I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Blustery weather and exercise

I took this picture last Thursday outside the Senior Center. Looking out the window, I saw that this tree had exploded with blossoms; spring is definitely here. So far my allergies haven't bothered me as they usually do. It could be because of the amazing amount of precipitation that we've had this past month. Perhaps it's helping to keep the pollen counts down. We usually get lots of rain in any event, but I have been hearing even seasoned residents complaining about the rain.

Before I moved here, I owned one raincoat, but now I have three, along with rain pants, a rain poncho, and three different sets of gaiters. My hiking boots are waterproof. These all help me to be out in the weather. If I were waiting for the rain to stop, I wouldn't be leaving my house much. I'm sure that many of you wouldn't be very happy living here; some people require much more sunshine that I do or depression sets in. I've read that exercise helps, but one needs to be motivated to be out in inclement weather. Where does my own motivation come from, I wonder?

Everybody is different. That's part of what makes life interesting, but since everything you read says that getting a certain amount of exercise is important to be healthy, finding my own style was important. I realize that I am a social exerciser: I need company to motivate me. At the gym, I take a class along with twenty other people, jumping around to the music to get my heart rate up. Being one of the regulars, I have a spot in the room that I gravitate toward and if for some reason I move to another place in the room, the instructor will notice and comment on it. If I don't show up for class, she will ask where I was the next time I see her. I like all that; it helps to keep me coming. If for some reason I'm going to miss the next class, I let her know. Joanne has taught this particular M-W-F class at 9:00am for a quarter century, and a core group of perhaps ten people rarely miss. I've become one of them.

Our local YMCA is where I travel every morning, four days a week. As I've mentioned before, I really need a daily routine to be happy, and starting every morning with a bus trip to the Y for my class has taken the place of heading to the office. There are times, like this past Friday, when I look outside and see that the wind is blowing the rain sideways and ponder the correct configuration of clothing for the weather. But I invariably head out, the question is only about what to wear. I'm always glad afterwards, and my need for social interaction has been satisfied as well.

A man and his wife are usually leaving the gym as I arrive. He's got some sort of degenerative disease and needs help walking. She is always right there with him, helping him down the stairs and into the street. In the four years that I've observed them, I noticed that his condition has deteriorated somewhat, but he keeps coming, working out and using his body to the best of his ability. He never fails to smile and has a great attitude. If he can keep coming every day with his infirmities, he must inspire many others besides me.

My Thursday hiking group, the Senior Trailblazers, have become dear friends. We know each other's foibles now, and who won't show up if it's raining and who will. I am constantly amazed at how the days turn out. Last Thursday was another one of those horizontal rain days, and I headed out thinking I was crazy, but I went anyway. The weather cooperated: the rain stopped just before we arrived at the trailhead, and we heard the wind but were in the lee of Blanchard Mountain, so we were protected from the strong southern wind. After a day out in the elements with good friends, even a day that isn't perfect is much more tolerable when I've got people to commiserate with.

I've become an integral part of the group. When I get home after the hike, I download my pictures onto the Mac and write a post on my other blog to document the day and the time we had. Several hikers have commented (tongue in cheek) that they had to read the post before knowing if they had a good time or not.

When I was working, I used my lunch hour for exercise. My office was located in the beautiful foothills of Boulder, and I'd take to the trails in my younger days, jogging several times a week. I was by myself, but the rest of the day was filled with social interaction, so the time spent outdoors alone was a welcome respite. We were also fortunate to have showers and no time clock. My hour usually stretched to ninety minutes, but nobody minded as long as my work was done. I would usually go to the cafeteria and grab a quick salad to consume afterwards. It worked well. I knew then that if I waited to exercise after work, I wouldn't do it at all.

Hmmm. After writing all this down, I realize that it's been several decades now that exercise has been part of my daily routine. It was never a conscious decision, really. Wait, I take that back: I remember one day when I was in my thirties that I bought my first pair of running shoes. The moment that I stood in the doorway of my home, looking down at those shoes, I changed the course of my life forever. Although I went through many trials and tribulations on the way, I became able to run races and become fit. I've had several injuries and even some really bad accidents over the years, but I always return to exercise, finding a way to get that endorphin fix.

Although I can't run any more, I can still walk and work out. Transitioning to a full fitness routine after retiring and moving to another part of the country became a goal I've fulfilled. My intellectual life is still active, using the internet and blogging to remain engaged in the world of the mind. I've made friends through this venue that mean as much to me as many family members do. And every day I look to see what is going on in their lives. How did I ever manage to squeeze in a full-time job? I marvel every day at the fullness of my life.


June said...

I stand in awe of you, not least for your devotion to . . . movement.

Linda Reeder said...

DJan, I love reading your Sunday posts and reflecting on my own experiences as I read about yours.
You are an extrovert. I am an introvert. Exercising alone is fine for me. In fact, I prefer it. But I do wish sometimes that I sought out the company of others more.
I was never very athletic and certainly not a risk taker, but I have always liked taking walks. When I was working, I would try to get out after the school day to walk of the frustrations and turmoil of the day. Exercise reduces stress.
Walking continues to be my preferred form of exercise, as I work on weight loss and weight management. I also use a stationary bike because I don't really like walking in the rain. I do own Gortex though, of course!
As I have aged, fought the weight battle, and have struggled against arthritis, I know how important it is to keep moving. I am maybe even a little obsessed!
Thanks for another good, thought provoking read this morning, and for offering us another window into your soul.

Rubye Jack said...

Isn't it nice to be free to do what you want and need to do. I prefer walking alone in nature rather than with others as I don't think I ever fully relax when with others. However, I understand how people can be very motivating to get out there each day. I wish I could have the discipline for such structure.

Anonymous said...

Is that why I am so bored with my life? Lol. I need more social interaction. Unfortunately, chronic pain is what prevents me from getting to club meetings and other venues. In fact, I have decided to end my membership in a writers club due to pain. Sad.

CiCi said...

I am amazed at some folks who find nothing to do after they retire. Like you, my life is busy and productive and full since retirement.

I will keep the picture of the man with the degenerative disease in my mind. If he is so determined to be able to get around, then the rest of us can do some form of exercise too.

Sally Wessely said...

This post is so inspirational. I admire your insight into life and your response to it as much as I admire your dedication to living your life in a way that brings meaning and satisfaction to you. I think of you often while I am on my journey of healing. I keep plugging away towards health.

I also like exercise to be a social experience. I'm not one to exercise alone. I get bored if I have to ride a stationary bike or walk on a treadmill. I prefer taking classes or participating in a group activity. I am not a sporty person, but I love to walk. That is the one exercise I enjoy doing by myself.

Now, as far as that weather goes, I'm sure I'd never make it in the climate. I need my sunshine.

Rita said...

The blooming tree is gorgeous!
Back when I could exercise, I tended to prefer to do it alone. Had an exercise bike and some VHS tapes. When I was a lot younger I was just plain active and danced a lot. Didn't learn to drive till I was 30 so I walked everywhere. Loved to walk!!

I admire your love of routine and exercise. My life doesn't even have routine, let alone exercise--LOL! I just love your Sunday posts. :):)

Linda Myers said...

I love your posts!

I was almost completely sedentary until I was 45. Not so much, now that I'm 63. Today I'll go to the gym. Maybe take a walk. Not like you, friend, but good for me.

Kathryn said...

Every time that I read one of your posts I think, "When is the inspiration on DJan's part going to translate into action on MY part?"
You are certainly doing YOUR part!
Maybe I need a 'looking down at the running shoes' moment....or a kick inthe posterior.
I'm an introvert, but like feeling like part of a group, oddly enough. It's just that it takes such a push for me to go outside my comfort zone and join a group. If I stay long enough I invariably feel like I belong, and then things are good. Right now I use the home exersize bike...very occasionally, and feel a definite desperate panicky feeling when I don't get on the silly thing for a few weeks.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

I, too, remember putting on my first pair of running shoes. I went out every day for a couple of months, but I never got the hang of it and it didn't occur to me to just walk. Funny how the same moment takes on very different significance in different lives. :-)

Gigi said...

As we know, I am not into exercise, but one day your words will do more than just inspire me and actually get me into gear (I hope). I do know that I definitely could not live out there - the rain and gloom would most certainly do me in. Today has been gloomy and my mood certainly reflects it.

Bragger said...

I find myself becoming grumpy (more so than usual!) when I can't exercise. I am looking forward to including a variety of exercises in my retirement schedule. I am perfectly content exercising alone, though. Then no one can interrupt my thoughts. :)

Stella Jones said...

Your climate seems much like mine here in England. I don't really mind the rain. It doesn't stop me doing anything I want to do, except perhaps gardening.
Unlike you, I don't seem to need people to motivate me. I'm not a sociable person at all, which surprises even me! I wish I was more sociable because I'm sure people who are enjoy each other's company.
Keep on doing what you're doing. It's obviously just right for you (smile).

Sandi said...

Hello DJan! I am soooo far behind in my reading and writing! I just realized I didn't read last Sunday's post and I know I missed at least the last two Thursday posts from you!

Jessica does look young, and is 23, so you can imagine how young her sister looks at 21! They both were blessed (or from their viewpoint, cursed!) with young genes.

I am always inspired when I read about all your activities. And I continue to want to emulate your zest for living and interest in the world around you!

Red said...

Couldn't agree more with your post today. Exercise does keep you going. It's really hard to miss. I've only missed one skate this year. The skaters are an awesome group.
Funny that it's easier to be out in the snow as it's dry. Rain is so cold here that you have to be cautious.

Arkansas Patti said...

I sure wish I had your determination. I really miss the walking group I had in Florida. Just can't get anyone interested here.
I would be fine if the sun never shown after cooking my brains out in Florida, but I do need to get outside.
This time of year, I am getting all the exercise I can handle with gardening. Weeds are my inspiration.

Dee Ready said...

Dear DJan, Like Rubye Jack, I like to walk alone in nature, but the truth is that I do that very seldom now. The bottom line is that I haven't exercised regularly since Meniere's entered my life so forcefully in May 2006.

What you shared in this posting has me thinking. Even though I am an introvert--like "Linda Reeder"--I begin to think that going to the Y or taking a class as you do would help me meet people and socialize. And also would give me a routine that would mean I'd get something done each day.

Thank you for this posting. It is truly inspiring me--finally I think--to do something about the fact that I've become a recluse here in my new home and about my weight and about those happiness endorphins! Peace.

Trish said...

Your Sunday posts are great. My parents were exercise people, daily runs for years, then swimming every morning. It wore off on me - the gym. Endorphin fixes for sure!

Friko said...

Could you send me a small measure of what you're on?

I'd love to have even a little bit of your get up and go. Laziness personified, that's me. Now that the dog is old, I walk no more than half an hour a day, and that at a very sedate pace.

Unlikely to start going to the gym (I wouldn't know where the nearest one is), running or skydiving, gardening will have to do for me. At least it's outdoor and the nice thing is that I have something to show for my efforts at the end of my labours.

Far Side of Fifty said...

You go gal! My brother says the same thing about the weather in Oregon, if you stayed in because it rained you would be housebound all the time. Here in Minnesota..we stay in when it rains..and nap:)

Proform said...

Keeping healthy in the winter is rough, I agree, I live in Alberta and although it is spring there is still snow, and its not pleasant to go for a walk just yet. Well at least I am on a hobby farm, so that forces me outdoors every day, gotta feed the critters or they get very mad.
It is a tough thing too because when a person is cold they do not feel like exercising, they just want to stay in bed under the covers nice and warm, but you do have to do it, and amazingly can feel positive mental results in addition to physical ones.
Great blog - enjoyed.