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5 minutes reading time (907 words)

Great News – And a Reality Check

Hello, friends. I wanted to blog at least once per month, but the holidays always mess with people’s regular schedules and plans, and I was not immune to the season. I’m sure you couldn’t live without me. (OK, maybe it’s just me that can’t live without me!)

The Great News part is that I have already achieved one goal. Since January of 2016 my blood work has shown I was prediabetic, and my Doc made me come back every six months for recheck. He gently kept after me and recommended I take a YMCA Pre Diabetes Lifestyle Awareness program. When my numbers kept going up after three checks, I knew I had to do something and followed the one-year course.  It was a lot easier than I thought to learn to adjust my eating and exercise habits, and I gradually lost a lot of weight while increasing activity. I loved that the only time the word “diet” was used was to teach that dieting alone is not a permanent solution, that it was about moderation and making good choices more than bad ones.

I was ecstatic when I opened the lab report after last month’s blood-letting. In the results they highlight areas of concern in red, and I’ve always had one or more red numbers slightly out of whack in addition to the creeping crimson Diabetes numbers. As I browsed down the page all I could see was green. No mistake, ALL of my health markers were in range! My Hemoglobin number was 5.6, one tick below prediabetic range. Before I knuckled down, it was at an alarming 6.4. When Doc saw the numbers he did a double-take. “You really reversed your course. Good job!”

I now humbly offer myself as an example for others who still walk in my old path. Believe in yourself, but you have to take the steady steps to bring positive change. It’s not that hard and it’s worth it. I’m giving myself an A+ on this front.

However, the Reality Check is that this journey is going to be every bit the challenge I thought it would be when I launched this effort to train and compete in the 1500 Power Walk event at the National Senior Games next June. You don’t just go from zero to 60 after being sedentary (in my case it’s zero to 65, my age!) In an earlier blog, I recounted finding out I have a back issue that won’t be going away. Physical therapy helped me tremendously after the flare up, and I now have a regular stretching routine that has relaxed my wound up muscles.

I suspended fast pace walking at advice of my therapist while going through this. “Let it rest with just normal activity and stretching and let’s see if it improves.”  It did improve, but it is chronic and needs to be managed to keep in check. Thankfully, the sharp tweaks are rare now, and my main complaint is transitioning from bed to vertical and whenever I have to bend over deep to pick something off the floor. Otherwise I can lift and move at my normal ability and walking is fine. In fact, it helps keep me loose. Time to carefully pick it back up a bit.

The past two weeks I’ve gotten out to walk more often and starting to do intervals of normal/fast while walking. There’s a straight road near my house that is great for training like this because of the line of street lights. I go one length fast and then relax at normal pace to the next light post. When my wife walks with me I will power ahead and back to her from the next post. (The amazing 94-year-old runner Roy Englert sparked the idea from his Personal Best feature. Read it Here) Soon I will mark off a 1500-meter length and start timing myself every week or two to see if/how I improve. Next, I have found three power walk events at upcoming local Florida Senior Games events in March and April. Work on the fundamentals and get more race experience before June. Sounds like a plan.

Of course, now that I’m blogging my Senior Games friends are popping up with their attaboys and advice. Thanks to everyone for your support, it really means a lot.  One of them is 2017 Athlete of the Month John White, a triathlete who has also done a tremendous job helping to grow the Wisconsin Senior Olympics, and he has served on the NSGA board. He’s a beast, as the photo I took of him at the 2017 tri competition shows.

He and others tell me back problems and aches are a part of aging and to buck up. I know, folks, and I ain’t quittin’ due to a creak or tweak, but my athletic trajectory is much lower than most longtime warriors like you who I greatly admire. I don’t dream of standing atop podiums after draining every ounce of effort from my body. My simple goals are to enjoy exercise through power walking, keep the weight off and, oh yeah, live forever. If my competitive nature blooms maybe I’ll get the fever to develop those “guns” John has worked long and hard for. Maybe there are other events and sports I might try in the future.  

But I’m not even thinking over my skis at this point. One “accidental athlete” step at a time!

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