Grief is a sacred journey

Exercise: A Path to Self Transformation

Elaine and Vic Mansfield with strength training equipment

Vic and Elaine with a little equipment, 2001.

At the age of 55, I made peace with my body. Despite good health habits, I was on a downhill slope, feeling older, weaker, softer, and more uncomfortable in my skin each year. I already had a healthy diet, walked intensely, and did yoga, but I was missing a major component of exercise. I was not actively working to build and maintain muscle.

Strength training changed that.

My husband, Vic, and I began strength training in 2000 and supported each other’s transformation. It was inspiring to have a committed training buddy. Vic died on June 3, 2008 after putting up a mighty two-year battle against an aggressive and incurable lymphoma. He never gave up trying to maintain physical strength. In 2007, I wrote about his strength training successes and his nutrition and complementary health plan. I hope the articles help you when you need to do all you can to stay strong.

I kept up routine exercise during his two years of illness. Even when I couldn’t strength train  – due to his hospitalization and my exhaustion – I took long walks in all weather and returned to strength training and vigorous aerobics when he was home. In honor of Vic, my training partner, I resumed a full schedule of strength training not long after his death, although it’s been harder to maintain my discipline without him at my side. Still, I keep exercising because I know I need a warrior’s strength to face the upheaval of his death.

Strength training is a journey that will last for the rest of your life, dramatically changing your body and psyche. Begin slowly and safely. Understand what works so that you can use your precious time efficiently. I’ve found that my main motivation comes from the way my body feels and looks. You can’t miss the fact that I’m a transformed woman.