I celebrated my 55th birthday with a ride on my mountain bike, logging around 8 miles of bumpy dirt road and feeling downright proud of myself. It was another sparkling Teton Valley day with hawks perched along the fence lines watching for voles, sandhill cranes yodeling overhead and the crick, crick, crick of my deteriorating left hip with every pedal push.
This cheerful snap of worn-out cartilage reminded of my morning phone call from a well-known seer and aging expert. As usual, my sister got right to the point.
“Happy birthday. Getting old sucks.”
Over the years, she’s offered valuable advice and recommendations about this age-old battle. Now, I’ll share those pearls of wisdom with all of you.
Just last week, she was trying on skirts in a retail dressing room. The sales clerk knocked on the door as she was forcing the zipper. The clerk asked if she needed any assistance. My sister responded that there was an odd bulge preventing her from closing the zipper.
“Do you have any control?” asked the clerk.
“If I had any control, I wouldn’t be trying on a size 18 skirt, now would I?” she snarled before it occurred to her that the clerk was referring to control-top Spanx.
Moral of the story: When you’re old, you snarl at people uncontrollably and that’s okay.
I once made the mistake of asking for advice on how to lose weight. Her initial response was less than optimistic.
“Losing weight at our age is like pickaxing cement out of a car trunk.” Then she told me how she managed to lose 20 pounds rather quickly by going on the Clapton Diet. First, she read Eric Clapton’s autobiography “Clapton.” This brought back memories of his youthful beauty and magnetism.
After reading his book, it was clear that Eric had surprisingly low expectations when seeking female companionship. So she put his 70s rock star picture on her refrigerator, inside cupboards and above her scale reasoning that if she lost a few pounds and ran into Eric on the street or at the mall, her chances were as good as anyone’s that she could catch his eye. Just the thought of him on his knees singing ‘Layla’ to her provided sufficient motivation. She lost the weight and then saw him on a television show and realized that he had aged right along with the rest of us. The honeymoon was over.
Moral of the story: Let go of fantasies and just eat whatever you want.
And finally, there’s the never-ending conversation of how, when and where to wear yoga pants without completely alienating the children. When I told her that in my neck of the woods, women wear yoga pants everywhere; grocery shopping, mall browsing, wedding receptions, horseback riding, job interviews, you name it. This kind of behavior doesn’t fly in SoCal. In the Newport Beach area, yoga pants are carried in special exercise bags to the yoga studio where they are put on prior to yoga and then removed immediately after yoga. So when my sister tried to travel by air with her children and they realized she was planning on wearing yoga pants ON THE PLANE, the sky fell.
“I even put on my best cowboy boots and they still wouldn’t let me leave the house,” she said sadly.
Moral of the story: Don’t grow old in Southern California if you like to wear baggy yoga pants.
Our phone conversation devolved into a discussion about the ignominy of being hailed by every miracle face cream and weight-loss kiosk operator in the mall.
“Excuse me miss. Not you. No, not you. YOU over there in the pink yoga pants, I have some extra potent samples just for YOU.”
Then she had to hang up because she was running late to the eyebrow salon where a true artist would try to make brows appear where there weren’t any since half of each arc had fallen out at the age of 50.
Moral of the story (and this can’t be stressed strongly enough): Growing old isn’t for sissies.
I’ll take the good days with the bad and continue to ride my bike in my loose yoga pants. I’ll keep coloring my hair until I decide not to. I’ll paint in a brow line and rub anti-ageing cream pretty much everywhere from the forehead down. And that’s okay.
Moral of the story: Keep pushing the pedals. There’s a lot more fun to be had.
It was 10 a.m. October 19Sunday morning when my daughter Hanna and I decided to fulfill our shared goal of kayaking at String Lake. Our family has visited String Lake many times for short hikes and picnics and we’ve always been envious of people who were out on canoes, SUPs, or kayaks on this translucent fairy-tale of a lake.
Only a couple months ago Hanna had said to me “Mom, are we really going to let another summer go by without kayaking on String Lake?” That put a burr under my saddle that finally resulted in action, though by now we were firmly into pre-winter season.
I announced our intentions to the male side of our family and my husband, who already had a tee time at Targhee Village, responded less than enthusiastically as he went out the door with his golf bag though he did promise to be back by 1 p.m. to head over Teton Pass. My teenage son assured me that we’d have fun without him and that he intended to remain glued to his laptop playing an addictive monster vs. monster game rather than go outside on a crystal clear day in the Tetons.
Using my best mother skills, I cajoled him into coming with us by being alternately threatening and heart-broken. Just as I was about to remind him that I could die at any moment from any number of horrific medical crises, he closed his laptop and pledged his participation.
I had the rental kayaks, lunch bags, beverages and kids all ready to go when my husband came back early (early!) from golfing and off we went, toward adventure, beauty and timeless family moments. Ten minutes into the drive, no one was speaking to each other due to a few snippy remarks about what a wet, rotten, freezing cold time we were all going to have. In other words, someone really wanted to finish his golf game.
In silence, we finished the 90-minute drive arriving at the beach at 2:30 p.m. Suddenly, it became clear that we were not driving to our doom. The Cathedral Peaks were reflected like etchings on the water which sparkled and beckoned us to float upon it. So we did.
By Tony Hochstetler from Fort Collins (String Lake Panorama – Explored)
Some people toss around adjectives like popcorn and we all become tired of the hyperbole. Was that bologna sandwich really fabulous? Does her salon hair color really look absolutely incredible?
I’m here to tell you that String Lake was magical that afternoon. Depths of different shades of green. Shadows of fish bursting under us. The hush of the mountains and crackle of red-gold autumn leaves in the breeze. The sound of our teenagers laughing as they rowed their double seated kayak together.
My husband and I floated upstream, taking in the views and occasionally dipping an oar to swing us to another perspective of the range or the beach or the kids. The word “lucky” was said a few times.
I believe that everyone needs these moments out in nature. There’s a power in wild waters, mountains and greenery that heals and redefines us. The Palmer family drove home that day feeling closer, content, and lucky.
Disclaimer: This blog discusses my personal wellness goals and is in no way a soapbox to tell anyone else how to eat, exercise and/or live their lives.
Outdoor adventure season is in full swing here in the valley. Whether it’s a day trip to the Wind Cave up Darby Canyon or an overnight camp-out in the Alaska Basin, our options are seemingly endless when it comes to hitting the trails.
Our high elevation, combined with long sunny days and stretches of temperatures in the 70s, 80s and 90s can pose some risk for unprepared adventure seekers.
Regardless if you plan to go for an hour or a day, it’s important to make a few key preparations.
First, always bring water on your trips. In warm months, hikers/bikers/climbers/runners should drink approximately one gallon of water per day, but that can vary based on your individual needs. In direct sunlight and with physical exertion, your fluid/electrolyte loss can happen faster than under cooler conditions. Sweat evaporates instantly in dry climates like ours, so it’s important to pay attention to any signs your body might need hydration. If hiking with children, pay attention to the water in their water bottles to make sure they are drinking enough and at an appropriate frequency. Ditto for dogs. Don’t plan on finding sufficient watering holes for dogs to lap up; bring water for the pooches and remember that dogs are exerting energy while wearing fur coats. Also be aware that dogs may not stop to drink water at a creek or pond if their human partner is bike riding or running at a steady pace. You may have to stop and relax before your dog feels that he can take a break and lap up some water.
Second, dress in layers and loose-fitting, lightweight clothing to avoid heat exhaustion. Seek out shaded areas when hiking, and avoid sunburns. Also, if you are taking any medications, ask your doctor whether the medications could make you more susceptible to heat exhaustion or sunburn.
Third, bring a friend or family member along for the trip and avoid strenuous activity in the middle of the day, when the sun and heat are at their highest points.
Generally, by the time you are thirsty, you’re already somewhat dehydrated. To avoid this, drink 1/2 to 1 quart of water or electrolyte drink for every hour you hike.
Although most instances of dehydration are mild or moderate and can be easily resolved by drinking fluids, severe dehydration can also occur. Signs of a serious problem include little or no urination, extreme dry mouth and skin, confusion, rapid heart-beat and unconsciousness. Severe dehydration is a medical emergency.
Like any good Scout, you need to be prepared. Water, sunscreen, good shoes, weather outlooks, and good directions should form the basis of every summer outing.
Dr. Nathan Levanger is a family practice physician offering patient care at Driggs Health Clinic located in Driggs Idaho.