Tag Archives: Adventures

How to Get Yourself to Exercise – Pay Yourself First

It used to be that doctors recommended rest for all kinds of conditions.  Child birth.  Stay in bed for a week.  Major surgery.  Don’t even think of getting up and moving.  Feeling stressed?  The Victorians went to the beach and put their feet up for weeks at a time.  But no longer.  Now, medical research has found that there is hardly anything that is wrong with you that exercise won’t help.


a great way to get out on a cold day

Skiing in the park

It is very easy for me to put off exercise.  The carpet has cat hair that needs vacuuming.  Moldy leftovers have invaded the fridge.  Or, I admit it, I just want to finish the level  5 Sudoku.


My husband doesn’t have this problem.  He goes to the gym and uses the weight machines.  He has a standing date to play racquetball with friends.  He rides his bicycle for errands, to his substitute teaching jobs, or just a few miles for the heck of it.

Why can he get regular exercise and I can’t?  My natural tendency is to get a bit irritated at him for putting himself first instead of helping with the chores.  But a couple of months ago I decided to try to learn from him instead.  After all, he does help out – just after he’s exercised.

As I thought about it, I realized, that is the difference.  Just as in saving money, it helps to pay yourself first.  Bill places a top priority on exercising and because he exercises regularly he has more energy to tackle the chores after he is finished.

So last November, I decided to change the priority.  I would make my to do list and move exercise to the number one spot.  I had some motivating factors.  We’re going on a cross-country ski vacation in February and I want to be in shape.  My bone density test showed some osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis.  My doctor encouraged me to work with weights.  I want to continue to be active as I age.  Exercise seems to be the factor that I can control.

How’s it going?  Better.  I was doing a great job of using my free weights and going for brisk 3 mile walks until the Christmas season hit.  Then preparing for company seemed to push exercise down the priority list.  I picked it back up in January and the unusual (for us) snow fall meant that I had chances to get out and cross-country ski.  I haven’t completely changed but I’m doing better.  Most weeks I lift weights twice and go for at least 3 brisk walks or similar outings.

How about you?  Where does exercise come in your priority list?  Do you have some tricks to get yourself to exercise?



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Filed under activities, Time management

I don’t do winter camping – well maybe in a heated yurt

A few of you may have read about the cold night I spent in Queen Wilhelmena State Park last March.  I have one rule when it comes to camping.  I don’t camp in the winter.  So how did I get from that firm stance to a yurtlet in Yellowstone National Park in February?

It started with Bill getting laid off.  That wasn’t in our plan.  Bill was going to work another year or two, partly for the money but mostly because he loved what he did and felt that he contributed to society by teaching math to teens.  But tax revenues for public schools were down. The possibility of a layoff hung over us for several months.  The day Bill got the word, he sent me an email, “Book that trip to cross country ski in Yellowstone.”

We thought this was cool!

Skiing in Colorado

Cross country skiing in Yellowstone is one of those things that I always thought would be really cool.  But it just never worked out.  Bill’s time off never fell during the right time for a winter trip to Yellowstone. The park roads are closed during spring break to clear the snow and we like to share Christmases with our kids.  We looked but it just didn’t happen.

Now, in the grand tradition of making lemonade from lemons, we began to plan our trip.  We did some research and found a Road Scholar program that was reasonably priced, included some education on the area’s ecology and geology and promised to take us to areas that we might not be able to get to on our own.  We signed up.  Unfortunately no one else did.  The program was cancelled.

Bill did some web searching and found a Yurt camp right in the park that is run by a small company, Yellowstone Expeditions.  Heated dining yurt, heated sleeping yurtlets, heated outhouses.  You see the problem here, don’t you?  Bill kept telling me how gorgeous the stars would be while walking to the outhouse.  I said, “No, I don’t do winter camping.” 

A naturalist friend suggested the Yellowstone Institute.  They have programs with great educational aspects, skiing, and snow shoeing and you get to stay in the lodges.  Check out the videos on their web pages!  I called to make a reservation.  This time everyone had signed up.  There were no openings!

We reviewed some other ideas.  Vermont would be fun but not the experience we had been planning.  A trip to Grand Teton National Park had a level of skiing that looked wimpy, even for us.  We thought about just getting some lodging and going on our own but knew that we wouldn’t have the same experience as with local guides.

I went back and looked at the program with the Yurts.  I looked at the pictures.  Wow.  How can you pass that up?  After some back and forth emails involving comfort minded questions and a review of how our modest skills would fit with their program, we were signed up!  Four nights in a heated yurtlet!  Five days of skiing!  Snow encrusted bison, trumpeter swans in thermal pools, stars in the pitch dark night, canyons, and sulfur springs!  We’re going in February.  So much for, “no winter camping”. 

What about you?  Has retirement freed you to do things that you dreamed of – or some you never dreamed of?   Have you let go of some limitations to try something new?


Filed under activities, Adventures, Natural History

Why I’ve decided to take fitness seriously – again

We’ve floated the Kaw River with a strong head wind.  We’ve floated the Kaw in the rain.  But a week ago we floated the Kaw with blue skies, 80 degree temperatures, lunch served on the bank and all kinds of fun and interesting people.  And while I much prefer gentle water on a blue skied September day, each time I’ve enjoyed myself immensely.  There is something in my body chemistry that feels in sync when I’m outdoors doing something physical.  

No clouds in sight.

Kaw River Flotilla


These kinds of activities require a certain level of fitness.  Until a couple of years ago, I felt that I was actually getting stronger every year.  I was a scrawny teen ager in an era that provided few athletic opportunities for girls.  Beginning in college, I decided to be more active.  I became involved in sports (swimming and a pitiful attempt at softball) and outdoor activities.  I did gain strength and found myself able to ride further and paddle longer as time went on.  Like many people, I gained a pound every year or two but I started so underweight that at first it seemed like a good thing. Those pounds helped to increase my endurance rather than slowing me down.  

Unfortunately you can’t gain a pound a year for decades without becoming a bit chubby.  As my weight crept up and my body aged, it has become more difficult to pop into a kayak and begin paddling.  In the last couple of years, squatting – to get into a kayak, take a book off a low shelf (I’m a librarian), get into a tent, reach some cobwebs in a corner  – has become increasingly difficult.  I’m not overweight based on the charts, but I’m just a few pounds short of it.  I decided it was time to do something about it.  I want to keep kayaking for quite awhile longer.   

So the end of July, I joined weight-watchers online and began exercising regularly – again.  

One way to encourage yourself to stick with an exercise plan is to have a fun goal to reach for.  Mine is cross country skiing in Yellowstone National Park.  Years ago some friends did this for their honeymoon.  I’ve wanted to go ever since.  This February we are planning to go and I want to be fit enough to enjoy the trip.  

The result so far: 

  •  Down 3 ½ pounds since mid-July.  Not much, but I’m moving in the right direction. My goal is only 10 pounds loss so this is good progress.
  •   Some form of aerobic exercise at least three days a week.
  •  Weights at least twice a week.  Got to keep those bones strong.
  • I’ve added some flexibility exercises as well.  I want to be able to look over my shoulder.

How are you handling fitness and exercise?  What do you do to remain strong and fit?  Do you have any great stories to tell about what has motivated you to begin and stick with a fitness regime?  What programs have worked for you? 

Some web links about exercise for those middle-aged and older: 

  • An article from Time Magazine:   Exercise to Protect Aging Bodies — and Brains
  • Who would have thought of linking weight loss to de-cluttering?  Here’s an article on just that from AARP.  While you are there, you can read some of their other material on exercise and fitness.
  • The National Institute on Aging has some great resources on exercise and activity.  NIH also has stories of older adults (60’s through 90’s) who remain fit.
  • The author of Strong Women Stay Young – a great book for women ages 40 and older beginning a weight program – has a website, Strong Women with more exercises. 
  • And to motivate you, the Road Scholar (formerly Elderhostel) Program has many enticing active adventures.  Search on activity levels 5,6, and 7 to find hiking, biking, and other active vacations.

    Filed under activities, Adventures

    Adventures in the Second Half

    We have an applet on our computer that displays our photographs in a bar on the side of the monitor.  So as I write, snapshots of Bill, myself, family, and our friends rotate through. IMG_2247

    Today the first picture is of our friend, Tom standing by his bicycle in Montana with a big grin on his face, followed by Aunt Helen at her 90th birthday surrounded by nephews and grandsons,  and then a picture of a grandson petting a llama, followed by Bill and his sons on one of their ball park weekends.  Now a picture of more friends on bicycles, in front of tents, in kayaks, at ball games…  It is a glorious life most of the time, isn’t it!

    This weekend I went out to dinner with an old friend and a new one, the three of us past the age when brown hair comes naturally.  Over lasagna and wine we spoke about our adventures, one friend backpacking in Canada, the new friend enjoying white water rafting, and my more moderate bicycling and kayak trips.  Our new friend told us that people often asked her, “What if you get hurt?” when she tells then how she likes to spend her time.  And we all agreed that the pleasures of truly being in these places made up for any risks. 

    To tell you the truth, the risks that I take are pretty mild.  I educate myself about places I’m going and prepare for the unlikely possibilities.  Before kayaking in the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior we took a safety class and changed our course when facing waves that made us uncomfortable.  In Alaska, we chose to go on a guided trip with people who understood tides and the local wildlife.  Still each of us has had a fall or an unexpected illness that has sent us back to shore or to the nearest emergency room.  Even so, I would rather take these slight risks to go kayaking in Alaskan waters teeming with whales, otters, and seals than live to 100 watching reality shows.

    We know that there will come a time when we can’t do these things.  Tom had to take a break from bicycling to have back surgery.  Another friend, in his early 80’s has quit sleeping on the ground though he comes along for the hikes.  We ride shorter distances, hike slower, but see as much or more.  Part of the reason for aiming for an early retirement is to have the chance to enjoy these things before the day comes when we cannot.      

    What about you?  Have you been able to remain active?  What activities do you enjoy?  What have you had to give up?  Which risks are worth it and which are not?

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    Filed under Adventures