|A street florist in Melbourne - it was Paris-worthy in its beauty!|
We went away last week on holiday to Australia. While my previous Friday blog post was being published, I was waking up in Adelaide after spending a day in the Barossa Valley tasting (sniffing) wines and getting ready to fly to Sydney, having already been in Melbourne and looking forward to the Gold Coast after Sydney.
I know, it was a lot of travel to pack into nine days! My brother works for one of the airlines and he has me and my husband listed on his staff travel list. His free staff travel expired at the end of March and he offered it to us to use up, so who were we to turn down such generosity?
We did tons of walking – 22,000 steps on our first day – and what this madcap but fun trip showed me is that I am fully committed to being a healthy person as I age – while still enjoying myself, of course :)
More travel is something that a lot of people do when they retire, so we saw plenty of retirees at airports and walking around tourist spots with maps like we were. Some were fit and trim, enjoying their vacation, and others… were not. It was awful to see people who were incapacitated literally by their own unhealthiness.
I’m not talking about things out of our control, because stuff happens when you get older, I know that. And I also know that it’s just rotten luck if you pick up a bug while away. But what we weigh or how healthy we are from lifestyle choices we make is absolutely within our control.
Seeing how unpleasant travel was for some people made me recommit to keeping my good eating habits and ignoring the bad ones that sometimes tap me on the shoulder saying ‘remember the good times we used to have?’
Even though I am more than happy with how I approach food and eating these days, that voice still pops up on a regular basis. It used to get the better of me, but now I just ignore it or put it off for a few hours (until my next meal, then it goes away) and, amazingly, it gets easier each time.
On our Barossa Valley trip we met a retired couple from New York City. Talking to them was honestly like stepping into a Woody Allen movie – those accents! I swooned. I talked to the wife quite a bit and it was so much fun getting to know someone who is a born and bred New Yorker.
They had just visited New Zealand and she asked me how the people who lived in remote houses in the middle of nowhere got their groceries, while I asked her how people shopped in Manhattan for groceries, a fridge… I told her they probably shopped once or twice a month (‘but what about the milk?’ ‘they’ll freeze it’) and she told me ‘everyone delivers in New York’.
She and her husband were very trim and healthy and they showed me a photo of a childhood friend of his, whom they had visited while in Australia. They hadn’t seen each other for decades. What struck me about this photo though, was that he could have been his father, not his classmate. They were exactly the same age but his friend looked twenty years older.
This photo was one of the things that got me to thinking about aging as well as I can, because while my NYC couple were having fun and travelling all over on their eight-week trip, their friend, the poor guy looked like he needed a walking frame and a respirator.
Please don’t get me wrong, I am totally not judging, these experiences simply highlighted choices I have made in the past. I know how unhealthy I have felt from making bad food choices, letting my sweet tooth run the show and also when I was younger and used to party more (lots of cocktails and even the odd cigarette a long time ago). It shows me there is plenty in my control – what I eat and drink, whether I smoke, if I choose to make exercise part of my daily routine.
It can be hard to get enthused about ‘being healthy’ because it sounds so joyless sometimes; it’s all about what you have to cut out. But what about reframing it to supporting your physical body so it can support you for the decades of life still to come?
It’s a bit like setting up a savings account. If you don’t have a goal for this account, all you can see is money being taken away from you that you can’t spend right now. But if you have a compelling goal; if you can imagine yourself turning the key on your very own home, it’s exciting to save that money and watch it grow.
That’s how I approach my health now, with more of a long-term view, instead of griping to myself that I should be able to eat potato chips every day because they taste good.
What about you? Do you find it easy to think long-term? Or do you need to trick and cajole yourself along like I do? There’s no shame in that; whatever works I say :)
Have a great week, and picture yourself as super-awesome in 10, 20, 30 years time!
PS. See what a reader had to say about my newest book Thirty Slim Days (thank you!):
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I'm only halfway through it (started reading it yesterday) but am already feeling so motivated to tackle my eating habits and weight once and for all using many of the tips in this book.’
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