Sunday, October 14, 2012

Open Letter to My Friends Who Are Letting the Aging Process Defeat Them

Dear Friend,

I am writing to you because I love you and I fear that you will not live many years longer if you don’t make the transition to a healthy aging lifestyle that will preserve your health. I see your health failing and it scares me. My friend Lil, who is 104 (or 103? -- I lost count at 100), says that the hardest thing about extended longevity is that your contemporaries are dead. I work hard at maintaining my health so that I can live a long time. Will you go the distance with me?

This letter is for you, my friend, and you know who you are. You are the one I love who fails to make the time to exercise, who can’t manage to stick to a diet, who is obese, and/or who is often short of breath. You are the one I love who can’t accept the truth about our aging bodies and the transition that we must make if we wish to preserve our health into old age.

You know what your health and wellness issues are. You know better than anyone, certainly better than I do, exactly how challenging it is for you to address those issues. There is nothing I can do to get you to change your habits. The change must come from within you. But I want you to know how I suffer when I see you succumb to overweight, inactivity, preventable illness. I want you to stay with me, to continue to travel this road with me. But it won’t happen if you keep sitting on the couch eating potato chips. Or bread, or pasta, or beef or bacon, or butter, ice cream, cake, cookies, or whatever happens to be your personal downfall. It won’t happen if you insist on sticking to your hectic schedule that has no place in it for the level and type of exercise that will protect your heart, your mind, and your body from deteriorating.

We all know people who lived to an advanced age despite their failure to make healthy lifestyle choices. But understand that those people are rare. The chances that you are one of them are slim. And we all know people who cared well for their bodies and died young anyway. They contracted cancer for unknown reasons or they were run over by a truck. Something happened. But please understand that if we don’t smoke, if we exercise, if we eat right, then we have a better chance of making it for the long haul. Our lives are ever subject to the whimsical wind of unknown fates. All we can do is make an effort to preserve our health. That’s what I’m asking of you.

My dear friend, please make an effort. For my sake and for all those who love you. Do the difficult thing and change your lifestyle. Make time for regular exercise. Sadly, wistfully, angrily, resentfully, however you need to feel about it, feel that way, but quit eating all that stuff you should no longer be eating. Go to a nutritionist and set up a plan. Then stick to it. Unfortunately, we need far less food as we age. So you need to go on a diet. For the rest of your life. Sorry. Don’t waste time hating it. Eat less and enjoy your smaller portion more. Eat the things you like that are OK for your health and let the others go. Look forward. If you look back you are lost. Look forward to a future with you and me in it together.

I love you, my friend. Now that I have put this out there, I will hold my peace, I won’t nag (friends are for support and encouragement, not nagging); I’ll pray for your success, your strength, your life. I will pray for you to grow old with me. We’ll laugh, we’ll sing, we’ll embrace. We won’t care anymore about potato chips because we have each other.

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