Mother’s Day is coming up, and here at Blisstree we’ve been talking a lot about why we’re thankful for our Moms. They taught us to eat, drink, walk, talk; and at least in our cases, they’ve imparted some important health lessons, too. So before we take our moms to brunch and shower them in (healthy) gifts this Sunday, we’re taking some time to share those important lessons with you. Today, Blisstree’s Associate Editor Christine Estima shares how her mom’s difficult divorce taught them both a thing or two about health:
In the early 90s, my mother went through a bitter divorce. I think she tried to hide how bad the situation was from my sister and I, by proclaiming that her and my father were still friends, and things were being split evenly and swiftly, but there were cracks in the surface. Sometimes we caught her crying. Other times, before he moved out, we caught them fighting. The lines in Mum’s face began to map out her pain, and her hair was peppered more fading tones and colors. Concerns over money, the house, and our education were weighing down her shoulders, but perhaps paramount to all this was her broken heart. Mum has always worn her heart on her sleeve, and after 21 years of marriage, I don’t think she knew how to suddenly mask it. But there’s something special about that Mum of mine. Having been an aerobics instructor during the leg-warmer craze of the early 80s, she had always had an affinity for health and fitness. So in an effort to heal, to feel better, and frankly to keep herself occupied during the messy, painful separation, Mum, then aged 45, changed her diet and took up exercise. Now, aged 62, Mum says the divorce was the greatest thing that ever happened to her.
After my parents divorced, Mum decided to become a vegetarian. She says she had always wanted to make the switch, but my father’s meat-based diet didn’t make it cost-effective to prepare two different dinners each night. Now that she was free to eat how she wanted, she says she began to feel lighter. Not necessarily in terms of weight, because the stress of the divorce had already caused her to drop several dress sizes, but more in her state of being. She says her brain cleared, she was able to focus, and didn’t feel like her innards were twisting or aching like they had before.
A year later, after witnessing how engaged and motivated Mum became, I followed her lead and also became a vegetarian at the tender age of 14. And I’ve been a vegetarian ever since. Mum has since gone completely vegan and has managed to stay true to it for almost 15 years.
Then came the exercise. Mum dragged her old stationary bike out from the crawl space and began to workout while knitting or watching TV. She then moved from the stationary bike to Step Aerobics. Step Aerobics gave way to circuit training. Circuit training evolved into boxing-based exercises. Which, then, not surprisingly, turned into heavy weight-lifting. By the time Mum was 50 years old, she was lifting 20lbs weights for her biceps, and 35lbs weights for her back and legs. She was banging out more push-ups in a single set than I could, and I was half her age. She galvanized other people in her office to join her for lunchtime workout sessions, and she began to ride her bike to work instead of taking the car.
At age 50, Mum’s waist was the smallest it had ever been in years, and she was literally letting her hair down. All this new confidence brought about another change – she began dating again. She met a man online (as you do), and started going out on regular dates with him. At first, he was under the impression that she was about 10 years younger than him. You should have seen the look on his face when he found out she was six years older. Even his fully-grown children were teasing him about robbing the cradle. Little did they know . . . Now, 12 years later, Mum and her boyfriend are still together.
Today, at 62 years of age, Mum still works out every single day, and sticks to her veganism. As a result, unlike her peers, she is on absolutely no medications whatsoever to speak of. She has never had any major medical scares, diseases, or problems. She can still run to catch the streetcar, and, if I deserve it, pound me into the ground.
When I look at other women Mum’s age, and see how her health is definitely not the norm, I realize just how forward-thinking Mum was way back when she made these changes. The impetus behind all of her health and romantic achievements came from her divorce. Talk about turning a frown upside down. She changed what could have been a debilitating and crushing blow to her mid-life into a second-adolescence for her “golden years.”
Sometimes Mum jokes that she’d even like to thank her ex-husband for leaving her.
Let’s not go nuts now, dear.