June 5, 2017
It's my birthday today. I'm getting older and so are my friends and family. You are too, probably. It's getting harder to eat well, exercise and stay in shape.
Why is it getting harder? Everyone has their own reasons and they're good ones. The reasons become more convincing as we get older and busier. That's not what I want to talk about right now. I've started to notice something with people I care about that deeply concerns me.
When we were young we took staying in shape mostly for granted. We ate and drank what we wanted and let metabolism, good luck, and naturally active lifestyles handle it for us. As we got a little older we found we had to put some effort into staying healthy. For some of us that effort become an ingrained set of habits and values. For others it didn't.
Now, as we're continuing to age, my friends are noticing that their weight is out of control. They drink too much, by anyone's definition of "moderate." They are being diagnosed with lifestyle-related diseases. They're on medication to manage chronic illnesses. And one daily medication is becoming two is becoming three.
Maybe you're in the same boat, or maybe you will be someday. Will you shrug your shoulders and accept the inevitable decline of your health with age? Will you give up?
Here's something else I've noticed. Our bodies, and overall health, is incredibly adaptable. If you can walk 100m today and walk every day you will soon be walking 1000m. And not long after that 10 km1.
And then you'll start running. And maybe you'll only run 1 km the first time and take breaks, but if you run every day soon you'll be running 5 km without breaks. And then 10 km.
You'll find that you've started losing weight, and that you're sleeping better and have more energy. And that will motivate you to start eating a little better. Maybe cut down a bit on the drinks. And you'll get healther. Eventually. Because the human body will adapt, if you work at it every day and give it time.
As long as you don't give up.
About three years ago I was inspired by The Healthy Programmer to start walking, then running, then swimming. A couple of weeks ago I (slowly) finished an indoor 1/2 triathlon. Later this year I'm hoping to complete a full triathlon indoors. I never thought that I'd be able to complete a triathlon, but now it is the next step in a progression of goals set and achieved.
The body is like that. You can set goals and make daily progress towards them. Sometimes you will hit plateaus and sometimes you will regress, but over the long term you will get healthier. Everybody starts from a different place, but you can always make progress. No matter where you are right now there is a next step, and a step after that.
Just don't give up.
1 328 feet, 0.6 miles, and 6.4 miles respectively.