Start Small for Fitness . . . but Start!

Take a walk. It’s great for your body and your mind!

As part of our series on creating optimum health, we’ll begin by exploring the role of exercise.  The key is to start small for fitness . . . but start.

 There’s a man living in our community who bases his entire retirement life on his fitness schedule.  At 86-years-old, he starts his day with a bike ride.  Then he walks on the treadmill for an hour and lifts some weights. He plays either tennis or golf daily and finishes off his day with an hour’s swim.

Standing straight and tall, he has the energy, flexibility, and body of a much younger man.  He also has a schedule that would exhaust most of us.  No wonder he takes a nap every day!

This story is both inspirational and daunting!

Many of us fail to fulfill our health resolutions because we try to do too much too soon. We vow to completely overhaul our diets while working out like our 86-year-old example.  Then we’ll top it off with a nightly yoga class for relaxation.

After about three days of starvation and the sore muscles that come from doing nothing to working out for hours every day, we’re so tired that we fall asleep on our yoga mat and just give up the whole darn plan. Drastic changes are not the way to succeed with healthy living.

Instead, we need to take some baby steps – to make some small changes:  eat a little less and move a little more.  Here are some suggestions for getting started with exercise.

Start small but get started!
  • Set some goals that you can measure and check off. Don’t say, “I’ll get fit.” How are you going to measure that?  Instead say, “I’ll walk for 30 minutes five days this week.”  You’ll know if you fulfill your goal.

If you think that’s too much of a commitment, try breaking it down into smaller units. Try taking a ten-minute walk after every meal.  This isn’t a bad way to get your 30 minutes of exercise a day.  You don’t even have to go outside  (although that’s nice).  You can walk around your own living room if you want.  I worked with a woman in her 90s who used this method.  She faithfully walked for 10 minutes after breakfast, lunch, and dinner. That way she got more than 150 minutes of exercise every week, and she seemed years younger than her age.

  • See if you can just add a little more activity into every day. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.  Park a little further from the store.  Get up and walk around the house during commercials while watching TV.
  • Get a dog. It will have to be walked!  Plus you meet all those other dog lovers.


  • Buy yourself a pedometer and go for 10,000 steps a day (but not the first week).  There’s something so satisfying about seeing those numbers mount up.  It gives you a real feeling of accomplishment.


  • Get some great workout clothes. Sometimes that’s what you need to get out there.


  • Sleep in your workout clothes. When you wake up in the morning, put your shoes on and go straight out the door.


  • If you really don’t want to get started, just try to do something for five minutes. Most times, once you get started, you can keep going for 30 minutes.

The really good news about fitness is that it’s never too late to start.  In fact, recent studies show that those who start exercising late in life reap even greater benefits than those who have been exercising all along!

If there is a fountain of youth, this is it!  You are in control of your own life, so make up your mind to find something physical that you like to do – walking, swimming, tennis, yoga, water aerobics, dancing  – the list is endless, and do it for 150 minutes a week.  Start small . . . but start!  You will be so glad you did.




STROKE: Do you know the warning signs of a stroke?

I didn’t know the signs the first time I had a stroke.

That was in 2012 and again in 2013. And again, last Saturday, April 29, 2017, I still wasn’t convinced that my symptoms meant stroke.

Warning Signs of Stroke:
Memory Tool: FAST
National Stroke Association.

Though, this time I was 100 percent sure about the warning signs of stroke.

When the symptoms started, I struggled to rationalize away the symptoms; pinched nerves, sitting wrong, too much salsa dancing, pulled my back and on and on.

Last Saturday, it had been four years since I experienced any symptoms or even thought about it.

My left cheek and side of my mouth, my left arm and left leg were tingling and feeling sort of numb. My balance seemed iffy.  I didn’t want the embarrassment or inconvenience to others of a “false alarm.”  I know that’s silly, but I’m a master at second guessing.

I finally gave in to my husband’s urging and called 9-1-1.  After the call, the rest is out of your hands.  During a stroke, speed equals brain health.  When you’ve had a stroke, you are at greater risk of having another one. Type 1 diabetes complicates it.

Warning Signs of Stroke from National Stroke Association*

Stroke happens in the brain…not the heart.

May is National Stroke awareness month. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and is a major cause of serious disability for adults.

Certainly it involves the blood from the heart and the arteries that carry the blood to the brain.

A stroke occurs when one of these arteries to the brain is either blocked or bursts.  As a result, part of the brain does not get the blood it needs, so it starts to die.

Learn the many signs of a stroke.  Act FAST and Call 9-1-1 immediately at any sign of a stroke.

Use the FAST sign to remember the warning signals.

More important information from the National Stroke Association*

“NOTE THE TIME WHEN ANY SYMPTOMS FIRST APPEAR.  If given within three hours of the first symptom, there is an FDA-approved  clot-buster medication that may reduce long-term disability for the most common types of stroke.

Good News this Time

This time it was a false alarm. After an EKG, Cat scan, MRI, Carotid sonogram and ECO cardiogram and multiple lab tests and an overnight stay, it was determined that I had a transient ischemic attack (TIA), sometimes called a mini-stroke.

According to the National Stroke Association, major symptoms of a TIA include:

  • Numbness, weakness or loss of vision
  • Trouble speaking
  • Loss of balance or coordination.

When a TIA happens, the artery either becomes unblocked after a short time or a new path opens up and blood flow goes back to normal. Because of that, the symptoms last for a short time and then disappear.  A TIA is a serious warning sign that you might have a stroke.  If you’ve had a TIA, you should see your doctor immediately

My “backwards” Stroke warning symptom experience.

Rick and Dixie

In 2012, after playing tennis that day,  I woke in the night to visit the bathroom.  My left knee buckled and I had to drag myself back to bed.  In the morning when I got up, my left knee and left elbow kept buckling and tingling and the left side of my mouth was numb.

Still no clue about a possible stroke.  I didn’t know the symptoms. I noted that I really needed to have my back checked and urged my husband to go on with his day’s activities.

Later, a friend called to play tennis, I told her I why I couldn’t.  A retired critical care nurse, she came over immediately and drove me to the hospital.  I used a golf club as a cane.

Turns out that this was a stroke and by waiting overnight and the next morning, the neurologist said the prospects weren’t good for my recovering the losses. I missed the deadline for the clot buster,  and I had a blood clot in my brain.  He was rightfully upset at my lack of knowledge about signs of stroke. He felt the tingling I had experienced at the pool and ignored the previous week was a warning attack or TIA.

I spent a week in the hospital with therapists for speech, strength, writing, balance and walking. Because we were still snowbirds, I needed to fly with a “walker” from Florida to Colorado to resume my insured healthcare and stroke therapy.

The stroke therapist was excellent. By the 8th week, I was back to “as normal as I get,” and because I am a lefty, started to hit the tennis ball with my right hand.  Soon life returned to normal.

Second time around, stroke symptoms

The second event was a year later and predicated by an oral dose of prednisone for sciatica.  I went to the hospital immediately and received the clot buster and was told that folks with Type 1 diabetes should never be given prednisone at all but especially in oral doses.

As I said before, I had no symptoms since 2013 until last Saturday.  I have to say it’s a hard evaluation to determine if the sensations are stroke or something else.

I was blessed and with my first stroke’s education and the recovery.  Very very blessed and lucky.

“National Stroke Association’s mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke by developing education and program on stroke prevention, treat, rehabilitation and support. “

Please spread awareness by sharing the FAST symptoms of stroke with five of your friends and family, it can happen at any age.

Visit today and put the warning signs on your refrigerator.

I thought my ER doctor made a compelling argument last Saturday,when he said, “Sorry about your embarrassment that this could be a false alarm. You made the smart choice.   You could put it off and end up “not being able to wipe yourself.”

That resonates with me. How about you?


email:  writers at

website:  a blog about positive aging.













Retirement 14: Create your personal Adventure List


Before you create your personal adventure list- Let’s define adventure.

There are as many definitions of adventure as there are types of adventures to be experienced.

Majestic Adventures

Define adventure.  

Adventure is getting out and being bold. It’s trying new foods or new activities to say you’ve done it. It’s anything that pushes your routine and comfort zone…but most of all it’s fun and thrilling.

For our purposes, adventures for Baby Boomers and retirement generally means something outside your day to day routine, Not necessarily risky but risky in that it pushes your experience level and maybe your comfort zone but is still something you’d like to try.

Adventures can be broken down into all types of new activities:

  • Boating
  • Culinary
  • Tourism
  • Sports activities
  • Mountain climbing
  • Skating, Skiing
  • Outdoor recreation
  • Educational pursuits
  • Games
  • Languages
  • Glass fusing, art
  • Travel
  • Musical instruments
  • Dance
  • Exploring all National parks
  • Visiting Natural wonders of the world
  • Deep sea Diving
  • Writing, blogging
  • Photography
  • Gardening, painting, ceramics, wood working, etc.

In summary, an adventure may include learning or trying something new to you.  Something that you are curious about and excited to experience.

You’re much more likely to make your wishes come true if you write down exactly what it is you want. This list is limitless.  If there are limitations, they are individual to your own restrictions.  Maybe these are physical restrictions, maybe financial, maybe health restrictions but for the most part…it’s all wide open

How do you start? Here’s an ‘adventure example’

Continue reading Retirement 14: Create your personal Adventure List

Retirement 4: Explore Volunteerism for a Happy Retirement

What are other options besides work? Explore Volunteerism!

Volunteer to help others
Volunteer to help those who can’t help themselves.

Find a volunteer gig – not something to fill time, but something that really fulfills you.

Volunteerism is an area that is wide open. Places where you can make a difference both for those you are helping and for helping yourself.  Visit this link offered by the Corporation of National and Community Services.  Whatever your passions are, whatever touches your heart, there are many places that welcome volunteers.

How can you help?

Think about our own life span so far and you will be able to picture the life spans of those who may need some type of help. For example:

  • There are babies to be rocked, and toddlers to be watched.
  • Children need tutoring and teens need mentoring.
  • College kids need a surrogate ‘family-like’ place to regroup.
  • Nurseries need helpers and senior centers need caregivers.
  • Blood banks need donors
  • Missions need teachers.
  • Libraries need storytellers
  • Hospitals need folks ready with a quick smile and a reassuring hand.
  • Election headquarters need campaigners.
  • School field trips need chaperones.
  • Warm meals need delivered.
  • Those disabled need transportation.
  • Lonely folks need company.
Help others, help yourself.
Volunteers are the glue that holds our community together.

The list, like the “beat of the Sixties” that we Boomers are so familiar with, just goes on.

Most of these volunteer opportunities don’t require special skills.  They require the precious gift that you now have, time.  Time is the same commodity that is in short supply when you’re working 40 hours a week.

Research shows there is as much benefit to you from volunteering as there is for those you are helping.

What are some of the benefits of volunteering?

Continue reading Retirement 4: Explore Volunteerism for a Happy Retirement

Retirement: opportunity to learn new Skills

Retirement is a great time to learn new skills

In retirement, I said yes to a senior tap dance group from the senior center.  Only sixty at the time and retired, I wanted to try something new.

Active Retirement is an opportunity to revisit tap dance class

Most of my Marketing Director career was spent meeting deadlines, arguing budgets, competing for new business, presenting my point of view and generally keeping my closet ‘Rockette’ under wraps.

While retired from my real job, but having flex time working as a consultant in my previous field, I found I had time to strap on an old pair of tap shoes and revamp my childhood “shuffle ball change.”

Look for windows of opportunity.

Continue reading Retirement: opportunity to learn new Skills

Healthy Aging equals Exercise Wake up Call!

Healthy Aging equals Exercise Wake Up Call!

Pam’s October 3rd post “The Healthy Aging Way to ease into Exercise” and her September 30th post, “Move it or Lose it” mentioned “Dixie was a gymnast.”  That’s true but certainly not by today’s standards.

In 1961 at Clairemont High School we had a gymnastic team that competed with other high school girls and boys around the area.  None of our schools had ‘uneven parallel bars’ at the time but we had mats, a balance beam, and a “horse/vault. It was fun and competitive and great exercise.  Kudos to Southern California for encouraging sports for both genders ahead of the rest of the nation.

As you can see by these ribbons, I didn’t set any world records (but this was before everyone who showed up got a ribbon.)

Exercising early in life influences exercise as adults.


Exercise in High School gymnastic competition.
Exercise in High School gymnastic competition.

Anyway, that started me thinking about my childhood exercise activities leading up to High School. My parents were physically active.  Dad played football in high school and mom was a “tumbler” and earned a letter “T” to show for it.  They remained ‘active’ throughout their lives.

My early school years were in Southern Indiana, followed by a year stint in Seattle, Washington. From there, in 1956, we moved to the Denver, Colorado area for my middle school years. Then we moved to San Diego in 1959 for high school.  All of these locations found us trying some sport or exercise relevant to the area. Continue reading Healthy Aging equals Exercise Wake up Call!