By Bruce Stambaugh
February is upon us. Hopefully, winter in northeast Ohio is nearing its peak.
We don’t know what that means regarding the weather ahead. We simply long for milder days when we can be outdoors without the clumsiness of thick coats.
Most of us senior citizens avoid the nasty weather by staying inside or fleeing to warmer locales. In the process, we tend to overfeed February’s cabin fever. That’s not good for our health at any age.
I have a rather restricted diet due to some inherited genes I’d rather trade away. Of course, I can’t, so I am careful about what I eat. My loving wife goes out of her way to create the food that my body can handle.
For me, though, eating has never been a top priority. I’d rather be out and about, even in the harshest weather. After a measurable snow, you’ll likely find me outside pushing and shoveling the white stuff from the sidewalk and parking pad.
When I was younger, I’d take it as a personal challenge to shovel the entire driveway out to the county road. If the snow was heavy and wet, I took my time. Neva often joined me, along with our daughter and son, if they weren’t already off sledding with friends.
Those days are long over. After this winter’s first measurable snowfall, I was out in it as usual. I bundled up in my typical fashion, hoodie, stocking cap, insulated coveralls, warm gloves and gumboots.
Snow removal isn’t a fashion show. It’s hard work, especially for someone pushing 70. For whatever reason, that thought blew into my head like the cold north wind. I remembered to take plenty of breaks and to pace myself.
During my frequent breathers, I observed crows sail through the still falling snow, and heard a state plow truck’s discordant rumble echo in the frosty air from a mile away. I stopped shoveling after I had cleared the sidewalk and turnaround.
I didn’t want to be a statistic, a seasonal casualty to stubbornness. I knew my limits and decided not to push them. When the snow is too deep, my good neighbor rescues me with his pickup’s snowplow.
The amount he charges is a whole lot cheaper than the negative consequences if I try to exert myself beyond my physical capacities. No one needs that heartache.
I’d rather pay the pittance charged than incur the repercussions. My inflated male ego has to take a backseat to my bodily well-being. It’s that simple.
I know I need the exercise, but braving winter’s harsh elements at my age can prove counterproductive. I look for other options to stay physically fit though some would question whether I have ever been in that condition.
I like to walk when I can, but that isn’t always a year-round option in northern climes. Other exercise options are easy to find.
My wife and I enjoy doing yoga regularly either in our home or at class. We have found it both physically and spiritually healing. The good Lord knows I need both.
I do simple stretches daily to ease my tennis elbow pain and to loosen my tight hamstrings. Those simple practices do wonders for me.
I’ll continue to be mindful of both what I eat and the portions I consume. I’ll continue to intentionally workout my body and mind daily.
Every new day is a gift. I must do my part to welcome another tomorrow.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2016
3 thoughts on “Staying healthy in the throes of winter”
Being unable to shovel snow the way i used to is one of those ego challenges that i find tough -but i don’t shivel at all anymore.
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My husband is almost 69, and after shoveling a few weeks ago he said by this time next year he wants to have a snow blower. Even though he doesn’t have any presentable problems he wants to be cautious, as you are.
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Why not hire someone to plow when the snow gets too deep? That way he doesn’t have to go out into the harsh elements. It also eliminates the cost of buying and maintaining the seldom used snowblower. There’s also the issue of storage space. Just some thoughts.
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