Start caring now to get more miles in life

Health & Fitness column

Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

Most of us know a friend or family member (it may even be you!) who will drive a car until the wheels fall off. I had a friend that drove an old Honda that was almost 20 years old with 200,000 plus miles on it.

We would ask him all the time, “When are you going to get a new car?” He would always say the same thing, “I don’t need one. There is nothing wrong with the one I’ve got.” I would always laugh because that poor Honda had to be tired, but he was right. Most of the miles that he had put on the car were highway miles which put less stress on a vehicle. He took really good care of his little Honda, and it was very dependable for many years.

Our bodies are no different.

If we take care of our bodies then our bodies will take care of us for a very long time. Think about your body as if it were my friend’s Honda. My friend made sure his car had regular tune-ups, and he didn’t put many “hard” miles on it. We should do the same with our bodies.

Healthy eating, regular exercise, adequate sleep…… these are the things that will help us get the most mileage out of our bodies. Another friend of mine told me once, “It’s not your years ... it’s your mileage.” That is a very true statement.

Age does not define our fitness.

I want to introduce you to my inspiration for today’s article, Charles Seward. Charlie, as his friends call him, is from Mamaroneck, N.Y. He now lives in Atlanta and was born on April 11, 1949 ... yes, Thursday was his 64th birthday. Happy belated birthday, Charlie!

I met Charlie at a bike race several years ago. I would have sworn that he wasn’t a day over 50. He is in great shape with a slim waistline and beautiful chiseled legs. Charlie still lines up to race against guys who could be his grandchildren and beats some of them. He won the 2012 Master’s 55-plus Category in the Georgia Championship Series. That old man can ride a bike!

We’ve talked about getting older and how training changes with age. His philosophy? “Gym workouts are the real youth serum.” Charlie goes to the gym four days a week. He believes that his weight training is a key element in his training for these hard bike races with the younger guys. “You’ve got to pump the metal to push the pedal.” He has said this on more than one occasion, and he is so right. Exercise should be a key element in everyone’s life. But gym workouts aren’t the magic answer for everyone.

I told Charlie that I was going to talk about him this week. This was his answer just as he sent it to me, “Tell them $29.95 bargain bin sneakers will keep the $200 per month medications away. Too hot? Walk early or walk late. Or just walk in a cool mall. Just move. Once your legs go ... next ... the mind will go.”

Think about that last sentence for a minute — “once your legs go, next, the mind will go.” Wise words from a wise man.

When I was younger, my main reason for exercising was to lose weight and stay in shape. It was a physical thing and nothing more. At 18, 20, 25 years old what else was there to worry about? Looking good in a bikini at the beach was a big deal. Fast forward through my teens and 20s into my 30s and (Gasp!) 40s! The bikini that ruled my world 20 years ago has been replaced with a full-time job, two boys, bills to pay and all of the “joys” that adulthood brings. As I’ve gotten older I realize that I gain as much mentally from working out and staying healthy as I do physically. My workouts now help relieve stress, make me feel young and keep me sane. Sanity is a high dollar commodity.

I know people who are half my age that would need to be traded in if they were a car. They eat like crap; they don’t exercise; some smoke; they don’t get enough sleep. They also look and feel 5, 10, 15 years older than they really are. Youth is not your free pass to being healthy and fit. Treat your body right. Eat healthy foods; drink lots of water; get on a regular exercise routine; don’t smoke or quit now if you are a smoker; get 7-8 hours of sleep each night! Don’t fool yourself by thinking that you are too young to worry about these kinds of things. Remember, age does not define your fitness. You are never too young to start being healthy nor too old to stop.

Are you giving your body its regular tuneups? How old are you? Are you like my friend’s Honda? A little older with “good” miles? A newer model with high mileage? Don’t wait another day to start moving in the direction of a healthier life. Strive for good miles. On Easter my friend Charlie posted this on his Facebook page, “You have life everyone. Enjoy it.” Remember, it’s not your years ... It’s your mileage.

Michele Moulton has been a fitness instructor for more than 23 years and is a certified Spinning instructor at PT Gym. She is a Category 1 cyclist and the PCP Race Team Director. She is also a state auditor and a mother of two boys, Austin and Harrison.