Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Rules for Grown-ups

When I was 18 years old, I had a proportionate, fairly athletic body. I stood more than six feet tall and my weight stayed below 200 pounds. As as baseball player, I looked good and played better. My eating and sleeping habits weren't great, but they took no toll on me. The summer after my senior year of high school, I made an all-county team, playing for a new coach in the state championship tournament. We went to McDonald's the night before our first game. I had a sundae with my meal. He questioned it. I told him I had eaten ice cream the night before every game that season, like Wade Boggs eating chicken. He shook his head. But the next day, he had me batting cleanup and I came through with a bit hit in a win.

The next 24 years are a blur. For the most part, my eating habits changed only in having more freedom to eat to excess. Three buffets a day in college. A steady paycheck for eating out. You get the idea. At the same time, I've also mostly been less active, thanks in part to the job that pays for the food. And until recently, I've burned the candle at both ends since the Reagan administration.

No more. I'm 42 years old. I'm a different person, and what worked when I was 18 doesn't work now. Most people have figured this out before their 25th high school reunion, but I'm slow that way.

To make a change, I'm committing to four Rules for Grown-ups.

1. Take Control
You're a grown up. Living on the edge might have worked before, or at least it didn't hurt you. Your life could be a little out of control and you could handle it. Nowadays, all of that stuff piled up - your physical clutter, your debt, your obligations - weigh you down, and keep you from focusing on what is important. You're older and wiser. You know what to keep and what you don't need. You know what you can afford, and afford to take on, and what you can't. So play life like golf and set up your next shot. You can make amazing things happen when you stay in control.

2. Use It or Lose It
This one's simple. People who age gracefully, maintaining their shape and gaining little weight, are active. They engage in movement (cardio) and lift things to build muscle. Same goes for your mind, and a lot of other things.

3. Gluttony is the Enemy
Your body's penalty for gluttony is much harsher than when you were younger. And foods that you used to be able to handle can knock you off balance. There's a fine line between eating for fuel and enjoyment and overdoing it, and that line moves a little more conservative with each passing year.

For grown-ups, examples of gluttony include more than the smallest portion of sugar, the rarest indulgence of fried foods and chips of any kind, eating more than one plate at mealtimes, eating anything other than small, healthy snacks, and eating alone after dinner.

4. Keep Your Battery Charged
When I was in my 20s, I could stay up to all hours, completely crash in bed, and be functional the next day. Now, if I stay up even a little late, I'm likely to skip exercise and overeat the next day, even if I get seven hours of sleep. I had an epiphany that this is like my cell phone. If I charge it regularly, it's fine, but when it goes to zero, it seems like I'm fighting to keep the charge the entire next day. When you're fighting to stay awake, go to bed!

1 comment:

Michele said...

Very sensible. Here's to being a grown up!