Chez Gainey, our own continual renovation project…
As I was taking my morning walk around our old neighborhood, I noticed that one of the big houses that I always pass had been renovated. Like many of the historic homes in our ‘hood, it had once been a grand lady, but had slipped into a shabby state over the years of transition that our neighborhood has experienced. I was so excited to see the transformation- when Dan and I see this happening, we always chant, “Fix ’em all up!” Every house that is shown some love and improved makes the whole wonderfully eclectic neighborhood better. We love living in this richly diverse neighborhood with its close proximity to UAB; we are white, black, Asian, Latino, gay, lesbian, straight, doctors, nurses, artists, professors, students, dog lovers, cat lovers, music lovers, and on and on. The diversity is a thing of beauty, and seeing the homes come back to their glory one by one always lifts my spirits.
I was reminded of my own personal renovation yesterday. A friend posted a Facebook memory from a few years ago that gave me a jolt when I saw it. I was on stage with the Alabama Symphony playing contra bass clarinet, over fifty pounds heavier than I am now. I was going through a very difficult time- Dan had been layed off from a wonderful job, Mom had moved in with us and wasn’t always happy at losing her independence, I had broken my ankle severely not too long before, and there was other stuff roiling around. I didn’t handle it well and stopped exercising, depending on food to help me through. I have battled weight my whole life, but never at this level, and I felt hopeless and destined to be heavy the rest of my life.
Finally something clicked, and I felt the determination grow in my heart. I wanted to change, get back on the right path. I was turning fifty and didn’t want to end up with the myriad of health issues I watched my mother struggle with over the years. I began to exercise again, and it was so frustrating to remember how strong I had been and just how far I had let myself go. I remember being at the back of Dan’s yoga class, lying on my mat crying because I could barely keep up with the most basic parts of the class. I stuck with it, though, and began to become stronger.
When Mom got sick and then died, grief took me away from my healthy habits for a while as my heart and mind healed from the loss of my greatest love. As I came through the fog, I rededicated myself to my health, doing things very differently. Instead of trying to be ‘skinny’, I focused on being healthy, making small changes. I began drinking hot water with lemon each morning, tons of water throughout the day, tracking everything I ate and drank on Myfitnesspal. I gave up sugar and vowed to do some sort of exercise at least six days a week. I worked on portion control and making better choices at meal times, and I made myself get on the scale each week so I could catch a problem at a couple of pounds rather than fifty.
This is a never-ending battle for me, just as it was for my father and my oldest brother. I care nothing about being skinny- I want to be strong and fit as I begin to transition into my senior years. I don’t to make poor choices now that will impact the quality of my life for years to come. My mom stopped moving in her seventies, and she paid dearly for that by the time reached her mid-eighties. I want to do my best to be a walking, kickboxing, yoga-doing grandma when the time comes. There won’t be any covers of Sports Illistrated in my future, but I hope to feel good in my skin, strong enough to do all of the things that Dan and I enjoy. I’m also working hard on doing some renovations under the hood, as being healthy is a total mind, body, and spirit package. No perfection here at all- just me doing the best I can to be better, do better. Here’s to your health!