Fifty and Energized

By S.D. Craig

Okay, okay, so those of you who know me know I won’t be fifty until September. All right, a little white lie, then. And those of you who know me also realize I’m on the backside of a foot surgery last March. And where to begin again?

The last time I started a new exercise regime was when I began walking on October 17, 1993. I’ll always remember the date, because it’s one of the first things in my adult life I remember being so proud of.

For all those years until I broke my foot, I walked at least four to five days a week for my health. That first three months, I dropped five clothes sizes, though when I began my walking program, I could barely go for twenty minutes, my thighs rubbed together so much. And it was painful. Remember Desenex, the baby rash medicine? I had to apply it between my legs every day for the rash. But it got better with each day and within a month, I no longer had that trouble.

The eating part, well, that I’ve never got the grip on in the past few decades. I love to eat. There need be no reason — I just plain old enjoy food. In spite of that, I am a picky eater. I have always known to get in control of my eating, I’d have to be in control of my life. So I kept real control of the exercise program. At least that was 50% of the battle, right?

Now that I’m into my second week of rebuilding the exercise plan, which has expanded to include yoga (I wish I’d started that earlier) and biking, I admit it was scary starting over. Before, I had only one thing I couldn’t do well. Diet. Eat right. Oh, I could eat all right, but it wasn’t the healthiest thing I ever did. Carbohydrates and chocolate, or sweets, were (notice I said, “were”) my downfall.

A few weeks ago, Dr. Phil (of Oprah fame) and my eldest daughter inspired me to get control of my own life. My, how that message energized me. It also made me cry. Made me contemplate like I hadn’t in years. What did I want for my body image, my health, my future, and myself?

I wrote down the 5-Step plan from Dr. Phil’s book and posted it on the fridge. We made goals together, my daughter and I. We shed tears together, also. Then we got busy. We exercise at least five times a week (once on the weekends so we have one weekday off), we got rid of all the bad foods in our pantry, we cook and now we are learning eat right.

Every person who has been overweight knows what to eat to eat right. We’re experts at it. We’ve done it over and over. Shed that same twenty pounds a hundred times, haven’t we? Find a store that intrigues you, and shop there. For San Diegans, it would be Henry’s Market or Trader Joe’s.

A nice neighbor of mine often asks me every time he sees me out exercising, “Where do you find the energy?” or “How do you do it?” You know what the secret is? At this age, I have to generate the energy from within. I have to make it, homemade. Myself. In my twenties and thirties, I had energy to spare. I went non-stop, working, raised two girls and danced all night at the local country bar. I took clogging lessons one night a week. I was a ball of fire. I rarely let food be my guide in those days as to when I’d have some fun. I have always thought the proverb, “Eat to live, not live to eat” made sense, though I’d never been able to apply it long-term.

Now, I look for utensils to light the fire, whether it be inspiration of a journal (mine or someone else’s), my daughter, my husband, my vision of myself in the future, a day’s walk after a rain, the sunshine, the flowers I can smell.

I manufacture energy. All by myself.

So the next time that neighbor asks me, I’m going to tell him. He looks like he might want the answer. And now, I’m willing to give it.

I feel in control for the first time in years. Energy is the result of that, of forcing one foot in front of the other when I’m tired, of making myself do something good for me. I don’t usually want to, but I do it anyway. And therein lies the key, making energy of my own gives me more energy.

SD Craig is a freelance writer and editor of and was given the nickname “Chatterbox” by fellow writers. At age fifty, Craigs Southern flair and sense of humor give her plenty to write about with a rapier wit and a wacky outlook. Her articles on body image (her biggest passion), marriage/divorce and relationships, family, friends, career issues, computers, the Internet, horses, baseball, movie reviews and writing tips remind one of Erma Bombeck or Dave Barry. A freelance writer who once juggled five columns then got real, Craig welcomes your e-mails and feedback on her articles. Drop her a hello at or stop by

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