• Maureen O’Shea at Torrey Pines

  • Sky Mountain Golf Course, Hurricane, UT

Renee and Gaetan in Florida

Renee and Gaetan in Florida

My daughter, Colleen, lives in the Canadian province of Quebec. And so does her mother-in-law.  Renee says she is going to live to be 100, and Colleen is convinced that she will because she takes great care of herself. This is a story about an #ActiveSenior and it’s part of my series to help convince seniors to get off the couch and get active!

Renee is 72. You know how I say that 78 is the new 65, well, with Renee’s 72 it’s definitely the new 60 – maybe 58. She’s someone who, like me, likes to get up in the morning and have breakfast, watches what she eats and drinks, takes care of herself, likes to do things,, and isn’t scared to try new things. For example: she was 60 when she first got her driver’s licence.


For any of you who don’t know about the Snowbird lifestyle of many Canadians and Quebecers in particular, let me fill you in. Renee is Gaetan’s “Blonde” and he is her “Chum”, – that’s the Quebec way of saying girlfriend and boyfriend. This retired couple spends around four of the winter months in Florida. They head south around the first week of November, and head back at the beginning of April.

They used to have a fifth-wheel trailer which they towed down the I-75 behind a Ford F-150 to camp in Homestead, Florida, just south of Miami. They did that until the land got sold and the campground became a condo project, around six years ago.

Then they tried another campground on Florida’s west coast, near Tampa, but found it wasn’t really their thing. Tampa weather wasn’t quite as nice as it had been around Miami, although the campground was chocker-block full of Quebecois and had a lot of great activities.

They then decided to get rid of the fifth wheel and the truck and try out renting for a season and they found that they love it. Now, they return each year to a one-bedroom apartment just north of Miami and enjoy their modified snowbird lifestyle. Close to the beach and shops, they’re able to keep active by walking nearly everywhere they go. On their daily “To-Do” list are daily walks on the beach, meeting up with friends along the way and enjoying the sunshine.

They have a home outside of Montreal, but from the middle of May to the middle of September, you’ll mostly find them in a campground just outside of Granby, Quebec, where they and a couple hundred others have a trailer parked permanently on the site. Some of the campground’s residents take advantage of their summer retreats by building decks, gazeboes, fire pits and water displays on their properties, and everyone keeps their area clean and tidy.

Campground Life

Campground life has its own rhythm. There’s Bingo every Friday night which Renee volunteers to work at (while Gaetan sometimes plays), a 50/50 draw on Saturdays that can net you a nice paycheque if you’re lucky – but it’s the fitness activities she really loves.

The campground’s swimming pool was just renovated, and there is aqua fitness lead by a volunteer when it’s sunny and warm outside. But what Renee is really excited about is the low-impact aerobic class held in the campground’s main hall.

It’s the first time this class has been offered and, like the aqua fitness, it’s run by a volunteer, twice a week. Since May 15th, she’s lost 10 pounds, lost an inch around her middle, toned her arms to lose some of her chicken wings, and has even more energy than ever before. Someone in the class has a pedometer and the men and women who participate move the equivalent of 5 kilometres each class.

Colleen asked Renee if she would video a portion of the class for the blog, and Renee did. The class is attended by both women and men, and when Colleen asked her where there are so few seniors participating, Renee shakes her head.

“I don’t know. I don’t understand why people don’t give it a try. They can go at their own pace, and it’s really fun.”

Hooray for Renee. She’s a great example of an #ActiveSenior who is a great role model, who realizes that you really need to take care of yourself as you get older, and she does.

Are you an #ActiveSenior? Let me know, tell me your story.

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Tara Lago North and South

Terra Lago North and South

One of the oddest couples I’ve met on a golf course was at on the North Course of Terra Lago, in Indio, California in December of 2012.  It can get cold there in the Coachella Valley at night in wintertime, and when we got to the course, Terra Lago was feeling the chill.

The Pro Shop had issued a frost delay and no one was allowed on the course until it had been lifted. While waiting, and waiting and waiting for the sun to come out and burn that nasty frost away, the boys in the Pro Shop had to figure out what to do with all the golfers that had signed in and were waiting to play, with all their now-delayed tee times.

To fit everyone in, they decided to make it a shotgun start, which would take place one hour after the frost was gone.

When the sun came out, it was toasty warm – warm enough to be wearing shorts and a tee shirt.  My friend and I were sent to the 6th hole for the shotgun start, where we were paired up with two women.  The thing was, neither of these women were dressed like golfers. Both were dressed like they were heading through a full-blown snowstorm in northern Saskatchewan!  They wore heavy scarves on their heads and around their necks, they wore bowler-style hats on top of the scarves, full-length winter coats, and woollen pants with running shoes.

My friend and I hit good, long tee shots and we returned to our cart while the first woman got up on the tee. It took quite a few swings and misses later, until she finally hit the ball – about 15 feet.  Then she went to where the ball was, picked it up, went back to the tee box, re-teed her ball, then tried to hit it again.

When she finally hit it again, it didn’t go that much further – maybe 30 feet.  Now it’s time for the other woman to tee off, but she’s busy, fumbling in her bag for a couple of minutes more, before she finally gets on the tee.

The second woman is just like the first. She swings and swings, has more tries and misses and then finally she hits the ball – about 40 feet.

I drive our cart down the fairway, and parked it across from the 30 foot ball. Would you believe, the woman swings and misses again and finally shanks the ball and it lands under our cart!  I knew this was more than hilarious and I knew that if I didn’t do something, and quick, I was going to laugh out loud!

We knew that the course was being held up with this slow play so I told them we had to go on ahead, and they could play as a twosome. We hurried to the green and putted and were quickly off to the 7th tee box.

It was their first time on a golf course. Both of these women had just retired from school teaching and decided the day before that they should take up golfing, and what better place to start than Terra Lago!

I hope they went for lessons.


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Today as part of my series on why seniors should get off the couch, I’m going to talk about why embracing discipline is important.

For pretty much all of my life, I’ve had the very same routines. I get up early in the morning and eat breakfast. Then, I get dressed and ready for the day. At lunchtime, I eat lunch, and at suppertime, I eat supper. I don’t snack between meals, generally, and although I love butter tarts and peanut butter cookies, those are occasional treats. Fruit and fresh vegetables are always a part of my daily routine as a senior. Having the same routines is discipline.

The same thing applies to my clothes. If I’m going golfing, when I come home, I take off my golf clothes, put them away and put on the clothes for the occasion ahead: dressy if I’m going out, or casual if I’m staying at home. I keep my clothes neat and organized and always have. Keeping things ordered is discipline.

I have a couple of different ways that I incorporate fitness when I’m at home.

The Tony Little Gizelle Trainer

I bought a Tony Little Gizelle trainer in 2004.  It wasn’t very expensive – around $175.00 – and I like it because it is elliptical and there is not the pressure on my feet that I got from using a treadmill.  I guess you could say that it is not a high calorie burner but it has helped me keep in shape as I need to move my arms and my legs to make it work. I usually work out on it for 15 or 30 minutes, 3 or 4 times a week.

The Jane Fonda Fit & Strong DVD

Jane Fonda's Fit & Strong DVD

Jane Fonda’s Fit & Strong DVD

Five years ago, I purchased a DVD by Jane Fonda called Fit & Strong. Fit & Strong contains two low-impact routines designed to build strength, burn calories and feel energized.  Each combines a workout and stretching routine that takes about 25 minutes. I wanted to do some weight lifting and I knew that if I followed Jane Fonda on my TV from my DVD I would be doing this properly. Now I have to admit that I don’t do this work out every day but I keep a monthly calendar where I keep track of the days I do it – usually 3 or 4 times a week!

Jane is, of course, famous for her workout DVDs and having had a knee replacement, she had to make adjustments in her own life and passed these changes on to us in this DVD.  I am not as strong as I used to be but I can do this work out with three pound weights and I FEEL STRONG AND ENERGIZED when I’m done.
If I do this work out before I golf I can tell the difference right off the first tee that I hit the ball better and longer.  Flexibility is the key to any golf swing and Jane Fonda’s Fit and Strong Workout has certainly helped to keep me turning  180 degrees in my swing.  Stretching is imperative to keep the cramps away from your limbs as well and the Jane Fonda has you stretching before and after the work out.

I’m someone who is able to work out on my own: it was not till I started golfing on a regular basis that I realized I enjoyed working out by myself instead of in a group. I know we are not all like that – many cannot be motivated to do exercise by themselves.  I hired a fitness trainer and had an evaluation for what I needed to do to keep MY body fit.  This was one of the smartest things I ever did as I knew that weights were an important part of fitness and I was afraid to use them without advice for my particular body and what goals I had. As for my fitness routine, that’s discipline too.


If you are not motivated to work out on your own, then find fitness classes at a recreation centre and get a friend or two to go with you so it’s hard to forget to go, and try to put that on your priority list.  If you think you can manage to work out on your own, buy a DVD workout that you are happy with  – or, if you live in a condo with fitness room, . Check out your local library: sometimes they stock workout DVDs and you might be able to find one you like there.

In your work life or the head of a busy growing family, you needed discipline to accomplish your tasks. Think about fitness as something you need to add to your weekly “to-do” list – and mix it up with the activities you like to do. If you like swimming, add it to your list. If you like walking, add that too. You don’t need to go too far or workout for too long of a period of time: you can increase your distance over time.

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Ruth and Maureen - Home in Calgary

Ruth and Maureen – Home in Calgary

We’re back in Calgary! It’s so hot in my condo that I have the air conditioning on full blast. That’s why I’ve thought about naming this post Home, Sweat Home instead of Home, Sweet Home. But home we are.

Looking Back

Ruth and I planned to meet in Toronto and, in a week or so, drive back to Calgary.  That’s not exactly what happened. It turned into a 30-DAY EXPEDITION to put it mildly!  We had already had an adventure with a lot of miles even before we left Ontario. And once we left Ontario, the road trip really began, but it was leisurely. We stopped. We shopped. We golfed even more than we’d expected. In fact, we had so much fun and games that now I will have to read my blog from day one to remember everything that happened!

I have learned a lot and met a whole bunch of interesting people.  Not only “friends of Ruth’s” but total strangers that became fast friends – like Renee in Eau Claire and Bill and Ryan at the Keg Steakhouse in Regina — who were so impressed that we were on a road trip and I was blogging about it that I think they made me blush! Both Ruth and I love to talk to people at the next table, people who wait on you and people waiting in line. And we found that where ever we went, people like to talk back to us and some of them, you end up adopting for a little bit of time, even if it’s ten minutes, or half an hour.

I never thought that I had any writing talent but I have found that writing every day has helped me to put my thoughts on paper (or I should say online).  My darling daughter Colleen has been not only a fantastic editor of my writing but has pushed me to do better with every blog.  It’s all in the editing that is for sure. She takes some of the harried posts I’ve sent her and has added dimension and made them flyToday was an easy drive from Medicine Hat to Calgary, Alberta as we arrived here around noon.  We had one stop at the Tim Hortons in Langdon for a snack.  I want to give a shout out to that branch of Tim’s as it was very good and I highly recommend their Dark Roast coffee.

Tim Horton's in Langdon

Tim Horton’s Dark Roast Coffee

Our adventures aren’t over, though, we have a dinner party to go to on Friday night, and now the planning needs to begin for the next trip. I’m thinking about competing in the Huntsman World Senior Games once again in St. George, Utah in October – I played competitive golf last year and am thinking about doing the same thing again this year.

My carry-on suitcase has proven to me that if you think about what you pack, a carry-on is sufficient for everything I needed for 30 days. It’s now empty and awaiting my next trip.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my road trip adventures as much as I have had in writing them!

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