The road less traveled "I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." – Robert Frost
For most of my adult life, I stayed on the path of least resistance. I paid scant attention to the speed limit – eating and drinking whatever I liked, working as hard as my body would permit, and playing even harder. I wasn’t alone . . .
Friends and family members were fellow travelers. The road was paved with good intentions – at some future point I would shape up, but not today. For the time being, I’d travel in the fast lane, driving under the influence of magical thinking – that I could ignore my body’s needs indefinitely.
Occasionally, when I became unhappy with my sedentary shape, I’d detour with a faddish diet. I tried the cabbage soup diet for a week before abandoning the effort.
And I vaguely remember the grapefruit diet – there were too many detours to remember their names. I always came back to the main highway after a few days.
True, I had minor accidents that landed me in the hospital. My doctor suggested I consider some changes. Instead, I left the hospital delighted that I got off without a fine. With my license to eat, drink and be merry in tact, I stepped on the accelerator.
In retrospect, I was so busy enjoying the ride that I missed the looming road construction. When I collided with reality (the bathroom scale reached 182 pounds, then broke), I made a life-altering decision to get fit. This time, I meant it.
I got out of my car and started walking, taking a path that was completely unfamiliar and, judging by the scarcity of company, not particularly well-traveled.
Although the path was steep and treacherously narrow at times, I soon found pleasure in my reduced weight. The “fun” I took from sitting was replaced with the joy I felt in the mobility of my body.
I’ve been walking on this path for awhile now and what a difference it has made! Much to my delight, the clothes in my wardrobe, besides being five sizes smaller, actually have waistlines! They are also more feminine because I feel prettier and younger.
I jump out of bed, filled with energy, looking forward to the day. The voice that constantly criticized my body’s extra weight, draining me of energy and self-esteem, is mostly silent.
My blood pressure is under control. My “good” cholesterol is high. Chest pains have gone away. I laugh a lot more as I skip along with my new friends – people who, like me, decided to follow a fitness trail. Thanks to a morning stretch routine, my body is more flexible now than when I was a high school basketball player.
Walking along by myself, I’ve come to realize who I am and what purpose the remaining third of my life can serve. Out of this awareness, my interests have expanded exponentially.
This week, for example, I’m in Washington, D.C. attending a three-day seminar on publishing.
Following that, I’ll go to North Carolina where I’ll spend an afternoon reading my recently published children’s book, “Remembering When I Was Young,” to 120 second graders (including Caelan, my grandson). When I return, I’ll put the finishing touches on a second book, “Recipe for a Meltdown,” which will be out late fall.
Were it not for a decision to change direction, none of this would have happened. In fact, I’d been warned I was in the 90th percentile for a future heart attack. So I doubt I would be alive today. Even if I weren’t dead, you wouldn’t be reading this column, since I would never have taken up writing.
Family photos along my entrance hall taken a decade ago remind me how far I’ve come. In these, I look pudgy, middle-aged, and dowdy. When guests see me as I am today, they invariably comment that I look like a different person.
Well, guess what? I am a different person. The person who irresponsibly sped down the road heading toward a dead end is not the same person who takes a self-reflective walk on a path of her own choosing. My life changing decision has had a profound impact on me and the people whose lives I have touched. Taking the road less traveled has made all the difference.
Carole Carson is a fitness and nutrition advocate from Nevada City. E-mail her at email@example.com or write her at The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945.
Local hikes for health
If you’re interested in improving your health and making new friends, consider joining Bill Nickerl in Hikes for Health. Walks are scheduled every Tuesday throughout the year beginning at 8 a.m. Bill incorporates warming up and cooling down stretches and movements to get blood flowing. No pre-registration required; a $3 donation is appreciated. For more information, call 265-9744. Come and bring a friend.
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