I asked for it. I really did. I wrote down my goals for health and wellbeing and guess what, I got what I asked for! I wrote, “I am strong, toned and fit” as if it were already true. There are many benefits in having stamina and being strong. And there are many different ways to get there. What matters is that your path to physical strength is right for you.

Once upon a time, I could bench my body weight, climb any tree, go all day and never tire. And then came children, responsibility and work. The last upper body strength I ever had disappeared along with the stroller. I want to be strong again. I like feeling strong. I like how my clothes look and feel on my body when I am strong and toned. I also like the extra calorie burn that comes with muscles because I love to eat! But, I am not a gym rat. So lifting weights is not really something I will maintain. I like being outdoors and I like to swim.

The benefits of toning, strengthening, and increasing stamina are many. I am sure you’ve read about them before: increased self confidence, improved appetite and sleep, more energy, increase secretion of dopamine and serotonin, decrease in stress hormones cortisol, epi and norepinephrine. There is also the improved insulin sensitivity, better sugar handling, and better digestion and elimination. What’s not to love about getting fit? Oh, right, the actual work of it!

So, how’d I do it, in a month? My husband had a total knee replacement on Dec 19, 2018 and the snow started falling on Dec 21, 2018. In these 30 days, we’ve had about 6’ of snow at our house. And since we live in a long, ranch style house with wrap around decks and a long driveway, that is a lot of snow to shovel. And then there is the avalanche of snow off the roof when the sun comes out. That can add an additional 3-4 ft of snow, mostly ice, once you thought you were done for the day. I won’t lie; I’ve had help. My bonus son has come over several times to help me run the snowblower, shovel and move the icebergs that fall from the roof. I had a total meltdown on week 2. Caregiving for my husband, 3 ft of snow in 5 days while researching and writing a 6 hour presentation was just too much. So, my bonus son took over for a day. Seeing the decks and drive clear was a huge relief.

Shoveling snow has increased my core strength, toned my waist a little and really helped strengthen my shoulders. Do squat, lift and dump the snow. Using your legs, will decrease the stress and strain of the back muscles. Running the snowblower, affectionately named, The Beast, has strengthened my arms, and shoulders by leaps and bounds. When I started, I could barely clear the driveway. I was tired, often, and weak. It took my 2 weeks to be able to use The Beast and still have enough energy to shovel all the decks. I recommend rest between sets, with food and lots of water! But now, 4 weeks into winter, I am strong. My swimming and skiing have improved. I have more stamina to stay and play! And I feel good, really good.

So, that’s how to increase strength and stamina and begin the toning process in 30 days. I got what I asked for, in a way that was powerful for me. Outside work. Manual labor gave me an outlet, as caregiving is not for sissies. I realized how truly strong my husband is in mind, body and spirit, I met and exceeded my own boundaries and I bonded a little with my bonus son. Be careful what you ask for, The Universe is listening.