I feel very fortunate to have had great role models all my life who show up to guide me when I need it the most.

As I age, I understand how those people have shaped my view of the world and play (exercise).

I’ve always accepted in my life that physical activity is part of my day – whether I walk my dog, run for fun, chill with yoga or power up with a functional workout or even carry my groceries home from the store.

You could say play is in my DNA.

Sometimes when I feel less like showing up, I have to look at my mother for motivation.  

My mother has always been one to be on the move daily and feels good about it. Whether it was housework, playing golf, going to aquafit or skiing, she was never one to go to the gym.

Several years ago, in her early eighties, my Mom herniated a disk in her lower back. It was the Spring of 2014, and she was hanging her laundry on the line outside in the fresh air like she usually does.

She went to reach a little further than usual, and my Mom felt her back seize up. She crawled into the house to get help.

Never one to complain, I knew it was serious when she needed to go to emergency for some pain killers.  

Being a personal trainer and health coach, I practice what I preach in listening to my body. Pain isn’t healthy – it’s our bodies’ way of telling us something is wrong. In my mother’s case, the pain was debilitating, and pain killers weren’t helping.

An MRI revealed the extent of the damage in her back.  The diagnosis was that surgery was too risky because of her age and high blood pressure. Little did we know at the time that a new blood pressure medication was slowly depleting her cells of sodium, which almost killed her. It was scary.

Luckily she survived.

My Mom would need physiotherapy and the daily practice of walking, strengthening and stretching to be able to function again.

While overwhelmed at first, slowly, she began the road to recovery. She’s never entirely pain-free, but she does show up consistently every day and does her exercises.

Exercise (play) keeps her functioning. It’s allowed her to keep her quality of life.

Showing up has saved her life. 

Now at 89 years old, she is still able to do most things. This week, she went on a hike with my daughter Meredith and me in Sedona, Arizona. Walking sticks in hand, my Mom was a bit slow at first, but as she got going, her pace and outlook changed. She felt truly alive.

What does this lesson mean to you and your health? How can you succeed?

It all starts with consistency. Show up—every day.

Keep playing!