I was checking out some old family photos the other day; sepia tinted black and white, absolutely gorgeous but so old fashioned.
And I couldn’t believe how fast and furiously the time has gone past but how much those memories are still part of me. I was reminded of some Great Gatsby quotes by F. Scott Fitzgerald and one seemed particularly apt …
And it reminded me of that feeling of moving through life as a small slice of a much bigger whole to which we belong.
Weight issues were uncommon
What struck me about the photos though is how slim and trim everyone looked. You know, when you think of the population today with so many people struggling to maintain a healthy weight, and many others clinically obese, you wonder how they did it.
Don’t know about you, but I have to be careful about the food in, exercise out ratio, or I can start to waddle. Not that I’ll ever be fashionably slim, but for me it’s important to feel fit and not weigh in too much above my ideal weight for my height, and I know what it takes.
It generally means staying away from too much chocolate (gah), wine (double gah), puddings, bread, cakes and fast food – the latter for me being the easiest to handle.
My parents idea of fast food was the occasional hot sausage in a bun at the annual county show, and when I was a child a Knickerbocker Glory was a once a year ice cream treat.
My grandparents had undergone food rationing in two wars, and like my parents were slim and trim and despite the fact that they had no modern exercise equipment or gym memberships to tone their gluteus maximus’s, they looked pretty good in their tailored clothes.
In the 1960’s there were few labour saving devices and leisure time was hard won. A sit on the couch to watch a TV programme (then in black and white) was a treat reserved for after dinner.
Daytime TV was unheard of.
There was The Wimpy for fast food, but it wasn’t all that nice.
We had big appreciation for life’s little pleasures and in a way sensed that life was short and each moment had to be lived to the full – Well, our parents knew the reality of war at close hand and they knew the meaning of deprivation too.
I can also remember being given lots of memes for living well, and when I saw the film version of the Great Gatsby recently this one stuck in mind:-
“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one…just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.” F. Scott Fitzgerald
How things have changed when it comes to exercise
These days it’s so easy to curl up on the couch in front of the TV or get lost on the computer in amongst our friends on social media, and go everywhere by car because well, public transport or walking often doesn’t fit in with our busy schedules.
My Mum and Dad never sat still for more than 10 minutes at a time, and we weren’t allowed to either. They walked lots. We played games outdoors, not on the computer. We slept in cold bedrooms with no central heating but lots of blankets and I think we were healthier for it.
There were many everyday stresses, but very different to those today – for instance road rage was unheard of, because the traffic was so much lighter. Do you remember the days of no seat belts? I can remember travelling to horse shows in the back of the horsebox alone with the horses and my sister, a sandwich and a flask of tea for sustenance – but not a seatbelt in sight.
So back to The Great Gatsby again:-
“I belong to another generation… As for me, I am fifty years old, and I won’t impose myself on you any longer.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
I sometimes feel like that with younger people … you know, two different worlds colliding and yet despite our loving all that’s new about their brave new world, they really find it hard to comprehend our brave old world and our oldness, and I end up feeling as if I am indeed imposing.
Back then we climbed stairs, helped in the garden, mucked out, fed baby lambs and showered in an outside shower which was more often cold than hot. We washed dishes by hand and shook out rugs, did manual work and had lots of daily chores that required physical exertion.
In short we completed lots of regular activities and small physical actions that over a day accumulated into much more physical activity than I for one, get today.
Of course my children go to the gym. I prefer the outdoors because it was what I was brought up with.
10,000 steps a day
Have you ever tried to follow the heart foundation’s guide that we should walk 10,000 steps a day? I have, and it takes a jolly long time. Two hours for me, unless I try and jog. I’m fairly sure back in the day we all walked that many steps in the course of a normal day without even realising it.
Habits can be changed
“Life is but a mass of habits – practical, emotional, and intellectual … systematically organised for our greatnes or grief,” said psychologist and philosopher William James. He believed that habits could be changed, and that those small habits that get us through each day bear us toward our destiny.
What habit will you change today?
Today I’m going to make a habit to get up and do something physical every hour that I’m sitting at the computer. Maybe some stretches or some sit ups, definitely some deep and proper breathing.
I’m interested to know what activities you might be prompted to start today as ‘good habits’ for ageing gracefully, and even more interested to know what things you remember from your own childhood?