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To clarify...

(Follow-up to "New year – new hopes" Smile-breaks)

     Oh dear. I think I need to clarify about all that healthy walking, stretching and exercising talk last week. Several of you wrote to say how proud you are of me; some told me how exhausted I made you, reading about my entry into the daily walking/ stretching/exercising club. Some told me not to give up. Uh-oh.

     I misled you. I confess. Yes, I walk in the morning, walk at night, exercise on the exercycle, and stretch my weary muscles. But—and here's the catch—I don't always do all those things every single day. Some days I walk only one time; some days I walk twice but skip the exercycling; and occasionally—but rarely—I skip my stretches. Rarely, because when I do, my muscles complain first thing in the morning, and that's a real pain. So Sad

     So I stick with my stretches. I even added one a couple weeks ago.

     Ummm—about the sticking with it—all of it—not giving up, and all that. I've never been good at getting into a routine and staying with it, or forming new habits. Years ago when I took piano lessons I was bad. Mostly I waited until the day before my lesson to practice. Maybe that was my routine?

     Anyway, I'm trying hard to stick to the walking, stretching and exercising, because the benefits are so good and I don't want to go back to where every step, bend-over, getting in and out of the car is an effort where I have to grit my teeth and hope no one notices and thinks I'm old or something. Heaven forbid! Me? I'm fine! Great! No signs of aging on me.

     Oh, you noticed those wrinkles, that kind of stiff walk. That's okay. As long as you don't mention it to me, I can pretend I look like a young fifty-year-old instead of a young—um, tell you another time. Maybe.

     Confession time again. Last night—no, the night before last—I dialed down the resistance level on the exercycle back to where it was when I started. Why would I do that? Well, if your leg muscles started complaining, wouldn't you? Anyway, I did, but don't get too concerned. I'll ramp it back up in a few days. Maybe that wasn't even what caused my muscles to ache.

     If you're a true exercise fanatic and a faithful observer of daily routines, you can skip this next part, because—

     Sometimes—only sometimes, mind you—I skip everything and fall into bed feeling luxuriously rested and hoping morning won't bring reminders of what happens when you don't do a thing—not one single, solitary thing!—to keep yourself strong, flexible, healthy. Except eat a good meal.

     I did that yesterday—skipped everything—only two nights after reading all your encouraging notes to "keep it up" and how much longer I would live if I did. I think reading your words of praise and encouragement made me feel guilty. Oh, no, I thought, no way can I live up to their expectations. Thus this clarification, to lower your expectations and rid myself of the guilt.

     So now I only have to live up to my own expectations, right? And so I will. I'll walk in the morning. I'll walk in the evening. I'll sit on the exercycle. I'll stretch my tight muscles. I'll upgrade from three-pound to five-pound weights when I'm walking. I'll do all this every day, or as often as I can talk myself into it, or as much of it as I can handle, and I won't wait until the muscles complain to do it.

     That's why you see a smile on my face some days. That's when I've patted myself on the back for walking twice, exercising and stretching—all in one day. And who knows? One of these days I might start to eat kale in my salads and drink healthy smoothies.

     Don't hold your breath. . .

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