Medical Care . . . the Way It Should Be

As you read this post today, I'll be winging my way back home . . .
from a whirlwind medical adventure in Rochester, Minnesota . . .
at the . . . 


Some of you may already have had the great pleasure of visiting Mayo, so you'll know what I'm talking about when I say . . .

This is medical care . . . the way it should be!

I first visited Mayo in the fall of 2008 . . . when I was in the midst of a tricky lymphoma diagnosis. Locally, I had been getting the medical runaround for months, jumping through hoop after hoop and finding no answers, getting nowhere. . . but once I finally got to Mayo, I had a diagnosis and treatment plan after just a few (sure, rather grueling, but still) days.

So. Fast forward to 2021. I've reached a phase with my rheumatoid arthritis where I'm  . . . let's just say not getting what I need locally . . . so I decided to head to the Mayo Clinic for answers and a plan once again.

Let me just interrupt myself to say that it's not all rainbows and moonbeams when you decide to go to Mayo. In fact, if you don't live within easy driving distance of the campus, it's just gonna be a hassle . . .pure and simple. You can't just call up and get an appointment, either. There is a Process. And it takes time and requires a referral from a local doctor. You have to be approved. And you have to jump through a lot of hoops along the way. There are travel hassles and timing hassles and logistical hassles. (Trust me. I've had them all in the last 3 days.)

But, friends. When you walk into this building . . . 


every one of those hassles is Totally. Worth. It.

Because Mayo Clinic care is completely patient focused. Everyone is friendly. Everyone is efficient. They answer questions. They ask questions. And they cater their care to what YOU need. Thoughtfully. And quickly.

IMG_7097 2

This wall mural really does say it all. The Mayo philosophy. (It took me a long time before I could snap this photo . . . because it appears in a very busy hallway- part of the underground "subway" system of interconnected, underground tunnels connecting the many buildings on the Mayo campus - and hordes of people walk by all the time.)

Once you arrive at Mayo, they put together an "itinerary" for your days, filled with appointments, scans, x-rays, tests . . . anything you might need. And ususally . . . all those tests happen back to back to back, all in one day. The results come in . . . . and you get another itinerary. Maybe appointments with different doctors. Maybe surgery. Maybe staging. Who knows! But whatever you need . . . they do it. And you don't wait long for results or treatments or answers either. 

You know what else? The Mayo Clinic buildings, themselves, are beautiful. And that's a real treat when you're sick or hurting and scrambled and searching. There are comfortable places to sit and wait. Big windows to take in the views. Real art on display. Soothing music. A calm atmosphere. And plenty of helpful "concierges" to help you figure out where you are and how to get to your next destination.


Seriously. (Say it with me. . . ) Medical care the way it should be!

When I made my appointment for this week (months ago now), I was unsure how long I'd need to stay. They recommended 4 days, and that's what I planned for. As it turns out, they were able to cram everything I needed into one (very long) day -- and I'm already on my way home again, with a virtual doctor appointment to follow later this week to review my results and put together a plan. 

So that's where I've been.
The whole Mayo thing is really . . . quite an amazing experience. And I'm happy to have hassled my way through it!

(And if you ever need answers for a tricky medical issue, or if you feel like you're getting nowhere fast locally . . . please remember that the Mayo Clinic is an option. It might seem like all kinds of hassle. But when you're desperate for answers or a next step, it's worth it!)

On Shout Outs and Virtual High Fives

Today is a Big Day for someone I love.

Yep. Sometime this morning, my good friend Carole (who started as a blog friend but became a real friend) is going to climb on her Peloton bike . . . and spin through her 100th ride!


That 100th ride is a Very Big Deal. In Peloton-land, it's called your Century Ride. And the Peloton folks celebrate it in a big way. You get a (virtual) medal. You become a member of the Century Club. They even send you a special t-shirt! (A nice one, too.) 

Why do they celebrate the 100th ride with such fanfare? Well. Because it's a Big Deal.

It means you've overcome the inertia of comfort and put on your spinning shoes and clipped into the pedals of your bike . . . 100 times.
It means you've selected a ride that will likely kick your butt . . . 100 times.
It means you've ridden intervals and hills and done speed-work and sweated and fought the voices in your head that tell you that you can't . . . 100 times.

And maybe . . . it means you've battled the demons that live deep in your soul . . . 100 times.

And if you do 100 rides? Well, what's to keep you from 200? 500? 1500 rides?

That's what.
Once you hit 100 rides, you know you can do more!

If you've read Carole's Peloton story (and if you haven't, now would be a good time to read it), you know that climbing on that Peloton (100 times now) has been life-altering for her. I'm so excited and proud to be part of her story, and I'm so excited and proud to welcome her to the Century Club today!

In Peloton-land, when you do a "milestone ride" in a "live" class, the instructor will give you a shout out, acknowledging your accomplishment publicly. We can't always do a "live" class, though*, and I happen to know that Carole won't be doing a "live" class today. Since she won't be hearing her instructor do a personal shout out, I thought I'd just do it myself, right here in blog-land. 


You know what else happens in Peloton-land? You can give each other virtual high-fives. We do that in blog-land, too. So why don't you head on over to Carole's today . . . and give her a virtual high-five! (Tell her Kym sent you.)


Have a great weekend, everyone!
See you Monday.


*Thankfully, there are always thousands of "on demand" classes in Peloton-land, so you can always ride when you want to.

Making Great Use of Her Time: A Fitness Story

Way back in 2019, I started a "conversation" here about wellness -- specifically about fitness, and especially as we age.  Based on your comments, it was pretty clear back then that we all pretty much fell into one of two camps:  

(1) those of us who have discovered strategies to make fitness a part of our lives, and 

(2) those of us who would like to.

Throughout 2019, I asked some of the folks in the first camp to share their fitness and workout strategies with those in the second camp.  First, I shared my sister Diane’s story– about developing a walking routine for the long term.  Next, I shared Carolyn’s story – about mastering a self-directed fitness/video routine.  Then I shared Patty’s story – about developing a fitness/support community to stay active for the long haul. And finally, I shared Claudia’s story about getting strong and becoming a fitness advocate for yourself.

Last fall, I checked back in with each of them to see how they were doing with their fitness through the pandemic. (You can read their updated stories here: Diane, Carolyn, Patty, and Claudia.) 

Today, I’m happy to bring you another personal fitness story.  This time, I’m going to introduce you to Karen. . . someone who has made the absolute most of her “pandemic time” to not only up her fitness game, but to change her entire lifestyle. I met Karen here - through my blog - and we’ve followed each other on Instagram for several years. As the pandemic dragged on, I enjoyed following Karen’s fitness progress on IG. I think you’ll be as inspired by her story as I’ve been!

Reservoir hike

Kym: To get started, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and your life — how you spend your days, what you like to do in your free time, what makes you happy . . . that kind of thing.

Karen: I’m 58 years old, married, with 2 sons who are both married and I have 5 granddaughters! I work in the nonprofit world as a controller for a statewide organization that funds legal aid programs in PA. I have always worked in nonprofit accounting and grant writing. As someone who ‘crunches’ numbers all day you don’t always get to see how your work impacts a company. In the nonprofit world I have been able to see how the work I have done impacts the community around me. It is very fulfilling. The work our programs do - especially in these crazy political times in our country - is needed even more than ever.

As empty nesters my husband and I have enjoyed camping, hiking, and kayaking. We bought a small camper after years of tent camping with our sons. And we took up kayaking about 5 years ago. We love to visit wineries and breweries. My husband actually started brewing beer a few years ago. I love to knit (this is how I found your blog years ago), garden, craft – especially with my granddaughters, travel, cook (especially as a new vegetarian), and take pictures.

Kym: Tell us about what you used to do about fitness in the Before Times, and how that changed during the pandemic. What inspired you? 

Karen: As a kid I was always super skinny. I could eat whatever I wanted and never gained weight. But in my 20s that changed. I slowly started gaining weight, and honestly have been overweight the past 25 years. That is hard to admit. I have dieted for years. Tried everything! Same old story – lost and gained over and over. And each time I gained I added more lbs.  

I struggled with health issues related to being overweight – high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep issues, joint pain, etc. I was a couch potato for years. In recent years I had worked off and on with a personal trainer. And while that was wonderful and I gained strength and learned so much, I never changed my eating habits.

When the pandemic hit in March and we were sent home to work remotely on March 16, I knew this was dangerous for me. I knew the anxiety of the situation as well as being home 24/7 with access to the kitchen could take me down. I kept hearing people talk about the “COVID 15” – kind of like the “freshman 15.” I made a very conscious decision to use this time to take better care of myself.  

Kym: What does your fitness routine/regimen look like now? How did your fitness routine come to be? Do you follow any kind of program or plan, or did you just make it up on your own?

Karen: Several people I follow on IG mentioned that we were given a gift in that those who had a commute before the pandemic now had that time back. I thought that was a brilliant idea!  While my commute only amounted to about an hour a day I decided to use that time to walk. I started slow, maybe a mile or so a few times a week. I was slower than mud. But the movement combined with the fresh air cleared my mind and was unbelievably good for my soul! Little by little I walked a bit faster, a bit longer. My goal now is 5k a day. Sometimes, especially on weekends, I walk or hike longer. 

And then I added in strength/weight training. I use a program through Beachbody on Demand called LIIFT4. It combines HIIT (high intensity interval training) with lifting. It’s 4 days a week for about 30-45 minutes. What I love about it is they always show a modification to the exercises, which is good for me as I have knee issues – like need 2 knee replacements issues.

And I also changed my eating habits. I had been dabbling with eating whole food, plant based (WFPB) for a few years. March 17 I decided to really work hard at this way of eating. I will say I am about 98% compliant. I do eat some cheese once in a great while (yum – pizza!).


(This is a progress photo of Karen wearing the same hand knit sweater.)

Kym: How do you stay motivated?

Karen: What keeps me motivated is the way I feel! The combination of exercise and healthy eating has worked – who knew? I am down 55 lbs with about 20 more to go. But it is more than the number on the scale. I feel better than I have in over 20 years. My painful joints are gone. My terrible knee pain – gone – despite walking 25 miles a week. All of my health numbers – except my BMI sigh – are wonderful. My doctor is thrilled.

As the weather got colder and the daylight hours changed it was harder. I now walk M-F at 5:00 pm in the parking lot of our local high school. It is well lit, safe and has a killer hill at one end of the school. And three times a week my husband runs at the same complex. On weekends it is easier as I don't have to be up as early. 

The old me would have used the lack of daylight as an excuse. The new me found a way around it as it is important to me.

Kym: What advice or words-of-wisdom do you have for others trying to get started — or keep going with — a new fitness routine?


  • Make the time for yourself. As a woman, wife, mom, I think we sometimes put ourselves last. We take care of everyone else first. And for years I let my job rule my life. It still does in some ways and working during the pandemic has actually made work harder and at times meant longer hours – new funding sources, complicated revenues, finding new ways to work from home – have complicated work. But I schedule my workouts – put them on my calendar and 99% of the time I can follow through. 
  • Stop making excuses. I am the Queen of Excuses. I could find so many reasons for not exercising – too hot, too cold, too windy, my knees hurt, I need to work, I’m too tired. 
  • Start slow. Too many times we go all out from the start, get hurt or end up overly sore and that tends to make us stop.
  • Find something you love to do. Who knew I would love strength/weight training? It is empowering!
  • Get outside – no matter what the weather! This is one thing I strongly encourage to anyone who will listen. My husband and I get as much fresh air as possible each day, every day. This article on the Norwegian concept of Friluftsliv speaks to this. Kind of like the new hygge! I love walking in the rain and snow. We eat outside on our deck as often as possible – sometimes all three meals a day. Our neighbors think we are nuts as we can often be found having early morning coffee on the deck when it is 35 degrees outside, bundled up with a blanket over our legs and wooly caps on. The fresh air every day has kept us sane during this crazy time in our country. And as most of us are working and living in the same place it is good to get a change of scenery by getting outside.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others. My husband is a runner. I am constantly comparing my meager miles at a much slower pace to his.  It is not a good thing to do. Instead think about how far you have come. I track my mileage in a spreadsheet – yup the accountant in me!  I have walked/hiked over 1000 miles in the past year.  This from a former couch potato.
  • Be active with others. That can be hard right now as we all continue to social distance. I will admit I really like walking on my own. It clears my brain like nothing else. I like setting my own pace and exercising at my convenience. But I also enjoy being active with others. I spent last summer hiking, hiking, birding and kayaking with my husband and sometimes family. All are great social distancing activities if you time it right. 
  • Realize you are worth it.  Oh this is a hard one. We all deserve to be healthy and happy. Make the time to be healthy. Find out what makes you happy.

Conewago Trail

I’ve really enjoyed watching Karen’s progress through these pandemic days. Her story is so powerful and inspiring. And you know what else is powerful and inspiring here? Her words of advice! They’re so very good! But I want to really highlight a few of them that have come up in each of the fitness interviews I've posted since beginning this focus on fitness.

First, make time for yourself. This is always tough, because we fill our days with "stuff" and never feel like we have time. But making time for fitness now . . . will pay off as you get older. (And we're all getting older.)

Second, start slow. And this applies to all aspects of fitness programs. Start with just a few minutes minutes. Lighter weights. Fewer reps. Then . . . build up to more mintues. More days. Extra miles. Longer planks. Let it happen gradually. (No burpees on your first day. . . )

Third, don't compare yourself to anyone else. Period. We're not trying to be competitive athletes here. We're just trying to become more fit . . . so we can feel better, age more comfortably, and stay healthy. It doesn't matter how anyone else is doing. It matters how YOU are doing.

As we were working on this interview, Karen told me that she almost felt guilty that the crazy pandemic has been "good" for her. She says it made her slow down, and it made her want to be her healthiest so if she did get sick, she'd be able to fight it. Talk about a silver lining!


When I do these fitness interviews, I always ask about Gretchen Rubin's "Four Tendencies." In Karen's case, she told me she is an Obliger . . . which is why it's been so hard to put herself first this year. 


How about you? Are you making progress with your own fitness goals?


Speed Trap


I ended up taking an unanticipated blog-break last week. Because . . . last week? It was A LOT.
Just . . . A LOT.
(Any way you slice it.)

I feel like I've been holding my breath for a really, really long time now. I keep thinking that I'll be able to (finally) let it out again. But, no. Still holding it.

I had a blog post nearly ready for last Thursday, but my heart just wasn't in it. So here it is today. . . a Three-on-Thursday on a Monday.



Many, many years ago, Tom and I took the kids on an Epic Family Vacacation Through the American West, with an ultimate destination of Bozeman, Montana (where Tom had a conference to attend). We hit as many National Parks and Memorials as we could along the way, enjoying the Badlands and Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone and the Tetons, Devil's Tower and Bighorn Canyon. (We won't talk about one kid pushing the other kid into the Lamar River in Yellowstone. Or how tempted we were to drive away from a raging kid in the parking lot at Devil's Tower.) (Long family car trips. What can I say? ) We have a lot of fun(ny) family memories. And that's what it's all about, right? Anyway. When we finally drove into Montana, we were greeted by a speed limit sign that looked a lot like the one in the photo above.

Reasonable and prudent.

I thought this would be a good way to continue . . . my yoga post from last Monday. Because after I wrote that post - and inspired a lot of you to give yoga a try - I had conversations with several of you that made me realize I maybe should take that yoga post . . . a little bit further. So, in the spirit of Three on Thursday, here are three more thoughts about . . . yoga. . . and watching for speed traps . . . on a Monday. (Please bear with me here.)


  1. Be Reasonable and Prudent about developing your yoga practice! There are many benefits to doing yoga. So many. And you can reap these benefits . . . by establishing a regular and consistent yoga practice. Now, what "regular and consistent" means is totally up to each of us individually. Kind of like that "reasonable and prudent" speed limit sign we encountered in Montana. Sure, Adriene touts doing yoga-every-day, and she comes up with a nicely packaged 30-day program each month so it's possible. BUT . . . that doesn't mean we need to DO yoga every day. Last Monday, I explained that yoga has made a huge difference for me as I deal with rheumatoid arthritis. And - until quite recently - I only did yoga once a week! My regular and consistent yoga practice . . . had me going to a studio yoga class once a week, every week -- for years. 

    So if doing yoga every day doesn't work for you -- because you already have a fitness program and you're just looking to add a bit of yoga to it, for example, or because you're working or have kids at home (or both!) and can't fit an every-day ANYTHING into your life, or because your body needs time to recover after a yoga practice - then be . . . "reasonable and prudent" about what's "regular and consistent." Maybe your 30-day program takes 30 weeks of once-a-week yoga. That's just fine. You'll still get the benefits -- if you keep practicing, regularly and consistently. It is absolutely not necessary to do yoga every day to get the benefits of yoga! (And it's absolutely okay to ignore the words "30 day" before any "challenge.") (What is that about, anyway?) (But I digress.)

  2. Start at the beginning! Although Adriene claims that this particular new 30-day program is designed for anyone, I have a feeling that if you've never tried yoga before, well . . . it might seem to be too much. Maybe a little intimidating. Perhaps trying yoga at a slower pace might give you the confidence you need to stick with a regular and consistent practice. Here are some links to Adriene's beginner level classes that might be worth checking out:

    Yoga for Beginners - Here are six classes from Adriene that move at a slower pace, provide beginner-level instruction, and demonstrate more modifications for poses (and ways to ease into them) than the current 30-day program does.

    Foundations of Yoga - Adriene has also done a series of shorter videos, each featuring the "foundations" of various yoga postures. This is a great series if you want more specific instruction in some of the basic yoga poses (or even some of the more advanced poses). It's ideal for when you're trying to figure out just what you're "supposed to be" doing to get yourself into all these poses.

  3. Modify! Although Adriene does talk about modifications in this new 30-day yoga series, she doesn't demonstrate them quite as much as I hoped she might. Here is my modification advice for you:

    First, don't force anything! Only bend or reach or twist as far as it's comfortable for you to do. (If you keep up with a regular and consistent practice, you'll be amazed at how quickly you'll be bending or reaching or twisting further.)

    Second, keep a small pillow or rolled up towel nearby and use it to . . . prop whatever seems to need propping. And keep a dining room chair nearby to hold onto whenever you feel wobbly or out of balance. There is no "cheating" in yoga -- only supporting. Meet yourself where you are - and make good use of your props. (Again, as you do yoga regularly and consistently, you'll notice yourself reaching for props less often.)

    Third, try everything -- but rest when you need to. You can pause the video, or you can just let it continue on while you rest until you're ready to jump back in. It's not "cheating." It's meeting yourself where you are. And that's what yoga is all about.

So, if you tried the yoga thing last week and you were finding it a little bit too much for right now - either schedule-wise or body-wise, maybe you'll consider trying it again. Just a little slower.

Like . . . at whatever speed seems reasonable and prudent to you!


And here's to a good, safe, and non-eventful week for all of us.
(I'd really like to exhale, y'know?)

Revving Up For a New Year

Happy New Year!
Happy Monday!

In an attempt to keep things  fresh, relevant, and fun (for me . . . and maybe for you, too), I'm going to be making a few changes here on the blog over the next few months. Nothing drastic (although you never know . . . ). Just different. Change is good, y'know? 

On Mondays I'll still . . . 

Begin cup

but not every Monday.
Just some Mondays. 
And it'll be just a little bit different.

"Change only happens in the present moment. The past is already done. The future is just energy and intention."
               --- Kino McGregor

So here we are, at the beginning of a new year. A time when many of us make resolutions or goals or intentions for how we want to move forward in the new year. And I know a lot of those resolutions or goals or intentions have something to do with . . . moving more. Getting stronger. Improving our balance and flexibility. Working on our fitness.

Maybe even . . . trying yoga.

So today, I'm going to Start Your Engines with some yoga talk. Because if there's one thing that revs me up and gets me moving, it's yoga!


I've been doing yoga for a long, long time. I actually credit yoga with . . . saving my life. WHUT? Yeah. I do. If not for yoga, I doubt I'd be doing most of the things I do today.

I don't talk about it much, generally, and I think I've only mentioned it once or twice here on the blog, but I have rheumatoid arthritis. I was diagnosed with it shortly after Erin was born, and it took a while before we got it under control and I could move again without pain. Of course, some of my joints are completely trashed now (both wrists - and especially the right one, and one of my knees), but thanks to a combination of good medical care, new drugs, a decent attitude, and commitment to moving every day . . . here I am . . . 30 years later and still able to do (pretty much) anything I want to do!

At a time when I could barely lift my arms over my head (let along think about sitting on the floor), my rheumatologist suggested I try . . . yoga. I thought he was nuts. I had done yoga before my RA diagnosis, so I really couldn't imagine it would be possible again. But I gave it a try. It was really hard at first. I took it slowly, though, and kept at it. Before long . . . I was moving easier and feeling better. My flexibility increased; my pain decreased. I got more confident about moving again, and I saw how important a regular and consistent commitment to moving (even when it didn't feel so great) was for my body. It changed me; it saved my life!

So . . . I am totally committed to practicing yoga.

Yoga offers so many benefits. Gentle movement is good for your joints. It builds strength - and especially core strength. It improves balance and flexibility. It makes a mind-body connection, which is helpful for reducing stress. It can offer spiritual growth/self-actualization if that's your jam. It is a great thing to do at any age -- but it is particularly beneficial for aging bodies. And more recent studies are showing it can even help reduce brain shrinkage, which is a huge benefit. (I've included a link to a Psychology Today article in the "curated resources" section below.

Before the pandemic, I went to studio yoga classes once or twice a week. I did stretches and sun salutations at home every day, but mostly my yoga was studio-based. The pandemic changed all that, of course, and I had to scramble to figure out an at-home way to do yoga. I tried a few for-pay online based yoga programs (they often offer "free trial" periods), finally making my way to Yoga With Adriene. And there it was: My new at-home yoga "studio." Now, I do yoga every day, and I love it. (This is one of my pandemic silver linings.)

I know a lot of you are already familiar with Adriene, but for those of you who aren't . . . here are a few things to know: First, Adriene offers a huge and ever-expanding catalog of classes for free through her YouTube channel. Next, each month Adriene pulls together a collection of her classes organized around a "theme" and publishes a calendar with links to the daily classes. Again, free. And then, each January Adriene offers a brand new 30-day yoga series featuring all-new classes suitable for every level of yogi. And, again . . . free. (There is a for-pay subscription option, where subscribers get access to Adriene's Find What Feels Good app and a few other subscriber-only goodies. I have chosen this option after enjoying her classes for a couple of months. I feel like what she's offering is worth my financial support. But the fact that her classes are offered free - and ad-free - is just . . . amazing.)

I know several of you are thinking about giving Adriene's online yoga a try. Or maybe you haven't really given it a thought before. But today, I'd like to give you that little friendly nudge - to Start Your Engines and . . . Try it!


Right now, Adriene is offering a brand new 30-day yoga series called Breath. It's free. It's YouTube based. It's for every body. It's for YOU. (Click here for more information or to sign up for daily email reminders.) It's a great way to stick your toe into this whole yoga thing . . . or, if you're already a yoga-person, it's a great immersion into yoga breath technique. 

"Yoga is not for the flexible. It's for the willing."
            --- Anonymous

If you're thinking it's too late now because  you missed the first days . . .
I say . . . Nope. Your "day 1" can be any day you choose! Who says you have to start on January 1?

If you're thinking 30 days is just too much. . .  
I say . . . No worries! No one says you have to do 30 days in a row. You can set your own yoga schedule and spread the days out however you want.

If you're thinking your body isn't a "yoga body". . .
I say . . . Every body is a "yoga body." (Even if arthritis has trashed your joints.)

If you're thinking you aren't "flexible enough" for yoga . . .
I say . . . We do yoga to become more flexible, not because we're already flexible.

If you're thinking you don't have the right clothes or equipment to do yoga . . .
I say . . . Got sweat pants? Got a t-shirt? A yoga mat is helpful, but you can just do yoga on your floor if you want.

If you're thinking you can't do those moves . . .
I say . . . Yeah, at first very few people can. But if you keep at it for 30 days, you'll be amazed at what you'll be able to do! And Adriene suggests modifications, so yoga can work for everyone.


So, what do you think? Have I convinced you?
Are you ready to roll out your mat and give yoga a try?
Start YOUR Engines . . . and c'mon along.

"The body benefits from the movement, and the mind benefits from stillness."
            --- Sakyong Mipham


For further exploration, check out my Curated Resource List:


Checking In: Talking Fitness Again

Last year, when things felt settled and plans were more reliable (y'know . . . in the Before Times), I talked a lot about fitness and wellness here. And I especially focused on the importance of building our strength and fitness levels as we age. I harped on talked about the benefits of regular movement and strength training. I posted sample workouts and fitness tips and inspirational stories. I even got some of my fitness pals to share their stories and workout strategies!

Now that we're deep into . . . a whole new way of living . . . I thought it might be interesting to check back in with my fitness pals again -- a year (and a lifetime) later. Y'know . . . to see how they're doing, what's changed for them fitness-wise, and to see if they have any tips or words of encouragement for working out during a pandemic.

This week, let’s check in with . . . Carolyn.

(Here's a link to last year's fitness post featuring Carolyn. In case you want to refresh yourself before moving on.)


Kym:  Hi Carolyn! How are you doing, generally, during these pandemic times? What’s happening for you? Are you working at home? Going to the office? Dealing with kids at home (all. the. time.)?

Carolyn: Fortunately, we're all doing well under my roof. We're all happy to have kids back in school--including the kids themselves! I have a high schooler, middle schooler, and a third grader; all three attend small charter schools (size being a critical factor these days!).  Our youngest is schooling in-person, in a contained group of 13 students, Monday-Friday. My older two have a similar arrangement Monday-Thursday and home on Fridays.  

As I recently described to a friend, life at home feels like my husband and I are getting a crash course in retirement...in what it will be like to be home together. All day. We work very differently, but we've figured out how to flow...go our own ways and come back together, go our own ways and come back together. (It's been good.)
Kym:  What’s happening for you fitness-wise? Are you able to work out in the same ways you used to, pre-pandemic? Have you added anything? Modified your routine? Stopped working out altogether?
Carolyn: I rarely get to say this, so I'm going to go ahead and say it: I feel like I was ahead of the game on this one! I've been a home workout person since I was 14 years old. So, more than 30 years (give or take some gym membership streaks here and there.) When it comes to fitness, I'm intrinsically motivated. Given that, I'm happy to work out alone, at home. I like to show up, work hard, and be done.*  I've taken plenty of group cardio & boot camp classes in my life, and following a live instructor doesn't feel that much different than following an instructor on video--except  I don't have to spend time driving to and from, scanning my card, getting a spot, waiting for class to start...then doing it all in reverse!). At this point in my life, if making time for fitness meant an extra 30'ish minutes of rigamaroll, I probably wouldn't stick with it!
With the exception of yoga. No rush there. And, like you, Kym, I'm an Adriene fan! Why? 1) Her personality 2) Poses are easily modified, up or down 3) She has a video for everything! I've googled "Yoga with Adriene sore neck" or "...lean muscle" or "...strong back" or  "...grumpy mood." And she's got it! Love. Her. 
Two differences since we last talked--first, I've upped my workouts in both time and challenge, because I noticed my strength had waned while on a hike last summer ('19). So a regular workout for me now is 30-45 minutes long; a few days of cardio per week; a few days of strength (my favorite); or some days, a combo of the two; and yoga when I crave it.  I'm not strict or regimented or hard core or competitive--I never have been. What I am is steady...and I feel like that's paid off, over time. I don't even have a dedicated work out hour! Though I know morning is the magic time for a lot of people. My only rule is I Will Exercise Before Dinner.
And second, as luck would have it, I had come to love swimming laps at a local rec center a few months before the pandemic hit. It was mostly a weekend 'bonus' to my regular exercise, and my youngest daughter was swimming right along with me for the full hour! We loved this time--and look forward to it again. Eventually.
Colorado is at Level 2 right now: Safer at Home and in the Great, Vast Outdoors. So hiking is another way to get a 'bonus' workout in my week lately. I've also started daily walks--at a preserve or a park or just in my neighborhood--solely for my mental health. Contrary to how I've approached walking in the past--for speed, fitness, toning, and lasting about an hour--these walks are slow. Peaceful. An intentional 'emptying my bucket.' And with no particular duration. I notice a significant change in my breathing and heart rate on these walks--similar to how that happens in meditation. And while a different kind of fitness, I believe it's just as much a part of fitness!
Kym:  What are the most important lessons you’ve learned about your own health, well-being, fitness, etc. since the pandemic “hit"?
Carolyn:  One is to never underestimate the value of Simple. I try not to overcomplicate things when it comes to wellness, because, for me, that just creates barriers. Or fosters excuses. And then? Fitness (or fill in the blank) won't happen. The second is Moderation. My Gram was a good example for me: She ate what she wanted--but not too much of it. Drank what she wanted--but not too much of it. And she gardened and golfed and was 'on the go,' as she would have said, into her 80s. I want fitness to be life-long.  So I push hard--because I feel best when I sweat a lot or shake in the middle of push-ups. But I don't overdo to the point of injury. I modify when I need to. (For example, I have lousy hip joints, so I have to take it easy with HIIT workouts and Plyometrics--or I'll pay for it.) My attitude at 45 is that I'm working out NOW so I'll  STILL be working out later (just like my Dad).
Kym: Do you have any advice for others who may be struggling or trying to figure out how to add fitness into their lives?
Carolyn: Fitness is not One Size Fits All, that's for sure! So I think we have to give ourselves permission to experiment--which means, if kickboxing on YouTube didn't go well, for example, it doesn't mean you failed at home fitness! It just means you might try a cardio pilates workout next time, instead. (Seriously--just google anything you want to try and hit Videos. You can even include length of time, like '10 minute standing abs.' You'll have more options than you'd have imagined!) I know there's often resistance to working out at home (& alone), but if you want to give it a shot, I say start small--5 or 10 minutes!  Just make sure you feel challenged in the workout; otherwise, you won't feel a thing the next day. And that's key, I think. That little bit of Wow! I'm actually sore! Good-sore! is just a little addictive. 
Kym: What helps you cope with life in the time of pandemic?
Carolyn: Time alone! That's the thing about the pandemic--things feel so extreme. Those with too much time alone; those with not enough. And it takes some creativity to find--make--what you need. (In my case, it also takes teamwork. I really appreciate my husband--who gets me--and who helps me make Time Alone happen.)
Kym: Any other thoughts you'd like to add?
Carolyn: Exercise is great. Just like meditation, and good relationships, and practicing gratitude. But I also think we have to get okay with just feeling like shit sometimes--and not being able to fix it. (Can I say it like that?) To be able to say it out loud: "I'm having a bad day." "I'm in a bad mood. It has nothing to do with you, or anybody else." "I'm mad and grumpy. I love you. Please don't talk to me."  Kinda like that...  
As you can see, Carolyn really WAS "ahead of the curve" with her working-out-at-home routine -- a true poster child for home fitness! She was perfectly positioned when it came to doing Fitness In The Time of Pandemic -- and, whether she knows it or not, served as my role model when I was struggling to make the HUGE jump from gym-based to home-based workouts back in March. (I often thought to myself . . . how would Carolyn do this? what would Carolyn do?) I love that Carolyn has added her peaceful and intentionally slower paced walks to her fitness mix these days. Because finding ways to "empty your bucket" is so important in these highly stressful times.
I'd really like to reiterate - with emphasis - a couple of Carolyn's comments. First, she is so right that "fitness is not one-size-fits-all." It may take some time to figure out what works for YOU, but once you do . . . working out is so much easier! And what you like to do may change . . . with the weather, with your mood, with your stress-level. So do take the time to experiment and try some things; surprise yourself! (And, like Carolyn says, there are So Many Options when it comes to online workouts these days. There is definitely something that would work for you.) The other comment from Carolyn I'd like to echo is . . . don't be afraid to challenge yourself with your workouts. Not in an injury-kind of way; we all need to take care of ourselves. But if you're not a little bit sore after a new workout, well . . . maybe you could push yourself a little harder. Go ahead . . . pick up a heavier weight next time!
And, if challenge is what you're looking for, Carolyn sent me this link to one of her recent favorite workouts -- a 30-minute video that leaves her "drenched and exhausted." She included this screen shot . . . 
Screenshot (11)
. . . and I'm just gonna say that any workout with "push-up burpees" in it? Yep. That'll challenge you!


How about YOU? How has your fitness-life changed in the past year? Let me know. Let's keep this fitness conversation rolling!

And if you have a video-based home workout routine, what advice would you share? What videos or programs do you recommend?


Be sure to check out Carolyn's lovely blog. She writes thoughtful, thought-provoking posts twice each week. Always a great read!

Checking In: Talking Fitness Again

Last year, when things felt settled and plans were more reliable (y'know . . . in the Before Times), I talked a lot about fitness and wellness here. And I especially focused on the importance of building our strength and fitness levels as we age. I harped on talked about the benefits of regular movement and strength training. I posted sample workouts and fitness tips and inspirational stories. I even got some of my fitness pals to share their stories and workout strategies!

Now that we're deep into . . . a whole new way of living . . . I thought it might be interesting to check back in with my fitness pals again -- a year (and a lifetime) later. Y'know . . . to see how they're doing, what's changed for them fitness-wise, and to see if they have any tips or words of encouragement for working out during a pandemic.

This week, let’s check in with . . . my sister, Diane.

(Here's a link to last year's fitness post featuring Diane. In case you want to refresh yourself before moving on.)


Kym: Hey, Di. How are you doing, generally, during these pandemic times? What’s happening for you? Are you working at home? Going to the office? 

Di: Well. Generally, I’m okay, but . . . I do go off the cliff some of the times. Living in a sparsely populated, mostly rural “red state” is really, really hard right now. Our numbers are going up in an alarming way here in Wyoming, but - meanwhile - our governor is releasing restrictions and loosening the few rules we did have. It’s very frustrating. I have “blue periods” -- you know . . . when I sit in my chair and look out the window and just fling my arm over my head in a slightly catatonic way. It’s hard to feel safe or like there’s anyone on your side. So. I suppose kind of like everyone else right now.

I’m lucky to be able to work from home 95% of the time (since late March). I go into the office a few hours a week, and I’m able to plan my hours there to minimize contact with others in my office.

Kym: What's happening for you fitness-wise? Are you able to work out in the same ways you used to, pre-pandemic? Have you added anything? Modified your routine? Stopped working out altogether?

Di: The pandemic has not altered my workout routine in any way at all. I’m still walking miles and miles each day -- a long early morning walk, and then another (usually shorter) walk mid-day. What has really impacted my ability to keep walking, though, is the weather! We had crazy-heat all summer long, and it was just too hot to be outside for long. And this fall we’ve had smoke from the nearby fires in Wyoming and Colorado. Normally, I don’t let the weather get in the way of my walking workouts, but there have been some very challenging days in the last few months.  I’m also still doing yoga regularly -- just at home now. (The studios have remained open here, although I’m not going back yet.) I don’t use any of the online yoga programs or classes -- let’s just say . . .  it’s nice to have a daughter who is also a certified yoga instructor.

Kym: So how are you adapting to this crazy weather? (It wasn’t like this when we were kids growing up in Wyoming was it? I don’t remember heat like that!)

Di: Oh, no. It wasn’t like this at all “back in the day.” It’s always been dry in Wyoming, but we never had heat like this before -- and for such prolonged periods. This is new over the last few years. (Climate change is real. It’s here!) I’ve had to make some adjustments to my walking routine -- moving it indoors and substituting here and there. I have a treadmill. I don’t love it, but I use it when the weather is insufferable (too hot, or too cold and windy). I also use some old Leslie Sansone DVDs. They’re corny as hell, but they are effective. (Note from Kym: There is also a Leslie Sansone You Tube channel if you’re interested.) When it comes to the Leslie Sansone workouts, I really like the Power Walk with Weights workout. It’s an effective, whole body workout. Sure. . . Leslie drives me a little nuts, but I can’t do an effective outdoor walking workout when the temperature is over 90 degrees F! (I’d rather layer my clothes in the freezing cold than deal with layers of sunscreen any day!)

Kym: Do you have any advice for others who may be struggling or trying to figure out how to add fitness into their lives?

Di: Well. I think the first thing we all need to remember is that we DESERVE to be fit. Not fit as in being “thin” or “looking great” -- but fit as in being able to move and be healthy and able to live our best lives.

My advice is to make a commitment to yourself. Try to carve out time for even a short walk (or some kind of movement) every day. Any movement is better than no movement! I know that I’m lucky . . . because I live in a low-risk area, and I can just head outside and walk through my neighborhood at any time without concern or worry. So I know this isn’t simple for everyone. But, still. Walking is easy. It’s free. You don’t need any special equipment.

I actually started walking decades ago now -- when my daughter was young and I was desperate to just . . . get out and on my own for a while. It was my “selfish” thing, my walks. I could get out of the house and get in my own head. My walks . . . turned into a habit. And now I can’t imagine NOT doing it.

The hardest step . . . is that first step outside your door. My advice is to just DO IT. Open the door and step outside! Sure, there are lots of days when I’d rather not. But once I step out, I’m All In. And I have never regretted going. Not once.


Kym: What helps you cope with life in the time of pandemic?

Di: First of all, I have come to realize that I was BORN for living during a pandemic. I’m perfectly content and okay with being at home. I have hobbies and interests that I can pursue from my own home. I can work at home. I’m a little (a lot???) fed up with Zoom meetings . . . but my health and fitness activities are completely self-contained and home-based. I do miss getting out and going to shows and concerts and seeing my friends. But, generally, I’m in great shape to weather a pandemic. (Don’t talk to me about my hair, though.)

That said . . . walking every day is vital for my emotional well-being, and especially now. I’m reading a lot (just enjoyed - and highly recommend - Anxious People by Fredrik Backman). I’m staying connected with my family. And . . . I have an adequate supply of wine. (Just sayin.)

Kym: Okay. The cold months are coming. I know people reading this might wonder about your “gear” and advice for walking in the winter. Thoughts?

Di: Oh, I have plenty of advice when it comes to walking in the colder months! It’s so easy to just stay in bed when it’s cold and dark and blowing and snowing. But remember -- you DESERVE to be fit; you DESERVE to take care of yourself. If you have the proper clothes and shoes, you can make walking work for you even in the winter. I walk in just about any weather -- I generally refuse to let weather deter me! But know that I do have my standards. If the roads are unsafe or the wind chill is too brutal, I’ll get on my treadmill or plug in a Leslie Sansone DVD. I may not like it, but I’m not stupid.  Here are my tips:

  • Plan your routes. Know which sidewalks on your route are shoveled and which streets are plowed. You don’t want to be walking in the middle of the road! Safety is key.
  • I recommend layers. Always layers! They keep you warmer (by trapping heat between the layers) AND . . . you can always take something off. That said, I don’t overdo it with the layers either. Be smart. Don’t overdress. Know that you’re going to heat up as you walk. That means . . . head out on the “cold” side. It’s so much better to be cold when you first step out than to find yourself overheated once you reach your walking pace. (Besides, starting out a little cold will encourage you to pick up the pace right from the start!)
  • Shoes! Always have good, comfortable shoes. (My new favorite brand is Danner. These are my current everyday walking shoes.) I put a lot of miles in every day, so I tend to buy the best shoes I can. There are many good options out there that are far less pricey. I can't stress enough the importance of good-fitting, comfortable shoes for walking.

    IMG_1076 2

  • In the winter when it’s snowy/icy, I like Icebug boots and shoes with a built-in traction system.  They help so much on slick surfaces and make for safer footing. (Note from Kym: I haven't splurged on a pair of Icebug's yet, but I do slip a pair of Yaktrax on my shoes/boots when it's icy outside. Traction is key!)
  • I wear fleece lined leggings (mine are from Lands End), thick wool socks, and my boots on the bottom. Up top, I have a 2-part Columbia jacket (a fleece layer with an outer shell). This jacket zips right up to my chin AND has a hood (which I use regularly). I wear a hat, a cowl when it’s really cold, and gloves/mittens. (Note from Kym: The leggings Di is talking about from Lands End are very reasonably priced, and they come in an extended size range. I just want to mention that I have a couple of pairs -- one from LL Bean that is quite a bit pricier, but with convenient pockets.   The other is from Athleta. Again, extended sizing in either style. I wear my fleece leggings all the time in the winter -- for more than just walking outside. My advice: order early in the season. I've found fleece leggings sell out quickly.) IMG_1077 2
  • For rainy days, I have a rain jacket and rain pants (for when it’s really coming down). (We don’t have a lot of soaking rains in Wyoming, but more than we used to.)
  • When it's dark, have a light with you. I carry a light with me, but headlamps work well, too. Make sure others can see you -- AND that you can see where you're going. (Note from Kym: Look for reflective strips on outdoor gear, hook little battery-operated flashing lights to your jacket or shoes, consider a reflective safety vest you can tie on over your coat. Anything that makes you visible out there!)

Kym: Anything else you want to say?

Di: Yes. VOTE!


Di's commitment to her workout regimen remains as solid as ever, pandemic or not. While her commitment to daily outdoor walking is a hard-and-fast habit in her life by now (doing this for over 30 years at this point), she's also built up alternative activities for those days when walking outside just can't work -- exercise DVDs and a treadmill. She's also outfitted herself with high-quality workout wear and gear so the weather conditions can't get in her way -- rain or shine or ice or snow. (Well. Mostly. It's hard to walk in extreme heat or blizzards, which is why the alternatives come in.) Removing "barriers" (physical or emotional; real or imagined) to working out makes a big difference in success.

I would also like to echo Di's words that getting out the door is the toughest part of most fitness routines! It takes a lot of inertia to get yourself up and ready and out the door (or onto your mat or tuning into that YouTube channel, etc.). Once we get started, though . . . we're always happy we did it. So . . . take that step! Get out the door! You'll never regret it!


How about YOU? How has your fitness-life changed in the past year? Let me know. Let's keep this fitness conversation rolling!

And . . . if you are a year-round outdoor worker-outer, what advice would you add to Di's when it comes to walking in the winter?

Checking In: Talking Fitness Again

Last year, when things felt settled and plans were more reliable (y'know . . . in the Before Times), I talked a lot about fitness and wellness here. And I especially focused on the importance of building our strength and fitness levels as we age. I harped on talked about the benefits of regular movement and strength training. I posted sample workouts and fitness tips and inspirational stories. I even got some of my fitness pals to share their stories and workout strategies!

Now that we're deep into . . . a whole new way of living . . . I thought it might be interesting to check back in with my fitness pals again -- a year (and a lifetime) later. Y'know . . . to see how they're doing, what's changed for them fitness-wise, and to see if they have any tips or words of encouragement for working out during a pandemic.

This week, let’s check in with . . . Patty.

(Here's a link to last year's fitness post featuring Patty. In case you want to refresh yourself before moving on.)

Kym: So, Patty. How are you doing, generally, during these pandemic times? What’s happening for you? Are you working at home? Going to the office? 

Patty: Pandemic life has not been too stressful for us, and we consider ourselves to be extremely fortunate.  I’ve been going to work the entire time. Just a few people in a really big building so we social distance and it’s worked well.  Doug has been home so it’s been harder for him.  We take more Sunday drives!  We do miss out-to-eat but have been consistent with ordering out at least once or twice a week to support the local restaurants. And we spread the love – breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Kym: What's happening for you fitness-wise? Are you able to work out in the same ways you used to, pre-pandemic? Have you added anything? Modified your routine? Stopped working out altogether?

Patty: The gym closed so we just walked. The results from walking have been amazing.  I lost 5 lbs and firmed up.  I tried to do some at-home things – like you, the on-line stuff the instructors from the gym attempted - but most of the time it was awkward, people couldn’t get on, the instructor’s technology would fail, etc. Though I tried…I am completely unmotivated to lift any weights or do anything like that on my own. Trust me…I look at Adriene all. the. time. I think I may try sooooon. 

Now, though, the YMCA has re-opened, and I am back at class three mornings each week. I feel that the measures they have taken do keep us safe.  Sadly for them the number of folks that have returned is quite small and revenue is taking a big hit.  

Kym: Let’s talk about the YMCA for a minute, Patty. You’re the first person I’ve talked to who’s actually gone BACK to the gym! Would you mind talking a little bit about how you decided to go back? What is your gym doing to keep you safe -- and do you feel like it’s adequate? Do you have any advice for others considering a return to the gym?

Patty:  Well, I  would say that I did not really hesitate to go back to the gym -- with Doug's blessing. If he did not want me to go I would not have returned. The rates of infection have been very low here and that played heavily into my decision to return. I've been a believer of washing hands and keeping distant and the Y made this possible at every turn. 

Temps are checked at the door.  You must make a reservation to attend class and to use equipment.  They are cleaning everything after every class and use, and I see this happening every time I attend.  They have hired additional staff solely for this purpose. (Poor kids.)  The classes are now held in a full size gymnasium, and the room is limited to 14 people - though we've only got 6 members attending, and there are 14 big squares taped out on the floor.  You've got your spot and you wear your mask from door to square and back out again.  They've even staggered the squares so your droplets don't spew toward another class member! :-)  
As you know, I need the motivation and support of a class.  It's what works for me, and the months at home only proved this.
For folks considering going back - check out the protocol put in place by your facility and see if it works for you.  My Y has been vigilant in their practices and that makes me feel safe.
Kym: What are the most important lessons you’ve learned about your own health, well-being, fitness, etc. since the pandemic “hit"?
Patty:  I’ve learned that maintaining fitness is really important no matter what the situation is.  I know my limitations, so to combat my laziness I did not skip the walking.
Kym: Do you have any advice for others who may be struggling or trying to figure out how to add fitness into their lives?
Patty: Keep trying different things until something fits.  I know I need the support of a group environment -- I need to feel accountable to my fitness community. It’s also important to find your preferred time of day to work out.  The morning is key for me…I can talk myself out of anything if you give me the entire day to think about it!  Wine or weights?
Kym: What helps you cope with life in the time of pandemic?
Patty: Focusing on the fact that we’re all in this together and it’s really not one bit about me. (Hard some days!) I’m extremely thankful that I do not have elderly parents that are suffering from loneliness or children who must make their way through this current new normal.  We made a small “bubble” when this whole thing began and that has been very helpful.  It was exercise based and we remain committed to our weekend walks/runs still. 
And alcohol.

Keep moving friends…no matter what you do!


Patty's commitment to her regimen - like my own - remains as solid as ever. While I switched from working out in a gym environment to my home environment, Patty feels comfortable going back to her gym -- with acceptable safety measures in place.

I would also like to echo Patty's words about keeping at it (fitness) until you find something that fits FOR YOU. It's important to find some sort of exercise (or movement, if you will) that you like doing. Or that you don't mind doing. Maybe you hate running but you love walking. Maybe you only like to workout to Broadway tunes. Maybe your body just won't bend until later in the afternoon. Maybe you can't stand to be around other people when you work out -- or maybe you need other people around to make you work out. Who knows? It really doesn't matter. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. But . . . you'll be a whole lot more successful if you find what works for you!


How about YOU? How has your fitness-life changed in the past year? Let me know. Let's get this fitness conversation started again!

Checking In: Let's Talk Fitness Again

Last year, when things felt settled and plans were more reliable (y'know . . . in the Before Times), I talked a lot about fitness and wellness here. And I especially focused on the importance of building our strength and fitness levels as we, (well . . . ) age. I harped on talked about the benefits of regular movement and strength training. I posted sample workouts and fitness tips and inspirational stories. I even got some of my fitness pals to share their stories and workout strategies!

Now that we're deep into . . . a whole new way of living . . . I thought it might be fun to check back in with my fitness pals again -- a year (and a lifetime) later. Y'know . . . to see how they're doing, what's changed for them fitness-wise, and to see if they have any tips or words of encouragement for working out during a pandemic.

Let's kick things off by checking in with . . . Claudia.

(Here's a link to last year's fitness post featuring Claudia. In case you want to refresh yourself before moving on.)

TRX for Kym

Kym: So, Claudia. How are you doing, generally, during these pandemic times? What’s happening for you? Are you working at home? Going to the office? 
Claudia: As a well-resourced White person with the privilege to quarantine in a comfortable suburban home, I am doing great as compared to many, many others.  I and my family are (so far) healthy, and that's the most important thing to me.
Kym: What hasn't changed?
Claudia: I worked from home even before the pandemic hit and I work at home now.  What has changed?  I don't go anywhere.  My gray roots are un-dyed, and groceries and all other shopping is curbside-only or delivered.  I hauled out my long-neglected sewing machine and have sewed lots of masks to give away to under-resourced people.  I am doing the uncomfortable work to be anti-racist and an effective ally to Black people.  It feels like every moment of every day is taken up with something.  A pandemic bright spot:  I can now bake decent sourdough bread.
Kym: What's happening for you fitness-wise? Are you able to work out in the same ways you used to, pre-pandemic? Have you added anything? Modified your routine? Stopped working out altogether?
Claudia: Being that I don't go anywhere, that includes the gym where I used to do my weight-training and go to spin class.  Early on in this pandemic, my husband and I purchased some additional dumbbells, a stability ball and a TRX trainer to add to the home fitness equipment we already had.  But other than the change of location to a home-gym, my fitness routine isn't significantly different.  I continue to do alot of bodyweight exercises.  I do chin-ups on my doorway chin-up bar; rows, presses, fall-outs, squats and lunges with the TRX; and basic exercises like pushups, Turkish-Get-Ups and stability ball roll-outs
What saves my sanity from the afore-mentioned not-going-anywhere and the stress and anxiety of our current pandemic/racial injustice/economic collapse situation, is the frequent, long tandem bicycle rides that my husband and I take every week.  Urban, suburban and rural.  Mountain biking and road biking.  The fresh air, change of scenery and exercise is the difference between going nuts and keeping my s**t together.

Kym: Do you have any advice for others who may be struggling or trying to figure out how to add fitness into their lives?
Claudia: If I'm honest, and well....why not be....if it weren't for my workout buddy a/k/a Husband, I would be much less motivated to do my at-home workouts.  When he is motivated and I'm feeling tired or just not enthusiastic, I'll start a workout even when I just really didn't wanna.  And you know what?  I've never regretted a work out once I've started.  So even in this time of social-distancing, I'd suggest trying to get or keep up with a fitness buddy.  Can you get someone with whom you live to join you in a yoga or weightlifting routine, or a daily walk or bike ride?  Can you set a walking or bike-riding date (masks and appropriately distanced) with a friend, with the prize being some social interaction along with your dose of exercise?
Being fit during a pandemic can literally be life-saving.  If obesity is a risk factor for a bad COVID-19 outcome, then doing something about the situation takes on a whole new urgency.
Kym: What helps you cope with life in the time of pandemic?
Claudia: Meditation.  As daily as I can make it.  I recommend the Ten Percent Happier app, and in particular my favorite teacher, Joseph Goldstein.

Claudia's commitment to her strength and fitness - like my own - remains as solid as ever. The big difference for both Claudia and for me? Switching from an outside gym to a home gym for our workouts. It takes some "figuring out" to make that work, but it's certainly doable. And worth the effort!

I would also like to echo Claudia's words about the importance of a workout buddy. Like Claudia, I'm fortunate to live with a committed "worker-outer," so I can get an easy (but effective!)  kick-in-the-butt whenever I don't really feeeeeel like working out. (Because face it, folks. Thinking about starting a workout is usually draining in itself. Worth it -- because you feel better as soon as those endorphins kick in. But motivation to get started is always tough.) (That's normal, by the way.) Anyway. Find yourself a workout buddy. If it's not someone in your household, find a friend -- even a long distance friend -- that you can whine to . . . AND that you can rely on to tell you "Do it anyway!"


How about YOU? How has your fitness-life changed in the past year? Let me know. Let's get this fitness conversation started again!


NOTE: If you try to leave a comment on this post, but are unable to, would you mind sending me an email (link to the left in the sidebar) to let me know. I've had reports of a problem, and need more data to report the situation. Thank you.


Workin' On Her Fitness: February Update

It’s hard to believe that we’re already here . . . at the tail-end of February!  It’s time to check in with Kim again – to see how she’s been doing with her fitness and self-care program this month.

(In case you missed the first post in this series last month, you can read all about it here.)


Kym:  Hi Kim!  Let's start with an update:  How is your fitness program going this month?  How are you feeling?

Kim:  It took me a few tries to find things that work for my back, but I have finally settled into a routine that is working well for me.  Every day I work out to either Kathy Smith’s “Fit over Forty” doing her circuit with weight training or one of Leslie Sansone’s walk workouts on YouTube -- sometimes with weights or resistance bands.  (You can see the Kathy Smith circuit videos here and the Leslie Sansone walking videos here.)

I’m also going to Tai Chi twice a week, and we do try to snow shoe one day on the weekend.  I have found out just how tight my hip flexors are! 

Kym:  Last month when we “chatted”, you were planning to get outside for exercise, you were going to do fitness workouts using Beach Body On Demand, and you had just ordered some weights.  Are those plans working for you?  Any changes to report?

Kim:   It’s been very challenging to get outside except on the weekends because of the weather and the lack of morning light before work, but when I can, I do get out -- and love it!  Instead of Beach Body on Demand, I am working with the videos I mentioned earlier and I’m really enjoying them.   I like being able to work out at home.  I have moved from my 3-pound weights up to the 5-pounders, so that's a bonus.  My muscles are definitely feeling the workout, but it’s a good pain. :)

Kym:  Can you tell me more about your self-care group?  How did you find the group — and what’s involved?   How is it helping? 

Kim:  I am working with a group that meets online called SCI (Self Care Initiative) founded by a man named Jason Seib.  I found his book "Body Beliefs” (which is a free download) through Facebook, and decided to join his group after watching a video he had up.  (Here’s a link to the video Kim watched; you need to register for access.)

He opens up the group to new people every now and then.  There is a $30.00 monthly charge, but you get a lot for the little it costs.  He does a weekly podcast, puts up a weekly focus video, and has a very active FB group where he is always there to help.  He also offers a one on one program for with people (it’s called SCI Accountability).  It’s more expensive, but when he opens that up again I will probably sign up.  

You know we “Obligers” do better when we are held accountable . . . ha!  I know doing this monthly blog check-in with you has made me commit to working out every. single. day.

Anyway, the group focuses a lot on looking at your thoughts and how they affect the way you react to situations.  One of the key questions he has us ask ourselves . . .  is how a thought that is “self deprecating” (for example) is really about self care; how it impacts the way we care for ourselves.

He also helps us look at stress and stressors in our lives, and explains that by taking out the emotion and by keeping focused on the facts, we’re usually able to deal with our stressors much better.  When faced with stress, he encourages us to ask ourselves a series of questions -- and by the time we’ve really examined it all, it’s easier to remove the stress by focusing our work on the stressor.  

This has really helped me!  In the past I would often have sat ruminating about something over and over in my head.  Now, instead, I’m applying a non-emotional way to confront the situation and resolve it with no bad feelings on either side.  It feels like a gift to be able to communicate more effectively.

It’s hard to describe, but I have found this group VERY helpful, because the focus is always on “Self Care” right down to the food we put in our mouths.  I’m sure that there are a lot of self-care methods out there that are equally as helpful.  Anything that helps us to value ourselves more is something we should all be practicing don’t you think?

Kym:  It sounds like you’ve found a program that is really changing the way you think and respond, Kim.  You’re so right – anything that helps us value ourselves more is something we should all be practicing!  I’m so happy you’ve found this group – and that it’s working for you.

This is Kim's tai chi t-shirt, along with a book she's currently reading.

Kym:  I know it’s hard to go back to work full time — AND manage the rest of your busy life!  How are you fitting fitness activities into your days?  Is it harder than you expected?  What are the barriers you’re encountering?  And - any tips at working past those barriers?

Kim:  Well, I have cut way back on my yarn business, which has gone a long way towards reducing my stress.  I’ve changed from doing "dyed to order", to having "dyed inventory in my shop.”  I will be making a lot of decisions this year concerning how much longer I will continue with my yarn business.  Working full time really does make things so much more challenging – especially because I still want to find time to have a fulfilling life outside my work.

In order to get a workout in before I leave in the morning, I really have to prioritize my time so I can get out of the house.  Having 5 older dogs that need attention, putting a healthy lunch together, squeezing in a little meditation time, then a workout, a shower, etc. usually has me running out the door in a flash . . . ha!  I am fortunate in my new job that I work 3 days alone in the office, so I am able to slow my pace down a bit on those days once I am there.

I find the more I can try to get ready the night before (such as making my next day lunch if I can, getting my clothes ready, etc.) really helps the next morning go a little smoother.

Kym:  You mentioned to me earlier that you’re learning ways to work out so you don’t aggravate your back issues.  What kind of advice do you have for other people trying to work out after prior injuries or surgery?  What do you find to be the best strategy for figuring out what you can and can’t do regarding fitness activities? 

Kim:  I found out very quickly that there is no way I can do any type of stomach crunches unless I do them supported on a ball!   I have found that you can work on your core muscles and abs when you are standing with little modifications.   It’s important to figure out what kind of exercises work for you with any physical limitations or injuries.   

The videos I’m using have been good for me.  Kathy Smith’s ab workouts don’t work for me with my back issues, so on those days I use Leslie’s videos instead.  What I like about Leslie’s videos is she has options within each video so you can tailor it to your needs, but they are all based around walking.  Sometimes the people in the video with Leslier are a bit corny, but the workouts are good – and effective!  I do work up a sweat, and it starts my day off so much better.  

I’m sure as the year progresses and I gain strength, I will eventually join one of the gyms up here.  It’s sad that our big local gym closed.

Kim's tai chi studio (can you spot Kim???)

Kym:  How are you dealing with the tedium and fatigue of a long, New Hampshire winter?  How do you keep your energy up at this time of year?

Kim:  Winters up here are just so blessed long!  I find that by the beginning of March, I am really looking forward to spring  - and playing in the dirt again.  I love to read, so I tend to immerse myself in reading stories I can get lost in (and forget about winter).  I usually do a lot of knitting and sewing in the winter, as well.  This year I have been trying to clean out “stuff” from our old house.  We are hoping to move closer to the ocean when we finish renovating this house, so re-homing things that we don’t use any longer will go a long way to making the move easier.  It also is freeing up space in my brain!  

I always try to learn something new in the winter, as well, and lately I’ve been playing with the app Procreate on my iPad.  It’s a fun program that is stretching my brain a little bit.

Kym:  Thanks so much for taking the time to check in again this month, Kim!  I’m really excited to be following your progress – and I’m happy to offer some “accountability” for your Obliger-self!  Maybe by next month - when we catch up again – we’ll be seeing signs of spring!  (Fingers crossed.)


Enjoy your weekend, everyone!