Saturday, August 1, 2009


It is now the end of week five and I am making progress. I can now walk quite briskly for one and a half miles on the track and swim slowly for twenty minutes without hanging on the edge of the pool gasping after each length. I am quite limber, especially my legs and back.

Last time I went to the doctor my blood sugar was 111 and my blood pressure was so low while I was lying down , the nurse made me stand up to take it again. This time in was 110/50. My stamina has improved a great deal and I feel much peppier. There is a spring in my step as I go down stairs each morning. Last night I hosted a birthday party for my seven year old granddaughter, and at the end of the evening my legs were not even tired.

But what has changed the most is my attitude toward exercise. I actually like to walk on the track now, if I can get there early enough that it is not terribly hot and humid. I love my water walking and enjoy swimming. I am trying to incorporate the stroke improvements I have seen in my grandchildren this summer. I do a reasonably good pull-out in breast stroke and streamline like a dolphin off the wall in free. Stretching is now so routine, I really can't go without it for more than 48 hours. I used to struggle with insomnia some nights. Now I fall asleep easily and sleep very soundly.

But apparently this is not enough. What everyone wants to know is if have I lost any weight. This is actually very unimportant to me, since the point of my training is to run a mile, regardless of my weight. But since everyone asks constantly, the answer is, "Yes, I have lost five pounds." Actually the week before my retirement I had ballooned to 282, and now I am back to 277. When I tell people this some look discouraged, but I am not. My clothes fit much better and I feel great, so I really don't care what the scale says.

The other thing everyone wants to know is if I am dieting. And the answer is a resounding, "No." I have no intention of ever dieting again. It just makes me too miserable and I always gain the weight back. I try to keep to a pre-diabetic diet whenever possible, but I don't count calories, or carbs or grams of fat, for that matter. I butter my wholewheat bread and do not intend to stop. And when I really want it, I eat cake or ice cream.

Even though weight loss is not my goal, I do expect to lose more weight as my fitness level increases. The last time I was fit was forty years ago in college. Instead of gaining the freshman ten, I actually lost 48 pounds my first two years in college because I took four to six dance classes a week --- Martha Graham technique modern dance, ballet, point and jazz. Back then my normal diet was cheeseburgers, Hostess Cupcakes and milk. I loved to go into the campus coffee shop and hear my classmates who worked there yell my order to the cook, "Cheesebouger!" Coming from California, I was charmed by all the East Coast accents around me.

As I added more and more dance classes to my week, a funny thing happened. One day I sat down to my lunch and after the first bite of the first cupcake (there were always two to a package in those days, but as an indicator of our nation's obesity they now come three to a package), I just couldn't eat it. All that exercise had done something. Perhaps it had changed my brain chemistry or readjusted my endocrine system. In any case, I just started eating less and less and dancing more and more until at the end of my Sophomore year, I weighted 121 lbs.

And what happened next? I moved in with the man who is now my husband, and had three daughters in six years while going to college, graduate school, and working part-time. And I gave up dancing. Each year I gained five or ten pounds. At first it was not so noticeable but by age thirty-five I was obese and I just kept gaining. So that is why I am in no hurry. It took me forty years to gain this weight, so I am okay if it takes me forty years to lose it.


  1. Martha, I think you have good company regarding your perception of dieting v. exercise. One of the greatest marathoners of all time, Bill Rogers, apparently could care less about his diet but was quite meticulous about his training regimen and he was a world champion.... Keep it up! and know that we miss you terribly....d

  2. Frogman: Missing someone terribly is very sweet. See you soon, Love, M.

  3. Ready the article about you in the Washington Post. Have passed this blog to my family. You're a great example for us all. In fact, I'm going to try and use your example as an incentive for me to drop some weight from my 260 pound frame.
    Enjoy, we're all behind you.