When I developed the pictures, he saw his belly sticking out from under his sweatshirt. He was only 32, too young for a gut. Around the same time, some folks at his work had started a weight loss pool. Everyone put in $10 or $20, and the first person to lose 10% of their weight would win the money. Dad changed his diet. No more sweets. No more tall stacks of Oreos, no more ice cream or cake. And then came the popcorn. Every night he had a bowl of air popped popcorn with no butter or salt or anything, and a diet Coke. If he got the munchies, he would have some tortilla chips and salsa. He started having oatmeal for breakfast. Every morning. Oatmeal with a little honey and some raisins. He didn’t really exercise much. He might meet a buddy to play racquetball once in a blue moon, but aside from mowing the lawn, there wasn’t a lot of physical activity. Dad won the office pool.
But it didn’t stop there. For 25 years now, my dad has eaten oatmeal for breakfast every morning, though he no longer uses honey, just raisins and other dried fruit. He brings a salad to work for lunch every day, as well as healthy snacks like almonds and fruit. On the weekends, he has a tuna salad sandwich (mustard only, no mayo) and some baked beans. And he still eats a bowl of air popped popcorn for a snack every night. I can only recall two times during the past 25 years that my dad has eaten something that might be considered a sweet, besides fat free, sugar free frozen yogurt– at mine and my sister’s weddings, he had a bite of cake. He is an amazing role model.
My dad recently celebrated his 57th birthday, and he has the body composition, cholesterol, and blood pressure of a fit 40 year old. (Did I mention that for past several years, he’s being doing PX90 every night after work?) Just last weekend, he completed his first ever mountain bike race. He only recently started riding!
Oh, how I wish I had my dad’s self-control and discipline! Diet is the one area where I still really struggle. I ate an entire funnel cake all by myself this summer. I really regretted that. But I didn’t throw in the towel like I would have done a year ago. “Oops! There’s my mistake,” I would tell myself. “There’s the proof that I can’t do this! Might as well have some cheese fries, too.” But this isn’t about now.
It’s about 25 years from now. It’s about being healthy enough to take my grandkids to the beach. It’s about choosing every day to make better choices next time, regardless of what I chose last time. It’s about living my best life… for the rest of my life. I want to be one of those gray haired ladies in their sixties and seventies, running a 5k with their girlfriends on the weekend– because they can. And they’re usually winning their age group! Not because they’re fast, mind you– but because they’re there. They showed up. They may be one of 5 people in their age group out of the 500 in the race, but they showed up, and they finished. That’s what I want to be– someone who keeps finishing 25 and 30 years from now.