Of hills and age

When you are well into your fifties, walking up the hill near your home with your children is not nearly as much fun as it used to be. It’s not because the kids are all grown and as young adults they don’t want to hear you sing happy songs at their age. It’s because you can’t possibly sing as you trudge uphill at your age.

Walking uphill alongside your children, you take note that they are doing just that—walking—while you are lucky if you can just catch your breath. In truth, it’s not a matter of luck. It’s a matter of cognizance, of will and of determination. In short, it’s a matter of the over-used phrase—”healthy lifestyle”.

We all know what we should eat—or rather what we should not be eating. We all know that we should exercise regularly. We all know that sitting in front of a computer for hours on end isn’t natural. All this is comprehended by the general public in a general manner. And therein lies the problem. We have the knowledge, on an intellectual level. But this knowledge is far from internalized by most of us.

There are however, certain triggers that can change this knowledge from an exercise in logic to exercise in the gym. The realization that we actually look like our parents, the calculation that we are nearing the age when our parent’s serious medical problems began, the actual onset of those same medical problems – all can provide a wake-up call. If you are wondering if you will be able to dance at your grandchild’s wedding – it’s not time to take lessons to keep to the beat; it’s time to get your heart beating strongly. If you wish you had a slim figure to compensate for those inevitable wrinkles, then figure out how to compensate for a slower metabolism. If you’re losing your balance, take steps to restore it (step-aerobics, that is). If you feel stiff and inflexible, assuming that it’s not a matter of character, loosen up with an exercise regimen.

The key to actually doing anything of what you should be doing is ease. If it’s convenient, you will do it. If it’s too far out of the way or parking is a hassle, that gym will get farther away every day. Take measure of your ability to lower your measurements. If it’s fun for you, the pool will pull you in. If you hate the water, you’ll wait till it dries out. If others are around to emulate or commiserate, you’ll stick to a diet. Take in stride the strides you can take. If you pull your own weight in determining what’s good for you—the figurative will metamorphose into the actual.

So, check out the local gym, pool, running paths or neighborhood streets. Give your dietician your input on what feels right to put in your body. Move to the beat of your own music. It will be reflected in the stronger beating of your heart. And I’ll meet you singing that tune while keeping the beat, at the top of the hill.

The writer, who lives in the Judean Hills, joined a neighborhood gym and found that as she works out, it works for her.

About the Author
Rachel Levmore, PhD in Talmud and Jewish Law from Bar Ilan University, is the director of the Agunah and Get-Refusal Prevention Project of the International Young Israel Movement in Israel and the Jewish Agency; one of the authors of the prenuptial "Agreement for Mutual Respect"; author of "Min'ee Einayich Medim'a" on prenuptial agreements for the prevention of get-refusal; and the first female Rabbinical Court Advocate to serve on the Israel Commission for the Appointment of Rabbinical Court Judges.