Aspiring to feel 104 years old |

Aspiring to feel 104 years old

Sierra Sun Staff Reports

I saw a television segment on the Sacramento news last week about a woman who was celebrating her 104th birthday in Auburn. They showed her blowing out her candles and remarking how she did not have one ache or pain in her whole body.

How could it be that at age 45, I have quite a few aches and pains, and at 104, this woman has none?

For the past two months, I’ve been attempting to get back into an exercise routine. It hasn’t been easy.

My approach to any undertaking tends to be a slow one. I need time to think about things before I actually do them.

Consequently, my family has been listening to me mulling over ideas about exercise for a while now. “Where on my calendar is there time to work out?” I would ask them.

A year ago, my husband and children surprised me with an elliptical trainer, a giant piece of exercise equipment that I may have stated out loud at one time that I might use if we had one.

It was a thoughtful gift, but a problem arose for me: I’ve seldom found the motivation to get on it regularly.

Noticing its lack of use, my husband asked me, “Don’t you hear it calling you when you walk by it?” I walk past it daily as I go between the laundry room and our computer. “No.” I flatly told him. The fact is, despite its size, the thing is invisible to me. I never look over in that direction, and I definitely never hear it calling.

Over the past year I’ve come up with excuses to explain why I ignore this piece of home exercise equipment which could provide a great cardio workout. I’ve told my husband that it may seem as if it’s set up in the right place in front of a television, but I need loud music when I work out. I’ve suggested that maybe if we moved it out of the dark basement I might use it. “I need bright, uplifting sunlight,” I told him.

Using words such as “maybe” or “might” qualifies my intention to also mean “possibly not.” And my family knows this. So in the basement it remains, being used occasionally as a magazine rack or a place to store the remote control.

Because my husband is a patient man who loves me despite my excuses and inaction, our back and forth banter went on for months. He would encourage me, I would resist.

One day earlier this year, my husband and our older daughter came home and announced that they’d bought a family membership at the new gym. All I had to do was show up and pick up my card. My family has a way of making something hard sound so easy. To add to what I perceived as pressure, my husband had met a personal trainer whom he thought I might really like.

This wasn’t the first time my husband had surprised me with a gym membership. He’d bought me an 18-month membership at another gym one time, and I remember thanking him, tongue in cheek. I went for about six weeks.

“Gyms don’t work for me,” I reminded him. The long list of reasons rattled in my head. The showers drizzle lukewarm water, and it’s cold when you take your sweatshirt off and people strut around and check themselves out in the mirrors. And when you’re just about done working out for 40 minutes on a piece of equipment, but you didn’t really push yourself so your face isn’t red and you’re not dripping with sweat, a fit younger woman will ask you if you’re almost done or did you just get on? Gyms are intimidating.

“You might like this gym,” he told me. “Just go down there and give it a try.”

Of course I had to let a few weeks go by, but finally I found time to pick up my new gym card. I went without a gym bag or workout clothes.

As I was giving my name at the front desk, I found myself saying hello to someone I knew. She was being shown around so I tagged along for the tour and then I left thinking, “Well, it did look like the showers work and I know I’ll use that dry sauna.”

A week later I started meeting with a trainer.

For the first four weeks, she would ask me, “Did you get in here to work out again during the week?”

“No,” I’d tell her with as little guilt as possible. This has to work for me, and I know how jam-packed my schedule is. Lucky for me, she’s patient like my husband and she’s helping me meet realistic goals.

I don’t know if I’ll ever feel as good as that 104-year-old Auburn woman, but I do feel like I’m on my way.

If you’re ever down at the gym, I might just see you there.

Katie Shaffer is a Truckee resident. Life in Our Mountain Town appears every other week in the Sierra Sun. Contact Shaffer at

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