By: Del Moon
Where to start?
I should have started blogging when I joined the National Senior Games staff in 2013 as communications and media director. But some baggage came with me that had to be sorted out, and more details will be shared in future entries. But it’s now comfortable to share personal thoughts about helping to raise awareness about the Senior Games Movement…and how my own life relates to it.
The reason my comfort zone has expanded is because I finally crossed the Rubicon and decided to compete in a sport at age 65. Last month, while on a trip for a Personal Best public relations event at the Washington State Senior Games, I stepped on the track in Olympia and competed in their 1500-meter Power Walk event.
I can just envision every one of my longtime friends and family members laughing or turning their faces into “Wow” emojis. But it’s true, and this blog is intended to lock the door behind my decision and force me to follow through. I have to do this. It’s about my quality of life.
It was my first competition since middle school, and I’ll share how it went and what I was thinking in the next blog. Suffice to say that it exceeded my expectations. I hadn’t even thought forward about anything but keeping a pace and establishing a 1500 time to practice against, so it took a minute to sink in that a gold medal was hanging around my neck. Emoji time.
You see, I have never been a sporty type, only having played little league baseball and schoolyard games as a youth. There’s a medical reason of sorts for avoiding strenuous sports (more on that later) but I now realize it should never have been an excuse to not be active. I also have this thing with food – I love to cook and eat. I lived in Louisiana for 25 years and they take your Man Card if you don’t learn how to cook there. Unfortunately, I love it a little too much and have carried that legacy forward over my belt.
The decades and low activity added pound after pound. Last year, I got a double whammy from my doctor: I had reached my highest all-time weight, and lab work showed I was climbing high on the pre-diabetes scale. Ruh Roh.
So there I was, the keyboard behind the NSGA message urging aging folks to stay active to achieve their optimum health and longevity, which is the heart of the Personal Best initiative I created five years ago. Yet, I wasn’t walking the talk. The epiphany came that I was exactly the sedentary Baby Boomer I was trying to reach!
Action time. At my doctor’s advice, I took a pre-diabetes awareness course at the local Y and learned how to put together all the stuff I really already knew to set a course of action. I’ve done diets and always saw the pounds jump back on my gut. This course did not restrict any food, but taught balance, portion control and avoiding triggers and traps that sabotage good efforts. I had to keep track of what I ate and not go over “bank” of daily fat grams assigned for me. It also highly promoted the need for at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week.
At the end of the year-long program I had lost over 25 pounds, and I immediately targeted another 10 pounds as my ultimate goal for maintenance. For activity, my wonderful wife and I upped our occasional morning walks to five times a week as a baseline, and this has now become habit.
So, the stage was set. I became intrigued when NSGA decided to add Power Walk as a medal sport for the 2019 National Senior Games presented by Humana. It’s not as technically demanding as Race Walk, and is therefore offers a gateway sport that people with little or no experience can participate in.
There’s one additional motivation I have latched onto. As I pondered actually doing this, a thought came up: Has anyone working for NSGA ever actually competed in The Games? After some research, it seems no one has. That did it – I had a goal to be the first staffer to compete in National Senior Games. There’s no turning back now!
Stick with me as I “walk you through” my journey to The Games, and there will be plenty of diversions to share favorite stories, pertinent memories and inspirational moments, sprinkled with dumb humor. The fun is just beginning.