advice · aging · fitness · sailing

Meet 25 year old Sam: She got some things right but others very much not when it comes to fitness

Sunday we hosted an end of summer BBQ in our backyard. That meant Saturday we were cleaning the basement putting some summer things away, taking out others.

Okay, we were drying and putting away sails for the season. After Jeff’s DNF due to rudder failure during the Lake Erie solo challenge, Tin Lizzie is home in Guelph for the season.

Drying sails in our backyard

In the middle of cleaning I got carried away with a box of old photos and correspondence, as one does. I found a letter to my parents from 25 year old grad school me in Chicago, a relic from life before children. Also back before email and social media. I would write letters on the computer, print them, add physical photos and mail them off to my family in Nova Scotia.

What was striking about this letter though is that it captured the beginning of my fitness journey. Boy did I get some things right. Boy did I get others things wrong.

At 25 I wrote to my parents to say that:

1. I was hanging out with a 55 year old faculty member who still, at her age, rode a bike and played squash. At her age! Geesh, 25 year old me, get a grip. Now I’m that 55 year old professor who still rides a bike. I’m wondering what the 25 year old grad students think. Still!

Miss you Dorothy!

About 14 years after grad school, my daughter Mallory and I visited Dorothy in New Zealand. She was still super active, hiking, dancing, and playing tennis. I began to see the advantages of an active life.

2. I was riding my bike pretty regularly on the Lake Shore bike path, sometimes riding as far as 26 miles. I aspired to ride a century, 100 miles. There was a ride called the Chicago century, Chicago to Wisconsin, and I told them I hoped to do that the following summer. This is notable because I was riding a pretty heavy hybrid bike back then. Also my beginning cycling ambitions were about to be interrupted by baby 1. Hello Mallory! It would be about 15 years before I rode a 100 miles. I didn’t do it on a hybrid either. The funny thing is until finding this letter I had no memory of distance ambitions prior to getting my first road bike in my 40s.

I couldn’t find any grad school pictures of me on a bike. No cell phone cameras yet. But here’s sleepy me and baby Mallory.

3. I was doing aerobics classes in the gym in our building, River City, three times a week and between that and bike riding feeling pretty fit.

“I surprise people a lot in the aerobics class because I’m far from skinny, a pretty constant size 14, but I can do the full 90 minutes with lots of energy and enthusiasm. Some new people, about half my size can’t, and I think that shocks them. I’ve heard women behind me making comments to that effect. I think it’s good to break the tight association between being thin and being fit.”

Go 25 year old Sam! Size 14 then, same now.

4. I was out on the water pretty regularly on boats of various shapes and sizes and configurations due to Jeff working for Sailboat Sales in Chicago. I went lots of years in the middle without sailing and now with Snipe racing at Guelph Lake and sailing Tin Lizzie, it’s back in my life again. A special surprise finding this on a day I’m busy flaking sails once again.

Dear 25 year old me: You will eventually ride a century. At 55 you’re still singing the “fat can be fit” song. And your views about aging will change.

River City. One of the places I lived in Chicago while attending graduate school there 1988-1993.
25 year old me, sailing.
25 year old me waking up on the boat, peeking out of the companionway in the morning.

One thought on “Meet 25 year old Sam: She got some things right but others very much not when it comes to fitness

  1. I love this. I’m pretty sure my 25 year old self would have nothing at all to say about fitness, since I was well into my smoking/ eating/ working all the time/ beer drinking trajectory that lasted until I was 30. Go 25 yo Sam!

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