I’m taking a few minutes to appreciate this amazing body, so strong, so resilient, and so healthy despite my decades of neglect. And I’m going to appreciate the nearly two years of effort I’ve put in toward becoming stronger and healthier, because this morning I feel strong, and I feel healthy, and I feel young enough to walk down stairs.
I started this week’s column with a description of myself carrying way too many things and with a dog on a leash to boot—actually bashing what should have been two trips, or even three, to my car this morning into a single megatrip. I’m not sure there’s a cure for that, but I’m open to suggestions.
Have you turned a physical corner? You can contact me at 505-286-1212 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or join the conversation in my Facebook group, “I’m Losing It!” I’d love to hear from you.