Thursday, April 17, 2014

How old dogs learn new tricks

We do what we do the same way we did last week, last month. Heck, we can count back to last year, and last decade. Most things we do, we do because they are easy and automatic. Most of human inventions have created a world where we hardly have to do any thing besides sit on that desk, walk next door to a meeting, drive an automatic car back and forth, and at the end of the day, pick up food before heading home to finally lounge on that couch that supports our weary backs,  and enjoy the 100+ channel television with a remote control that can automatically switch to a pre-determined program.

We skipped breakfast, ran off to work or play and by noon we'd be ready for a lovely lunch at our favorite restaurant with a glass of beer or wine, a slice of cake, and enough calories to last us for the next twenty four hours. In a stupor, we craved afternoon naps and long rest breaks, too tired for anything else the rest of the day. We managed to stay awake with coffees and energy drinks, and since we all had long work days and work weeks, we accepted that we had to make time to go to the gym as well after our work days.

If the family never saw us, it was not our fault!

In my family, our evening meal, if it was cooked at home, occurred late.  Until the children were able to start a roast or reheat a casserole,  they all relied on me to get  the big pot to boil water for a pasta meal. Satiated, we'd watch television until we fell asleep; or until one of the children needed help with homework.

We lived like this for decades.

Only after we retired, and  after some serious health scares, new habits had to be incorporated, spoiling all the routines we had cultivated for decades.

Now, we don't leave the house without water and snacks, and identified places where we can exercise and sit down for a healthy lunch.

Usually, as soon as we wake, early most days, we  eat a balanced breakfast, whether we are hungry or not. An hour or so after that, we're off and running, physical movements prevailing, long walks, chores like gardening or cleaning, and driving off to doctors and pharmacies.  When we do go out for lunch, we share an entree, and each gets a salad. Sharing had never been part of our earlier routines. At dinner, I don't have to use my big pot to boil anything. Vegetables can be steamed or stir fried easily in a smaller pan, and fish or chicken is grilled quickly on the side. Noodles, pasta and pizza, our favorite stand-byes, are now almost dessert. They appear on special occasions.

We are conscious of our physical needs all the time; we park as far away from a place as possible, and walk the rest of the way. We do our house maintenance just because we need to use certain muscles. We even bought shoes with laces so that bending and lacing up keeps us limber longer. We store stuff in the big garage freezer that requires a conscious effort and consciousness before we choose to eat up the house.

We used to rest after our meals in the past. Now, we try to stay active, cleaning up, folding laundry, watering plants, sweeping the deck, or taking a short walk around the neighborhood. Smaller meals do not make us drowsy; and moving about after small meals is easier than after big meals.

Our refrigerator is full of vegetables, fruit and dairy.
Our pantry has nuts, beans, grains, oils and spices.

Of all habits, feeding ourselves, and moving consciously have improved our lives the most.


Brian Miller said...

moving consciously - nice. we are trying to eat more consciously too. my fathers heart attack was a wake up call for all of us health wise. it is interesting the habits we fall into and not even notice...unless we are intentional

Maggie May said...

Over here we are all advised to stick to a Mediterranean diet and do plenty of exercise at least 3 times a week. Also to eat 5 or more portions of fruit & vegetables each day.
I think I do that.
What's wrong with pasta?
Maggie x

Nuts in May

troutbirder said...

Older and wiser is what I call it. Trying to beat my Uncle Walt'a sage remark... "ve gets too soon alt unt too late schmardt. "

joeh said...

I'm still working on eating better and moving more...not doing great, but getting there.

Hell, I quit drinking and smoking that's gotta count for something!

Keep on moving! But don't quit posting.

yaya said...

You are doing so good! I wish I had done more of that when I was was easier to get rid of the "extra" weight and I could move quicker! But it's never too late to begin healthy habits and I find that we are doing the same in our house! Taking care of 6 acres is good exercise but some days I think a quiet apartment would be better! Have a good weekend Rosaria!

fiftyodd said...

I agree absolutely with every word of this post. This could be my life except sore knee prevents long walks at the moment.

Yael said...

I started painting a bit last summer. Does that count? :-)

Vagabonde said...

Good for y’all – this is the healthy way to live. I do believe that many people are now aware of nutrition and exercise. When I came to the US in the 1960s there was not the amount of choice as now – to buy “healthy” made you appear to be an extremist or nut – only iceberg lettuce was available for salad – luckily the times have changed.

Becky Jerdee said...

I love troutbirder's uncle Walt's quote about getting smart too late :) Yep, so true. Good for you and your new habits!!! They will hold you in good stead.

Rob-bear said...

Moving from an apartment to a house has helped me in particular stay more active. We're not on a strict Mediterranean diet, but that is my preference. And we both stay physically active by by looking after the property.

My experience is that you can teach an old dog new tricks. it depends on how smart the dog is. And while it takes a bit more time, and patience, than teaching a young dog it is possible.

Blessings and Bear hugs, Rosaria.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Rosaria .. look after ourselves is an essential - exercise and eat healthily .. and then keep that brain going .. cheers Hilary

Lydia said...

What an inspiration this is. I do cook lots of pasta, but I also make movement the key part of my day. My husband, on the other hand, works long hours in front of a computer and then comes home to sit at the computer here. I cannot get him interested in working around the house or yard and long ago gave up on to-do lists after being screamed at that he "needs a Sabbath." He urges me to consider selling our house in order to move into a retirement community, a lifestyle he has coveted since he was 40-years-old. Sorry to vent here, but he is younger than I and yet I feel as if I am living with a very old man. If he doesn't wise up he will drop dead before his time and I will find someone my age or older who wants a more active lifestyle!

teflon said...

I think in general most people are naturally inclined to not changing unless there is a strong reason to do so.. Learning new habits is an art. Letting go of old ones needs practice. I think tougher is to change the way you think. I'm still in my mid-30s, but I find it tough to break some mental patterns..

Linda Myers said...

Very cool about the smaller meals and the conscious exercise. I used to be able to get away without exercise and stretching. Now, if I don't do it, my body complains!


RNSANE said...

I read every word of your post, with great envy - and guilt - and resolution. I did lost forty pounds during my India stays but, during my month long visit to the South in January, I put ten pounds back on, wining and dining with friends - especially in New Orleans - and it is slow to come off. I am terrible about any kind of exercise. I hurt everywhere. Got that new shoulder last January and, now, it's time for a new right shoulder - but I will defer it till after my next India trip.

I really need to try yoga, at the very least - and I certainly could stretch and walk!!!

Midlife Roadtripper said...

I read this and learn. I appreciate the concise order of the essay. The practicality. Cheers to you. And note to me - follow suit.

Friko said...

This is something we do too. We now have our main meal in the middle of the day to stop that heavy feeling late at night. Vegetables are a large part of meals.

We have all become more health conscious. It may not allow us to live longer but we’ll probably feel better during the time we have left.