The older I get, the more I hate winter. I hate it. My desire is to lay in bed and whine for 2 months, but that is not appropriate behavior so I have to suck it up and figure out a way to be good. Ok, so what does that mean? How do I create good practices in an unforgiving environment? My go-to exercise is riding bikes, and I tried (I really tried) but fell on the ice in front of people recently. I initially thought I broke something, but it was just my ego. A younger version of me would have jumped up and continued on, but older me is now a bit more cautious. Same with skiing. I fell a couple of years ago and hurt my shoulder, so…fear.
I will get older; such is life. But if I keep crossing stuff off my list of things I won’t do because of falling or hurting or too cold, I will end up lying in bed whining because there isn’t anything else to do that I like to do.
One of my heroes is Dr. Ahrendsen’s sister, Alice. She started riding Ragbrai in 1987 at the age of 52. Dr. Ahrendsen told me in 2016 that, after riding with Ragbrai for 29 straight years, Alice decided to stop riding because people with boom boxes on their bikes were too loud with their rock music. She, as a music major in college, preferred classical music. I remember seeing her on the route. Wow, I love, love this story.
February is National Heart Health Month, and our focus is on keeping your heart healthy through exercise and diet. With confidence, courage, and strong conviction, I can continue to ride and run and maybe ski (seriously though, looking down a mountain scares me silly) for another 29 years. Like Dr. Ahrendsen's sister, the reason to quit wasn’t that the ride was too hard, it was the music became intolerable. Brilliant.
My “heart to heart” with myself is to stay active, eat better and maybe just be a bit more aware of dangers. Staring down a mountain scares you? Choose easier slopes. Riding your bike on ice in the winter? Avoid icy paths and get off the bike and walk it if you feel the area presents a danger. Walking across an icy parking lot? Walk like a penguin (use short, choppy steps).
The not-so-secret “secret” of a long, healthy life is fairly simple. Pay attention. Be aware. Keep moving. The journey goes fast - take advantage of every single opportunity and live life to its fullest potential.