We’ve just had a wonderful week with Tim’s parents, who joined us for Christmas from the UK. Over a meal-time we got talking about all the places we’ve been together, the celebrations we’ve shared, the countries we’ve enjoyed exploring. An amusing memory came back to me then … that of being bought a new watch by Tim’s dad. It had one of those metal link straps and two or three links had to be removed by the jeweller because it was too big. Mike insisted that I keep the extra links ‘for when you’re fatter.’
I was in my early twenties and it sounded ridiculous (and scary) to me that I would ever be fatter. But evidently it seemed perfectly normal to everyone else to expect that after kids and as the years rolled by, I would take on extra kilos.
So today I find myself thinking about all the things people told me would be inevitable in life. You know the sort of thing: it’s inevitable to go into debt at university; it’s inevitable to struggle to lose weight after pregnancy; it’s inevitable that your husband will lust after other women; it’s inevitable to exercise less when you’re raising a family.
This all sounds just so fatalistic, don’t you think?
Alright, some things are inevitable. We cannot slow the march of time and, yes, we do develop wrinkles and most of us need to start wearing glasses at some point. There is no shame in getting older, neither should there be. But there is something in me that rises up against the fatalism we are fed over ageing.
When we left South Africa, I was just shy of my 40th birthday. I don’t recommend a big transition at that time of life, quite honestly! It’s true that I did pick up extra kilos - a combination of a change of lifestyle (and weather!), feeling a tad despondent, and different food. But here’s the thing: I began to believe the lie of fatalism that says that because I was in my forties, it was normal to get heavier.
As soon as we get hooked by this fatalism, we excuse ourselves from having to do anything about it. And, of course, if we think we can disregard nutrition and pay no attention to portion sizes without suffering any ill-effects, we are sadly deluded. The human body works like a machine and the input-output balance is basic to how we’re made. Nobody said we wouldn’t have to do anything different from the crowd in order to be different from the crowd!
So anyway, old habits die hard and my first train of thought went along the tracks of ‘I’ll just have to hardly eat for the rest of my life!’ That didn’t seem very sustainable, however. Then I (briefly) considered the prospect of running ultra distances into my eighties; surely that would keep the kilos off! I was inspired by reading about athletes way older than me - a story about an 81 year old nun-triathlete was going around on Facebook - so I thought there must be at least some potential for avoiding the apparently inevitable lack of fitness of one’s latter years.
To cut the longer story short, I then discovered Beachbody fitness programs. Yes, I was already running and already doing some home workouts. But there is nothing like exercising with top trainers, who encourage me to push myself and who also provide straightforward nutrition advice. And from my own home! (Feel free to contact me if you want more information about Beachbody.)
The biggest difference though? Every day I press play on my current workout, the message I hear is that change is hard but that change is possible. I hear that excess weight and reduced fitness are not inevitable by-products of getting older. I hear that my health is worth fighting for and worth investing in. I am reminded that how I live life in this body is how I live life in general.
And I am seeing changes - both visible and invisible. It’s great to feel toned and strong. It’s fantastic to have a positive mentality that will get these 45 year old legs up that mountain trail. It’s wonderful to push back against fatalism and to know that my choices really do matter. There is something so whole about applying what I believe about the rest of life-in-God to my physical wellbeing.
So, if you want to live your life healthy and strong, and you’d really like some support to do it, drop me a comment. For the past couple of months, I have been gathering a few friends in a group on Facebook and people in that group are seeing positive change: whether losing weight, or combating illness, or gaining a more life-giving rhythm, or re-establishing strength after a few years of a more sedentary lifestyle. And all of us - we have people in their twenties, thirties, forties and fifties - are being reminded by one another daily that, with God’s help, we can choose to live healthful lives, whatever our season.