I have no use for gymnastic callisthenic exercise. No interest in getting all sweaty for some hypothetical health goal. I don’t seem to be wired for the endorphin rush of a runner’s high; jogging has never been anything but painful to me, and I’m not that kind of masochist. Unlike my party-hearty mother, who led an exercise class at the senior center for many years, happily reporting on the growing number of friendly participants, I would never consider exercising a pleasant way to socialize.
Going even further, I will be blasphemous to the health culture, and say I don’t really even believe “exercise” is good for me. Anecdotally, I’ve known extreme health folks who dropped dead of instant massive strokes at the age of fifty while mountain-biking and folks with bad habits thriving in their nineties. I’ve never been in the center of any bell curve, and don’t expect that to change. Also, I have a muscle disease, (polymyositis). Strenous muscle exercise (and the subsequent muscle repair enzymes) activate the disease, requiring higher doses of steroids to keep my wacked-out immune system from trying to eat my muscle tissues. So I only indulge in exercise that I really love, like tromping up and down my little hillside with my dog, turning compost, hauling hay, wacking down blackberry thickets.
Thinking about health and my odd lifestyle, I have realized I do have a few non-“farming” practices that might save me from being a total wimp hedonist. First among these is the slow walk work-out. I do this three block hike, up and then back down a moderate city hillside, every chance I get. My companion, who is a precious stroke-disabled elder, sets our pace, and I serve as a human cane, my elbow as the crook she holds. I challenge all the runners I know to climb three blocks in fifteen minutes, in tiny slow steps, balancing for two, and tell me this doesn’t give the legs a great work-out!
My companions influence my health in other ways, because when I am working with people, it is often part of my job to cook for and eat with them. The best diet in my life is the one I have when I am working regularly with a client who is diabetic, although my elder friends always eat small portions, which is also a great practice to share. My other successful diet is budget-based; I prefer jobs with time flexibility rather than income regularity. My time, as an artist, is worth more than anyone could ever pay for it – that old story. But you can’t eat time, so careful food shopping is my fall-back strategy. Getting the best nutrition per dollar is a necessity. Five fruits and vegetables a day is the only nutrition rule I trust; it’s more of a goal than a reality. I don’t care much about food, especially when the writing is going well.
My basic health regime: deep sleeps, frequent orgasms, true friends, laughter, and dog kisses.