Green Juice and Downward Dog

By Sue Fretwell

Green Juice and Downward Dog

I was always a late bloomer. Thought I had forever to figure out this thing called life and to become physically fit, but found myself in my mid-sixties with time running out…stuck in a self-sabotaging cycle when it comes to aging and the accompanying matters of fitness.

The event that changed everything and pushed me toward a new resolve was the birth of a baby granddaughter last spring. Turns out, her parents were nervous about me holding her and asked me not to climb any stairs with her in my arms. Imagine! (In actuality, I couldn’t have if I wanted to at that point!) The jig was up. If I didn’t take action now, when would I?

Formerly a fairly fit 50-something, I had now evolved into a totally unfit 60-something. I wanted to hold my grandchild! I wanted to be as healthy as I could for as long as possible…but was not on the right path to achieve those goals.

In my 50s I was doing almost everything right: walking daily, hiking on weekends, socially active, and eating healthily, with an occasional glass of wine or beer on weekends. I had taken up swing dancing, Cajun dancing and contra dancing and loved them all. Still working, I went to bed at a reasonable hour every night and was up at 5 am every morning. Except for the demanding work schedule, life was good.

When I hit 60, something changed. In short, I retired from my teaching career. Not needing to set an alarm anymore, I began staying up late every night…and snacking more. The occasional glass of wine became a nightly ritual, whether dining alone at home or out with friends.

Oh, I still did a lot of things right, like moving from Atlanta to the coast of North Carolina, making lots of new friends and developing a couple of long-suppressed interests. However, a more active social life led to more dining out and an increase in wine consumption. (It’s what retirees do!) My new passions (writing and photography) caused me to sit at the computer long hours. Never one for kitchen hobbies, I stocked up on cheese and crackers, apples, ice cream and plenty of wine…simple “staples” to keep me from having to do any cooking between dinners out!

Lo and behold, my weight started climbing, as did my cholesterol count…and blood pressure. Every joint ached when going up and down the stairs to my condo…so I simply cut down on the number of times I’d have to do it!

In December, my aching back and I finally went to an orthopedic doctor. X-rays showed no major problems, just one out-of-line vertebra causing an inflamed sciatic nerve. Two weeks later I headed to Oregon, bolstered with several shots of cortisone, an Rx for pain pills, and a list of daily exercises to do. I would be staying for four months in my own rented studio, wanting to get to know my grandkids better and enjoy the baby while she was still a baby. I was feeling hopeful! However, after a few days of picking up the now 23 pound baby and trying to help with household chores generated by three kids, three adults and three dogs…my back was a wreck again. The discomfort was semi-crippling.

But here I was, a sensible, conservative, east coast senior citizen…in Oregon…land of home births without drugs, organic eating, feely-touchy, love-everyone, free spirits! Over the years of visiting my son in this “strange” place he chose to make his home, I became slowly more accepting of the different lifestyle and outlook that flourishes here. My daughter-in-law (who has delivered three babies at home!) convinced me to go to her chiropractor…a thing I’d never considered in my entire traditional life. She gave me some brochures on yoga and tai chi classes for older people. My daughter backed her up with a hearty endorsement of those mystic exercises as well. What’s a desperate grandma to do?

Give it all a try, I decided. Do something…anything…to break the cycle, if indeed it can be broken at this age.

So, three chiropractic visits and two effective yoga classes later, in addition to daily stretching exercises from the orthopedist…I am giving it ALMOST everything I can. With yoga positions called Downward Dog and Warrior Pose in my new arsenal of treatments, I’m breaking the inertia cycle and my own conservative fixations…but now…what to do about that diet?

Today my daughter gave me a glass of green juice to “just try.” It actually wasn’t so bad. It’s a start…but I still can’t help wonder…wouldn’t a splash of vodka make it even better?


About this writer

  • Sue Fretwell Sue Fretwell’s photographs and articles have appeared for about three years in the now online Southcoast Magazine, She has photographed and published the Southport Calendar for the past 4 years and is a retired teacher of English as a Second Language. As a founder of a 100+ member singles group in Southport, Sue has a passion for sharing her 20 years of experiences and ideas for living a full and rewarding single life.

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3 Responses to “Green Juice and Downward Dog”

  1. Elsa Bonstein says:

    Loved the article. Can’t wait to hear about your adventures in la-la land. I was in Seattle and Portland years ago on business and thought the area was fabulous. We toured the St. Michelle winery.

    See at the Writer’s Bloc next month.


  2. Corrine says:

    What a fun article. Loved it and can certainly relate to the retirement activities and need for more exercise. Miss you, Sue.

  3. Liz McStay says:

    Sue, your writing is so fresh and light, but also sends the message loud and clear. Blessings to daughters! After pure abstinance of sugar/flour/drinking for three decades, I can relate to the defying unwilling personality my body had taken on when I broke those “great” habits. Hopefully, spring will bring new life in all of us. happy traveling! Liz

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