Exercise Built Up My Confidence

Last week my husband, Wayne, asked again if I wanted to go with him in the airboat on Lake Marion. I had refused every time, but when I said, “Yes, I’ll try,” I realized it was a result of how exercise built up my confidence.

An Airboat Primer

He started up the aircraft engine while it rested in our central Florida lakefront covered boat slip. I ran the motor to lower the straps, and he pulled himself back out of the slip by grabbing the poles along the side. In contrast to airplanes, airboats utilize a push prop in the rear airplanes have a pull prop on the nose of the fuselage or along the wings.

There are two areas they are similar, the noise and the lack of ability to back up. In contrast to an airplane, an airboat can be spun around. Residents along large lakes in Florida complain about the noise. In our county they passed an ordinance that airboats must have mufflers. It didn’t really help reduce the decibels, however, because the source of the noise is the propeller. You can hear the engine and propeller noise and see the wind blow about debris in this short video of my husband and our airboat.

Airboats have a shallow draft due to their light weight, less than 1,000 pounds and the wide hull. Finally, the underside of the hull is treated with a product that reduces friction even more, Slick bottom. All these factors give an airboat the ability to skim over aquatic plants and even land for short distances.  As he skinned around and headed out past the weeds, I turned around on the dock to head toward the shoreline of Lake Marion.

Trial and Error

I navigated the first obstacle, getting down from the dock onto the cinder blocks that serve as steps to the lakeshore. But how to get into the boat? With my arthritic knees, I feel much better with something to hold onto. Ah yes, I remembered to put my butt down on the bow and swing my feet inside the hull.

Airboat on the shore
Carefully I stood up, whispering, “Thank you, Darrin”, to my workout coach for all the squats he has cheered me through. Aloft, I held onto the frame of the airboat, carefully aligning my feet with the metal bottom to reach the tubular rungs that lead to the backseat behind the driver.

I didn’t have the flexibility in my joints to lift my knees to the first rung. There was fear involved as my actions moved the airboat slightly. Big time fear.

The engine is running, but the prop is still, so I turned to Wayne and said,  “I can’t do it.”

He yelled, “Can you sit on the grate where my feet are?”

It looked possible, so I went forward, easily lifted my foot onto the shallow bow and leaned back with my butt on the platform with his feet. My toes were dangling above the bow as I scooted back. This platform folds the accelerator pedal for Wayne’s left foot, but the right side was open, as his right foot control was beside the platform.

“I can do this!”

The Ride

The only place for my hands to grab hold was the aluminum tubing welded along the underside of the platform. I held on tight as we spun around away from the sandy shore. Our immediate destination was the Eastern shoreline, directly in front of us.

Although my iPhone was stuck in my right pocket, I wasn’t confident of the stability of my situation to take any video until after we say a 10-foot bull gator roll off floating debris ten yards in front of us. My heart skipped a few beats as we skimmed right over his sunbathing platform. But I was disappointed to miss the iconic Florida wildlife photo.

Although the ride seemed really fast to me in my precarious seat, I knew Wayne was being extremely cautious. The roar of the propeller prevents conversation. But I suspected he was looking for the hidden entrance to Indian Springs Run, a slow moving creek emanating from a spring, constantly feeding Lake Marion. As we entered the run, our smooth ride on the airboat allowed me to take a handheld video with my steady hand.

I Didn’t Expect That

We exited the run and headed back out to the water lily pads. My phone safely in my pocket, a sudden outpouring of tears, then sobs overtook me. The anxiety of the stay-at-home pandemic order coupled with my newfound confidence in my improved strength burst forth, like the white egrets taking flight in front of me.

Then calmness reigned. I could now trust both my ability to hold fast on the platform and my husband’s care for me as I enjoyed the rest of the trip. I filmed cattle who had ventured away from the shore to browse on aquatic grass and later, the homes on Bannon Island.

The Next Goal

Two days later I told my trainer, Darrin, about my difficulty on the airboat, I could see the wheels turning behind his bright brown eyes. He added moves to my workout routine that would strengthen all the deep muscles in my hips. Remembering the thrill of the airboat ride enhanced my workout effectiveness. Even more now, I feel the result of how exercise built up my confidence. Next, Wayne’s talking about letting me take the controls on our next airboat adventure on Lake Marion.

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Have a Safe Memorial Day Weekend,

I am Old, Fat, And Determined

Yep, I am old, fat, and determined to achieve the best physical condition possible for me. Why? Because I know following the recommended action of exercise is the best way to deal with osteoarthritic knees.

How Long Have I Worked Out?

It’s been about eight months now. Midsummer in 2019, I decided it was time to make a change. I contacted Darrin Fielder, who had trained my husband a few years ago. Meanwhile, Darrin had changed from working for a fitness club to owning his own business and had an opening for a new client. We started working together three days a week in August 2019.

Why Did it Take Me So Long to Start?

Actually, this was a restart. I’ve had various trainers over the years and found they often were so poor, I’d get hurt, really hurt. After three bad experiences, I just quit trying to workout. Instead, I enjoyed other activities, like gardening.

Gardening Was Fun.. But

In the 90’s, I created a beautiful garden in Colorado with flowers blooming from early Spring until the heavy frost of October. That meant I spent a lot of time gardening. To endure long hours standing in the garden, I started using NSAIDS, always taking the recommended dosage. After about a year, I developed a sensitivity. The lining of my mouth and my gums hurt so much I thought my teeth were going to fall out. I had to quit using all NSAIDS. After the last of the medicine was out of my system, I found I could take half the recommended dose when a special occasion, like visiting my grandchildren came up. Sitting on the plane became tolerable again.

We Are All Different

Some of us love the camaraderie of exercise with others. Or we need the competitiveness that exercise in groups gives us. That’s not me. I’m very competitive, but prefer competition with myself. I get hurt when I compete against others. Even the gentle stretching in yoga becomes dangerous when I see a 20-something, size 6 girl in front of me in yoga class. That’s why I’m at the front now, or was, where the only person I see is the instructor. I can hear her better too. Remember, I’m old.

How Do You Keep Exercising Now?

It’s not easy if you need other people. But if you have a personal trainer, there isn’t a problem. He comes to my house just like before. The only difference is we practice social distancing. And we use my equipment, my dumbbells, spraying them with Lysol, if necessary.

Could I keep this up without him? I don’t know. It would be hard, but I bet we could use Zoom or FaceTime to keep it going. Why not? Children are going to school via computer. Virtual meetings are happening every day.

You Could Start Now

Now that I’m older, I have a much better sense of what I can do, that is, what is possible, and I listen to my body. It lets me know when I need to slow down.

You could start now if you also listen to your body. Get outside and start walking. Or learn a line dance on YouTube. Take it easy, pace yourself, and always gently stretch your legs afterward. Spend some time finding good stretching exercises geared toward you; your age, fitness level and don’t ever think ‘no pain, no gain’, in regards to exercise or stretching.

The Payoff

One of my key goals is ease of daily activities. Here are some ways I’m achieving those goals.

  • Climbing stairs is almost pain free
  • I can lift the 33 pound dog food into the shopping cart without injury
  • Catching my reflection in a glass window makes me smile
  • The future shines bright as my confidence soars

Next time you see a fat, old lady with knock-knees out exercising, I hope you think of me and give her a thumbs up.

Keep Moving!


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