Have Weights, Will Travel – Making Weight Lifting a Part of Your Life

Have Weights, Will Travel – Making Weight Lifting a Part of Your Life

Sybil Holveck 2When Sybil Holveck contacted me, concerned that her husband had to work too hard carrying her suitcase full of dumbbells so that she could do weight lifting on their travels, I knew that I’d met a kindred spirit. She wanted to know when my Resistance Band Training DVD would be released so that she would only have to pack 2 elastic bands instead of numerous sets of dumbbells and ankle weights.

I was so pleased to meet someone as wild about weight lifting as I’ve been over the past twenty years. I completely related to Sybil not wanting to miss a workout and lose that newly built strength. In fact, I was embarrassed to tell anyone else that I’d done the same thing while traveling during the summer when I began strength training.

I was in my mid-forties when I discovered strength training (also called weight lifting) and couldn’t bear to miss a workout. Within the first few workouts, I was dazzled at how fast weight lifting produced results. I didn’t want to lose any of my strength gains while on vacation, so packed several sets of dumbbells between 5 to 10 pounds on the flight to see my family.

My dad gasped when he picked up my suitcase at the airport, “What do you have in here, rocks?”

“Uhhh, you’re pretty close, Dad, sorry!” (Ah, the days before those pesky airline weight restrictions.)

Being the perfect gentleman and strong guy that he is, there was no way that he’d let me lug that suitcase to the car. I left the dumbbells home the next year and brought resistance bands instead.

I first noticed Sybil on the National Osteoporosis Foundation Online Support Community, asking about what exercises would be best to help stop bone loss. After chatting back and forth with her a few times, I asked if she’d tell me her story about learning to strength train in her late 60s. I have the good fortune to meet very interesting women in my line of work and have wanted to feature some of them in an interview on my blog, so here’s the first one!

Newly Diagnosed – From Fearful to Proactive

Here’s Sybil’s story. “Unfortunately, in my youth I was pretty inactive.  I was a little overweight and a lot self-conscious, and not very well coordinated, so I was more sedentary than I wish I had been, even as a young adult.”

 “Years ago, when I first developed osteoporosis, I wasn’t terribly concerned, and just took the meds I was prescribed.  One year later, despite my faithfulness with my meds, my DEXA showed a dramatic drop in bone density and put me into the ‘severe osteoporosis’ range.”

1-Sybil with weights“At first when I learned I had “severe osteoporosis,” I was scared.  I knew I was subject to fractures, and read quite a bit about how to move safely, and make small lifestyle changes to reduce my risk of a fall.  But once I got past that point of fearfulness, I became more and more proactive, focusing more on the things I could do to become stronger, improve my balance, and my risk of fracture. My local doctor recommended a specialist, and I began reading up on the subject of bone health.”

Sybil’s Exercise Routine for Osteoporosis

“I learned that weight bearing exercise, especially strength training using weights and resistance bands, was one thing I could do to improve my chances of a longer, healthier life.  I researched different options, and have settled on doing strength training 2-3 times a week.  For me, what has worked best is exercising at home with Susie’s DVDs because they’re designed especially for persons with concerns about bone health.  It’s become a regular part of my evening routine.”

“Knowing that she is a certified personal trainer and even has a specialized interest in women my age with osteoporosis is enormously reassuring and encouraging to me.  Clearly she is making sure that the exercises in her DVD’s not only are safe for women in my situation, but are specifically designed to concentrate on bone health, balance and all the issues that impact my circumstances.”

“Even trying to work with personal trainers in my relatively small home town, I learned that they often don’t have the kind of specialized training in osteoporosis to appropriately evaluate what is both safe and helpful for me.  Plus the convenience of being able to do the exercises in the privacy of my home, at whatever time works best for my schedule that day, has kept me faithful to staying with it.  Not having been an active or athletic person in my youth, with this approach, I’ve slowly built up confidence to maintain a regular exercise routine that I feel certain will impact my health now and in the years ahead.”

“Additionally, I do a few minutes of yoga, designed for persons with osteoporosis every night before going to bed.  First thing every morning, I do a set of back exercises (5-10 minutes) given to me by a PT when I had back problems several years ago.  My back problems are now a thing of the past.”

Weight Bearing Cardio

“At one point, when under a lot of stress when my father was ill, I began walking in the neighborhood for exercise just to clear out the cobwebs.  I gradually walked more and more, got a walking partner, increased the distance and speed I walked, and I’ve been walking ever since…about 35 years now.   I currently walk for about 45 minute to an hour five days a week with a walking partner.  We walk in the mall every morning, and at every set of stairs we encounter (there are just about 6-7 steps in each “staircase”), we go down the ramp and up the stairs five times, which changes direction and give a little gentle “thump” to my bones.  (Our circling around at the stairs also amuses other mall walkers, who tease us about being caught in the “vortex!”)”

Fracture Free

“Fortunately, I’ve never had a fracture of any sort, despite my low bone density.  I continue to follow all the recommendations of my specialist, who is excellent.  Additionally, thanks to exercise and eating right, I feel very good, travel extensively, and have more confidence.”

More Active than the “Athletes” Now!

“I find it gratifying, after years of being embarrassed about being a little heavy and uncoordinated, that I find I am now more active than my counterparts who were always athletic.  In fact, I felt especially pleased to realize how very healthy and strong I am when I attended my 50th high school reunion this year. I’m gratefully blessed with no physical aches and pains.  I know many of these blessings are a gift from God, but I’m committed to making the most I can of the health He’s given me, and hope to live a very long, happy, healthy life.”

Sybil HolveckMaking Her Kids Proud

“In recent years, my adult daughter increased my awareness of healthy eating, so that’s become a big lifestyle change as well. One additional plus to my efforts at being healthy and exercising regularly…it has garnered admiration and respect from my adult children, who are quite proud of my efforts and pleased that we remain so active though about to enter our 70’s!”

Sybil’s an inspiration, isn’t she? She gets the double health benefits of socializing and exercising with her walking partner. She strength trains regularly for strong bones, stays flexible with yoga, and solved her back problems by keeping up with her physical therapy exercises. Adding those activities a little bit at a time helped her not get overwhelmed with too much, too fast. She’s been persistent, consistently making the time for exercise and it has added to the quality of her life.

Thanks for sharing your story with us, Sybil!

Feel free to leave a comment below about making exercise and weight lifting a part of your life. Thanks!



Comments (Scroll to the bottom to leave your comment)

  1. Great article. Thanks. I would just warn women to be very careful using bands. I hit myself in the face very hard with one one time.

  2. Thanks, Jackie, good advice, especially when the band is attached to a door or special holder. The whole thing can come down. With my band exercises in class and on the DVD, we don’t attach the band to a post or door so it doesn’t have the chance to snap like that. But, it’s important to always keep it away from your eyes.

  3. I agree, wholeheartedly, with Sybil’s observation that having Susie’s DVDs is great. Also, the fact that Susie is a certified personal trainer who knows and appreciates those of us who have reached “a certain age”, is comforting. We can trust Susie’s advice, and enjoy her gentle prodding that takes us to higher levels of fitness.

  4. What a wonderful article Sybil. You and I seem to be very much in the same boat—-age, severe osteoporosis. I too am very active with walking, into nutrition and a do few back exercises. I am crazy about both of Susie’s DVDs. I have no qualms about attracting attention to myself by exercising and stretching in public —- waiting at the airport or for my husband while he is browsing in the hardware store. I dance all by myself at outdoor concerts and in my kitchen. I pop up off the couch during every TV commercial and even during dinner just to fetch the pepper grinder. I try to cease every opportunity to move.
    I am wondering Sybil about your yoga for osteoporosis. ???
    And Susie, I sure would love a DVD with stretches and yoga.

  5. Thanks, Louise! Also being of that “certain age”, I have no choice but to make it work for all of us!

  6. Donna, I’m so impressed that you’ll exercise in public! Way to go! I’m always prodding my class participants to exercise in the airport, reminding them that they’ll most likely never see any of those people again, so what the heck!? Do some squats and lunges. It will entertain them.