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Feeling Motivated: What it Took

How motivated are you to work out? I’ve felt guilty about my sluggish lifestyle for years. I know exercise is good for me. Sitting at my computer most of the day isn’t. I used to be dedicated about exercise years ago, then lost interest and got sedentary.

I joined a fancy gym, several months ago when the physical therapist suggested Pilates. It felt like pulling teeth to go. When my new orthopedist told me to not do any exercise for now, I phoned my gym and put my membership on hold. Why did I feel relieved to do that?

Then came surprising news that got me moving. Last week I decided to get established with a doctor closer to home. While we were going over my paper work, she asked what I was doing to treat my Osteopenia. What? Who said I had Osteopenia?

The bone scan I had months ago, did. My doctor at Stanford had reported my Bone Density results were “just fine”. What part of Osteopenia is fine? I’m a menopausal woman who fractured her femur in 2 places, one month before the Bone Density test!

I’m thrilled to have a sharp new doctor. Her blunt statement and concerned look, gave me the push I needed to start moving again. I had no idea I needed to be treating my bone thinning. I didn’t even know I had bone thinning!


Feeling Motivated: What it Took

I’m starting like a snail and my little dog is ecstatic. Rather than going to my fancy gym, I just tie my sneakers on and head out the door. My hip aches but at this point it’s more important to build back some bone, or that hip replacement I need may not be viable.


Risk factors for getting Osteopenia or Osteoporosis

  • being female


  • being an menopausal woman who is not taking hormone replacement therapy


  • leading an inactive lifestyle


  • being thin or having a small frame


  • excessive alcohol or caffeine consumption


  • smoking


  • low calcium intake



Osteopenia means you have low bone density. It places you at a higher risk of bone fracture and developing Osteoporosis. Some people have lower bone density, naturally. Not in my case. I had a bone density test 10 years ago, and the results were normal.

My new doctor wants me taking 1,800 mgs of a good calcium supplement daily, doing weight-bearing exercise (walking) and lifting small hand weights. We’re not going the RX medication route for now, which is fine with me. I’d rather try to fix my problem holistically.


Have you have you bone density tested lately?










  1. I am not sure how old this post is but I came upon it while perusing the ( excellent) blog.
    Walking is a fabulous exercise for everyone. All you need is an open road or pathway and good walking shoes(key!!!) I would also like to point out that weights are awesome..I am not referring to what my fellow lady lifters call ‘Barbie’ weights. Unless you are an osteoporotic lady in your eighties there is no reason why you cannot start with 10lb Dumbbells with the goal to move past 15 to 20lbs. Sounds like a lot? How much do your grocery bags weigh? Or a toddler grand child? A bag of flour, sugar or a dog? These are all items we may pick up regularly and most weigh more than 10lbs so why not train your body to be prepared! At 61 I can deadlift over 150lbs ( and no I do not look like a man!!) I adore my kettlebell practice and can easily swing a 35lb bell ( which is very light by kettle bell standards!)
    Do your muscles and bones a favour and move to heavier weights. The improvement in your posterior train, balance and strength will amaze you. Sweat is good for older ladies!!

    1. Wow, Allison. I need to up my game and weights. I have osteopenia and need all the help I can get to build bone strength. 150 pounds is amazing! You’re inspiring. Thank you xx

  2. Hey Jennifer, We’ve all been there at one time or another with not wanting to exercise! So happy to hear that you are back into it! Working out with a friend always helps me stay on track. I meet a friend 3x a week and that makes me accountable, otherwise I’m sure I would just head to Starbucks or Peet’s! Keep up the good work! I’m sure your dog loves it…..mine just sits by the laundry room door waiting for me to take him out. He makes me feel so guilty when I don’t take him! Have a great week!

  3. I haven’t checked my bone density. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. I have been on calcium and vitamin D since having a gastric bypass 7 years ago. The weight has stayed off, but my essential minerals depleted. Now we are being told that calcium does nothing for women over 50. Got to get off my tush and out of my car. Thanks!

    1. The weight loss would have a major, positive impact on your health Loretta! Good for you!!
      But the peripheral damage needs to be addressed. The exercise is so much more important than I would have ever imagined.

  5. I, too, have osteopenia. For the last nine year, my luxury in life is Daniel, my trainer. I’ve always done some kind of exercise on a weekly basis, starting with Jane Fonda’s videos, then before breast cancer, I did water aerobics three days a week. You would think I’d have a jump on osteopenia, but after breast cancer, I took a med for five years that sucked me dry of estrogen…. It’s a rude discovery, isn’t it?

    1. It is a rude shock Brenda! I always imagined I was bulletproof! I started with the Jane Fonda videos too!! There’s a lifetime of water under that bridge now.
      How awful that the drugs you had to take to save your life, has caused these problems!!

  6. Yes, I have. Eight years ago at 50 I had a baseline and had osteopenia. Last year at 57 my bone density showed a mild case of osteoporosis in my hips and pelvis. Mild enough that my doctor advised continuing my daily walks, upping my frequency of lifting weights and a very good, quality calcium (two) at night before going to bed, plus a vitamin d in the morning. We’re revisiting after a year. If it’s progressed – then medication. If it’s remained in the same state of deterioration – then a continued program of what I’ve been doing will suffice. Thank you for the reminder to stay on top of this. It’s the weightlifting part I tend to neglect.

    1. I’ve got small free weights next to my chair in the living room. Hard to imagine it is so important. But I’m using them daily. I’m so surprised to hear how many women have been diagnosed with osteopenia early!! I’m having to take 8, high quality calcium pills throughout my day. It’s a challenge.

  7. Seems as though we have to be up on all these conditions as we age. Thanks for reminding us. Sitting is so bad, and as a therapist I sit for most of my day with patients. I make sure I get a minimum of 30 to 45 min daily walk. Your sweetie pie doggie will love those walks! Stay calm and walk on! Xx Karen

    1. Thanks Karen. She is loving it! I’m trying to stay calm but focused. Your walking is just the ticket!

  8. I’ve had osteopenia for about 15 years. I’ve kept it stable with lots of walking and going to a physical therapy gym for appropriate exercise. I tried medications and my doctor took me off them because of the side effects. The walking and weight bearing exercised have done the trick.

    1. The side effects of those meds do scare me. I’ll do what I can holistically and intend it to work for me. My only fly in the ointment is my mobility problems because I need a hip replacement! When it rains it pours 🙂

  9. I am so glad you finally have a good doctor!! I know what struggles you have been through. It is never too late to begin. I did not get motivated until I also was diagnosed with Osteopenia…at age 60. My strength trainer was clear…that I had to continue my training without stopping or I would be a curved over little lady. That picture in my head gets me out of bed to work out. I still don’t like exercise…but I have to do it or live with awful consequences. Thanks for sharing this to motivate others…every midlife woman needs to stay current with bone scans! So important.

    1. Those scary images are very motivating. So is pain. I used to love exercise and wish I’d never stopped. I’m learning that I may have still developed osteopenia based on being a menopausal woman. It doesn’t seem fair, but that just means I’ll fight harder.

  10. I had one a long time ago. I think that now I am 65 I am entitled to a free one. I must check this out. I do pilates regularly and go the the gym occasionally but I do walk a lot.

    1. Walking is very important. Pilates is great but it’s not weight bearing which helps our bones.

  11. Did your doctor recommend taking magnesium with your calcium? I applaud your holistic approach. I also take vitamin D. Something must be working because I fell hard on my left side while walking into the shed after tending chickens. (we have backyard chickens). The only thing that was hurt was my left breast…no bruising, no broken bones…I was amazed considering how hard I fell. Happy to hear you are out and about. Your little dog is precious.

    1. Thanks Donna! Yes she recommended a 2 to 1 ratio of calcium to magnesium with D and K to help absorption. That’s a ton of pills so I’m adding foods that are high in calcium. That’s a very good sign that you could fall without a break! I have learned to look down. Please be careful!

      1. So important to look down! But on rare occasion I will trip, last week it was a neighbor’s ficus tree buckling the asphalt in the street a little. So now I watch for it.


  12. I have osteopenia too. I walk about 5k most days and when my walking partner joins me we do 10k. She has osteopenia too and does aerobics and lifts weight.
    Good for you to get out and get going. I love the Walkmeter app on my iPhone. It helped motivate me when I first started back on a walking regime…good luck and enjoy the scenery while you are out and about!

    1. Thanks Leslie! Your scenery is much prettier than mine but I’m moving forward and doing what I can.

  13. Yes, within the last month and I’m doing well. Thanks for asking!! It’s the daily walking, because I am a poster child for osteoporosis, blonde, northern European extraction. I was on Boniva for a while, but lately no cause my stats are good. And of course I take calcium and whenever possible I carry my grandchildren around. LOL.

    1. I totally relate Beth. I think carrying my grandson would be the very best way to do weight bearing exercise.

  14. I had a bone density test a few years ago when I was having recurrent lower and upper back issues. The sports medicine doctor who ordered it said that I was “osteopenic” and suggested I see my GP “sooner than later” …as she put it. That really concerned me so I headed off to my family doctor the next week. He told me that women in menopause are generally osteopenic, and that did not mean I would develop osteoporosis. That since I had quit smoking years before, exercised regularly, and already took calcium supplements…. I should live my life and not be overly concerned.
    Exercise is the biggie, I think. Strong muscles support your bones. Good for you for lacing on those sneakers and hitting the trail… so to speak.

    1. Thanks Sue! I’m so relieved to hear how many women have osteopenia! I was feeling like a screw up. Like I brought it on myself. My struggle is the excercise with my messed up hip. But I’m doing my best.

  15. Jennifer, I mentioned in a previous post that I have osteoporosis. I exercise a lot ( including walking and stairs) and have since I was 22 so it’s very frustrating for me having this diagnosis. I read someone with the condition should not sit for more than 4 hours per day. I definitely don’t do that now, but did for many years at a desk job.

    I have to ask…did your doctor try to prescribe the biophosphonates? (Fosamax,etc) Mine wanted to but I didn’t want any part of it. Just curious if your doctor had an opinion on the drugs.

    Linda in San Diego

    1. She did not prescribe it yet. It’s scary to hear how you’ve done all the right things and still have bone density problems!!

  16. I’ve never had bone density. Just another thing to add onto the long list of maintenance we need as we age. It is smart to stay on top of things like this though.

    Illness often is the culprit for interrupting a good workout routine. I used to run regularly, then got plantar fasciitis and had to give that up. I started yoga which I really like but I do find it doesn’t seem to replace the high cardio of running. I think honestly I need to do both. And find and extra 2 hours each day so I can fit them in.


    1. Wouldn’t it be great to have an extra 2 hours each day? Bone density is pretty important. I never thought about it until I learned mine was compromised. Check yours now.

  17. I have not thought about bone density but I know I should. I had a baseline test done years ago. I see most older women (mom and her friends and my MIL and her friends) are either careful or have trouble with it. But they focus on it. So the time is now! Thanks for this important post, Jennifer.

    1. The time is now! I’m shocked to hear how early women are having problems with their bones. I guess I was clueless to its importance.

  18. I had a similar “awakening” 2 years ago when it suddenly hit me that I was getting closer and closer to full-blown diabetes. Diet, cooking and even my refrigerator(!) have changed. Now, when I take my walk, it’s not a chore but an opportunity extend my life a little longer. Glad you’re taking action!

    1. That’s great Pat!! It really is an opportunity to extend our lives. That’s a great way to look at it!

  19. When I realized that all the usual forms of aerobic exercise aggravated my pinched nerve in my back, I gave in and started swimming……..at first I couldn’t do a half lap without pausing to catch my breath……but now, about four years later, I swim a mile ( 40 laps) three days a week…….I no longer need injections in my back and I look forward to my swims……my blood pressure is way down, my blood oxygen is high, and my cholesterol is down…..swimming is the BEST exercise!

    1. Exercise is that magic elixir. I can’t believe I gave it up exactly when I needed to continue. Good for you Cherrie!

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