Running on 100,000 Miles

Running on 100,000 Miles

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I began dreading turning 60, oh, about 11 months and 29 days – give or take a few hours – before my odometer actually turned to the big 6-0. When I noticed that I was fretting about this upcoming milestone birthday, I actively began looking for ways that I could turn my attitude around and begin to embrace this golden marker.

It was a few months after I turned 60 when I was so proud of myself for how well I was accepting – if not totally embracing – this age, that I realized I needed a complete overhaul on my thinking. I not only had to learn to embrace the number – but the whole aging process. I wasn’t quite prepared for that.

Granted, it’s not like this was a total revelation to me. For many years I’d already begun the joking and mild complaining about aging. Wrinkles appearing. Skin starting to sag. Energy levels beginning to wane. Hair turning silver instead of a golden hue. But an unexpected diagnosis really brought this unacknowledged part of the equation to my attention.

For several months I’d started noticing some circulation problems in my feet. Rather than improving with time, it worsened. I passed it off to a secondary effect from high blood sugar or high cholesterol. About fifteen years earlier, the doctor wanted to prescribe medications for elevated glucose levels and high cholesterol. I countered with the suggestion to give me three months to see what changing my diet and adding exercise would do. It took me a little longer than that, but six months later a healthier diet and riding my bicycle twice a week brought my test results into the normal ranges.

But, the years passed. I moved to Texas – the nation’s BBQ capital – and I found myself eating more beef than normal, and not being quite as good with my diet as before. It had been several years since I’d been tested, so I presumed that one, if not both, of these, were probably running high again.

When our local Walmart promoted a free health screening one Saturday morning, I was there, bright and early.

Much to my amazement, my blood sugar and my cholesterol were well within the normal ranges – better than they had been for years.

However…the lady doing the screening took my blood pressure three times. It was high enough that she wouldn’t let me go until I signed that I would see a doctor about it.

WHAT?

I was stupefied.

My brain repeated the incredulous question. WHAT?

Where did this come from?

I’ve never had high blood pressure. In fact, it’s usually run low most of my life.

And it hit me. This was more than just a wrinkle, or a jiggly underarm, or wanting a short cat nap in the middle of the day.

This was ageing.

My body was changing.

My body was wearing out.

I was getting old.

Yikes!

This was more than just a number that kept getting bigger.

I had to learn to embrace more than just the number 6-0. I had to learn to embrace ageing in its entirety, which meant a body that could easily betray me at any moment.

I contemplated how this compared to my car that has over 100,000 miles on it. No, it’s not a brand new vehicle. It’s now considered a high-mileage vehicle and as such requires more care.

I make sure and get my regular oil changes done as scheduled. I’ve upgraded the oil to a higher grade, one meant for cars with over 100,000 miles. When I start it up, I let it run for a few minutes to make sure the oil is circulated throughout before I put it in gear and pull out of the driveway. I don’t stomp on the gas or accelerate at high levels of speed. I baby it more than I used to and make sure to soothe it with large doses of TLC.

Using my typical M.O. of ‘what can I do about it to avoid taking a prescription?’ I set about making a few changes.

When one kickboxing session lessened the numbness in my feet, and three sessions almost totally got rid of the symptoms, I knew that some type of regular cardio exercise was necessary. I noticed an immediate correlation between increased exercise and lowered blood pressure. That sealed the deal. I don’t particularly like to exercise as in physical exertion, huffing and puffing, and sweating. I prefer walking, gardening, or gentle yoga. But, if it comes down to choosing between exercise or medication – it’s a no-brainer. Exercise wins.

I also returned to my previous healthier eating habits. Less sugar. Less fats. Less salt. Less fast food. Less processed foods. More real food. More fresh fruits and vegetables. More whole grains.

I may be running in a model that has over 100,000 miles on it, but I’m going to take care of this vehicle and get as many more miles on it as I can. I don’t want to trade in this model just yet. I also want to enjoy the journey that I’m making in this body while embracing every moment of life –even the parts about the numbers getting bigger and the body model getting older.

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August 2019
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