Who Me?

As I write this (late July, 2013), I find myself staring at “the big 6-1.” It’s much less noteworthy than its predecessor. I do still feel “young at heart;” say, 30? That makes me a 30yo with 30 years’ worth of experience! Thirty is a number I can deal with, but 61 …? Who, me?

The question of disbelief, “who, me?” has been resonating around my brain lately with increasing volume. It’s been bouncing for quite a while, but is definitely louder and more insistent. The older I become, the more I appreciate the simple fact of survival. Of family and friends, way too many have departed much too soon. Still alive? Who, me?

With a growing list of ailments to add to my fine collection of a bad back, bad knee, bad great toe, and bad attitude, I was beginning to experience what my grandfathers told me. One used to say that “the Golden Years aren’t so golden.” (They certainly weren’t for him). The other used to say that “growing old isn’t for the faint of heart” (which he followed with a scornful laugh; but he was spot-on, as usual). Becoming more rickety? Who, me?

Hell yes, me! At age 35, I underwent l surgery to repair two ruptured disks in my lower back. It was unsuccessful and put an end to the running I did for exercise. (I have an extremely modest athletic background. I lettered in track in high school – one (1) letter – garnered much more by persistence rather than talent.) So, the downward spiral began and kept gaining speed.

Richard AgingEventually, my 160 pounds turned into 170; 170 begat 180 and soon begat 190. Two years ago, I probably couldn’t have run to the bathroom if I had to. I also developed pathological hypertension and other alarming health issues.

So, the most current who-me is something I have great difficulty wrapping my mind around: …in a few days, I will be participating in the Senior National Games racing 400 meters around a track against many of the best 60 to 64 year old runners in the country! Say what?? WHO?? ME??

I qualified for Nationals by winning my State’s race last year – miracle of miracles! That I will undoubtedly get smoked, isn’t a who-me. Being there is. It’s simply not possible without alien intervention!

Don’t believe that? How ‘bout this: a little over two years ago, my wife and I decided to take our health and fitness into our own hands. We joined a CrossFit gym. Once there, my initial thoughts were (a) we might make it through the month-long intro class; and (b) one way or the other, it’d be nice to lose ten pounds – to 180(!) from where I figured I could get to the low 170’s where I thought I’d feel comfortable with my weight. Never envisioned this transformation! Never. Who, me?

After four months of making very little progress, we decided also to change our nutritional style. We ate well – or thought we did. No sugar; my wife is diabetic. Very little junk; we knew better even then. Well-balanced meals with plenty of fresh meats and veggies; moderate carbs and starches. (Did I mention a little wine and dark chocolate? They’re not just for breakfast anymore!) So, we “went Paleo.”

At first, about 80% so as to have a couple of cheat/treat meals per week…. Twenty pounds in about twenty days. Boom. Gone. My wife had a similar result and dramatically improved her diabetes! Sip #1 of the Kool Aid!

Yes, it’s the nutrition, not so much the exercise. Then, a few months later, the elimination of wheat from our diet melted the remaining five to ten pounds from my midsection and I found myself staring at numbers on the scales which I hadn’t seen in F-O-R-T-Y-s-o-m-e years! I began to see an insane physique in the mirror! The 30yo me laughed! Often. Now I just shake my head. Always in disbelief! I look better than when I was running five miles a day! And, what’s this – abs?? Who, me?


Richard RunningGone are the artisanal breads I used to make, including the best waffles on the planet – made from freshly milled-at-home grains! Gone, too, is the pathological hypertension. It’s merely “benignly elevated” now. Nothing to write home about, especially considering my forefathers. Recent med labs are otherwise perfect. I’ll make that trade any day!

And, I can R-U-N again. (Sip #2 of the Kool Aid!) I still run with more persistence than talent, mind you. I can wrap my mind around the persistence-sans-talent part, but running? Sprinting? Nationally competitive?? Get outta here! Hollywood is so-o-o rejecting this script. Maybe they’ll go for my alien abduction version. You see, one night, there were these lights in the sky and ….

Bottom line: exercise has made me feel and look great. Fitness will do that, but feeding my DNA the way it is supposed to be fed has made me healthy. Very healthy. At 61. This boy’s “dun drunk the KoolAid.” Lovin’ life? Yeah, me!- Richard