Growing Old Ain't for Sissies: What's Your Choice?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Well, there is one alternative to growing old but that one is far less desirable than getting old. I want to talk about getting old. Growing older is an inevitability but growing up is a choice. Maturing physically is inevitable but we can be immature forever.
I watched my parents age in ways that were polar opposites. My Daddy struggled with heart attacks, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, high cholesterol, strokes. He quit smoking after his heart attack at age 40. We watched the vitality drain from his large and powerful body. He had a bad draw of cards from the gene pool but he also compounded his problems with a poor diet, high in fat, refined carbohydrates and potatoes as his primary vegetable. Daddy's idea of exercise was a wonderful 18 holes of golf, riding in a cart, followed by an hour or two at the infamous 19th hole (the bar) drinking Diet Coke. He loved to watch TV. Daddy died ten years ago - when he was 75, after having been incapacitated by his third stroke, trapped in a body that did not allow him to speak, move, or interact with those he loved and who loved him more dearly than words can tell. He was lucid and trapped in that machine for almost two years before his death.
On the other side of the universe, my mom is alive and very, very well. At 81, she swims competitively, is a vegetarian, subscribes to every health newsletter on the planet, walks daily, and still strength trains. She is and has been underweight most of her adult life. She quit smoking at age 52 and has had alcohol since age 50. She drew on the the good side of the gene pool and has avoided the cancer, RA, and psoriatic arthritis in her gene pool. She has outlived two younger sisters and a younger brother. My mom is a big reader and rarely watches TV.
With both parents, I have seen brief periods of time where they seemed to age more rapidly than usual, physically and cognitively. Both of them would then level out again but my Mom seemed to spring back more quickly.
This is important to me because I got the bad draw from both gene pools. Unlike my siblings, I have struggled with disease since I was 32. It is fairly likely that even though I am the second of four, that I will be the first to die, since the rest of them have avoided the scum of the gene pool better than I. Even my youngest sibling, a crack cocaine user for 30 years is in better health than I. Despite this, I eat intelligently, exercise as much as I am able and educate myself about health, nutrition and my disease challenges. I keep looking for a solution and I will not go gently into that dark night. At least not in the next 30 years...
I am not writing this to depress anyone. I am writing it to let you know or remind you that you have both a responsibility and a choice to make about your own aging. Here are my hints and tips for aging gracefully:
1. Educate yourself about your family health history and share this information with your children and grandchildren. Information is power.
2. Refuse to use your family history as an excuse not to work toward the highest levels of health possible.
3. Remember that no setback is permanent. Our bodies are miraculous machines capable of healing and renewal. Never ever ever give up!
4. Don't expect healthy living to be easy, fast or cheap. Easy, fast and cheap in health is as bad as easy, fast and cheap in food. That cheap fast food ruined the health of a generation, remember?
5. Eat your food as close to the way that God made it as possible to give yourself adequate nutrition for optimum health and or healing.
6. Drink lots of water. There is a reason that it covers most of the earth and that our bodies are filled with it.
7. Make activity a permanent part of your life. People who never quit exercising rarely get fat. Make it fun and make it desirable for those kids and grand kids. If they never put on extra pounds, they'll never have to take them off. This lets us enjoy better, longer use of your glorious machines.
8. Keep a sense of humor, delight in small moments of pleasure, capture the beauty of today and put it your memory banks for a day when you'll need that extra dose of happiness. Attitude counts!
9. Be willing to pay it forward. In the end, your life is not just about you. The choices you make have an effect on everyone and everything around you. So get out there and make good choices - for yourself, your children, your grandchildren, your friends, future generations and the earth.
What's Your Choice?
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I choose to continue getting healthier. Now so much is offered, so that we are convinced to believe it, to do it or at least to try!

    Thank you for this wonderful blog.

    3288 days ago
    Humbling and inspiring! I choose to age as well as I can!
    3307 days ago
    Great blog, Martha. We can't control our genes but there are many things in our lives that we can control to make the best of the hand we've been dealt.
    3309 days ago
    Thanks Martha for the heads up. I guess sometimes we concentrate on weight loss and being healthier and we don't always look at our genes. My mother has been overweight for most of my life with heart issues and other illnesses and my father has diabetes, high cholesterol and could lose a few pounds. I am trying to make better choices and who knows maybe they'll end up joining me on this journey.... emoticon emoticon
    3310 days ago
    Whenever I talked to my father-in-law I would ask him "How are you?" He would reply quickly "I am still vertical!!" I miss those days. He had a quick wit and was funny with sayings like that. Of course I would respond "That is a good thing!!" Take care of yourself. Your body is your temple!! Hugs, Moni
    3310 days ago
    As life has it,,, I am in the middle of 5,,, smack dab so. :) I am ALSO the ONLY gal ! WOOHOOO TY Daddy ! For he has SPOILED ME ROTTEN due to this ! BUT ALSO for another reason,,,, I've NEVER really been "healthy" though I've TRIED and TRIED to be "like the other kids" !!! And I NEVER STOPPED !!! Even to this day NO MATTER WHAT THe Dr's say to Me, and they KNOW HOW STUBBORN I AM ,,,I KEEP ON Going ABOVE what "they say" to me ! GGGRRR ROUGH !!!!! I get FIGHTHING MAD to hear "I am so sorry Diane, you can't do" such and such". for to me that just becomes a "OH YEAH?" and "BULL OH LONEY !!!" I was told many yrs ago "Diane, STOP trying so hard to get out of that wheelchair, you will never so." and I FOUGHT FOR IT With ALL I had !! It took me time, BUT I DID IT ! And to this day I can STILL WALK short distances ! GO ME !! GO ME !! GO ME !!!!

    So that #8 and #9,,, its ALL about the TUDE and PASS it along to the fam !! OH YEAH !!!! I have done so and the grands LOVE IT !! But, they NOW ALSO try to keep me back wards,,, MUCH to their OWN AMUSEMENT this RARELY WORKS !!! Up to 2 yrs ago, I was even doing ROLLERSKATING (LOL hanging onto the walls for DEARAH LIFE ! STILL I WAS !). I have severe otheoporsis, we KNEW if I had fallen,,,it was OVAH ! So yeah that's what made me stop,,,and facing paralyzism,,,I HAVE to stop many sports I WANT TO DO ! GRRR IT ALL ! For they ALL KNOW now to NOT DARE Gma,,,, for I WILL THREATEN THEM (and MAY DO IT OLOL SO I SAY !) to DO IT !! (LOL LOVE SCARING THEM ! makes them STILL DO FUNNY THings in their little pants though they are all teens now ! ) Thats just for funny kicks,,,which of course makes us ALL LAUGH !!! Didnt you say to LAUGH?

    3310 days ago

    Comment edited on: 3/26/2012 2:50:19 AM
    Wonderful reminder for all of us, so thank you for this one! We do tend to complicate our lives when we ignore the obvious facts, don't we?

    Knowledge is power
    Perfection through practice
    3311 days ago
    Good blog. Lots of food for thought. Both my parents are gone and I am working on improving my health at last!
    3311 days ago
    Great blog Martha and so very true. I think it is also important to challenge the mind as well as the body. Both of my parents are 84 now and so I don't know how I will swim in our gene pool. I have characteristics from mostly dad's side as far as health goes--from his family that never actually affected him. My body shape is a lot like mom's. It is a struggle to fight that but I am determined.

    Thanks for an intelligent and caring message for all of us. Life is a series of choices. We can choose to be optimistic and as healthy as we can be!

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    3311 days ago
    We gain so much power through actively making the choices, too.

    3311 days ago
    tell me about bad luck with genes , I'm the only one fat in our family emoticon . BUT, I'm grateful for my fat healthy body so in the end maybe it wasn't such a bad draw . I always knew I could inherit them , on my fathers side cancer every generation , on my mother cardiacs and a few diabetes . I always knew diabetes was a risk , since I was a kid so I avoid most of the times sweets , starches , bread and all the things with a high glycemic index and the salty stuff too. I have chronic pain but not so bad arthritis , considering the huge weight I always had. my mom is half of my weight and has the same pain and much worse joints. I workout so I can move and meditation helps too. I'm not thinking too much at this , what will be will be , I try to make the best choices now and I don't intend to give up on myself
    3311 days ago
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    Thank you this is so true,like Anna,I agree with you here.We all have to make these choices and focus on what we can do to keep ourselves from premature death.Thank you for posting dear Martha! emoticon emoticon Diana
    3311 days ago
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    Thanks Martha, we all have to be mindful off our health, what a wonderful blog!!!
    3311 days ago
    Thanks for the advise. Keep it up.
    3311 days ago
    Amen! I agree with you 100% .... My grand father died at the age of 51(mothers dad) my mother died of the age of Dad was adopted at the age of 6 back in the 30s and there is know way we can find out what bad genes he carried over to me and my sibling's. He past away at the age of 74....I'm next to the oldest out of 7 kids..we all have some kind of illness. BUT that does NOT stop us from living a full life and to enjoy our family's. We all have a great sense of humor..we laugh at each other...We appreciate what we have and we all try to eat healthy and to be happy for what we have.
    With the passing of our parents...watching them die of a slow death ..CANCER.
    We thank God every day for the blessings that he has given us to live one more day.

    3311 days ago
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