I had two experiences recently that let me know that I wasn’t in the best of places.
I went snowboarding in late December when I realized something horrible about myself. If you’ve ever been snowboarding, you know what part of the ritual is plopping your butt down in the snow so you can fasten your bindings. When I did this, my gut got in the way. I had gained so much weight that I was having a hard time bending over to reach my boots. My stomach fat was blocking the motion. I sat there and considered the situation for at least a couple minutes. I was not happy. And my butt was now wet.
The first thing I did when I got home was weigh myself. The scale blinked a distressing 176.o at me. An all time high. I have a light frame, similar to a skeleton with some skin and facial hair. I wear 156.0 much better.
75 year old gym rat
This month, I was at the gym pedaling away on the stationary bike. There was a lady on the one next to me. I’m competitive in all aspects of life, so I snuck a glance to see what level she was pedaling at. If you’re next to me on the stationary bike, we are racing.
She was alternating between 6 and 12 (max is 20). She wasn’t going crazy hard, but at a higher level than most people pedal at. I also noticed she had been on the machine for almost an hour.
A couple minutes later, someone came up to talk to her. I listened in:
- Guy: When will you be done?
- Lady: 5 minutes, I ride for an hour and I’m almost done.
- Guy: Wow, that is a long time and you’re going hard. Nice work.
- Lady: Thanks! Do you know that I’m 75? I do this 5 days a week. It’s how I stay young.
I nearly fell off the bike. That last thing she said blew me away:
It’s how I stay young.
Up until now, I had not glanced at her face, only noted her slim figure adorned with pink and black spandex. I turned around to join in the conversation. Despite her 75 years, she looked at least a decade younger. I was even more amazed after talking to her. She went on to explain that she rides for an hour 5 days a week and then does a light jog after that around the track. Amazing. This woman knows how to live.
Back to me
The weight gain was a culmination of two years of extreme chaos. Between a demanding job, two children, this blog and a home improvement project, life has been very busy. I once read that a person only has the willpower to control a finite amount of things in their life. While I held my life together, the main thing that fell by the wayside was a healthy lifestyle. I ate lots and lots of crap. Froot Loops? Guilty. Cap’n Crunch? Guilty. Eating an entire box of Girl Scout Samoas in 3 minutes? Guilty on more than one occasion (Nothing like getting 175% of your daily saturated fat in one gluttonous act). At the same time, my exercise routine dropped off. Can’t bike today, have to (insert one: finish the plumbing, tile, hang ceiling fans, paint, install flooring…).
(Mrs. 1500 note: This is entirely his choice – he cannot stop until it is done. This is my only complaint about him. True story: I was complaining about this very thing at a recent girls’ night, and one of the ladies said, “I would gladly trade my husband for him. My husband is an 80 percenter. He gets a job 80% done, and then stops.” So the grass isn’t always greener, but I still wish Mr. 1500 would take a break now and again…)
(Mr. 1500 rebuttal: What Mrs. 1500 says is technically true, but actually she withholds food and toilet paper if I do not meet her deadlines…)
(Mrs. 1500 response to a blatant lie from Mr. 1500: If this were really true, why are you even talking about your chunky backside?)
(Mr. 1500: I’m hungry.)
I had to take drastic measures. I went back on my nasty Soylent for a while. That worked, but I can only take it for a couple days, so not a good long term solution. I did change some other things and it’s working. As I write this, I’m down to 164.5.
(Mrs. 1500 note: I have exactly zero plans to divulge what I weigh.)
(Mr. 1500 note: Absolutely no comment here. I wish to live.)
What is working for me
- Carrots! During the day when I get hungry between meals, I shovel carrots into my face. While I don’t really enjoy them, they keep the hunger at bay with far fewer calories than cookies or whatever crap I was eating before. At dinner, the largest portion on my plate is always vegetables. I make sure that broccoli, cauliflower and other nasty green stuff make up least half of my plate. Warning: Eating half a bag of baby carrots in one sitting will make your stomach do somersaults. This is unpleasant.
- Eating at home: When I go out to eat, I order horrible things. Good-bye broccoli, hello anything fried. We used to eat out weekly. Now, we limit it to once per month. This has helped immensely. A bonus is the money that we’re saving.
- Experiment with good food: When I was a child, our family’s diet was limited to what my mom liked. Unfortunately, my mom likes about four things: meatloaf, tuna casserole (yeck!), hamburgers and sausage. Really, that was about it. Family meals would rotate between those four dinners. After I turned 30, Mrs. 1500 introduced me to Thai food. Holy cow, that stuff is great. Around 35, I tried Indian food for the first time. I didn’t like it at first, but now I do. You have no excuse not to try to replicate this good at home. Do yourself a big favor and check out the House of Spice blog for some great ideas.
What the hell does any of this have to do with an early retirement blog?
My parents’ retirement is killing them. They could do anything they want, but choose to do nothing but watch TV. Since they don’t live near, I don’t see them often. When I do, I see how they’ve deteriorated. Somehow, they become more sedentary every time. The first thing my mother does whenever we go somewhere is find a place to sit and plops down. It’s horrible seeing loved ones slowly die before your eyes, but that is exactly what they are doing.
On the other hand, others give me reason for optimism. We have neighbors that are knocking on 80. Despite their advanced age, they walk for miles every day. They also swim and keep active by working around their home. They are in better shape than many 40 year olds.
Health and quality of life is everything. All the money in the world isn’t worth anything if you don’t have your health. Keeping mind and body in top condition is critically important to successful retirement. I’m not going to stop working so I can sit around and watch TV. Exercise is at the top of my list when I quit my job.
I look forward to going for long hikes or bike rides every day after we drop the kids off at school. Keeping in the best shape possible will be my number one priority.
- I want to be able to keep up with my children.
- I want to bike through the mountains. (Some day, I’ll reach you Estes Park)
- I want to hike through my neighborhood and the open space that backs up to it.
- I want to continue to write code and learn new programming languages so my brain gets a workout too.
Hello carrots, bye-bye chunky butt.
Hey gym lady, want to race?
Mrs. 1500, where is that pot pie?
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