To Stay Fit Don't Just Sit

While I am glad I was able to finish the planned hikes earlier this month on our visit to The Rockies, I must tell you that I could tell a difference in my endurance level during those same hikes only a couple of years ago. I know a slower metabolism and less physical endurance is a natural part of the aging process, but that doesn’t mean we can’t and shouldn’t fight back!

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In a book I found back in 2008, and one I have mentioned before, the authors boldly state in the first chapter:

Take charge of your bodies. Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, M.D. Authors of Younger Next Year

“It’s hard to summarize this book, but there are three important things, EXERCISE, NUTRITION, and COMMITMENT.

  • The biggest one—and the biggest change for most people is exercise. It is the golden key to great health. You should exercise hard almost every day of your life. And do strength training, lift weights, two or three of those six days. Exercise is the key to great aging.
  • Quit eating the things that you know are rotten for you, like fast food and lots of fat and simple carbs. And eat less of everything.
  • Commitment. What I mean is, you have to be involved with other people. And you have to care about something. Goals. Charities…people…family…job…hobbies. Be engaged in life.” (page 36)

I highly recommend this book, Younger Next Year For Women: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy-Until You’re 80 and Beyond By, Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, M.D.  and a used copy can be purchased for $0.01, plus $3.99 on Amazon. There is one for men (yellow cover) and one for women (hot pink cover).

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As we have watched my husband’s father increase his strength after a very grave season of illness in the past few months, I questioned his physical therapist, Reid, about aging and strength. What he told me has stuck with me:

“It is much harder to age as a

sedentary person than as an active person.

Your bones, muscles, everything,

really, weaken the more we SIT.”

I realize that not everyone can be super mobile. Illnesses and disabilities can hold us back. Still, each of us who has a beating heart can do some kind of moving each day.

Even though I have always enjoyed a high level of activity, I must admit I have also always had a hard time “fitting in FITNESS”. No matter what season of life we may be traveling through, I KNOW it’s important to have regular exercise as a part of it. Yes, I have known this for most of my life, but doing it consistently, well, that is a different thing!

From my journal on January 1, 1997 when Walker was 4 1/2 and Leah, age 8 were living under our roof:

Regular Exercise! Spring Tennis is coming, but until then, I must get into some regular 3X a week-something! Either early A.M walks, Nordictrack, or rollerblading with Leah…something! Fitness can be done anywhere, home, neighborhood, Health Place, as long as you DO IT!”

That was nearly 19 years ago, and here I am still wanting to make it a consistent goal to fit fitness into my weeks, my months, and the rest of my days. Perhaps that is a sure sign that this is something others struggle with too…Keeping Fitness a Priority.

Let’s consider what some good options are for fitting fitness into our busy days:

  • Our long-time friends Jan and David have determined that an early morning, simple walk in their neighborhood does the trick for them. Janny has especially been faithful to this habit for decades, and David is realizing how their daily walk truly does impact how he feels the rest of the day. During the Summer of 2013, Jan and I made up a silly statement that we still use today to keep us ever mindful of our need to MOVE: “If we don’t walk, we won’t walk.” <smile>
  • Our daughter, Leah has been attending Orange Theory Fitness Classes near her home for several months now and she can see a big difference in her stress level at work and how her clothes are fitting her. I attended a class with Leah and her friend, Carly on Tuesday night and it was a great workout. This is a financial sacrifice for them as young marrieds, but as long as Leah attends the classes as she has committed to, then both Scott and Leah feel it is worth the extra expense. It was fun running into some familiar faces leaving the class just before us, Patty, Vickye, and Bonny. And Vickye’s daughter, Jessica was our awesome OT Coach for the night.
  • SWIM AWHILE! Check out your local YMCA’s schedule for times the pool is available for adults only.
  • My friend, Jackie has a Tuesday weekly commitment of instructing senior citizens in “chair yoga” at a nearby Assisted Living Home. They love it as they circle up the chairs, move slowly in different “poses”, including a Sun Salutation chair style, as Jackie directs them. Jackie reminds these residents during each class to be grateful for their lives and to smile at each other even if no smile is returned. Many of these chair yoga folks are in their mid-late 80s and one is 95! This engages Jackie, while it helps these folks to “keep moving.”
  • How about a RUN? I jogged throughourBrookstone neighborhood a lot during the years of 1989-1999, running “the four-mile loop” as we called it. Donny and I participated in the 4th of July Peachtree Road Race for many years and we always loved the challengeandthe excitement of this vigorous 6.2 race every time we ran or walked it.
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    Donny, Ron, and Rich Peachtree Road Race 2002.
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Mom and Walker cross the finish line at The Peachtree Road Race on July 4, 2003
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Make Family Fitness Goals Together!
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Best Girlfriends, and both now, young Moms, Amy and Kim get ready for the big race!
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Joan and Karen at Peachtree Road Race 2002

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Our collection of Peachtree Road Race Numbers from years gone by. If you’ve never participated in this July 4th race, you should consider it in 2016! Walkers are Welcome!

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Don’t forget about nearby Kennesaw Mountain where you are sure to get a good workout! Meet up with one or more friends to get your fitness in. A 30 + minute walk, jog, or run in your community or at a nearby park is a great way to fit fitness into your busy life. Just be sure to wear a reflective vest if you are running at dawn, dusk, or after dark.

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  • BIKE! We are fortunate to have the Silver Comet Trail not too far from our home. The Silver Comet Trail is located 13 miles northwest of Atlanta, Georgia. It’s free of charge, and travels west through Cobb, Paulding, and Polk counties. This quiet, non-motorized, paved trail is for walkers, hikers, bicyclists, rollerbladers, horses, dog walkers, and is wheelchair accessible.
    What great thing would you attempt if you knew you could not fail? Robert H. Schuller

    The Silver Comet Trail is 61.5 miles long, and starts at the Mavell Road Trailhead in Smyrna, Georgia. It ends at the Georgia/Alabama state line, near Cedartown and The Esom Hill Trailhead.

  • Save your dollars to invest in some exercise DVDs or even a piece of home exercise equipment such as a treadmill, a stationary bike, a set of free weights. If you store them in your bedroom, do not allow yourself to use them as a clothes rack! <smile>
  • One of my favorite fitness programs to participate in is Bikram Yoga. Well, it is not my favorite while I am doing it, but I LOVE how I feel when I am all done and showered. I am ready to TAKE ON THE DAY after one of the 90 minute hot yoga classes there.  Click on Bikram Yoga to watch a short video! And we also have other great yoga studios in our area such as Be Yoga and Hot Yoga and Wellness Center in Kennesaw, just to name a few.
  • Set a good example by MOVING with your young family! My Dad lived healthily for 93+ years, walking daily until he passed.  I remember as a young girl, he would get us to help him line up 10 or more pinecones for his daily jog around our big back yard. Every time he came to the line of cones, he would kick one and that is how he kept track of his laps. Perhaps that is where my interest in an active lifestyle happened.

These are all great ideas for fitting in fitness, but what about MOTIVATION and COMMITMENT?

Remember, it is never too late to start doing something that will benefit your health!

Following are some of the ways Donny and I stay dedicated, motivated and committed to get our fitness in each week:

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OUR latest goal involves less about weight loss and more about getting our heart rate up and keeping it up for a period of time.
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We use this wet marker chart to keep track of our work-out days. Donny and I have a friendly competition between each other.

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While this may seem “elementary” to some, I find it useful to use a checklist like this to keep myself accountability when I am having an unusually difficult time staying motivated.

How will you and I fit fitness into our lives in the days ahead?

“Respond to yourself like you would respond to a friend.”

Anne Lamott, Author

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