I used to work with the elderly and I saw people in all different states of fitness. What stuck with me was how many of them had regrets.
Regret that they smoked and now had COPD; regret that they ate too much and the added weight made their joints hurt; regret that they didn’t exercise and now had difficulty getting about. The ones who didn’t have regrets were the ones who had truly taken care of their bodies, but that’s not as easy as it sounds.
When we’re young we feel invincible. We drink too much, smoke too much and eat too much, and because we feel no immediate effects, we don’t consider the consequences. However, as we get older we start to feel the impact: the hangover that never used to phase us, the cough that just won’t go away, the indigestion that ruins that meal… some people think it’s too late to do anything about it. “ah well” they say “this is just who am, no point changing now”.
But it’s not too late. In fact, it’s never too late.
I abused my body when I was younger. I ate too much, I drank more than I should and I didn’t move enough. But I made the decision to change for the sake of my future health. For the sake of my longevity.
Have you noticed that time seems to go quicker as you get older? When I was a child the slog through December waiting for Christmas seemed eternal – now I’m constantly surprised at how much of the year has gone by! This is because, as we get older, we live less and less in the moment. We spend all of our time worrying about the future or fretting over the past and we forget to make the most of today. Before we know it, today is gone.
Did you make a New Year’s resolution? Let’s say you decided to lose a stone, but you didn’t stick to your diet because you were worried about upcoming events, or grieving past losses. Now half a year has gone by and you’re still worried about the future, still concerned with the past, but you also still have that extra stone weighing you down. What if you’d stuck to that diet? Where would you be now? You’d still have the past and future on your mind, but you’d feel better about your body, you’d move more freely – maybe you’d even be better equipped to deal with future problems?
What I’m saying is that when we forget to live in the now we set our future selves up for disappointment.
So I’m asking you to do me a favour: that thing you wanted to do at New Year? DO IT NOW
Don’t wait until next new year because it’s a ‘resolution’ or because you’re busy or because you’re afraid. Start now – today – and think about how glad you’ll be come Christmas when you can fit into that perfect Christmas outfit, or run that 5k without stopping or play your favourite tune on the guitar or whatever your goal may be.
Don’t be those people I used to care for in the home: full of pain and regrets and wondering what might have been.
Be the ones who seized the day, who made it count, who lived.
The poet John Donne wrote
“Happy the man, and happy he alone, He who can call today his own: He who, secure within, can say, tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today”
What words to live by!