Friday, September 25, 2009

Fitness for Birding and Photography

Guest blogger, Bill of Wellness Reality and MGB Strength
Back in April, while I was on a birding trip at Clifty Falls, my brother, Bill, wrote a guest post for me on fitness and birding. Bill is a personal trainer, a fitness motivator and a wellness advocate, and he is very good at what he does, so check out another guest post by the very talented and funny, Bill…

Hey All You Birders!

I recently came across an interesting post on the web site Professional Photographer. The title of the post was “The Healthy Photographer: Injury Prevention Optimizes Business Success.” It is an excellent article, and a good reminder about how physically demanding both birding and photography is.

As some of you know, Kelly (aka “Peanut”) is my sister. I have learned quite a bit about strength training from trying to work around her various injuries. She does not talk about it much, but she was quite the athlete in her youth, plus a fall in the Black Forest of Germany did not help things. Anyway, I wanted to take a minute to remind everyone that now is a great time to begin focusing a bit more attention on your physical conditioning. (BTW – My first post to Kelly’s blog, “Will your fitness training enhance your birding experience today and tomorrow?” only received 6 comments. It’s OK, I didn't take it personally. My writing is not quite as captivating as Kelly’s, and I didn't have any cool photos. The article was posted on April 16, 2009 if you want to review it.)

I would like to share a story. Some time ago a gentleman in his early to mid thirties called me to get some information about my gym. He sounded nice enough and after we talked he said he needed to think about it. Some time passed, and he contacted me again, asking pretty much the same questions. It did not take long for me to realize that there was something he wanted to share with me, but for some reason he just could not. Eventually, I was able to convince the gentleman to come in, and just check it out.

One of the very first things I have people do when they start training is write out 10 reasons why they want to exercise (btw, “losing weight” never counts as it is too easy!) The gentleman started a routine and we were making progress, but he was having difficulty completing his top 10 list. I’d ask every session, and he would say “I’m working on it, almost done," etc….. I finally got to the point where I had to let him know that there was no way I could do my job unless I knew what he wanted to accomplish. After some thought on his part, it came out. It started with “I would like to be able to do ______________ again." That’s it!! That is what I am looking for--the emotion. In my opinion nothing ever starts or stops until an emotional attachment or detachment is made. This person was no different than any of us. A few years of sitting behind a desk, eating fast food and managing the stresses of everyday life had eventually taken away one of the life activities he enjoyed. He could no longer physically do it without pain and fatigue and the underlying feeling of sadness and failure.

I’m happy to say that this individual is now back doing what he enjoys when he has the time. The emotional connection is back, and his physical condition allows him to participate. The reason I write this is because what would you do, or how would you feel if you could no longer “bird” or photograph the birds you love to see? I’m sure a part of your identify is being a “birder.” If you take that away, you will have lost a piece of yourself.

If you’re not currently involved in a strength training program, now is the time to start thinking about it. It does not have to be super strenuous, just something that helps you maintain your muscle mass, flexibility, balance, and cardiovascular fitness.

One of the easiest locations to judge fitness is mountain hiking and birding, and if you add on a camera, multiple lenses, a tripod, and other accoutrements, you are really talking about a physical challenge. So, if any of your future adventures require climbing to higher altitudes to get a glimpse of a special bird, start planning now. It would be a shame to miss out on a lifer because weak quads or lack of stamina force you to stand at the bottom of the hill and tell everyone, “Go on without me. I have to sit this one out.”

Good Luck, and always, if you need any tips, please let me know.


Thank you, Bill!!! You're such a good brother!
Bill has a blog called Wellness Reality.
If you have any questions, feel free to email him.


Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Kel... Thanks to your brother for this great post. For me at age 67, I am still headed up that mountain!!! BUT--the ole' body doesn't always want me to go as far or as fast as I could 10 yrs. ago. I do know my restrictions ---but as long as I'm still going UP that hill, I guess that's a good thing.

Thanks Bill!!!
Hugs to you and your family, Kelly.

Penny said...

Thank your brother, at a few days off 70 I know more or less what I can and cant do any more but it is always better to push just that bit more I find or I wont do it, the injury to my knee has taken for ever to get better but as I head off for 'the big trip' for the last time things are getting better but also my ideas of what I will do while we are away are no where near what they would have been once and I will be content to sit and sketch, not race from place to place as I once would.
If you look on my second blog you will see a couple of bad bird photos, just for you Kelly.

DK Miller said...

Thanks for the good post on the importance of exercise. It's so easy to fall out of the habit but being fit and strong makes everything else easier.

karim said...

Good one on fitness and it helps a lot.

Karim - Mind Power

E said...

Very nice photos, Kelly, very interesting
insights from Bill. Thanks.

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Kelly. I look forward to catching up with your blog. Have a lovely w/end

Mary Ann said...

Hi Bill, thanks for the post on keeping fit. Yes, it's true--we cannot do all the things and go all the places we'd like unless we're in good enough shape.
Yesterday I was heading for a Sierra mountaintop with my hiking buddy. She and I hiked there about 10 years ago but didn't make it all the way to the top this time. We met some people about our age (70) coming up the same trail, and they asked how it compared to 10 years ago. We told them--"Steeper!" We resolved to get out and do it more often.
By the way, Bill, you probably don't know me, but I'm a Heiselmann. Your dad's Uncle Frank was my father; I'm Jim's sister.

Adrienne in Ohio said...

Hi Bill. I have actually been thinking about this very issue! My hubby was planning an exciting birding trip for us for my 40th birthday in December. There is altitude involved, and I am not ready. What should I do first?

I miss being in shape--kinda got out of the habit after knee surgery in '07.

MjB said...

Just a hypothetical case, of course, but do you have any advice for someone who is 40, exercises regularly, but has been plagued by constant pain from a bad lower back for two years? This friend of mine, as they say, has seen various doctors, received spinal injections, been beaten up by physical therapists, tortured by a chiropractor, etc. Mucking around in fields, wading in ponds and streams, and looking at warblers all cause additional pain. But alcohol and advil seem to help somewhat. Thank goodness. Or so my friend says.

Mary said...

Thanks for the encouragement to get more fit. I know I need it and I do notice when I am out lugging my camera around, how heavy it is and how it tires me at times. I have a bad knee and that slows me down from more serious walking, but I try to keep moving. It isn't easy to get back into shape once you are out. My doctor co-wrote a diet book (the Diet Docs) and would definitely like his patients to be more healthy! I'm working on weight at the moment but get discouraged easily. Just have to keep listening to messages like yours!

Dave Lewis said...

When you carry around a 15 pound camera for hours on end, being in good shape certainly helps a lot!

And people think birders are wimps, hah! Lets see them walk the distances and altitudes we do just to find a new bird.

Great post, Brother Peanut!

Susan Ellis said...

One of the reasons I love birding is that it forces me outdoors, taking long, sometimes strenuous walks,and being not just physically, but mentally, active as well -another really important facet of fitness.Good post!

Elaine said...

Good post! As we get older it becomes more and more important to keep our fitness up. Because of bad knees I have to work harder at it and keep my body moving and do as much as I can, but also work around the limitations that I have. Thanks, Bill, for the good advice.

Unseen Rajasthan said...

This Post is nice ! Your Brother has given a new direction !!Unseen Rajasthan

√ Abraham Lincoln said...

This would be something I can't get my body to do. Sometimes walking to the shop out back is a chore. Not looking forward to paradise anyways soon but then I never know.

I enjoyed this post.

Paula said...

Hi Kelly! The post is great ... thank your brother! Looking forward to your next blog!

Tina said...

Quite an interesting article/post and oh so true! More and more we forget about keeping ALL those muscle groups healthy and in shape!! Thanks for posting this informative info!!

Kelly said...

Bill is always watching out for me or patching me up. I'm just too accident prone for my own good. Through his weight training, I have fixed a torn rotator cuff, alleviated severe arthritis in my right shoulder from breaking my collar bone as a child, strengthened my back, alleviated arthritis in my left knee by strengthening all the surrounding goes on and on. I also do yoga for the the arthritis in my back, but I haven't been able to use weight lifting or yoga to fix the torn left plantar fascia ligament or my reconstructed right ankle...they slow me down. is a good thing....I'm 20 years behind you....hope I'm still going up the hill when I'm 67!

Penny...I'll head over and check out the birds....I bet they are not bad, either! I have the knee thing too, but strengthening has helped me. can say that's way easier not to exercise!

Karim...thank you! I'll let Bill know...

Enita...thank you!

Ken...good to see you're up and at 'em again!

Mary Ann...holy cow, I didn't realize you were the Mary Ann that joined the site!! That's so cool. You need to send me some of those California birds....

Adrienne...I'll make sure Bill gives you some tips...sounds like a great trip for your 40th birthday!!

MjB...hahaha....advil and alcohol....that will work every time!

Mary.....maintaining that optimal weight is just no fun! It's hard. Since hitting 47...I find it's harder and harder. It might be the torn plantar fascia ligament too, because I'm not getting aerobic activity like I used to. Thank goodness my knee is on the mend. That really was a pain.....keep doing what you're doing! said it, Loopy! Birders are not wimps. We walk in the mud too....and the cold...and the rain...and the poison ivy....and the spider webs....

Susan....I know what you mean. Birding is as mental as it is physical. Constantly learning new calls...birds....habitats. It's what keeps me happy too!

...thanks, Unseen.....I'll let him know!! hard....and arthritis is're still out there and kicking though, because you take beautiful bird photos of those in your back yard!

Thanks, Paula....I'll let bill know.

Tina...I wish we could forget about it. Working out 3 x a week with bill is the only thing that keeps me strong, and if I didn't have Bill as a personal trainer I doubt I would do it myself! It's good to have a brother who knows how to keep your strong! :-)

Rambling Woods said...

You really do need to be in decent shape to be a decent birder. I am working toward improving my balance and endurance with the goal of getting out more.. but I am always going to be challenged with my MS symptoms....Michelle

Kelly said...

Michelle.....gosh....I'm glad you're getting out there too. I didn't realize you had MS. Our friend does too...balance is difficult at times for her too. (I have Meniere's...and inner ear disorder, and sometimes it's a challenge for me as well. I do yoga to help...)