Eight Years Ago

Anniversary of a Different Sort

By Jeff Salter

Folks, our 4F1H schedule is pretty loose so far this year … so loose, in fact, that this week’s topics began with question marks.  My colleague Foxes – Iris, Jillian, & Micki – have done very well with those, and I’m sure Tonette will also … but I’ve got nothing.

However, I did reach an unusual milestone this past weekend … so that’s what I plan to yak about here today.

The Price of Inactivity
            For those who have remained physical active throughout your adult life, these paragraphs may not be understandable.  But if any of you have found yourself in lengthy periods where all you did was go to work, come home, watch TV, go to bed, get up, go to work … well, then you may comprehend what my life had become from the mid 1990s through the early 2000s.

No physical exercise whatsoever; hardly any activity to speak of.  Lots of pain.  This is not the place to detail all my symptoms or ailments, but suffice it to say that nearly everything hurt, and the prospect of exercise was forbidding.  So I stopped moving.

Things reached a point where I began to realize, in concrete terms, how inactive I’d been and for how long.  And I could see the negative results … felt the deleterious effects.

Found myself in a rheumatologist’s office and he told me something I already knew:  to feel even incrementally better (long range), I was going to have to start moving again … or my situation would continue to get worse.  Knowing how bad I already felt, it terrified me to imagine feeling even worse.

The Doctor asked if I was willing to go to physical therapy.  I replied, verbatim, “Doc, I’m desperate and I’ll do whatever you say.”

So he made the appointment.  After the head of that physical therapy unit did her evaluation, she asked if I was willing to do supervised exercises in their warm pool.  I told her the very same thing I’d told the doctor.

Eight Years of Exercise
            That began eight years ago, on Jan. 21, 2005 — the week after I returned from the birth of my second grandchild in another state.

Since that time, I’ve exercised 1072 times.  Yeah, I’ve kept count.  It’s extremely difficult for me to be motivated about this, so (at times) the only thing which keeps me going is that I’m looking toward the next round NUMBER.  Right now, that number is 1100.

I began with those 20 supervised sessions in the warm water at the physical therapy unit.  From there I moved to a hospital-sponsored wellness facility, where I did 33 more unsupervised sessions of water exercise, while I awaited clearance from my G.P. to resume ‘strenuous’ exercise.  [That was held up for several weeks by my wait for a ‘bicycle’ test of my heart and lungs].

After that water exercise (& the medical clearance), I ‘graduated’ to the regular wellness room with aerobic machines and weight machines.  All the exercises for my 139 sessions there were drawn-up by a trainer / therapist assigned to my case.

My program since relocating to KY has been entirely of my own design … and it has varied.  Some periods have been more concentrated on weight machines, while other stretches have been mostly aerobic / motion machines.  A typical workout these days is a net of 80 minutes of exercise on site, not counting travel time.

Those 1072 sessions may not sound like a lot of exercise for eight years, but it breaks down to these averages: 134 times per year, 11.2 times per month, and 2.6 times per week.  [Note:  my best year so far was 2007, when I went 149 times — 12.4 times per month and nearly 2.9 per week.]

Things get in the way of exercise.  We sold a house, moved three states away, built a house, moved again, had more grandkids out of state, and went to more funerals than we want to count.  Other things interfere with exercise:  like weather, schedule conflicts, project deadlines, illness, etc.

But the biggest obstacle is still the same one I began with eight years ago:  I don’t really WANT to go, it’s not in any way convenient, there’s almost never a perceived immediate gratification benefit … plus, it still hurts to move.

Why Am I Whining?
            Well, actually it’s not whining when you use your experience (hopefully) to help motivate somebody else who also needs to “start moving again.”

And I know many people who need to resume exercise.  An acquaintance at the ‘Y’ (where I exercise now) has an adult son who suffers from many ailments with some symptoms quite like mine eight years ago.  This concerned father asked me to communicate with his son, hopefully to help convince that grown man that he needed to resume exercise, lest his symptoms continue to get even worse.  [Which they undoubtedly will, if he doesn’t make an effort to turn it around.]

I have emailed this other person several times and encouraged him, but as far as I know, he has not done anything about it.  As I told his father, “maybe your son isn’t desperate enough yet.”  Those words may sound cold or harsh, but I believe they’re true.  Until I reached “desperate” status, I would not have submitted to physical therapy or childish-looking supervised exercises in the warm pool.

But, hey … you have to start somewhere!

Start Now
            If your adult body has suffered from a lack of physical activity for a sustained period of time – no matter the reason(s) – it’s never too late to begin correcting that problem and reversing those circumstances.  And, take it from me,  whatever symptoms you’re experiencing will NOT get any better on their own.  It may take an investment in effort, commitment – and pain – to get you back on the right track.

And, a few years down the road (when you feel better), you can look back and brag to others about how many exercise sessions you’ve compiled over the past X years.  Ha!

            How about your activity level?  Have you settled into a rut of work-home-bed-work?  Do you have aches / pains … or other problems?  Fluctuations in weight?  No energy?  High stress?


About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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17 Responses to Eight Years Ago

  1. Iris B says:

    Ahhhhh exercise ….. I don’t like it, but know I’ve gotta do it – to a certain level, because of a stress problem i’ve got. ‘Cause I’m so lazy we bought an Elliptical Trainer for at home and I discovered the boxing on the WII, which I looooove! But if there’s just the slightest cough I will give everything a miss and eat some cake 🙂
    Anyway – congratulations on your milestone. Hope you’ll make it to 1100 soon 🙂


    • jeff7salter says:

      Thanks, Iris. I can remember wondering if I’d ever reach 100. By the time the other hundreds rolled around, it was more a matter of bragging rights. But 1000 was a huge milestone, of course.
      I’ve tried the elliptical machines, both here and at the wellness center where I worked out before. Never have been able to get ‘centered’ on the things and I struggle to kep from pitching forward. I watched people do it and tried it numerous times, but simply have not found the correct positioning.


  2. Laurie Ryan says:

    Since I don’t go to a “day job”, it’s very easy to get in a rut. However, I do go out first thing in the morning for a nice long walk. Then I, um, coerce my husband into another one in the afternoon. As soon as the weather warms up again, I’m getting back on my bicycle. I have weights at home, but I’m with you. I don’t WANT to do those. And sadly, I don’t…much. Being outdoors is what motivates me, so I try to use that.
    Good for you, climbing on this “long tail of exercise” wagon. Congratulations!


    • jeff salter says:

      always a pleasure to see you here, Laurie.
      When much younger — and living in a very LEVEL area — we really enjoyed bike riding outdoors. But I can’t even recall the last time I was on one.
      Of course, half of my aerobic work at the ‘y’ is on a stationary bike…but that’s a far cry from having the sun on my shoulders and the light breeze in my face.


  3. As for exercising,I am in a bit of a conundrum , darned if I do and darned if I don’t .I have yet to find something that helps one part that does not aggravate another.I am searching for something that helps in general.
    And I’m glad that YOU are sure I have something to say tomorrow,Jeff!
    Right now, it would be a rant on ‘The Kids of Today’; guess whose grandkids are acting like there is a full moon…without that excuse?.


    • jeff salter says:

      That was where the physical therapists were so beneficial — taking things VERY slowly, minimal impact in the warm pool. And the trainer/therapist at the wellness center also started with very few stations and very low weights. over time, everything increased, including reps.


  4. I don’t have anything consistent in my life. I will go a couple of years exercising three to four times a week and then I’ll go a couple of years doing nothing but walking two to three times a week and then I’ll have bouts of months where I don’t do anything. I too don’t LIKE to exercise. I’m always glad I did it AFTER I’m done, but I feel like I’m headed to the guillotine before.
    The important thing is that I’m still here plugging away. Some times are better than others, but it’s better than giving up and giving in to inactivity- no thanks! I watched my parents slowly degrade into a wheelchair because they wouldn’t get up and move.


    • jeff salter says:

      Exactly, Stacey — to the wheelchair or maybe worse … without keeping up some movement, flexibility, & activity. Not even counting the mental stimulation you get from exercise.
      Good for you for having a variety of programs — I’ve heard the body’s muscles get “bored” if you do the very same routine over and over.
      But I also completely understand that ‘guillotine’ feeling — most of the days I go, I truly do not want to go at all and just feel like taking a nap instead. But in my case, it’s not that I feel better after having gone, it’s that I know I will feel WORSE if I don’t go.


  5. jeff salter says:

    I don’t believe I mentioned that my WORST year, in terms of exercising was 2010, when I was having lots of stomach problems and couldn’t go on several occasions. That year was 111 visits, an average of 9.25 per month and 2.13 per week. You can imagine how many years of “perfect attendance” it would take to bring that figure up enough to match my high months.


  6. Micki Gibson says:

    I don’t exercise nearly enough. What I mean by that is that I get plenty of exercise in various forms (dance classes – teaching and taking), tennis, and the occasional lap around the neighborhood, but it’s not enough to counteract how much I love to eat. I totally get what you mean about number watching. I hate running, but I love how that’s the one thing that has gotten the weight off in the past, so I have to keep a log. It’s not impressive, but I record a few numbers from the treadmill, and it’s nice to see when I’m in a routine how much fitter I’ve become. Keep up the good work and let us know when you hit 1200!


    • jeff salter says:

      Will do, Micki. 1200 ought to be in roughly two months,
      It sounds like you have a very active lifestyle, which gives you an edge on the whole business. But my situation, all those years ago was a sedentary lifestyle compounded by absolutely no exercise at all. Bad combo … especially in my situation with the other symptoms.


  7. great advice and I love that you count!! LOL


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