Nag alert: we all need to move our bodies every day. Period. Running, walking, spinning, biking . . . whatever your choice is, you’ve got to do it every day. You’ll keep your weight down, health check numbers where they should be, and it just feels good! But, sometimes we need that little extra reason to get us out there.
While writing my book for women over 50, I was insisting that my readers had to, at the very least, walk 10,000 steps every day, and yet, I was barely making it to 3,000. Why? The same excuses that you probably have–too busy, too tired, will do it later, have a headache, writing a book. There I was, telling women what to do, and barely doing it myself. Until . . .
Sarah and Elizabeeth have been asking for a dog since they could speak. Every year, their birthday and holiday wish lists had “dog” at the top. Howard and I put them off for years (full disclosure: especially Howard). But, one day last March, Howard woke up and said, “I think we should have a dog.” Huh? Was I not smack in the middle of writing a book? Could I possibly devote any time to training a puppy (which is what I had assumed he meant)? And, we all know it’s mom who takes charge of the new dog, no matter what the other family members may say. But, it was too late. His words hung in the air, the girls too stunned to talk, mouths open, eyes wide. The puppy train had left the station.
As I sat there, pondering how I was going to finish the book, and deal with a new puppy, on top of everything else, a thought came into my head. I can’t claim it as my own, original idea, mind you, because Howard and the girls had actually brought it up several times before, whenever the subject of “dog” came up. But, all of a sudden, I stood up, feet firmly planted on the floor, hands on hips, and said “Okay. I’ll agree, with one caveat — our dog must be a rescue dog, and not a puppy.” There, I said it. I agreed to the plan, but with my own little spin. It really made perfect sense — we’d be rescuing a dog that needed a home, and it would be a dog, not a puppy, so the presumption was that he or she would be at least partially trained. Since the girls had decided long ago that their dog of choice was a Brittany, they flew to the computer and went to the “National Brittany Rescue Network” and got to work finding their perfect dog, while chatting and fighting over who would get to walk him the most. Yeah, right.
It took a few months, but finally, Gunther, a perfect 6-year old male Brittany, was flown to us from Michigan. His family had to give him up for financial reasons, and he had been living with a wonderful foster family until a permanent home could be found. At La Guardia airport, the crate slid down the ramp, with Gunther inside. We were so nervous we could barely bring ourselves to open the door of the crate. But, we did, and out he came, and looked like he could be saying “Okay, let’s go home.”
Howard always said he would never, ever let a dog sleep on our bed, or even in our bedroom. It took him exactly one night to take an old blanket from the closet, declare it “Gunther’s Blanket”, and place it on top of our comforter. To say that we are completely gaga over this dog is a true understatement. He is charming, elegant, dignified, calm, completely trained, and loves us with that unconditional love that I had only read about. But, I digress . . .
Gunther is a Brittany, and Brittanys need to move. Well, living in an apartment building in Manhattan, I’m not about to let him “out the back door” to run around a few times a day (it’s a pretty big drop from the 18th floor), so (which brings us back to the “move our bodies” message), I am forced to get out and take him on long, intentional walks and runs. Gunther has been the number one biggest contributor to moving my body every day, no matter what the weather. Three times a week Gunther and I run/walk (see program in The Best of Everything After 50) for five miles through Central Park, and the other days I take him on long, fast walks . . . all of which have allowed me to surpass my goal of 10,000 steps every day and lose 12 lbs. A bonus is Howard takes Gunther on his last walk of the day, around 11pm, and usually for 30 minutes, so Howard is reaching his goal of 10,000 steps (or close to it!), too.
If you already have a dog, don’t just let him out into your yard. Walk him, run with him, and wear a pedometer while you’re doing it so you can make sure you’re getting the 10,000 steps in. It’s good for you and it’s good for your dog. If you don’t yet have a dog, consider rescuing one. I promise you, it will be the most wonderful reason for moving your body that you will ever have.
Best of Everything,
For more tips on living your best life after 50 (or 60, or 70…) check out “The Best of Everything After 50: The Experts’ Guide to Style, Sex, Health, Money and More.” Look for my weekly columns on Huffington Post and AARP, too. Keep me posted on how you’re doing by subscribing to me on Facebook and “tweeting” me on Twitter at @BGrufferman.