Mi Casa, Su Casa: Just Keep Going…

What a challenging year 2020 has been! We have had to adapt to covering a part of our faces, social distancing, isolation, self-quarantines, closures, and lockdowns. Most of us have experienced serious illness or the death of loved ones.

During times of turmoil, adversity, and limitations, we are forced to look beyond our normal daily routines and regimens to find something new. Ideally, something new should be both personally fulfilling and rewarding and provide a healthy counterbalance to our new reality.

I retired this year after fifty-two years in the workplace. The global pandemic and its effect on my beloved restaurant industry caused me to retire eighteen months before my target date. Suddenly here I was without a career focus, under a shelter in place order, unable to travel, socialize, and suffering the emotional weight and sadness of friends and family perishing from the dreaded virus. An outlet was necessary to preserve my mental, emotional, and physical health.

Years of sitting in an office with limited mobility and drained energy in the evening had left my body achy, my muscles lax, and my weight and girth much more than it should be.

Suddenly there was plenty of time on my hands and more than enough energy to begin a serious effort to turn back the clock and begin to restore my body. To help work off the stress of the new 2020 reality was an added bonus.

A friend and neighbor is a personal trainer and conducts virtual strength training classes at extremely affordable prices. Her classes were my opportunity to begin my journey.

Classes are twice a week and 40 minutes long. They are strenuous without a doubt. There are about fifteen ladies, primarily seniors participating in each class.

In the beginning, there were exercises I could not complete, moves I could not execute, and times I was so winded I had to stop to catch my breath. I wondered if I would ever catch up with the rest of the class. There were mornings I dreaded getting out of bed for class. Nights my muscles would literally ache all over. But there was that small voice in my head that kept telling me to keep going.

Eventually, the routines began to get a bit easier for me. I moved up to heavier weights, and my overall endurance improved.

Then the most miraculous thing happened; my body began to change! This just shy of seventy body began to tone and tighten. My muscle memory kicked in, and my biceps and calves became more defined. Even the dreaded back fat disappeared. I could literally feel my abs when moving, and the belly fat fell away. I became strong and can bend and stretch in ways I never thought I would reclaim. Clothes fit differently. I’m inches smaller, fifteen pounds lighter so far. When I walk, I feel muscle moving my body along. I can get up and down from to and from the floor effortlessly. I can push myself strenuously and not become out of breath.

Walking has become a part of my workout routine, as well. We average between five and seven-mile walks twice a week with a group of dynamic, accomplished, and fascinating women. Moving at about fifteen to eighteen miles an hour, we chat and admire the scenery and architecture. We motivate one another to be stronger, faster, and better with every walk. We have become a village, and we have established a fellowship of Sisters committed to navigating this time in our lives in a productive manner. We are improving our bodies and preserving our mental and emotional well being.

This Thanksgiving, we completed the 10k Thanksgiving Turkey Trot for charity.

It’s been six months since I began this journey. We can all take this time out in our lives to work on things we have previously neglected. You can change your body for the better at any point in your life. You can set goals and stick to them. You can improve your mental health through exercise, and you can find your village where you did not know one existed.

If I can do it, so can you. Find your village and just keep going…..


– Janis Merrill-Gipson,

Janis is a self-proclaimed domestic diva, living in her hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Janis is a chef, who loves to cook, an interior decorator, an art collector, a jazz fan, and an avid reader. She believes there are many layers and components that comprise living an enriched life. And Janis is here to share tips.

1 Comment

  • Reply January 8, 2021

    Tekla Syers

    Inspirational. You’ve made strengthening ourselves and increasing our flexibility sound so attainable and desirable. I’ll bet more than a few readers finished the article with a new commitment to fitness.

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