Ski bum to super mom: In my early 20s I moved to Denver and I learned to ski there. I ski-bummed a year in Afton. I always said, I'm not marrying anyone unless he can downhill ski. I met my husband downhill skiing, but then along came three kids within almost a year, and that put the kibosh on things.
Dealing with babies and the death of our fourth child is when I started sewing and I made all the clothes for the family, including my husband's suits. It developed into a business -- it kept me totally busy. In those 40-some years, I don't think I ever got out and even walked ... but I did get in some tennis and downhill skiing.
Skinny genes: My mom and my sister got arthritis and lupus when they were young (30 and 18), and that's when I got concerned with my health, studying and learning about proper diet, vitamins and the importance of activity. I don't know of anybody that goes at the pace I do. I think a lot of it is in the genes.
"I don't get tired": Once I turned 70 I retired and decided to start pushing myself. I started jogging -- up to 14 miles, and now in winter I cross-country ski three or four hours a day. I don't get tired. I can go all day cross-country skiing, and then I'm game to go out and dance at night.
Not a quitter: My husband will be 81, and he's willing to go dancing all the time, but he relaxes during the day. If I'm not skiing, I'll go out and walk. Most of the trails are hard-packed snow. Sometimes it's very icy, but I still go out. The other day I went out on the most dangerous walk I think I've ever been on and I was gone three hours. My husband said, "Why didn't you quit early?" I said, "Well, I just wanted to challenge myself." If it's really cold and raining, I do my cardio and yoga videotapes.
Burning calories instead of fuel: I don't need health clubs, personal trainers or any equipment. I call my health program "green." I don't have to drive to exercise; I just leave from my back door. If I have errands to do, if they are within 6 miles, I walk.
Bragging rights: I started water skiing when I was young. Every year my goal is to get up on one ski. Recently I started lifting weights, and the last few years I've popped right out of the water on the first try. Our sons go out with their buddies, and when they can't get up on one ski, they say, "Well, my mom can do it."
SHEILA MULROONEY ELDRED
Special to the Star Tribune