In Inspiration
Lifestyle Fifty, Photographs and Memories, Johanna Castro

Maggie, my Grandmother’s housekeeper going to a wedding probably in the 1960’s, with my Grandmother and Grandfather.

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 …

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

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.

Daytime TV?

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.

Physically active

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?

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Showing 12 comments
  • Life Images by Jill
    Reply

    still as relevant today as they day you wrote it Jo. Thanks for the memories, and congratulations on going past the 2 year mark with Lifestyle Fifty. You really do have a blog that resonates with many of us

  • Mike
    Reply

    I came to this from the Trip Down Memory Lane post by Boomeresque. I absolutely remember no seatbelts in cars and going smack into the windshield of parents car when we were driving from Lodi to Reno before Interstate 80 existed! I have attempted many times to walk while keeping count and realization 10,000 is a lot as about 2,000 steps is a mile. And it’s amazing how easy it is to create a habit yet so hard to undo it and correct it. Oh, and from the early days what happened to the days of sitting on the front porch and neighbors visited it each other. This was a GREAT post! Thank you for sharing 🙂

    • Johanna
      Reply

      Glad you enjoyed it Mike! And it is always good to hear how people arrive at Lifestyle Fifty. Yes, what happened to neighbours just across the way chatting and sharing a cuppa!

  • Suzanne Fluhr (Just One Boomer)
    Reply

    Thanks so much for adding this essay to our “Travel Down Memory Lane” blog carnival. I lived in England for a year 1969-1970 and remember it being much as you described. It’s true that memories of the deprivations of World War II seemed much more omnipresent then. All my English friends’ fathers had fought and the rationing had been more severe in Britain than in the U.S. We rented a house with no central heating. I had never heard of chillblains (sp?) until I developed little blisters from putting my cold feet on a hot water bottle at night. My father once walked into the bathroom and found my mother sitting in a bathtub full of water with a sweater on! We had to put a shilling in the meter in the closet to get gas for the one hotplate my mother cooked on. The house had a coal burning stove in the kitchen. The landlady told my mother how wonderful it was, but that she needed to remember to run the hot water in the middle of the night or something would explode because the coal stove made the water so hot. My mother never touched the coal stove after that. And you’re right. Wimpy’s hamburgers were frightful. In fact, I don’t remember a lot of great food, this being before the British food Renaissance. Beans on toast for tea— indeed.

    • Johanna
      Reply

      Ahh, you’ve just evoked so many more memories for me too Suzanne, thank you! Chillblains – arggghh! I was like your mother 🙂 I remember those coal burning stoves too and can just imagine your mother’s reaction! Food was not great in those days – mandarins were for Xmas only, bananas were treats, faggots and sausages were regulars, and yoghurt and garlic were things only eaten on holiday if you were lucky enough to go to Europe!

  • budget jan
    Reply

    I agree that it is our sedentary lifestyles nowadays that lead to weight gain. As a child we had no junk food, my mum boiled the clothes in a washing cauldron, which progressed to a ringer. She rode a bicycle to her mothers house (several kilometres up and down hills) to do her housework for her!!! B.H. and I walk 5km/day, but the hours I spend on my computer counteract this. This week I joined a gym to use some muscles that walking does not use. I am getting ready for our 3 months of travelling which start on September 1st. Can’t miss out on climbing to those Lycian ruins in Turkey now can I?

    • Johanna
      Reply

      Ahh thanks for those memories Jan. I know it’s amazing to think of how much more active people were then, and ringers, gosh, amazing contraptions!! Wow, another feisty fifty something off on another world adventure – yes, get as fit as you can for all the climbing amongst ruins and go for it!

  • Life Images by Jill
    Reply

    Love the new website Jo and you are off to a brilliant start. As someone at that certain age, I am looking forward to the journey with you!
    As for a habit to start today – hmm…I am going to have to think about that one – something achievable – maybe not to keep snackies in my drawer at work for when I “think” I need a pep up. I hear that a glass of water works well, and I certainly should drink more of that.
    Actually we we talking today at our girls lunch about how much fitter and stronger our grandmother’s were than us. My grandmother raised 8 children and took in washing to make a few extra shillings. Imagine hand washing work clothes in a trough in lean-too in 100 degree heat! And then they lugged those heavy irons on and off the stove!. And probably had a cow to milk, and vegetable gardens to hoe. And of course they didn’t drive to the shops – they walked – and hauled the shopping back! The list goes on – really we have it so easy no wonder we, as a generation, have put on weight!

    • Johanna
      Reply

      Thanks Jill! I’m glad you like it 🙂 And I enjoyed being reminded about the lives our Grandmothers’ lived – yes they were pretty much full on and all of it physical, no wonder they didn’t need to watch what they ate. And for sure they didn’t have the food choices and abundance that we have these days.

  • Rae Hilhorst
    Reply

    Brilliant, looking forward to more from you. Rae xxx

    • Johanna
      Reply

      Thanks Rae, can’t wait to have you along for the ride. It’s going to be a lot of fun!

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