Sunday, June 3, 2018

Just Have to Laugh -- and Keep Walking

You just have to say "thank you," and then go back home and laugh -- or cry.

Today, coming out of the grocery store, a nice lady approached me and said she sees me walking my dog in the neighborhood. She said she worries about me -- that the dog might be too much for me; might pull me down! She gave me her phone number and encouraged me to call her if I needed someone to walk the dog for me.  And she meant not during vacation but in relief. (She also said she wants a dog of her own very badly, but her husband won't let her have one. So I sympathize with her on that score.)

Yikes, though -- I am the original steadfastdawgwalker, after all! (With or without the!) I walk dawgs not because I have to -- I have a fenced backyard -- but because I want to, for 1 to 3 miles at a time, daily. I was nothing but polite to the lady. We should always be appreciative of folks who want to help. But sheesh -- do I look that decrepit when I'm walking? (Maybe sometimes I do -- when I carry my walking stick behind my back, locked into place by the elbows, to function like a brace and give my stenotic back support. Maybe that does look bizarre. Probably I ought to wear my brace and quit using my walking stick as a substitute.)

Earlier this weekend, while getting her hair done, my DW told her hair stylist about me having spinal stenosis. But she added that if I lost some weight, I could handle it. Well, there's truth in that -- the pressure on the lower spinal canal does decrease when weight drops. Still, where's the credit? In my defense, I try. Today, I weigh 5 pounds less than I did 15 years ago after I had finished 32 sessions of cardiac rehabilitation in pretty decent shape. Had I eaten everything I craved and ditched all exercise since then, I would weigh probably 30 to 50 pounds more than I do right now.

As readers of this blog know, I am single-minded about keeping as physically active as possible through the senior years. I have chronicled my efforts through my Sixties and Seventies to meet the challenges of open heart surgery, total knee replacement, and, yes, spinal stenosis by persisting with workouts and daily dawgwalks (thanks to my dear walking bud of 15 years, sweet Sadie of blessed memory, and now tough Ellie Mae, the Junkyard Dawg). Not least, I am blessed to do regular Core Fitness workouts led by Sarah Parker,  my best fitness instructor ever.

It didn't start when I hit retirement age. In my 9-to-5 work years, I played industrial league softball, worked out at the "Y," and ran road races -- mostly 10Ks, 10-milers, and half-marathons, plus a few full marathons (26.2 miles).  Despite all that exertion, I never looked like a model of physical fitness, granted -- partly because of my endomorphic body tendencies (fatty gut in plain English)  and partly because of sometimes-undisciplined eating habits (which I have improved). Indeed, I have worked at fitness, and advocated for it, and because of that served on Virginia's first Governor's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports by appointment of Gov. Charles Robb in 1982.

So maybe I am feeling a little sorry for myself that I apparently look more like a barely upright wreck than I do a fitness enthusiast. I have even had people ask if they could lift my groceries out of my cart onto the grocery belt, or out of my cart and into my car. Yes, that is nice of them, but I don't need the help. I do strength training. I can do planks pretty well for being the oldest person in my class.

So as I indicated at the beginning, I suppose the best response is just to say "thank you" and go home and laugh about it (and not feel sorry for myself). "Maybe someday," I should tell myself, "you will need help just standing up, much less walking a dog."

                                                © Robert G. Holland  (2018)

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