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.