I took my granddaughter to the beach last Friday. The weather cooperated—even though it was foggy, it was about 65 degrees and there was no wind—not bad for the Oregon coast. Rina-bug, Sahalie and I walked the beach and I watched my granddaughter and puppy frolicking on the shoreline, running from waves and chasing seagulls. Because Halie’s such a friendly dog, I usually leash her up whenever I see someone coming. Last year, a man shot and killed someone’s off leash pitbull for harassing their dog. I don’t know the details, but the thought of someone pulling out a gun and shooting my dog because she runs up to investigate them terrifies me. Halie has pit in her and people notice. So when I saw someone running towards us through the mist, I leashed her up.
It’s probably a good thing because a young man ran by, kicking a soccer ball with his feet. Halie loves balls and had already popped two that week. I marveled at the runner’s control of the ball and envied his athleticism. We soon lost him in the mist and decided to walk the mile or so back to the car to get the sand toys and park it somewhere on the beach to relax. On the way back, I noticed a nice jacket on a stick poking up out of the sand. The word soccer caught my eye and I surmised that the young man had become overheated.
We walked over the dunes, grabbed our stuff and by the time we’d returned, the man had gotten back to the stick to retrieve his jacket. He was about 20 and in stunning shape. He stopped to pet Sahalie and talked to us for a bit. Turns out he’s a soccer player for Concordia University in Portland. After conversing for a moment, the girls and I went and staked out our spot in the sand. I watched as he finished up his workout with calisthenics and stretching at the water’s edge and my envy—so overwhelming it almost made me cry— returned. I wanted that. I want to be that fearlessly fit. I want to run on the sand again. I want to climb mountains without crippling myself. I want to feel good again.
I started another program last week-a six week diet and exercise regime that begins fairly easily and increases in difficulty. The food plan is no nonsense and easy to follow. There’s nothing new in this plan, so I won’t go into detail. There’s nothing new in my resolve to get fit because I’ve been doing that since I was in my thirties. I’ve actually managed it a few times. I even ran a half marathon once—the whole damn thing. I lose weight, get strong and then drop the plot somewhere along the way. Then I’ll spend several years carrying an extra 20 to 50 pounds around before the desire to feel good overcomes my desire for cheesecake. And it’s not like I don’t know what I’m doing while I’m doing it. I know enough about diet and exercise to be a bloody nutritionist or personal trainer. I know when I sit down at a restaurant what I should order… then knowingly order something else. It’s not an issue of education. It’s in my head.
So it comes down to a brain thing. But then, doesn’t everything?
So how do I turn on and more importantly KEEP ON the light switch of motivation in my head? How do I get fit and stay fit without returning to fat? I’m old now. Well not old, old, but old enough. If I don’t do it now, I’m afraid I’m going to end up in a chair watching the Price is Right or Family Feud—a prisoner of my own frailty and self- indulgence. It’s not about how I look and it never has been. It’s about how I feel. I’ve called this summer, “the summer of reset” because so many things are changing and I am getting my house in order to live out the final third of my life with as much gusto as I can muster.
I want more education. I want to make a difference. I want to inspire. I want to try kite-boarding. I want to climb Mt. St. Helen’s. I want to go backpacking with my daughter. I want, I want, I want. I want to live my life up until the very moment that it’s gone.
I want to run on the beach like that young man and cool down at the water’s edge.
But how? Nike’s Just Do It motto is as helpful as a lead balloon. It’s not really a question of a magic pill. It’s a question of that brain switch. I used it to quit smoking. I know what it is—I just don’t know how to activate it and keep it activated. I’m motivated—not only do I want a multitude of things that fitness will afford me, but I have horrible reflux and don’t want to end up with esophageal cancer. As someone who has had cancer twice, I’m not interested in going down that road again. I’m doing all the things needed to destress my life and put together a support group. I’m planning my meals and doing my workouts and hoping for that magic activation. So I’m doing the right things and hope it works. I don’t really have any answers here and if I did, I’d probably market it and retire in Sunriver.
But maybe if I hold that feeling of envy, that longing for fitness brought on by that young man running in the sand with a soccer ball, I’ll be able to do it.