One thing about retirement is that it gives you a lot of time. Suddenly you have to come up with something to occupy yourself during the hours and hours of those long retirement days.
For some it’s easy. They just transition into retirement by throwing themselves into a lifelong hobby which they could only dabble in during their working years.
For others, not so much.
Those who defined themselves by their careers, their business titles and the rush to get out of the house and get to work every morning might have a harder time with that transition.
Mornings are fine. It stays pretty much the same. The familiar routine of getting ready for the day and catching a little bit of the news while you have a bite of breakfast.
Evenings are no problem either. Most of the time is spent with preparations for dinner and then the clean up afterwards. Followed by a little TV or reading before its time for bed.
But it’s the rest of the day, the hours that were usually spent at work, the time of day that kept your mind busy with deadlines, schedules and goals. They can be the most vexing to the newly retired.
When if I first entered into retirement I found that the day just dragged along. No matter what tasks I had to do at home, I soon became listless and bored around the house, even finding it hard to stay awake when I sat down to read or watch TV. It wasn’t long before I realized that spending most of the day at home was going to be a disaster. I needed something to get me moving again, something to kick start my energy level while at the same time providing me with some sort of emotional stimulation.
And so, I joined a gym.
What an eye opener it was.
I had never been much for working out, lifting weights or exercising. Over the years I was content to get my exercise mainly from long walks either in the morning or evening. A peaceful walk accompanied by singing birds and fresh air was always something that I enjoyed. But quite frankly, a heart pumping, sweat inducing aerobic workout it was not.
I knew that I was not in the best physical shape. Far from it. I knew that the years ahead were going to be a challenge for my stamina and endurance. After looking at myself in the mirror, I knew that if I was going to truly enjoy my retirement, things were going to have to change. My lifestyle, my priorities and my mindset had to be addressed.
There was a gym just down the street a couple of minutes away from our summer home in Boise. When I walked in I was impressed with the large and spacious layout. The place was clean and inviting. There were TV’s everywhere. Soft rock music gently wafted throughout the exercise area. Exercise equipment of all shapes and sizes were neatly spread out in rows. The treadmills had TV screens so you could watch your favorite channel while exercising. A large weight lifting area was in the far corner with a full length mirror from floor to ceiling. Presumably so you could watch your face contort as you lifted and grunted.
It didn’t seem very busy. Just a handful of people were scattered about working on the exercise equipment.
After walking into the office and talking to a nice young lady behind the desk, I plunked my money down and signed up for a six month membership.
I took it easy on my first day.
Twenty minutes on a treadmill while I watched cable news and then another ten or fifteen minutes or so on weights and other exercise equipment.
I was sore and tired after my first few sessions but by the second week I felt I could up my routine. I increased my time on the treadmill to thirty minutes and sped it up a bit, gradually building to a very brisk walk. Then another twenty minutes on the weights and machines that worked my upper and lower legs.
I started really liking my time in the gym, faithfully going there every morning and doing my thing, treadmill, weights and a few other machines. I was getting comfortable with the routine and looked forward to my time there.
After about a month I had gradually upped my game; an hour on the treadmill and another hour on the weights and other exercise equipment. Each session now ended with me soaked in sweat and tired. But I found myself refreshed and energized as I would step outside into the parking lot and walk back to my car.
During the rest of the day I started to realize that I had more energy. I began to have a more positive attitude about myself and my place in the retirement scheme of things.
While I still haven’t lost much weight, (I still like to eat too much) I know that I’m at least working my body and burning calories every day in a fun and purposeful way.
My time at the gym now has become a special time for me, a solitary time of personal reflection and learning. Challenging myself, pushing my body to new and higher levels of endurance.
Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t turned into Charles Atlas. I still look like a little fire plug in the big mirror while I’m lifting weights. Most of the people there are doing far more than I am.
And I’m going to have to get my diet and eating habits under control soon, if I hope to start losing some of my beer belly.
But at least I’m doing something. I’m moving forward. It’s fun and rewarding. If I keep it up and with the right attitude, I can see myself doing this as long as I’m physically able.
Hopefully that will mean a long and satisfying retirement.