As most of you know ,I am a very busy person at work and at home. It has always been a struggle to balance taking care of everyone else (and their animals) and myself. I’ve never really made time for myself. My physical health and mental well-being are always taking the proverbial back seat. The years have taken their toll on my body, especially my back. Pulling calves and kneeling under horses to sew up cut legs and wrestling with goats and other critters had me nearly crippled and living on ibuprophen, caffeine and B vitamins just to keep me going; until recently that is. Paige, a friend of mine, is an avid swimmer. She would swim 4 days a week at the local YMCA. When she moved to this area, she joined the Y in Albemarle. I thought to myself “I used to belong to the Y.” I was always busy and ended up paying for a monthly membership that I rarely used. I could never get anyone to go with me when I was free and it seemed that no matter what, I was always interrupted by an emergency or a phone call. Consistency was just not possible. So we cancelled it.

One day she invited me to go with her….at 6am! She would go before work and swim for a half hour then shower, change clothes and go to work. Hmmm, go early? That could work. I mean who needs sleep right? I would have to go to bed earlier, or at least try to anyway. So I did it. That was in July. I love it and I am still doing it. I would get my stuff ready and get up at 5:30am. Its a short drive to the Y for me. I was in the pool at 6am and would swim for about 30min, then get ready for work. The first few times I went were pitiful. After just a few laps (140 ft per lap) I was done; winded and dizzy Later that day I felt strangely energized. It was a good feeling. Every day I got better and I could swim for longer and longer. Pretty soon I was maxing out my 30min at a half mile (18 laps). That was all I could fit in that time frame. My solution was to get there earlier. The pool opens at 5:30am. Now I set my alarm for 5am. I still get my stuff ready the night before and leave my house in the dark, but I have a full hour in the pool. If I really push it, I can fit a mile in that time (36 laps). That is still very slow compared to some of my fellow poolmates. Gina (a friend and client) swims 2 miles in just a little over my hour. Paige can easily fit a mile into that time without having to really push it if she chose to. The pool is peaceful and forgiving. It supports you without causing pain. I use my whole body without punishing my knees or back. Its great. After about 2 weeks I realized that my back wasn’t hurting. I was more relaxed in all my muscles. I could run to the truck without getting winded. My mind even clears somewhat under the water. Its quiet. Best part about it….My phone does not usually ring at time of day. No cell phones in the pool. I leave it my locker for 1 hr a day at a time when most people are alseep. Its awesome!

So, the take home message from this is two fold: First, find what works for you and allows you to be healthy. I highly recommend swimming (especially for those with knee and back problems). Second, if you call my office/cell phone between the times of 5:30am and 6:30am, you will get my voicemail. It will be on vibrate, sitting in a locker at the YMCA. Which begs the question, “If a cell phone rings in a locker and there’s no one around to hear it….does it make a sound?”