Monday, March 24, 2008

Healthy and sustainable

This morning as I was sitting in physical therapy, I found myself counting the days until I am done with grad school. I've recently decided that I should never have a 9 to 5 job at a desk. My body just can't handle it. I need to be outside, lifting water buckets, shoveling the muck, and walking across my pastures. It's not work -- it's a necessary part of life. When I lived in the burbs, I thought about how ridiculous it was that I would drive to the Y to spend half an hour biking to nowhere and lifting weights that were never moved anywhere.

Since I've been in grad school, my daughters have taken up the slack at the farm. They've been doing a lot of my physical work outside. That was a mistake. A few years ago, I remember telling my husband that even if I could afford to hire someone to take care of the animals, I wouldn't do it. Now I realize I shouldn't do it. I've been in physical therapy for two months now, trying to strengthen the back and shoulder muscles that have grown weak from spending too much time at a computer.

Although I know our lifestyle is more sustainable for the planet, and it keeps us healthier because of the good nutrition, I have recently come to realize that this lifestyle keeps us physically healthier and stronger. I don't want to grow old and weak like those people I see in the gym at the hospital, recovering from the heart attacks that nearly killed them. It's no secret that people need to be active to stay healthy as they age, but 30 minutes at the gym a couple times a week is a joke.

When I told the physical therapist that I've started working more on the farm, he got pretty excited and repeatedly reassured me that I was doing a good thing. After my initial evaluation, he told me that if I don't strengthen my back muscles, I'm going to wind up in the same shape again and again. I imagine he sees a lot of repeat customers. He's probably more optimistic about my future knowing that I'll be getting some real exercise after my physical therapy ends.

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