Body Strength, Confidence, and Love

Howdy from the west coast! After 17 days of being on the road, I rolled into Southern Oregon just about a week ago. As usual, my cross-country adventure had lots of fun, was interesting, and kept my senses heightened. If you've ever thought of taking an extended road trip, I highly recommend it. I have some tips and pointers for the asking. Just contact me!

One thing I'm even more aware of on my coast-to-coast drive is my body.  Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative, made the dramatic statement a few years ago, "Sitting is the new smoking". He went on to say, "We are sitting ourselves to death". Mama Mia! His words ring in my ears when I'm making a trek in my trusty KIA Soul across the entire state of Texas and into New Mexico (and beyond!). Because of his declaration and based on my own personal research, I can easily turn a 9-hour trip into 12-hours. It's doable when you leave at 5am and worth getting up early to allow for multiple stops on the way in order to move my body. I firmly believe in the recommendation, Don't exercise because you hate your body -- Exercise because you love it!

This week's MQ (Monday Quote) was even more front and center than usual in recent weeks:

"I find that there's a direct correlation

between physical fitness and confidence.

Having a strong body allows us to 

feel better about ourselves, 

and fosters a positive outlook on life."


My mother signed me up for dancing lessons when I was five years old. I loved the music and being with other kids, but what I really enjoyed was getting in touch with my body. I took classes and danced for the next 15 years. Appreciating the way my body moved fostered an enthusiasm for sports, too. I also consider myself fortunate to have grown up during a time and in a place where we played outside most of the time. We ran and climbed and rolled around. In the winter we skated on the local ponds, snowshoed, and skiied. 

As early as the mid 1950's, President Eisenhower expressed concern about the physical fitness of American children. President John F. Kennedy promoted a curriculum for exercise in 1961-62 and physical education programs improved around the U.S. I remember participating in the Kennedy exercises and having fun in friendly competition with my classmates. It felt good to take on the challenge of being flexible and strong.

Even though my awareness, respect, and love of my body's strength started at a young age, it also never occurred to me that it wouldn't continue for the rest of my life. Truly, ignorance can be bliss. Without any self-limitations, I've continued to express myself through physical activity with no intention of slowing down. All too often I've watched people start to restrict themselves simply because they're getting older or have reached a certain age. Along with this comes an increasing dissatisfaction with life which I attribute to less self-reliance based on an inability to be able to count on our bodies. Living a long life is only satisfying if we can do it vibrantly and energetically. Here's what I recommend:

  • Start talking to yourself about what you can do.

  • Find ways to strengthen your body. You can go to a gym, but why not try some of the thousands of videos online?!?

  • Get a buddy and encourage each other.

  • Remember that whatever you can do today, you can also do tomorrow and the next day.

  • Get inspired reading about women like Phyllis Sue, Constance Tillit, Diane Nayad, Anne Lorimor, and Tao Porchon-Lynch.

There are also many opportunities during the day to do little things that will strengthen your muscles:

  • Don't lean on the grocery cart in the store and let it drag you around. Stand up tall and push it using your arms and your core.

  • Get up and down from a seated position several times a day.

  • Don't put an extension on your toilet so you don't have to "squat" onto the seat. Squatting is a good thing. 

  • Climb stairs whenever possible.

  • Find ways not to sit so much, such as having a standing desk

The research Dr. Levine did shows that standing keeps your blood moving, aids digestion, helps your body's metabolism, and lowers the strain on your neck and lower back. Sedentary behavior gets in the way of restful sleep, can increase blood pressure and raise blood sugar and cholesterol levels and can lead to unhealthy weight gain.  The main reason I keep moving and building up my strength is because it makes me feel better. I continue to feel capable and independent. When people are amazed that I drive across the whole USA, by myself, "at my age", I chuckle. My age has nothing to do with it. It's more a matter of trust in my body and love for my family and friends. I look forward to beginning a new day and whatever it might bring me. I anticipate challenges with excitement. ALL of this I wish for you.

Sparkles and Love,

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About the Author




Barbara L Cummings, MS, RN

is a sassy Queen-ager, mentor, confidante and trusted guide who provides people with life support. 

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