Changing my lifestyle in ways I never thought I'd have to

In my early years, like most of my siblings, I was fairly skinny.

When I started work late in my teens, I was able to indulge in calorie-laden treats for morning tea every day. I wanted to put on weight, certainly didn’t have to worry about what I ate that’s for sure. My co-workers were envious of me.

I remember an aunt telling me, when I was 20: “Don’t worry about it, by the time you’re 30 you’ll be fondly remembering these slender days”. It didn’t happen quite like that.

I had four daughters over the course of 12 years. I retained a little weight with each one, nothing to worry about. Then, in my mid-40s, I was diagnosed with the thyroid condition Graves’ Disease, one of the main symptoms being weight loss. Oh, and a racing heart. Prior to diagnosis, one afternoon my pulse was beating at 129 a minute, after I’d been sitting reading. This was faster than my daughter’s pulse, the one who’d just run four kilometres. When I lay on my left side, I could feel my heart thumping the mattress.

So I was really skinny again but it didn’t last after treatment. Without now my daily tablet my weight would balloon uncontrollably. Talk about a contrast!

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The one thing I never did was exercise. When I was young, I preferred to read. When I was a little older I was scared exercise would make me lose what little weight I had – and I preferred to read anyway. When I had children, I was too busy – and I had to fit my reading in what spare time I had.

When I was a bit older, I was busier still – and you know about the reading.

Now, I’m about to turn 70. About 18 months ago I had a sore shoulder and started doing a couple of upper body 1 kg weight exercises from the internet, thinking to strengthen the shoulders and upper arms. The shoulder was still sore so I had it checked medically and there’s a little arthritis there. At that point I couldn’t get my arm behind my back because the shoulder was so painful.

I found the exercises quite satisfying so expanded their range, still just upper body. I’ve gradually added some yoga-type activities, some general stretches, and now use 2 kg weights.

My shoulder hasn’t hurt for months. I presume the arthritis is still there but there’s no sign of it as far as I’m concerned. Now I do my set of exercises, 20-30 minutes worth, every second day. I imagine an expert might scoff at my exercise regime; I could go to 3 kg weights; I could go on to 40 or 50 minutes, but I don’t want to risk losing interest.

I still fit in plenty of reading.

Have you discovered a new interest late in life? Are you doing something you wouldn’t dream of doing a few decades ago?