Getting Healthy Over Sixty

After I turned sixty, I began to feel old. It was an age when I knew I would have to make a real effort to get healthy.

My life was pretty depressing at that point. I’d had to sell my house in New Hampshire, where I loved living, and move back to Florida.

Life wasn’t what I wanted it to be, so I turned my focus onto myself. I couldn’t control my lack of income, or even the place I lived, although I had certainly tried, but I could control some things. I could choose the food I ate and the exercise I got. I could focus on me for the first time in my life.

My Mistaken Beliefs in What is Really Healthy

I have an open mind and I like to keep learning. That has certainly been a requirement while doing my online job.

Without a family to cook for, I could now eat however I pleased and I was determined to eat healthy. After a few years I discovered that many foods I thought were “healthy” were actually not helping me.

breakfast, fruit, meal, waffles, healthy
I used to eat like this! Looks good, right? (photo credit: Pixabay)

I was eating toast and eggs for breakfast, or yogurt with fruit and oatmeal with apples. I was drinking lots of unsweetened juice and making smoothies. Potatoes were a regular part of my diet. I had cut down on eating bread, but I wasn’t against having a sub now and then, and every burger I ate was in a bun.

There were no desserts, ice cream, cookies or cake in my diet. I’d given all of that up, yet I did not seem to be benefiting from a “no sweets” diet.

I told myself I was doing better than most people, but I felt horrible.

I didn’t go to MacDonalds, or eat out at all very much. Vegetables and fish were a big part of my diet too. What more could I do?

When I went to bed at night I would be kept awake with heartburn. I’d never had trouble with heartburn before. I couldn’t lose a pound, no matter how much I walked (which wasn’t much) or how little I ate. I kept gaining weight and going up in clothing size.

My blood pressure has been high for years because of my kidney disease, but I desperately wanted to be medicine free and fix that problem myself. It was a big fail as my BP stayed too high.

The Road to Making Good Changes

Everyone begins down the road to making good changes in their lifestyle in some way. Sometimes (maybe often) it’s a wake-up call health-wise. I was feeling really lousy all the time. I felt like my body was dying slowly.

This was my journey.

First, I watched two documentaries that opened my eyes to new health information. The first, “Fat Fiction” showed me that good fats are necessary. It also showed me that carbs are bad as they turn into sugar, which I knew, but I did not realize where all those carbs were hiding. The show focuses a lot on Type 2 diabetes, which I don’t have, but the overall changes to diet certainly can help everyone. Everybody should watch that show. It will open your eyes to how food has changed to the point that it is killing us slowly.

The other show I watched was about fasting and how it can (sometimes) cure diseases. I don’t recall the name of the documentary, but it put that idea in my head. Short fasts seemed quite possible.

Not long after I saw those shows, I read about a study being done in California by scientists who were working to cure the type of kidney disease I have, where cysts grow uncontrolled all throughout the kidneys. They’d had success with treating rats and cats by using a Keto (low carb) diet combined with intermittent fasting.

keto food eggs, avocado, tomatoes
Eating Keto (photo: Pixabay)

As I checked further into the Keto diet and IF (intermittent fasting) I was convinced it was a good idea to do this myself. I could possibly lose weight, and maybe even cure my incurable disease. This was hope!

No Slacking Off, Keep Making the Effort

I’ve written about my journey into switching to the Keto diet and the mistakes I made in the beginning. Fasting every morning until noon is working very well for me and my carb consumption is low. I try very hard to stick to that.

If you are feeling lousy even though it seems you are eating the “right” things, it might be time to re-think your diet. Tell yourself you CAN make changes. Take small steps, and keep making the effort until it becomes effortless.

The best change I have made is walking every day. When I visited New Hampshire this past Spring, I began to take regular walks. When I returned to Florida I kept that up and I’m so glad I did.

dog and woman at water
Walking the dog (photo credit: Pixabay)

Being over sixty means I lose abilities quickly. If I sit around for a week, it’s back to ground zero when I start moving again. There is no slacking off because my body simply loses all the good.

I know how hard it is to get moving when your back aches, or your knees hurt, but I encourage you to do something. I only walk about a mile to mile and a half and I do it first thing in the morning. I had to work up to this! At first, any walking was very uncomfortable.

Walking first thing in the morning is very important because I can talk myself out of it if I wait! Here in Florida it can get too hot if I wait to walk past 7:00am. This is a motivator. Sometimes I am out on the street walking and feel like I am only half awake… but I do it.

biking, woman, elderly, exercise
Try biking too (photo credit: Pixabay)

Exercise first thing in the morning sets me up for a good day. I feel good that I walked. It sends me into my day with health in mind, which carries over to the food I choose to eat. Believe me, I don’t love walking here in Florida! I have to make myself do it. A big motivator is remembering how lousy I used to feel.

No Excuses, Sometimes I Must Yell at Myself

I’ve had many excuses to tell myself which have kept me sitting and not moving. “If only I had someone to walk with”, “It’s too hot”, “Walking the beach would be nice, but I hate that drive”, “It might rain”, “I have a lot of work to get done”, and “The walk is boring and ugly”.

Mostly I am just feeling sorry for myself because I don’t like where I live. Then I must be tough on myself and say, “Stop being a wimp and take an umbrella if it looks cloudy. Yes it’s humid and gross, but you only walk for 20 – 30 minutes so suck it up! The AC is waiting at home. Forget the beach, just walk the neighborhood or get on the treadmill.” Gosh, I can be such a baby.

And while I’m walking I have to urge myself to go farther and faster, a little at a time. I tell myself, “Pam, you are already out here doing it, so do it right”.

morning sun clouds Florida neighborhood
A view from one of my morning walks in the neighborhood

Two Things

Only two things stand between your present state and a better state of health, in my opinion. The first is food choices. The second is to be sure and move every day.

Of course there is more to being a healthy person overall, but for me, these are the two biggies. I’ve seen improvement in myself by changing these two things.

older couple walking
Walking sticks can help with balance (photo: Pixabay)

Fending Off Dementia

Here is a story and something I think about often.

My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimers in her mid-sixties. She was just about the age I am now.

Last year my sister, who is younger than I am, was diagnosed with dementia and she has gone downhill fast.

There is no other history of any type of dementia in my family for as far back as I can see. All my grandparents, and great-grandparents, lived into their nineties, except one grandmother.

When I think about both my mother and my sister some similarities come to mind when it comes to their lifestyle choices. Neither one ever made dietary changes for the better during the course of their lives. My mother was a big sweets eater. She didn’t like to do new things either and was a home-body who read books, played the piano and saved her money. She was definitely not active and I would say a very sedentary person. In all fairness, she was not exposed to this diet and lifestyle information either.

My sister liked to try new recipes but they were not necessarily healthy meals. She drank cheap beer and lots of it. She did very little moving and considered walking in her back yard, while her dog ran around, exercise. I took a walk with her once and she walked very slowly. Even though I always tried to get her to open her mind to new things, she was very stuck in her ways. Even though she worked a lot and made lots of money, she never used it to have fun, travel, or visit her sister, nephews and niece. She liked to sit around at home.

I do not want to be like either of them and I don’t think I am. If a low-carb diet and moderate exercise can keep me from having dementia, I will definitely make the effort.

The benefits I see to eating low-carb and exercising are all good enough to keep me on track. Unless, or until, I learn something new, this is my life.

Many thanks to the photographers at Pixabay for the use of the photos on this page.

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