Sunday, September 8, 2013

Healthy Changes, New Beginnings

"The miracle is not that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start." - John Bingham, No Need for Speed: A Beginner's Guide to the Joy of Running

First off, the healthy changes: For me, this is Day 5 of no diet soda and no chewing gum with aspartame. No artificial sweeteners AT ALL (unless there was some in my yogurt. Please note: Remember to check labels!).

I'm one of those women who switched to diet soda back in my late thirties when I began dieting in earnest. And dieting and dieting and dieting. There has to be some truth to that "diet soda is addictive" business because I wasn't even discriminating about what I drank. ANY brand would do, though Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi were my favorites. I even considered them "writing aids." Like a cup of coffee, a bottle or glass of soda relaxed me while working on a work-in-progress. Keep in mind that I was also having a pack of sugar-free gum (one filled with 15 pieces) that only lasted me 2 days at a time.

Really? Come on--all that aspartame can't be good for you.

This is coming on the heels of my declaring September "Healthy Month" in this household. Bill, my husband, is actually enjoying it. We're eating more fruits and vegetables in this household, and it doesn't matter if they're fresh, frozen or canned, though leaning more toward the fresh. That's not to say my candy dish doesn't offer Hershey fun-sized chocolates. Listen, life is short, and a little chocolate is good for the soul! But it's interesting how, more and more, the grapes and the mangoes are being reached for more than the candy.

Have I given up on gum completely? Not yet. Gum also relaxes me and, hey, one word: mint! But have you ever noticed how much chewing gum is made with that chemical? Your choices without it are pretty limited. Also, if I'm going to have sugar, I'd rather have it in my coffee. Big Red is made with sugar; since I don't like it as much as a minty gum, I have much less of it.

I don't know if I'll be able to get rid of all the aspartame in my daily diet, like in the case with yogurt, but if I can kick the diet soda and chewing gum habit, that'll be a great start. So those are the healthy changes.

Now for the new beginnings!

I've started 53. For years, even as a young person, I'd tell people, "I can't run." I could walk for hours, and over the years developed a love for hiking, as well. Running was too hard, for someone much more athletic, and once I hit a certain age, it was for young people (or older people who, I thought, had been doing it for a long time). Even as a kid, other kids outran me easily. Since I had no speed, I assumed running was just not in the cards for me.

So this being Keenan Healthy Month, I hit the treadmill last week, except instead of interval training with the incline, I put a little more speed on that baby. Miracle of miracles, I did not have a heart attack and I did not fly off the machine! Feeling bad & bold for a middle-aged grandmother, I headed to the greenway, where I took the advice of Jeff Galloway: Run, walk, run. For me, that meant a 10-minute walk first, then intervals of walking for 2 minutes and running for 30 seconds. Yesterday, on my third day, I was running for 1 minute at a time.

I've stopped saying "can't." I'm a runner. Me. After 50 years of saying I can't run.

Is this love? Or infatuation? I'll let you know. What I DO know is that you don't have to be young or athletic (though you should check with your doctor first; mine already knows I'm a walkaholic!) to run.

By the way, what they say is true. This IS fun. It doesn't matter that I take walk breaks. It doesn't matter that I'm not fast, that my run is more of a jog. I'm doing this for me, for fun as well as for my health.

And since my running shoes were frayed from all the walking I've done this year, here is the little gift I gave myself just for trying. Aren't they the cutest? (Wink!)

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