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Work Out - When to hang it up

By Nancy Leasman


It’s a quandary for all athletes to decide when their days of challenging their bodies is over. When should the figure skater hang up her skates? When should the football player park the pads? Or the baseball player opt out of running the bases? It makes it even more difficult when that person’s income rests on them not resting.


For those of us who challenge ourselves outside of the sports arenas, our decision may be more simple. My personal question has been, “When should I stop trekking into the woods with a chainsaw?”


The answer to that question, on a day-to-day basis, is made easier by 18 inches of snow in the woods. “Not today,” is the definitive answer along with, “Probably not tomorrow.” The same holds true when the temperature is below zero. “I just don’t have to go out when it’s that cold.” And then there are the days when one is weighted down with a viral load. “I have Covid. I’m not going out and exert myself until further notice.”


But then I wonder if I’m starting to make excuses.


When I started my woodlot clean-up, I went out nearly every day. I was determined to get a good physical workout in as often as I could. At the beginning I noted in my journal, “I was out of breath just bending over to get the boots over my heels, tongue pulled into position, and strings tied.” That could have been excuse enough to have not even started.


But I did start. In the last three years I’ve made a huge difference in the woodlot and in my personal health. My joints don’t hurt, I rarely have palpitations, my stamina is great and I no longer think twice about long walks. My blood pressure is pretty dang good. And, I don’t get out of breath just putting my boots on!


In the first month of this new year, with the extreme cold and illness, I haven’t worked in the woods yet. But, I truly don’t think I’ve just been making excuses. I wasn’t up to going out to work in the woods today, but I vacuumed, mopped the floors, did three loads of laundry, and baked banana bread. That’s not bad for a low energy day. I don’t think the day would have gone this way if I hadn’t had the lingering effect of all those work out days. 


Feb. 2, 2024


The old oak leaves crunched underfoot like frosty potato chips. It was 25 degrees with almost no snow in the woods. Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow this morning which predicted an early spring. The brilliant morning sun cast long shadows in my woods.


I fired up the chainsaw and spent over an hour dissecting the crosshatching of trees on the ground just over the hill to the east.


I won’t be hanging up my chainsaw any time soon. I’ll work out as long as I can do it. I simply won’t require myself to do it every day.


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