Financially Independent, Retired Early(ish) at 57.

Financial Independence – the most bitter pill of all.

What’s the point of FIRE? Why bother to reach financial independence? Personally, my go-to answer has always been ‘Freedom.’ I propelled my way to FI on the twin goals of wanting security for my family and freedom to spend my days as I, (and not the school timetabler), chose. But imagine my shock and horror when, after reaching my goal, I find out that in order to truly enjoy the FI/RE life to the full, I’ll have to radically change an aspect of myself that I’ve always held dear. It’s a bitter pill indeed.

Ever since the day I left my husband 23 years ago with $60 cash in my hand, (I gave him the other $60 in the account because fair’s fair, it was a joint account), and dragging the 4 little boys under 5 with me, I’ve craved financial security. Over time, as that goal became closer, it morphed into a desire for overall financial freedom. Six or seven years ago I stumbled across Go Curry Cracker’s blog and asked in the comments what ‘FIRE’ meant – (I went back a few weeks ago and yes – it’s still there!) – and I’ve been steadily and intentionally making my way there ever since.

However, since my brother had his stroke on Christmas Day and my aunt died in January, I haven’t been motivated to write very much. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and evaluating. My nephew was also battling lymphatic cancer, while being a father to 2 and expecting number 3 later this year, (he’s all clear now!), while people I’ve known for years at work are struggling with various health issues like Parkinsons and other things. Also, Mum falling and breaking her shoulder has affected her mobility ever since.

Maybe, I began thinking, I should look at what’s happening around me and realise that maybe age is catching up to some of us. Not me, of course! I’m youthful and dewy still. Yes… but still…

… maybe our bodies don’t simply carry on forever? What am I actually doing to maintain fitness?



I’ve never been one to go for a walk just for the sake of it. What’s the point? I’ll walk to the shops, I’ll definitely walk the dogs and I’ll walk to the library to return books, but why on earth would anybody walk for fun?!? As for sports… yeah nah. I don’t mind watching a good tennis match and I watch the AFL Grand Final every year, but as for actually playing a sport? No thanks. God invented books for a reason and that is so people can curl up on the couch and read them.

There’s no denying it. I’m not fit. At all. Never have been. This blog post from 2015 shows a photo of Steep Hill in Lincoln. What I didn’t mention in this post, because I didn’t want to worry my family, was that as we were driving away after walking up this incredibly steep street, I had pains in my chest. Poor Scott thought I was going to have a heart attack. Fast forward to my trip to North Korea in 2018, when I had to quit a walk up to the top of a mountain because I knew I’d never make it.

Yesterday I learned that A, my ex-husband, is going into hospital on Monday for a triple by-pass. He’s only 3 years older than I am! My God, it seems like everyone in their 50’s is dropping like flies!

Now, I realise that I’m writing in a niche where bloggers reveal all when it comes to their intimate figures. On their spreadsheets, that is. Well, I’m not about to reveal any intimate figures, either on my rotund frame or numerically. I don’t think the internet is quite ready for the former. But I haven’t been happy with my level of fitness for many years now, so something has to be done.

First step – I bought a Fitbit, (because there’s no doubt I’m a lazy cow). After all, what isn’t measured can’t be managed. Apparently, exercise helps stave off strokes and stuff. I began with not changing a thing about my life, just to see the baseline of where my steps are. It was in the summer school holidays, so it was always going to be low.

Turns out that if I have a book-reading day, my steps are as low as 2,000. Yikes! A normal day would be around 4,000. No wonder I’m getting to be what used to be described as a “cosy armful.” So I set the goal of 10,000 steps a day.

Turns out going from 4 to 10 thousand steps is really hard. So instead of beating myself up, I’m now looking at my average daily steps each week and aiming to improve on them each week. I figure that’s a more sustainable way to get into the habit of moving more. I’ve now reached the stage of giving the dogs an extra walk if I’m low in steps, which they love.

Though I didn’t think ahead when I bought Scout. Those tiny little legs can’t walk a long way before they get tired. I can’t leave her behind when I walk the other dogs because she literally screams. You’d swear she was being torn limb from limb. Still, I guess me carrying her adds to the weight loss goal.

I was talking with Jen, my sister-in-law today. She says she has a Pilates machine at home and she invited me to test drive it. She’s as thin as a twig and is constantly moving, so I’m going to go over there and have a go. Why not?

I can’t see myself ever being a fitness fanatic, but there’s no doubt that I’d be a fool if I ignored everything that’s going on with the people around me. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, but better I swallow this than a packetful of Haribo Gummy Bears.

After all, what’s the point of becoming financially independent and retiring early(er) if you’re too fat and unfit to do anything with all that freedom?


  1. Aussie HIFIRE

    I agree 100% that you want to be in good health, and that’s regardless of whether you’re seeking FIRE or not. I try to be somewhat mindful of what I’m eating and my weight and waist size.

    I found that once I got to a decent base of fitness it’s not too tough to maintain it, but if you lose that base for whatever reason then it’s hard work getting back to it.

    This year I’m doing 100 push ups a day plus some other form of exercise every day whether that’s running, chinups, ab work etc. Combined with a half marathon a month I’m in decent shape at least, although I’m probably not going to be featuring on the front of Mens Health anytime soon!

    • FrogdancerJones

      100 push ups? Wow. I’ve got no idea how many I could do but I’m sure 100 would see me carried out in a pine box!

  2. Latestarterfire

    I’m in the same boat as you! I need to lose some weight but just can’t be motivated to run and some days, can’t muster any enthusiasm even for a walk. Don’t have any dogs to take for a walk either. I admire people who seem to effortlessly able to exercise. I know the importance of exercise so will keep trying till it becomes a habit…. it’s just taking ages establishing this habit

  3. josie

    Keeping fit while aging is tough!! I’m older than you and work in an office, so I really have to work to get even 7500 steps a day. I’ll walk long way around to meetings, restrooms etc and walk outside at 30 minutes at lunch , in all weather but heavy rain. Still can’t get 10000 steps on a work day. The only only other exercising I do is some basic yoga stretches and 5 pound free weights for my arms.

    Did your steps increase when at school? Also walking in sand is a much better workout than walking on a sidewalk!

    I’ll retire in 2 years and we have decided to stay in our house – one of the reasons is walkability of our neighborhood and to town.

    Good luck! You are so right that we need basic health to enjoy freedom from work.

    • FrogdancerJones

      Yes, it’s easier to get my steps up at work. We walk to different classes every period; today I have yard duty for half an hour at lunch so I’m moving constantly and I’m teaching mainly year 7s this year so I make myself walk around the room for much of the time to both keep tabs on them and to get some steps in. I have a couple of boys in 7D who also have fitbits so we compare scores.

  4. Bethh

    I console myself that’s it better to start getting money sorted early in life and to do fitness later than the other way around.

    Still, my preferred state is lying on the couch! I don’t like to exercise just to do it- it’s not motivating to me at all- but I try to walk and hike and cycle over the course of the year. I think it’s not often or vigorous enough, and you’re right- it’s not wise to take health for granted as the years go by.

    At least you garden a fair bit and walk your dogs regularly! Good luck adding this to your chats and graphs!

    • FrogdancerJones

      It seems I’m not alone here!
      My walking definitely isn’t what you’d call ‘vigorous’, especially when Scout starts putting the brakes on, but I figure that it’s better than nothing.

  5. Kathy Aylward

    As they say Health is Wealth – without it you have nothing regardless of money in the bank [hey both would be good]. If you want a 28 minute at home workout check out Sam Wood online [Melbourne former TV batchelor] as his HIIT [High Intensity Interval Training] which has 5 levels starting at low impact. 7 exercises in a row repeated 4 times. There is a monthly subscription however you could do it for one month [no contract] to build up your fitness in terms of cardio. No need to go to a gym however building up to walking 10,000 and doing some cardio at home in your pj’s will increase your fitness in next to no time. Your family certainly is having their fair share of illness at the moment. Hopefully your family’s health will be on the improve soon. Kathy, Brisbane

    • FrogdancerJones

      I’ve also heard there’s a youtube called Adrienne, (I think) who does yoga tutorials.
      I was thinking I should get onto that – I’m not very bendy.

      • Girt

        Thanks so much for continuing your writing in the face of your struggles. I am happy to know you’re ok.

        I am a huge fan of Yoga with Adriene. She’s very funny and most videos are 10-15 minutes. I did ‘Yoga to Feel Your Best’ a couple of days ago and loved it.

        Last year I did Michelle Bridges 12 week body transformation (which was a very well spent $199) and I was starting from a very low base (i went from 2 push ups to 8 in the 12 weeks … but actually I lost a lot of cm off my waist and arms whilst being pretty half-assed about the whole thing which was awesome because my aim was to not have to buy bigger clothes which i was starting to need). It was a very interesting experience, ideal for me and I found it almost like a combination life coach and fitness coach set-up.

        Also, last year I invited a woman around the corner to walk in the mornings with me … I didn’t know her that well but I thought she seemed like my cup of tea. I was so nervous asking her it was like I was a teenager asking someone to come to the school formal. Anyway, that has been awesome and we walk and talk for 40- minutes a couple of times a week. I don’t know if there is anyone in your local area who floats your boat and might also like to increase fitness, but it could potentially be great fun.

        Finally, I have come to the realisation that I only like doing fitness things where there is an element of surprise (like in a book when you don’t know what’s coming). The boredom factor of swimming or running puts me off entirely. I like Yoga with Adriene because I don’t know what’s coming, I like walking with my friend because I don’t know what lovely story she might tell next and I quite like walking around the city since there are interesting things to look at.

        I hope you find things you like in this realm.

        • FrogdancerJones

          My sister goes for a 7KM walk every Tuesday with a friend – she loves it.
          I’m figuring that after a lifetime of indolence, I’ll get my steps up, then move onto more strenuous activities.
          Rome wasn’t built in a day, after all.

  6. FIREforOne

    I hear you. I keep telling myself I need to get up earlier and go for a walk, but I find it difficult to motivate myself!

    Maybe you need a stroller for Scout? 😉

    • FrogdancerJones

      I might end up getting one for her, but I’d like to NOT be “that” dog owner!!

      • Aussie HIFIRE

        When my mum’s little dogs were getting to the stage of the spirit being willing but the flesh being weak with regards to walking, she got an old baby stroller and would push them along in that once they got tired from walking. They loved it and she loved being able to still get them out and about seeing the world while she got some exercise. So please don’t rule it out!

        • FrogdancerJones

          Yes, but Scout’s only 3. At the moment she’s a trim little sausage dog and the cavaliers are too. I’d hate for her to get lazy and tubby, so I’ll stave off the stroller for as long as I can.
          Yesterday (another 11,000 step day) she walked for the whole LONG way around. The weather was less humid than it has been for a while and it was later in the day.
          I think she just gets overheated quicker than the rest of us.

  7. Kim

    Hi Frogdancer, you’re so right about fitness being important – gives us enough energy to get through the day, improves mood, prevents injury, keeps us healthy… I too would much rather be reading a book on the lounge. I have a desk job so on work days I can get as little as 2,000 steps as well.

    I’ve started doing two short fitness sessions a day (would like to do this every day but I’m not there yet):

    7-minute workout with Lucy Wyndham-Read (it’s like having an encouraging personal trainer) – it’s about 15 minutes all up once you stretch at the end but you feel like you’ve worked out without spending all that much time:

    PLUS taking the dog for a walk (another 15 minutes) – which gives me 30 minutes in a day!!!

    All the best with your fitness motivation 🙂 Comparing fitbit numbers with others is good if you’re competitive too.

    • FrogdancerJones

      My next-door desk at work is someone who had to have back surgery very young and so she takes fitness/walking/gym very seriously.
      Yesterday she jokingly called herself my STEPmother. I like the name. It’s a keeper.

  8. Caroline at Costa Rica FIRE

    LOL about your line, “I’ll walk to the shops.” Amen for being honest. I can only stick to a fitness routine that I enjoy. I do love Pilates on the reformer machines b/c I have had a bad back and knees, and I tried all sorts of physical therapy and nothing worked like Pilates. It was tough to get the form correctly, but once I did, it’s been amazing. That said, Pilates is great for toning, flexibility and alignment but not much of a cardio workout. For that, I love dance exercise. I’m into Masala Bhangra which is an Indian dance cardio style — hard to feel down when you got all that passionate Bollywood music blaring. I also recently moved to FL from NYC, and there is an active Jazzercise studio there, which is stuck in the 1980’s but I happen to love the 80’s so it’s a lot of fun. I still need to lose some pounds, but it gets me moving. To that end, go walk to the shops if that’s what you love — just leave your credit cards at home:)

    • FrogdancerJones

      Well, by “shops” I mean Aldi. It’s just around the corner. 🙂
      A dance class stuck in the 80’s would be awesome! Such great music!

  9. freddy smidlap

    while fitness has never been a huge issue for me i broke down last year and got a garmin (fitbit type) watch. i grudgingly find it useful for tracking sleep and heart rate. i had a couple of health issues back to back recently related to age and lifestyle. it’s funny you write about it now.

    the kidney stones are causing me to cut back on wine. with cutting back i’ll have a lot more money but the only thing i would like to do with more money is buy more wine! it’s a conundrum figuring out how to replace this activity.

    • FrogdancerJones

      Oh God, I’d be miserable if I couldn’t drink wine!
      I didn’t know you could get kidney stones from wine. I feel for you – WHAT a thing to happen!

  10. Nichole

    From someone who realized this too late (incurable cancer in my 40’s), you are doing the right thing. And I wish you well in your endeavors. Keep going and try not to be all or nothing. A setback is just that. And tomorrow is a new day to get on track.

    • FrogdancerJones

      Oh no. What a horrible thing to happen. There’s not much else I can say except Bugger!
      Hope you’re travelling well at the moment. xx

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