During my lifetime, I’ve ended up doing almost everything that I swore I’d never do. For instance, I swore I’d never be a copy editor at a newspaper. Well, that position ended up being my first job out of college. I swore I’d never go to graduate school. Now I’m nearing the end of a doctoral program. And I swore I’d never embrace cooking, believing that the ratio of time spent in the kitchen and the reward for effort didn’t match up. Yet if you look in my kitchen, you’ll find that I’ve got loads of cookbooks and periodically dabble in cuisines from other countries.
And then there are the things I always assumed I’d have at this point in life, like a husband and kids. Instead, I have extended group of close friends who I consider my “chosen family.” I also assumed I’d always be athletic, having grown up playing a variety of sports as a child, teen and adult. Little did I know that an injury during my middle age years would stop my efforts for awhile and definitely make me more hesitant about diving head-long into sports and exercise.
Finally, there are things that I always assumed would happen, but which seemed to sneak up on me. For instance, I knew eventually I’d reach middle-age, but I wasn’t thinking about a slowing metabolism or the physical changes that I would go through. Sure enough, I’ve reached that point. And I didn’t expect my mother to die until much later in my life. Yet she did after a two-year period (2005-07) when she battled Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Alzheimer’s disease, which I chronicled for HealthCentral’s Alzheimer’s site while I took on the roles of Mom’s caregiver and advocate. And I now have an 80-plus-year-old father who lives independently less than a mile from me, but who increasingly needs assistance.
The challenges presented by a multi-faceted life, the stress of a graduate program and an aging parent, as well as the physical changes that I’m undergoing mean that diet and exercise are often high on my priority list (even though at times they don’t make it onto my actual daily to-do list). What I hope to bring to this regular sharepost for HealthCentral’s diet and exercise is the vantage point of someone who has reached a crossroads in her life. The questions that I hope to address, from my vantage point as well as from my father’s and from a group of friends, include:
1. What do I want now in life and what am I doing to help myself get there?
2. What am I doing that may be sabotaging my efforts?
3. How do I consciously focus on taking the steps to ensure that my health and well-being allow me to do what I want to do in the upcoming decades? And how does diet and fitness play a part?
I also hope to add one more element to my regular postings: how can someone help older relatives embrace healthy lifestyles focused on diet and exercise, even when they face difficult health issues. I base this on my father’s situation. He has multiple health issues – high blood pressure and chronic pain in his lower back, among other physical challenges – and often opts for the ease of eating a bowl of cereal.
I look forward to work with you and other readers so together we can learn how we can use diet and exercise to age gracefully and healthily, and how we can help our elders do so as well. Here’s to our health!
Published On: January 25, 2010