By: Donna Tagliaferri  
This blog is an excerpt originally posted on My Life from the Bleachers.

This morning I showed up promptly at 7:50 am for my 8:00 am stress test the cardiologist insists I need, along with an ultrasound tomorrow.

Yuck…

However,this time I was taking my act to the bike, confident and caffeine free! I didn’t drink any Diet Coke or take an Excedrin. I was ready….

Ready, Set….Stop.

I took my medication, which includes a pill I cannot pronounce to slow my heart rate. I was not supposed to and when they asked if I read the papers they gave me, I had to say, “Papers? Nope.” I heard no caffeine and filed everything else away. I mean no caffeine for 24 hours…what would you hear after that?

Regroup and reschedule….sigh, so dumb not to read the instructions, but whatever.

Off to the gym, but on the way, I took time to think about my last 8 months and the journey it has been. Whenever I spend time in the cardiologist’s office, I go into a mental tailspin. There are people from every walk of life sitting in the waiting room with me. Some very, very ill, some on walkers, some on oxygen, some so overweight they can hardly move, some so thin they look like they will break in two…and some that look perfectly normal just like me that have scars only they know about. We are all equal there, none of our equality the same…but equal.

I drove to the gym without the radio…just alone with my thoughts on the journey and I went into the gym happy because every person there cares about me. They are all invested in my success. They know how hard my road has been because they have my medical records! They see me 3 times a week trying so hard to lift that kettlebell, bang those heavy ropes, and sprint on the elliptical. There have been times I really didn’t want to go, times that one last circuit was just too much. I have done so many squats, so many sit-ups, planks, and leg lifts. But getting up from a chair is easier and not being able to make me feel so old.

I can lift things, I can lift really heavy things. I am doing things I thought I would never do again.

I do admit I have called my trainers “Caligula.” I am the biggest complainer….And I often, I feel like Sisyphus. But I am better than I was 8 months ago.

There are tons of success stories at the gym. My friend Brian is sticking his finger in the eye of age and has recorded 18% body fat. 18%! When he left the gym the other day, he went straight to hockey. He can do that because he works out. There is my friend Crystal who is on her feet 10 hours a day, she works out so she can work. When I first started working out, my core was nonexistent because of my surgery….today my posture is so much better, my endurance is better, and I know I’m not as worried about getting older. My blood pressure goes from 144/83 before I work out to 119/77 after I work out. (For me lower blood pressure is key -high blood pressure will cause big problems with my aorta.) A combination of lifting weights and cardio is the key….and your life will be so much better!

Then there is Gene Carrejo, the owner of the gym…He is a happy, effervescent man in his 60s who is there every day. He doesn’t ask anything of us that he doesn’t do himself so he works out right alongside us, sweating and hoping to make it through the circuit. Our trainers, Caligula (Sarah, Anthony, and Joshua) treat him and his lovely wife Lisa, just like us.😓 I asked him today to share his fitness journey (which you can read here).

This process has been such a blessing to me; hard, hard work but a blessing. With so many people invested in my success, I know I will eventually get to all my fitness goals. I have achieved a great many so far, but as they say, “Life isn’t a destination, it’s a journey!” So wherever you are on your journey, please keep moving and don’t stop. For me getting older is a blessing that was almost taken away so I don’t mind the aging process at all. I also know for a fact that working out is a price I am willing to pay so I can have a few more birthdays. I can validate every excuse you may have because I have used each one, but working out is better, lifting weights is better……it’s a better way to live.

Now get out there and move!!!