The secret to midlife fitness? Hail to the wisdom of Curly. It’s just one thing.
Are you old enough to remember “City Slickers” the 1991 movie about midlife reinvention, searching for a lost smile, and finding it with the help of horses and cattle and a grizzled old trail boss named Curly? Oh, of course you are. In this lighthearted (and manly) romp through the timeless values of the Old West, I’ll have to say the character that made the biggest impression on me was ‘ol Curly (played by Jack Palance).
Why do I remember Curly? Because Curly set me free with the profound nature of one single line that has stuck with my ADD-rattled soul ever since:
“Ya want to know the secret of life?” Curly asks. (I’m pretty sure he was talking to me)
Of course they did. That was, after all, why they were there.
Curly held up a gnarled old forefinger. “It’s this.”
“Your finger? “ Asks the Billy Crystal character.
“It’s one thing.”
What is that one thing?
“That’s what you have to figure out.”
Applying the wisdom of Curly to our Midlife Horses Fitness Challenge, I ask you now:
What is the secret to improving our fitness?
Just one thing.
According to Colonial Country Club Fitness Director (and my new Midlife Fitness Quest hero,) Rebecca Slemmons, everything counts. We don’t have to run a mile, but what if we jog down the barn aisle with our horse? (Good groundwork practice, too!). Rebecca (and we’ll get to more of this in later posts) developed for us a customized Midlife Horses Fitness plan that uses this “one thing” logic and the realization that while we probably don’t have much time for traditional workouts, we do have plenty of tiny opportunities as we go about our daily business to find “one thing” to add to each thing we do all day that will turn even the most mundane chores into workout tools.
What better solution to our midlife fitness conundrum than just doing what we do and adding the “one thing” to each activity that engages a specific set of muscles with the intent of giving them a little work? If we do this consistently, before too long we’ll be “working out” all day, every day (just like our pioneer foremothers) without really even realizing it (except in looser jeans and stronger constitutions.) As we continue on our Midlife Horses journey, have a high need to build and protect our fitness to ride stronger and stay healthy to ride longer.
So to start with, let’s just agree that the secret to midlife fitness is “just one thing.” If we can commit to adding “just one thing” to our normal daily routine, every time we think of it (and do try to make a point of thinking of it!), we can make some fairly serious fitness strides over time without even realizing we’ve amped up our efforts.
Sneaky. And it just might work.
So just for today, what is that just one thing going to be for you? According to Curly, that’s what you have to figure out. But with all due respect, I do think we can help each other long this path by sharing our ideas and discoveries of what sneaky opportunities to increase our fitness may be lurking in our own daily activities.
We touched on this recently in our Facebook community, where Jennifer told us that all day, every day, in everything she does, she pays attention to her core and lifting and keeping those muscled tight as she performs various chores. That’s a good one. I posted earlier about the “suck in” exercises proposed by the Weight Watchers leader. Silly, but boy does it work those abs!
Last week (and this is also in The Smart Woman’s Guide to Midlife Horses on page 68) I started thinking about the “thoracic girdle.” I was having some trouble with shoulder and neck muscles (made worse, I’m sure by slumping for hours on end at the computer.) and was advised by Licensed Massage Therapist Tom Vennum to roll my shoulders back and down then align “ear hole, shoulders and hips”, sitting, standing, and walking. He told me to envision those women who carry big jugs of water on their heads. I do this now as I type, but I also immediately related it to riding. So my “one thing,” right now, is this. When I get up to go downstairs after more coffee, the “one thing” there may be taking the stairs coming back up two at a time, simulating a deep walking lunge (and if I do this enough, will help with getting on my horse from the ground!)