Chronologically, I am 61 years of age. In my head, however, I’m still convinced I’m in my 40s. Early 40s. Like 40. Or rather, I was, right up until the day about a month ago when I looked down and wondered who swapped out my legs for these old-lady chicken legs I was looking at. I mean, come on! I don’t belong to a gym since I’m pretty darned active: I walk a lot of mountain land and ranch properties, I’m at our barn every. freakin. morning. I carry water buckets (40 pounds apiece, in case you want to know), I schlep 65-75-pound bales of hay, carry 40-50-pound bags of feed, and I scoop poop and dump it on a big ol’ pile. In other words, I do stuff every day that should keep me in shape. I’ve always bragged about my “freakishly strong upper body strength” and claimed to be “small but wiry.” On average, I have that magical goal of 10,000 steps done before 10 am. And yet, here we are—those days have gone the way of the 3 percent interest rate, and who knew skinny legs could get so much cellulite?
So, it is apparently time for a new regimen. I have friends who do Pilates, yoga, Crossfit, cardio and weight training. I figured I could certainly modify my morning chores to incorporate some intentional activities that would address these trouble spots. Plural. (Oh, yeah, my upper arms are also a wee bit jiggly, and somebody better give me a really good answer as to where this developing belly pooch is coming from. Although, if we’re friends on Facebook and you’ve seen the photos of how we’ve been eating lately, I may have answered that question myself.)
First up, I thought, let’s kill several birds with one stone in the form of the aforementioned water buckets. As I said, a full 5-gallon water bucket at 8 pounds per gallon weighs 40 pounds. (One of my brothers-in-law was a scoutmaster; he taught me a bunch of little fun facts like that.) Since I’m normally filling them up in the barn and then carrying them out to the various runs, I had this great idea to combine weight training AND cardio. How about lunges with the buckets? And, given our less than even terrain, that will add an extra level of difficulty, right? Well, I’m sure by now you’ve seen the flaw in my plan, but in case you wondered, it takes exactly 2.5 lunges to completely slosh all 80 pounds of water out of two full buckets. Onto your pants. And into your boots. And most people would have realized this miscalculation and stopped after the first lunge, but I’m no quitter.
Plan B became to carry a full bucket in both hands in front and with each step alternate between raising the bucket above chest level and lowering back down to hip level. While sucking in your stomach to get some isometrics going there as well. This was a fantastic plan until I realized I’m apparently so out of shape that I can only do one repeat before I need to rest. Which would be fine if I had three hours available to carry six water buckets to their assigned locations.
So, since I apparently live to entertain, this is now what our neighbors (and the construction crew working on the new house next door) get to see if they’re peeping out their windows or driving by:
—I do leg lifts while filling the buckets—makes me feel like I’m multitasking.
—I carry each bucket individually, and when
I get to the destination, I halfheartedly lift it to my chest three times if I’m feeling really dedicated.
—I do lunges on the way back into the barn, but need to stay near the fence to hold on as I’m now of an age where apparently
I tip over easily.
—I suck in my stomach while mucking stalls. When I remember.
Here are some additional ideas for barn gym equipment that you likely already have:
—Hay bales do double duty for both cardio and strength when used for dead-lifting, tossing, or as a handy-dandy step workout.
—A Bernzomatic torch serves as a great substitute for the traditional “Soup Can Tricep Workout.”
—When mucking stalls, alternate which arm leads in the shoveling; be an equal opportunity mucker. Also, run the bucket to the muck pile with enthusiasm and gusto for extra cardio points.
—Set up a pulley with a rope, a bar, and tractor weights to make your own lat bar pulldown. (Credit for this goes to my superhubby. Not that it’s actually installed yet, but his intentions are good.)
—Finally, if you’re up for a truly spectacular cardio workout, accidentally leave the paddock gate open, letting 15 alpacas and
2 big dogs run like they just served a year in solitary, and then try to round them up and get them back in. Hours of fun and exercise for the whole family. Literally. Hours.
I wish you all the happiest of holiday seasons with your loved ones, and I’d love to hear how you incorporate these handy tips into your New Year’s resolutions. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!