The New Year arrived with the usual amount of promise and excitement. I took  time to reflect on the previous year and decided that I am happy to see 2016 in my rear view mirror. I had a lot of fun, but medical issues and family deaths certainly did take center stage. However, 2017 is here and I am determined to make this my best year yet.

Before moving into the plans for this year, let’s recap. Last year I broke a bone in January, healed, then decided to join a gym, which began my adventures in swimming. Yes, I finally found a form of exercise that I loved to do. I wasn’t very good at it, but I was working at getting better.

A couple of months into my new found athletic adventures (I can hear some of you chuckling), I broke another bone. Two broken ankle/foot bones in the same year prompted me to have a bone density scan, which the doctor said was “normal for a woman of MY AGE.” Since my bones were healthy, I made an appointment with my regular doctor to find out why they kept breaking. She ran a series of blood tests and called to say that they were all “normal for a woman of my age and WEIGHT.

To summarize, I am a healthy woman who easily breaks bones. Confused on how to proceed, I asked my doctor what I could do to stop breaking bones, since walking around in bubble wrap didn’t seem to be a practical solution (although my family did consider bulk ordering the stuff).

My doctor is a smart, thoughtful woman. She sat quietly with my question for about a minute and said “there are drugs that can help build bone, but I’m not inclined to go in that direction since your scans were normal.” I looked at her with this expression of hopelessness and before I could speak she said “you need to LIFT WEIGHTS”.

As the conversation continued, my doctor explained that HER female patients who lifted weights and took calcium and vitamin D had better success at building bone than those who took the drugs. She told me to hire a personal trainer for guidance and then to lift weights 3 days a week, every week, for the REST OF MY LIFE. I guess the look on my face must have said “are You on drugs”, because she followed up with “and do it faithfully.”

There I sat in the doctor’s office, facing the reality that my favorite form of exercise was not a bone-building exercise. Yep, the universe was really having a good laugh this time. Sort of like when you decide to finally focus on eating healthy and the next day a colleague brings a decadent chocolate cake to work.

The doctor said I could swim for the cardiovascular exercise, but I must also lift weights. How do I swim AND fit in weight lifting? I mean, I need sleep people. I can get a bit cranky without it.

The solution? I decided to get up at 4:20 am, otherwise known as the crap of dawn, so that I could be at the gym when it opens at 5:00 am to lift weights, swim, do my physical therapy exercises in the therapy pool and get to work by 8:00 am.

During a recent swim, I was thinking about this major change in my life, trying to find a shortcut. I really do like to sleep and getting up early isn’t fun. There has to be an easier way, right? After tossing that question around for several laps, I concluded that this needs to be my new lifestyle if I want to be healthy and quit breaking bones.

This blog, Tinkering With Success, is about becoming a better version of oneself. It appears that 2017 will be the year that I must focus on building bone, which means eating and exercising for health. In the coming year, what do you want to or need to focus on to become a better version of yourself? Do you want to learn a craft, practice singing, cook a soufflé or maybe play cards with friends? Give it some thought and then MAKE IT HAPPEN. Life is too short to be living life covered in bubble wrap. Bring on 2017, we’ve got this!