Monday, January 21, 2008

Step-It-Up A Notch

Cheryl and year-round Floridian, Kornelia, kayaking on the Indian River, Vero Beach, Florida

Walking and jogging at Olander Park, Sylvania, Ohio

While I am spending the winter in Florida, I am hanging out with some new-found friends who live in Florida year round. It is amusing that they will spend their evenings at home cuddled up in a blanket on the couch. Meanwhile, I am outside in shorts and bare feet. Yesterday I went kayaking with two year-round residents who were dressed in long pants and fleece jackets. I was in shorts and bare feet again. Afterwards, when we were were making plans for our next paddle, one of them suggested that we wait until it warms up a bit. It was 71 degrees! (Kornelia has since corrected me that with the wind-chill factor it was much colder....about 62 degrees!)

It's what we get use to, isn't it? In Toledo I will spend November and December evenings on the couch wrapped up in a blanket even though I am next to a blazing wood burner. We just need to burrow a bit; the shorter days and longer nights are our bio-rhythmic signal to slow down regardless of the ambient air temperature.

We have been gaining day light since the winter solstice nearly a month ago, so it is time to step-it-up a notch. It is important for the body to start moving more again. Get outside a bit. The outdoor air is essential to clear our heads and fill our lungs with "essence of oxygen." It will invigorate you.

There are several ways to get outside in winter in the Toledo area.
The Metroparks ( has dozens of trails to walk or cross-country ski, and believe me, I miss those opportunities to ski (but I did go 5 times before leaving for Florida).
Olander Park in Sylvania has a walking program called the Frosty 150 which runs until April 30. It is an honor incentive program with an achievement award extended to those who complete the milage. Pick up a log at the information box outside Nederhouser Community Hall or phone 419-882-8313 (
The Sylvania Senior Center has an indoor walking program which utilizes the Tam O'Shanter Sports Center. If you are 55 or older, whether you are from Sylvania or not, you can use the fitness center at the Sylvania Senior Center for free (419-885-3919). There is a volunteer fitness instructor from Wildwood Athletic Center who comes on Fridays from 12 to 1. She will help you get started on the weight machines and elipticals, teaching you proper form and routines to meet your goals. Say Hi! to Jill, it is so kind of her to give her time and expertise.

If you want to be with a fun bunch of people who go outdoors all the time regardless of the weather, become a member of Hosteling International-Toledo Area ( or phone the activities chair, Pat Squire 419-243-7680). It cost less than $30 for the year to have at least one free, planned outing each week, usually walking or bike riding. These people got me started riding bicycle, and now I am doing triathlons.

I want to mention Transformations Institute. I haven't done any of their programs, training or retreats yet, but I know the woman who started it, Pat Altvater, and she is dynamic. If you are looking at weight loss beyond dieting, she has a multi-media program to change behavior, choosing health for the mind, body, and spirit. There is a fitness connection, FIT, which you can find more information about on the web (

Now you will have no excuse not to be ready to hike with me in the spring. We are going to do the 17 mile trail at Oak Openings Preserve on the 17th of April and May, and September and October. It's easy to remember the date, right? 17 miles on the 17th. I'll have a healthy lunch and energy bars to keep you going. (But I can figure a way for you to cut off at 8 miles if you insist!).

There are 2 backpacking trips coming up too; May 3-4, and October 11-12. These are for women only, experienced or not. Imagine completing the 17 mile trail in 2 days with a self-contained backpack loaded with tent, food, and clothing. If you are a decent walker and don't have back problems, you can do this. I've led dozens on this trail, ages 12 to 70.

Then we have an out-of-town cross-training camp. The best part about this is its a home on a beautiful lake surrounded by woods in northern Michigan. This is for women of all abilities, and will include choices like mountain biking, running, swimming, nature hikes, kayaking,yoga and campfire chats about fitness, healthy foods, and athletic training. Joyce Donaldson, coach and Olympic triathlon officiator, will co-lead this fitness booster on May 29, 30, 31 and June 1. See for more information or contact me at

I know of a sure way to keep me fit and that is to plan to enter one challenging athletic event per year. My goal is to do my best even if I have to walk to complete the event. This keeps me going with some training goals all year long. The frosting is sweet---being around sweaty athletes and being called one myself!

If you feel a little fearful of the cold, take the time to read the article "Personal Best: Too Cold to Exercise? Try Another Excuse" in the New York Times, Health/Fitness & Nutrition, January 17, 2008 ( I fully agree with the physiologists....keep moving, the body generates the heat to keep you warm. Just stay dry and be aware of hazards like frostbite and hypothermia. Understand that cold air does not induce asthma; dry air does.

Step-it-up a notch and rev-up the body thermostat. The cool air will feel like a summer breeze on your rosy cheeks.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Calendar Butterfly 2008

My husband and I were stacking firewood on the back porch a couple of days ago in below- freezing weather. Dan noticed a battered, brown butterfly on the ground. We took a closer look and could see the wings moving slowly. Apparently we had disturbed its overwintering site in the logs. Eager to get the wood loaded and consequently, without giving it much thought, I put the butterfly in a cool room in the house, tucking it into a plant, and I returned outside to finish loading wood.

Back indoors I had forgotten about the butterfly until a few minutes later when it fluttered weakly across my shoulder. There are 23 windows in the house. The butterfly, with no assistance, chose the window with the Christmas angel on the outdoor sill. Even in its slumbering condition, the butterfly was hard to approach with my camera. I did get these few photographs and researched it in a small guide book from the Ohio Division of Wildlife, Common Butterflies and Skippers of Ohio.

Don't the photos compare well with the guide book? It is a Mourning Cloak Butterfly (Nymphalis antiopa) which has a 3-4 inch wingspan. It prefers wooded habitat near water; my wooded yard with the watergarden and creek is similar. The flight period is April to September and it is a hibernating butterfly. Late summer adults may live eight months which is longer than any other Ohio non-hibernating resident. The mourning cloak is often seen on warm, sunny, early spring days flying around and basking in wooded clearings. One of its behavioral traits is that it is hard to approach and photograph, which I found to be true even in its sleepy state.

Once I realized that it was a hibernating butterfly (what else could it have been, duh?), I returned this little angel to the outdoors, gently covering it with some leaves under the porch decking. This New Year visitor reminded me of how much I will always have to learn about the natural world. Maybe it will remind me again in April while it basks near me as I'm stooped in the watergarden, whispering to me, "You are four months into 2008; are you any wiser yet?"

That's optimistic, but.........wishing you an optimistic year too!