I am not a big believer in New Year’s resolutions. I have always tended to make them too ambitious and wound up falling off the wagon before the month of January even drew to a close. However, I do believe that this is the time of year to really start thinking about achievable goals for 2016. If you are a racer it’s time to start thinking about your goals for the season. Do you want to complete your first half iron man? Do you want to improve your time trialing skills? Do you want to become an overall better runner or swimmer in the coming year? Start to think about your objectives and what steps you will need to take in the coming months to set the foundation for achieving these goals.
Even if you are not an athlete, make a goal for yourself and try to make it something that is doable. It’s never too late to start being active; it can truly improve your mental and physical health as well as your overall quality of life.
My mother was not into exercise. She had worked out at the gym a little bit when I was young, but then had taken a two decade hiatus from fitness. She would sporadically ride the stationary bike in our basement for a week here and there, but that was pretty much the extent of her exercise. I wouldn’t say she was completely sedentary. She would do yard work and work around the house, but she didn’t “work out” in the traditional sense.
In her late fifties she started having severe knee pain which turned out to be terrible arthritis. Cortisone shots and heavy duty pain medication would barely put a dent into the agony she felt. After struggling for close to a year, she wound up having knee replacement surgery in 2008. The recovery seemed long. She was still in pain for a while after the surgery, but eventually it became less and less as she recovered. After full recovery from the knee replacement she no longer had any pain and returned to her normal day to day activities.
As she reached her early sixties she started to see similar issues with some of her friends and family members as their bodies began to deteriorate. They wanted to be active, but their sedentary lifestyles had now lead to chronic pain or medical issues that made it difficult to sometimes even get up and walk. Some of them probably needed various replacement surgeries as well, but refused to go through with the operations. Seeing friends of hers go through these issues and knowing that she had gone through the effort of having the knee replacement, she realized that if she wanted to continue to be active and healthy that she needed to do something now. So at age sixty two she joined a gym.
I would walk into that gym after work and see her on an elliptical, working as hard as any twenty two year old up there next to her. She started taking my spinning class on Tuesday nights and I watched her do every sprint and every jump and turn up the resistance every single time I indicated. She power walked some 5K races with the family and she always worked hard all the way to the finish line. She didn’t notice a significant change in her body shape, but when she went to the doctor he reported that her cholesterol had dropped dramatically. She also noticed she had an easier time doing things outside that had seemed difficult or tiring before.
Then the gym closed. This gym had been a friendly and convenient place for her to work out and when they shut their doors she seemed lost for a bit. I thought maybe she was going to fall off the fitness bandwagon altogether. However, I stopped by her house one day, several months after the gym had closed and she told me that she had walked four miles that morning. She walked four miles the next day too and before I knew it, she was walking four miles four to five days a week. She would walk in the dark in the early mornings and on gloomy drizzly days. Rain, snow, sleet or hail, she seemed to be walking without fail. So now my mother, who will be sixty seven this year and whom no one would have classified as an athlete has determined to be as active as she can be and not let anything keep her down.
So no excuses! It’s never too late to start being active. Whether you are twenty seven or sixty seven, just do it. You don’t have to start with a triathlon or a marathon, but get up off the couch and take a walk around the block. Walk up and down the stairs in your house during commercials while you are watching TV. Spend some time outside instead of sitting in front of your computer. It can make a huge difference in your health and well-being now, and especially later in life.