As I fly home from a really great trip, I can’t help but think how rich I am. I’m not speaking monetarily, although the Vegas poker table was good to me. I mean my quality of life is rich and plentiful, and I am so grateful. I have a wonderful, loving husband of 2 years who encourages and supports me to do whatever crazy thing I think of next, my amazing extended family that does the same, and my goofy, loveable pitbull who I could not imagine my life without.
My reason for starting my fitness journey was not all aesthetics (although who doesn’t want a 6 pack?) My reasoning was my health, and the fear that I would have complications at a young age based on the choices I had made to smoke, not exercise, and not eat well. I starting noticing people, who were older, heavy, on oxygen, had low mobility and I was seriously scared. On the contrary, I noticed older individuals who maintained a healthy weight and lifestyle, and who were mobile and mentally sharp. I made the choice to work towards living a long and healthy life. I tell my students often that I understand their want to look a certain way, but their overall long term goal should really be longevity of life without complications.
I had smoked a lot for quite some time. I didn’t make smart food choices, and I was definitely overweight. I thought about my family and their medical history. My mother has hypothyroidism and my father celiac and severe back pain. 1 grandparent lived with Alzheimer’s for a long and difficult 10 years, while my other 2 grandparents died from cancer. They all lived until their late 70’s, early 80’s, but there were many years of health complications. It can be quite scary when you put it all down on paper like this. As I stated before, you cannot control hereditary disease, but you can do everything in your power to prevent or prolong an earlier than necessary onset.
While, in Vegas this weekend, I took a hot yoga class. I was regularly taking hot yoga but I fell off the wagon and let life get in the way as we tend to do. It’s been about 6 weeks since my last yoga class. I was sore and tight from the flight, hotel bed, and my own workout (not to mention lack of sleep and late nights). I knew I needed this class now more than ever, I knew it was going to me a rough one. Needless to say, it was hot in there and I felt my body slowly weakening as class continued. I tried my best to breathe, balance and hold, and not panic as my mind and heart raced in an 100+ degrees room. There were about 30 diverse students in this classroom. Our Yogi was great at keeping us present and engaged. At one point, he asked a younger gentleman behind me his age, in which he replied, “19”. Our Yogi stayed, “Wow, good for you. How many of you wish you started this when you were 19?” I immediately raised my hand as I struggled through my pose. It’s better to start late than to not start at all, but imagine what his later life will be like if he continues practicing yoga, mindfulness, and living an overall healthier lifestyle.
Our Yogi also asked another gentleman his age, in which he replied, “75.” I thought, “Wow, that’s incredible!” This 75 year old was keeping up with the class, and his mobility was comparable to the 19 year old. We all need reminders about why we started, and to be honest, sometimes I feel like a broken record to my students. Seeing this example of why I do what I do was a much-needed, crystal clear slap in the face.
My father, with the severe back pain and other complications, is 71 years old. About 5 years ago, when I opened my first gym, he took a gentle yoga class with me. It was scary how little he could move, and it’s scary how quickly his pain has progressed. He was not very active and he can barely walk without support from a cane. I wish he knew what the 19 and 75 year old, because I know a lot of his pain and lack of mobility could have been prolonged, maybe even some of it prevented.
We have all heard the phrase “Health is Wealth”. We don’t have control over much in this world, but we can control our bodies and the quality of life we give ourselves.