Why Do You Get Up in the Morning? Part 2

June 12th, 2014

Aren’t you curious about what you’ll do in retirement? I know I’ve been at times. I couldn’t wait for the answer. The process couldn’t go fast enough. I wanted to dive right in. But I had a good excuse to be eager: I wanted to quit what I was doing 40 years working with computers was enough!

It may take you a bit of time to sort out things and settle on a plan that your comfortable with. In the meanwhile, what can you do?

I suggest interviewing friends. Particularly retired friends, but it might be interesting to talk to some folks who’ve not taken the plunge. The main question is simple: Why do you get up in the morning?

Isn’t that just a lovely question? Unfortunately, you can’t use it straight out of the box. When I tried just asking that question exactly, I got all kinds of interesting results. Some claimed the dog next door barked too loudly. Others complained of a cat that jumped onto the bed. You can add tossing and turning, mental rabbit chasing, the alarm, spouse, and on and on.

Thus, I discovered that you really can’t ask the question directly. You have to prepare your audience a little. For example:

I’m trying to find a direction for my retirement. I can start over. I can do what I want. And I’m hunting for options. So, I’m talking with folks I know and trust. What are the most important things you are doing in your retirement?

Here I am writing a blog on retirement. I thought it important that I answered the question before talking about other issues. My answers may help you with your quest. More importantly, I want you know just what kind of experience I've had. Where is Ed coming from? Will the real Ed Zinkiewicz please stand up!

An easy way to do that is for me to be your first guinea pig. We’ll pretend that you just asked me the question.

The short story answer is that I have found retirement to be a highly interesting, challenging and rewarding part of my life. I wake up energized. I go through the days excited about prospects. I can rest at the end of days where I can see the progress I’ve made – I’ve achieved something meaningful and beneficial. I told you some about that in my last post.

But there is more to the answer still. Today we'll talk about ability and complete the story with the next post.

To be able

My wife and I made a commitment several years ago to follow a rule:

Exercise an hour a day, six days per week, for the rest of our lives.

So, for example, my week has two days of floor exercises with a class. My wife shares one of these classes, which we call the jumping jacks classes, and by in large that’s what they are. We punch, and jab, and reach, and kick, and do jumping jacks. We lift weights to strengthen biceps and triceps. We pull on exercise bands and move with weight bars. We do squats and exercise abdominals. And all of it is done to a 124 beat per minute cadence. These 50-minute classes are followed by a mile walk in which includes a little jogging.

The third day of floor work for me is a dance class. Realize please that I’ve never given anyone reason to accuse me of being a dancer. But, it is movement. It requires coordination. I work on balance. I work on rhythm. One week we’ll do isometric ballet movements. Next week we’ll learn the salsa.

The other three days I’m in the pool with some kind of exercise class. One day a week I may be on made-for-the-pool bicycles for a spin class.The other two days are aerobic water classes. Push the water. Pull the water. Kick forward, back, diagonally, sideways. I mix these three days in with the floor-work days. This keeps my body guessing.

My wife has a different schedule. She is part fish so two of her days involve a circuit class so she can practice staying on top of the water through various strokes. One of her days usually involves riding a horse or volunteering with kids at Saddle Up, a therapeutic riding organization.

It turns out that most days, one of these activities starts the day. So, we have a very simple answer to the question: We get up in the morning to exercise. But, of course, that doesn’t completely answer the question of why.

You have to read between the lines to discover a great set of answers just piling up! For one, exercising every day represents a life-altering change in behavior for me. I’d never done anything like it my whole life. I grew up to be a couch potato and became highly competent in that regard. Regular exercise turned that around. It turns out that exercise rocks as a keystone behavior: a pivot on which the whole structure rests.

Here’s how it worked for us. Exercise made us feel better. If you feel better, you often eat better. We both needed a venue to go to where all this exercise could happen as we’re still not good at doing this stuff on our own. A class helps us. So, we end up eating better and exercising and hanging out with people who value the same thing. Together, these three make you feel better so you can be more active. If you are more active, you eat better…

The cycle not only continued, it grew to become a tenet, a mainstay of our lives. We not only exercise more and eat better and hang out with people who value that, the fact that we do is part of what defines us.

Personally, I have fun exercising. Believe me: Nobody who knew me before I started down this path would have ever accused me of enjoying exercise. But there ya go. I get up in the morning to work out. (And I still don’t believe I’m saying that out loud.) But you can believe this: We did not start out doing what we do today. Crys had never done laps in her life. When I started exercising, I walked in the pool. Yes. I walked. 20 minutes. It was all I could do. Now I do better!

So, back at you. You’ve asked the question and have heard that I get out of bed to exercise. Where are you with regards exercise? Just a novice? Or are you a hardy veteran of multiple marathons? If you find yourself closer to the novice end of the spectrum, you might find it beneficial to get going physically. Move it or lose it.

Until next time. How is your retirement going? Where is your activity level? So you want to retire and be physically able to do what you want?

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